Monday, February 13, 2012

Cold Storage Band

Cold Storage Band
10" x 16", watercolor on paper, 2012
Often the songs and melodies that have sustained through time and become known all over the world have an interesting history to tell. Some are linked to a historical occasion, some have become the embodiment of a cultural or social group, and others simply epitomize the work of a certain musician or band. I always want to know about the history of a song, always like to find "the original" version. Who wrote it? Who played it first? Is the melody or are the lyrics age old and passed on from generation to generation? Sometimes the answers to these questions are simple facts but often the history of a piece of music is shrouded by many unknowns. And even when authorship is clearly defined external sources can still be dug up from a distant or not so distant past. Conscious or unconscious something always precedes any idea, thought, or creation. Some musicians borrow blatantly, others not so, but both authorship and originality remain subjective concepts. And this is a lot of fun for the music connaisseur. A little detective work can make a song really better, or least the appreciation of it.
Skokiaan was first recorded as a sax and trumpet instrumental by the African Dance Band of the Cold Storage Commission of Southern Rhodesia or simply The Cold Storage Band. The author August Musarurwa was part of the band. Hugh Tracey (him again) made an early recording also with Musarurwa before it took off all over the world through the likes of Louis Armstrong, Bill Haley, and countless others. "Skokiaan" so I read in Wikipedia, refers to an illegal self-made alcoholic beverage.

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