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July 2020 St Thomas

This month’s track is “St. Thomas”, played by Duck Baker during a live performance at the Freight and Salvage in Berkeley on January 7, 2011. Often attributed to Sonny Rollins ( he never claimed authorship), the tune was that of a traditional English song, “The Lincolnshire Poacher”, later evolving in the Virgin Islands into a nursery song, which Rollins' mother sang to him when he was a child. One day I got a call from my friend Tim, relating that his friend Duck Baker had called wanting to borrow a steel string guitar for a gig that night at the Freight. Tim suggested he might enjoy using one of mine, which Duck thought sounded fine, so we all met in the late afternoon for a sound check before going to dinner. I cringed at the first emanations from the system at its previous settings, as it sounded little like Duck playing my guitar, and not in a good way. The sound person stopped abruptly, and called down from the back of the hall, asking to hear the guitar played a bit un-amplified. After about half a minute of the the music floating back to him, the speakers poured forth pretty much what I was hearing played right in front me. Great sound people are rare, and often unsung heroes. After a wonderful concert, the sound person, Allen Lam, with Duck's permission, graciously made me a copy of the board recording. Duck honors the buoyant spirit of this unofficial Lincolnshire County anthem/Virgin Islands nursery song/ jazz standard, while seeing it through his own unique lens. Explore Duck’s music and teaching offerings here: Allen Lam and his discerning ears can be reached here:

Photo by Peter Gannushkin


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