August 4th 2009
Please excuse my unsolicited contact, but your details were passed on to me by Mary-Anne Sutcliffe, a former colleague of yours during your tenure at Sussex University. I made contact with her as I was investigating the possibility of doing a PHD around the development of various forms of African music to Mento in Jamaica in the early 20th century and she suggested you as someone with whom I should try to consult with. Please let me know if this is something that would take your interest/ that you would have time to undertake and I will, of course, supply you with more details.
Is there perhaps an easier/ more immediate way I can get in contact with you if this is something that does indeed take your interest? Perhaps a phone number or email address?
P.S. I couldn’t write and not tell you that I am also a massive fan and was delighted when Mary-Anne put your name forward. Your album as The Lonely Twosome is one of my favourite records and has been for the past thirty years. I had Island Boy played at my wedding. Do you have any new recordings on the horizon?
August 18th 2009
Thank you for the letter! Wow, that sounds like an interesting subject- I can see why Mary-Anne suggested me- seems she knows me pretty well! How is she? I haven’t seen her for years. Do you live near Sussex? It’s been many years since I was in England (I lived there for 3 years), but I do find myself missing it from time-to-time, especially Cornwall when the weather was good!
Now, on to business! Yes, this does sound interesting indeed. Please send me more details. I’m not sure of the extent I’ll be able to help you for various reasons, but I’d love to help you out as much as I can. Unfortunately I don’t have access to the internet as where we live is pretty remote. I should say, it is *technically* here, but it is down more often that it is ever working so we all tend to just not bother with it. Also, though I do have a phone, it’s pretty useless to me now as last year I had most of my tongue and part of my lower jaw removed and can no longer speak. As you can probably guess, this rules out the chance of any new recordings too, huh?
I’m afraid until the government here decided to step into the 21st century, we’ll have to stick to good, old fashioned writing power.
Anyway, please forward me on the details and I’ll have a read and then we’ll see where we can go from there.
Take it easy!
P.S. I think that might be my favourite one, too. Thank you for playing it at your wedding! Did you ever hear the Twosome out-takes? They were floating around on bootlegs for a while. Let me know and I’ll make you a copy.
P.P.S Gosh, that’s funny, isn’t it? Me pirating a bootleg of my own work. I wonder where the law stands on that one?
September 7th 2009
Thank you so much for your timely response and enthusiasm for this project. It is a great honour to be not only in correspondence with you but also potentially working with you as well. I have enclosed my current proposal, which Mary-Anne suggested was too open and vague. Before being bogged down in the tedious language of academia (which my proposal is, unfortunately, rife with), essentially I wanted to chart the set of influences and historical circumstances- the slave trade, the influx of Indian and Chinese migrant workers, British and American cultural influences as well as the influence of other Caribbean islands (rhumba boxes from Cuba, etc), the LACK of Spanish influences... that led to the development of Mento and why the form as more or less disappeared aside from a few attempts at its revival, yet Calypso continues to thrive in one form or another. Bear in mind, this runs the risk of becoming a history of Jamaican music in the 20th century, which I am certainly trying to avoid. As much as I enjoyed ‘Bass Culture’, it is certainly pointless trying to write another version.
As a side note, I was very saddened to hear about your medical situation. I had absolutely no idea and I’m sorry for putting my foot in it. I hope you didn’t feel the need to explain. I honestly think you had one of the most beautiful voices to come out of the 60s/70s folk/ country rock scene and this is a sad loss to the world indeed.
Anyway, I look forward to hearing from you soon
September 28th 2009
Thanks for sending me the proposal. Well, I gotta say it was a very interesting read, despite all the ‘academic language’. I’m afraid I’ll have to agree with Mary-Anne when she said it was too open, though I’m certainly no expert in PHDs so don’t pay my opinion too much mind. Here’s some thoughts/ suggestions- maybe concentrate more on the historical and social circumstances that led to the development of Mento, and (or) maybe how it acted as social commentary for the time. Perhaps look into the rise of local and imported soap operas and the like, as well as the dominance of ska, rocksteady and roots (as you say, you want to avoid echoing Bass Culture). Have a think about that, let me know what you think?
Enclosed is your proposal, which I’ve made notes on- more detail, more thoughts. Let me know if any of this is any use to you at all.
Also, thanks for your concern. Sorry, I brought it up, but I didn’t want you to think I was being a weird old recluse ‘rock star’ or something by not talking to you on the phone...
Yes, I think never being able to sing again might be the saddest part for me. But on the other hand, If I hadn’t of had it done, I wouldn’t be able to sing or do much else! Perspective is a funny thing, eh?
Anyway, enough of that stuff. I included a CD of some of the stuff I mentioned and some other stuff you might enjoy.
Take care, buddy
October 16th 2009
Thank you so much for the thoughts and suggestions. They have been amazingly helpful and I’ve attempted to focus and streamline my proposal. I’ve included my revised version- please take a look and let me know what you think. Just to let you know, I go up in front of the board in three weeks time this Wednesday, so spare me thought or prayer around then. I’ll need it!
Thank you for the bootleg of the Twosome outtakes! I love the faster version of Greenstick, with the organ at the end. As much as I love the ‘original’, I have to ask- why didn't you release this version- its great!
Also- what was on the other CD? It sounded like you, but I didn’t recognise any of it. It was wonderful, though.
How have you been?
October 29th 2009
I read your proposal and it’s really fantastic! You really tightened the nuts up on that thing and gave it focus and drive! Don’t sweat it, they’d be mad not to take you! I can’t wait for us to really get into this thing together. Exciting, huh?
I’m well thanks. The weather is starting to cool off here (thank god!). Seems a silly thing to complain about, but the heat can be so oppressive and tiring sometimes. It takes so much out of me that I don’t know where the days go. Appetite too, even with all the beautiful food in this country! My wife Jeannie works as a co-ordinator for various non-profit programmes, needle exchanges, free sexual health check-ups, that kind of thing. She’s having to take some time off from that, poor girl, but it’s been really nice having her around more. My daughter Tulip is coming to visit next week, which is wonderful as we only see her maybe twice a year.
Ah, the other CD. Well, you have a bit of a ‘scoop’ on your hands there, I guess. It’s some stuff I’ve recorded since ‘retiring’. Some stuff at home, some with a band I tried putting together a few years ago (didn’t work out, didn’t even get as far as naming ourselves!). Glad you liked it. I thought you might get a kick out of it.
Greenstick- oh boy, that’s a long story. Let’s just say that sometimes you gotta make compromises to keep everybody happy.
Let me know how you get on!
P.S. sorry about the goofy thing up there, I always used to write a note like that for my daughter before she had any kind of test. Didn’t fail once, though!
November 15th 2009
I’m sad to say that the board wouldn’t back me. They blamed education cuts and austere times, but I know it was because they didn’t want to back an old fart studying music.
Oh well. Thank you so much for all your help, inspiration and enthusiasm.
November 20th 2009
I’ve just had a thought that followed on from a conversation I had with Mary-Anne, post meeting. I don’t know if you know this, but there have been a few different artists and groups mentioning you as an influence of late. A guitarist, John Stammers and a singer, Sally Belle both referenced you in interviews within the last month. How would you feel about the possibility of some kind of tribute/ retrospective gig? Maybe you could even come over and perform with some singers? Sorry if this is overstepping or anything, but I was quite excited about the idea as soon as I thought of it!
Let me know!
November 30th 2009
Well! Firstly I was really bummed to hear that they didn’t go for it. What assholes! I’m glad to see you’re taking it in your stride, though. Well done, that’s a tough old thing to do.
Secondly- bashful as I am about the whole thing- I like it! That’s a really nice idea. What are you thinking? Something in England I’m guessing? Since that’s where the press is coming from, makes sense, eh? As you know, I’d love to come back and this might be the perfect excuse! It might have to be the summertime though, as I’m not sure my old bones could take the cold. I’m feeling the cold over here, would you believe?
I’m gonna have to talk to Jeannie when I meet her later at the hospital, but what say you start making inroads with Mary-Anne (?), put the idea about and let me know what you come up with.
Take it easy!
December 21st 2009
Well, I’ve spent the last few weeks putting the word about. John Stammers and Sally Belle (the ones I mentioned before) are very interested, as are Tawny, Alex, a guy who calls himself Friday Disasters... all are pretty big names in certain scenes over here and there’s a fair bit of buzz around it! I’ve included press clippings and a CD of various songs of theirs. Also, there’s a beautiful church hall in the centre of town which puts on gigs. I’ve been to a few there and the acoustics are stunning. I was talking to a promoter about putting something on there and he’s really into it!
So far he’s offered us a few dates:
16th of June
23rd of June
19th of July
31st of July
But he says there’s wiggle room, as I explained the situation. Also, there’s plenty of time to get some good press on this. Let me know what you and Jeannie are thinking and let’s make this thing happen!
Take it easy!
P.S. in case I don’t speak to you before- Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! I hope you and your family have a wonderful time!!!
January 16th 2010
Happy New Year!
How are you? I haven’t heard back from you, I hope my last letter wasn’t lost in the post! So the dates are getting closer, I’m just wondering what your thoughts are about this gig? I’d like to start pushing ahead with it and make it the best we possibly can. Don’t worry about the workload, just say which date is best for you and I’ll do the rest!
Included is a belated Christmas present- a biography of Lord Flea. Hope you’re well!
Best to you and your family,
January 31st 2010
It is with deep regret that I am writing to inform you that after a long battle with various infections, as a result of a weakened immune system, Joshua passed away last week. He spent the last two months in and out of hospital, but his condition worsened and on the evening of the 24th he went peacefully in his sleep.
Please know that he was talking about the concert in London the last time I spoke to him and it gave him great hope, even towards the end.
Please take care, and may you find comfort in this dark time in the loving arms of Jesus Christ, as I have done.
Edie Simson (Joshua’s sister in-law)