IVAN JACKSON, OliviaPosted: July 16, 2008
Fourteen years ago I went to visit my uncle Eberhard on the Bahamas together with my then girlfriend Minou. My uncle has lived on Long Island, Bahamas for almost 40 years, working as a electrical engineer. I had never been there and I remember that I was really impressed by the beauty of the island.
When I came back home I wrote a little story about it in the comic book “Artige Zeiten” that I was doing at the time. It´s still available through Reprodukt.
The story reads like this:
“Naturally the hotel also had a hotel band, a calypso band. Music for the mostly elderly audience of the hotel who expect a confirmation of their cliche idea of Caribbean life. What they do get is actually much more: beautiful, simple, mostly self-written songs, performed by lead-singer Leroy Ivan Jackson or “Bodo”. His guitar playing and his soulful voice still sound exactly like the 60`s.
Minou and I are in awe. Especially one song catches our attention:”Witchcraft” . He keeps singing the chorus:”Witchcraft” but we can not make out the rest of the lyrics. Later at the hotel bar we ask Bodo about the song. He has had some drinks and to the best of his knowledge, he can not remember this particular song. They have a huge repertoire and also many songs covering that subject. It (“witchcraft”) would all be coming from Haiti.
Bodo tells us that he had played in a real calypso big-band in Nassau. And he had even recorded a 45 once. Suddenly I`m wide awake: records! I gotta hear this. He claims that he still has some of them laying around somewhere. After a week of intensive enquiry and investigation and after lying, that we we had to suddenly leave to go home, Bodo finally appears with a stack of records. They look like they had been stored between car tools and machine oil for approximately 14 years. Some are totally bent. The labels have mold on them. Over the years the heat and the humidity and the salt have really left their mark. I buy them all off him and I don`t even know what songs are to be heard on the record. Doesn`t matter. I don`t care. A souvenir couldn`t be more personal for me than that”.
I remember my uncle driving us in his jeep on the dirt-roads of Long Island over to Ivan Jackson`s house. On appointment and he wasn`t there. And then meeting him in the hotel bar again when he brought the records. My uncle said:”Now he just made the bargain of his life!” He thought I was completely stupid to buy a bunch of bent and moldy old records.
14 years later I still like these two Ivan Jackson originals a lot and apart from a couple of copies that I gave away to friends I`ve kept them all. But now I also feel kind of bad that I took these records from him, even though he didn`t care for them at the time and even though they are in very poor condition. I tried to find something about Ivan Jackson on the Internet but the only mention was on the myspace-site of the Hip-Hop group RIVAL SLANG from Nassau, Bahamas that featured a MC Marlon Jackson. I contacted his site and it turned out that Marlon Jackson is the son of Ivan Jackson! Now myspace is not that bad is it? His father is still living on Long Island, Bahamas and playing. I`m going to send one copy out to Marlon tomorrow because he does not own one.
And now let yourself be taken to the Caribbean and enjoy the music. The a-side is a slow, soulful ballad that sounds like Ivan Jackson had listened to a lot of Otis Redding.The b-side is a mid-tempo calypso song about life on the islands. Like I wrote 14 years ago: simple and beautiful.