A t a recent Quince Años party (the party to initiate a young lady into society) the guests in attendance had to wait for more than one hour before there was music and a public address system. The guests were very bored while the band members slowly took their time to get their mountain of equipment ready. And when all was ready, the band owner did not like the current he was receiving, so the guests waited another 20 minutes while a private generator was hooked up and someone went to buy gasoline. Now, was that professional, or what?
Friends who enjoy this column have told me of music in the 1940's. Whenever a band was coming from Belize City, or from Sarteneja Vlllage or any other place to play in San Pedro, they arrived at the main pier "WITH MUSIC". Yes Sir, the musicians were playing music in the boat, even before they set foot on land. The entire village would be at the beach by the main pier to get their first taste, and first treat, of what the band had to offer. From a distance of a few hundred feet away, one could hear the reverberating sounds of the trumpet or horns, the accompaniment of guitars and banjo and the beating of drums. And when they were finally docked at the main pier, the band played for the enjoyment of everyone 2 or 3 of their favorite selections - a bolero, a danzon, a waltz or a hot spicy merengue. Then they would hand carry their instruments to the dance hall, set up their instruments, go take a shower (by the well) and be ready in their long black pants and well ironed starched white shirts with long sleeves. At seven o'clock on the dot, audience or no audience, the first selection was played and the dance was ready to start.
Now the folks today will point out that tons of instruments are needed to play good music. Well, I don't know about that. With their wind instruments and acoustic guitars, these old timers had to produce music, or there would be no sounds - no rhythm. Today, at the press of one button, there are sounds to fill an auditorium. It should take less time to set up. Furthermore, music in the 40's was surely good also. These folks danced from 7 p.m. until sunrise, and the further they went into the night, the better the music got.
Consider another aspect of music. Today's musicians travel by airplane or speed boats and are usually late for their appointments. In days gone by they traveled by sailing boat and were here way ahead of time because they knew that people were waiting for them at the beach - not at the dance hall.
And if we consider one last point, today's bands are usually late to start but want to end right on the dot. Anything after the appointed time will result in an extra charge. But the one hour that was missed at the beginning is not made up. Not so with the old time musicians. Reliable information tells us that once these bands became inspired, the problem was to stop them. When a Sarteneja band started at 7 p.m., it was straight through till 6 the next morning.
Twenty five years ago believes that our musicians today are quite talented but do not love their music as much as the musicians of yester years. It is not a matter of quality. It is a matter of the gusto with which we play. Hey, no offence, but the time when the bride arrives is not the time to be setting up nor tuning up. It is time to dance as was danced 25 years ago. If the airplane is too slow, take a jet or take off a day earlier.