Bankie Banx is one the undisputed reggae leader of the West Indies. Born and currently living in Anguilla, Bankie has been inspiring reggae fans for more than five decades. His band, the roots and herbs, have recorded numerous albums scoring many chart-topping songs.
His beach bar, The Dune Preserve, located on south coast of Anguilla, is home to the Moonsplash festival, which he cofounded in 1991. Moonsplash is now one of the premier music festivals of the Eastern Caribbean. A top showcase for vintage reggae acts and emerging talent, headline performers have included: Steel Pulse, Third World, Inner Circle, Buju Banton, Gregory Isaacs, Culture, Toots & The Maytals, Jimmy Buffett, Black Uhuru and many others of note.
I recently had the chance to sit down and chat with the Anguillan Bob Dylan legend over dinner and cocktails. Here are some of his perspectives on the music business.
Early reggae in the Caribbean
When everything started going, it was crazy. There was no place to perform, no equipment. Marley and Tosh: they couldn’t put on a concert in the Caribbean; there was no place for them to play; only the big festivals could handle them. There weren’t a lot of concerts in the West Indies. We had to travel with all of our equipment flying from island to island. We had to go everywhere with amps, speakers, everything: those were some crazy times.
The Caribbean was a different place back then people weren’t always ready (for the music). I remember the first concert we did in Nevis, we had all this smoke made from dry ice to start the show. People had never seen that, they thought the place was on fire and most of them ran out. After a while people came back in and got into the music. They loved it, but it was really different back then.
Anger and emotions
We all have ups and downs, but you have to control it. Don’t express yourself when you are mad. Don’t share that energy with the world. Anger must be harnessed to create a positive energy that thrives.
Once I got involved to help improve the conditions for some foreign construction workers and it was horrible. They were almost being treated as slaves, horrible food, and horrible conditions. We organized a protest and got things changed. After that people asked me to go into politics on the island, not me, I don’t put governments together. I take them apart.
There are some great musicians today, great talent with great exposure to the world’s cultures. Unfortunately corporate culture has made pawns of many of them. I think that people should be able download all the music they can. Music is about sharing culture and life.
I want to get on a boat and sail the whole Caribbean; I mean the whole thing. Leave from here, head towards Jamaica, Caymans, Central America, down to Panama, Venezuela, then all the way back. Just go see it how it was meant to be seen.
STUART MAYHEW is an avid music fan who is always looking to catch a live show where ever he may be in the world. He understands how music connects people and reflects society and culture. Through an understanding where music comes from and how it evolves, we get a clearer understanding of the world: and sometimes a bit of a hangover.