Expat musicians needed

I am a full time Caymanian musician. That means if I don’t gig, I don’t eat. We are a rare breed. Somehow, Thank the Creator, I find gigs to play. That’s the actual work.

I am pro-Caymanian and have maximum respect for the trailblazing musicians of our country. However, I do not share the mindset of our ‘music representatives’. I’ll say right off the top, the vast majority of Caymanian musicians that I know, do not support the kind of vitriol that has been associated with us this year. I can confidently say that the statements in the Oct 14th article, ‘Minister Vows Crackdown on Expat Musicians’ do not represent every Caymanian in the musical community, even remotely.

In fact, all this fear-mongering has done is divide Caymanian musicians- not exactly helpful.

To give someone a permit to teach our kids music, then tell them that they cannot demonstrate their skills in public is a slap in the face. These folks are here, away from their homes, helping to develop our country’s future musicians and this is how we treat them? Caymanians know a fair bit about being away from home in a foreign land. How do we want to be treated? Do unto others…right?

Playing a weekend gig, showing some skills and being a part of the artistic community will only make these teachers more inspired and refreshed for Monday morning, when they can pass that vibe on to the students. Music teachers already deal with inadequate budgets, facilities and equipment (like all teachers of The Arts and educators in general), and the inherent stress of teaching. None of them are gigging full time. Playing a gig or two can only help everyone involved, including our kids and the Caymanian musicians who hire them. For God’s sake, let them play!

The double standard of covering American, UK and Jamaican artists, then saying ‘Oh, we’ll use the music of your country, but you can’t play in ours…’ makes no sense. Imagine being in the States and you hear someone covering a song from one of our iconic musicians, then saying ‘Oh sorry Caymanian, you can’t play here, but we love playing your music!’ How would you feel? Inspired to teach their kids when Monday rolls around? I think not.

Is this really who we are? If we are so committed to purging our music scene of all things foreign, STOP PLAYING FOREIGN MUSIC AND PLAY ONLY ORIGINAL CAYMANIAN SONGS!!! BUILD YOUR OWN INSTRUMENTS OUT OF FIDDLEWOOD AND PLOP NUT!!!

One can see how quickly this mindset becomes ridiculous.

Our small musical community needs no more divisiveness. We have many talented musicians in our beautiful country, Caymanian and non-Caymanian, and I’m proud to have sat in with many of them. Being an art, Music must be exposed, mutated and influenced to grow. Only by seeing different people play, sitting in with different players and learning together, can we help Music progress as an art form; as a cultural language.

We need to elevate ourselves beyond limited agendas and find real solutions; facilitate true discourse to unite the artistic community. Music unifies, reaches beyond politics and economics, is a language deeper than words, an invisible force that touches almost everybody, every day. Let’s move that way.

Of course I understand the business aspect- it’s my job. Maybe I should feel threatened, but I don’t. We need to facilitate the involvement of musicians, not work to undermine it. We need to have open, forward thinking minds, not short-sighted approaches to find out ‘who’s to blame.’ That is how we will unite. That is how we all get, maybe not on the same page, but at least in the same chapter. Unity is the only way to bring Cayman’s Music to the next level in our cultural and artistic evolution. Unity is the ONLY way to heal our Island Nation. Unity is the only way, period.

Let us not forget, Music, like the power of Spirit, is bigger than any one of us, and long after we’re gone, the song plays on. May the next generation, of every nation, take it to the bridge.

Eden Hurlston