When one thinks of a saxophone, the word conjures images of smooth jazz, street corner entertainers, smoky nightclubs and sultry women.
But to Melvin Augustine, it represents good food to the soul.
“Music is my love, when I am worried it puts me in a good mood and takes away the negative,” he said. “Instead of watching television, I play music and things go as I pour my soul into the music.”
Mr. Augustine is a professional saxophonist, but he also teaches and plays several instruments.
“The saxophone helps me to sing and learn the songs faster and helps enhance my memory,” he said. “I started music by playing the drums, but the sax was my love.”
His love for Punta music rocked Cayman’s soul scene in the early 1980s as he went on to form the band “Settlers” and cut his own records and compact discs. Today, he can be seen strumming his guitar at the local supermarkets for charity, as well as playing church services and helping out private parties.
Mr. Augustine came to the Cayman Islands from Belize looking for money, but did not find it. What he found was a bushy territory full of mosquitoes, beautiful sea, sand and sunshine, good food and a community of loving people.
It was this medley of island flavour that caused him to remain for the next 36 years to offer his contributions to the society through police service and music.
“There was nothing much going on in the islands those days. The youngsters played football and a little bit of cricket with a few parties going on here and there,” he said. “The music scene was also a lot different those days.”
Today, he said, local musicians are more educated in music where they understand it as a business. “But from what I can see happening is they want to do better,” he said. “They need to more understand music to get where other countries are. To play music in other countries you have some sort of paper stating you are a musician. That piece of paper helps musicians to stand firm and ready in music.”
He said local musicians will find it hard to play in certain venues because some do not understand it is a business.
“If you do not do business the right way you will not succeed,” he said. “First thing we have to know is not to be late; don’t work overtime when not told and expect to be paid; be well dressed and conduct oneself properly. We have to look at music as something that is very important.
“For young people seeking a career in the music industry they need to learn the music the right way in order to make a good living from it,” he added.
Mr. Augustine joined the Royal Cayman Island Police Service in 1976 as a tailor and band leader and resigned in 2007. From there, he went on to teach music at the Lighthouse School and Red Bay Primary School. While working with the schoolchildren teaching basic music, he said he cherished the relationships he formed with students.
“I enjoyed it very much because the children really wanted to learn, I was teaching them how to use music as a therapy and life skill,” he said. “I was sorry when I had to leave.”
Growing up in Belize, Mr. Augustine learned music from his uncle, who took him along to his gigs as a back up drum player. As a young man, he joined the police service until he came to the Cayman Islands.
“We played all over the whole island and the people loved us,” he said.