There is a very close legacy link between country music and the Cayman Islands, particularly Cayman Brac.

Before 1976, when Radio Cayman first began to broadcast, recorded music made its way to the Brac inside of suitcases after a Bracker’s long stretch at sea. The songs came in the form of vinyl records and they would usually end up on a jukebox in one of the local bars, as few folks on the island were affluent enough to afford a Victrola.

The majority of these recordings were country music, true country music, not the mainstream “bubble gum rock-with-a-fiddle” that comes out of Nashville these days. The love of tear-jerking, beer-drinking songs spawned Cayman’s own country stars.

Probably best known is Andy ‘The Cayman Cowboy’ Martin with five albums and numerous local hits under his belt. However, Andy had his very own local idol and that was Captain Arlin Tatum, a superstar in Andy’s eyes.

Arlin Tatum

Andy Martin recalled, as a young man, hitching a ride or walking to West End to hear Arlin sing and strum his guitar. In an era of no radio, TV or Internet, the transoceanic stars of the Grand Ole Opry were too distant to visualize for Andy until he started to see their images on the cover of a record album.

A young Arlin Tatum strumming his guitar on board a ship.
A young Arlin Tatum strumming his guitar on board a ship.

Andy would always love listening to the Grand Ole Opry when occasionally a late night signal from the powerful 50,000 watt radio stations made its way to the Brac. “The next best thing to a front row seat at the Opry was to hear Arlin sing live; no one could sing a Roy Acuff song like Captain Arlin,” recalled Andy.

No surprise that Andy took up singing country too.

Concert of country stars

This Saturday, at the Veterans’ and Seamen’s Centre on Cayman Brac, a tribute Concert and Country Music Jamboree will take place for the late Captain Arlin Tatum, starting at 6:30 p.m. Making a special appearance will be one of Captain Arlin’s biggest fans – Andy Martin. The lineup of entertainment does not end there, as also appearing will be Big Raymond Scott and the Country Boys, which includes a mix of Ernie Scott, Dave Tatum, Greta Tatum, Renwick Connolly, Junior Dilbert, Gary Martin, Henry Scott and more than likely, Percy Whorms, who always makes an expected appearance at such events.

The Koalition Dancers, a dance troupe of Brac school students, will also be performing.

Admission is free. but there will be raffle tickets and food on sale. Tickets are $5 each with a first prize of $1,000. Steaks, chicken, pulled pork and fish will be on the menu and considering that it will be classic Brac fare, there will be plenty of traditional sides to choose from.

Country music and great food. It’s a wonderful way to spend a Saturday night.
For more information, contact Liz Walton at 925-3924.

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