Sunday, August 24, 2008

Zombie Jamboree

"Zombie Jamboree"

In 1953 Lord Intruder, a little-remembered calypsonian from Tobago, performed his "Jumbie Jamberee" at the Old Brigade Calypso Tent in Port of Spain, Trinidad. The song was about jumbies (spirits) dancing "back to back, belly to belly" in a cemetery. Intruder had the words printed in a calypso lyrics booklet but never recorded it.

The Mighty Charmer and King Flash first recorded the song in the 1950s in the United States, where the reference to a Trinidadian graveyard was changed to one in New York. The song became widely known as the "Zombie Jamboree" during the late 1950s through recordings by the Kingston Trio, a top group in the folk music revival. Meanwhile, Harry Belafonte regularly performed the song and recorded it three times during the 1960s and 1970s. Bob Marley and the Wailers issued a reggae version ("Jumbie Jamboree"), with Peter Tosh on lead vocals.

The Charmer (Louis Farakhan)

Lord Jellicoe

Eloise Trio

Harry Belafonte

The Kingston Trio

Peter Tosh


Note: Some singers, if singing in New York, will mention "Woodlawn Cemetary". This is a large pirvate cemetary in the north Bronx, adjacent to Van Courtland Park. This is a public park that has a few cricket pitches popular with West Indians living in New York because they are at the end of a subway line.

When I was a student I spent a couple of summers workng as an apprentice gardner at Woodlawn Cemetary.

1 comment:

chris keane said...

This is a great post! I wasn't aware of the history of this song. Thanks for sharing it Karl. If you're ever in the mood to meet other reggae fans, wander on over to my site, www.dubandreggae.com - I'd love to have someone as knowledgeable as you in the community.