Thursday, September 24, 2009

St. Lucian Shak Shak Music


Jamaica has reggae, Trinidad has calypso, Cuba has son and St. Lucia has shak shak music. Folk music defines Caribbean culture and in St. Lucia, it's the shak shak rattle or shakare, fiddle, cuatro, banjo and drum that form the shak-shak band, which displays the essence of native Kweyol culture. Kweyol is the French-based Creole dialect spoken only in St. Lucia and nearby Dominica. The upbeat rhythms of shak shak music ring out from fish fries, small rural gatherings and many hotels. I met Lawrence James, the shak shak and harmonica player above, on the lovely Fond Du Estate. He has been playing since he was a child and like most folk musicians, is self-taught.



James' shak shak is fashioned with tin cans and seeds, which float around to make the requisite scratchy sound. Recently, a revival of traditional Kweyol culture has encouraged young people to learn shak shak music and songs. In the video below, a small shak shak band composed of shak shak, banjo and drums play for a grandmother's birthday in a St. Lucian home. Young and old join in, singing in Kweyol.

10 comments:

Jean-Luc Picard said...

Hadn't heard of this type of music. Thanks for showing it.

DefinitiveCaribbean said...

I've been to St Lucia a few times and never heard this sound, so thank you for bringing it to my attention! I'm clearly going to the wrong places!

Best - Alexander

Fly Girl said...

Jean-Luc, it's rare to hear shak shak anyplace but on St. Lucia.

Definitive, Many hotels host shak shak bands but not daily. Now the next time you go, you know what to ask for! Thanks for dropping by.

A Cuban In London said...

Never ever had heard of this instrument and music style. Excellent post. It's one of those little gems that radiates intensely because it reflects back the knowledge of an art learned through hard graft. Many thanks.

Greetings from London.

Catherine said...

I am such a fan of world global music and like finding out new stuff...thanks these instruments and style of music were both new for me...

Fly Girl said...

Cubano, thanks.

Catherine, it's a very specific form of music rarely heard outside of St.Lucia, I hope you get to visit some day to hear it live.

Ibou said...

I liked this. I would like to be at that party :-)

Fly Girl said...

Ibou, I'd love to join in that fete too!

A Cuban In London said...

You know also what it reminds me of? A chekere, an instrument invented in Cuba but with a strong Yoruba influence.

Greetings from London.

Fly Girl said...

Cubano, that's exactly what it is. I refer to it in the beginning of the post as a shakare.