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Sunday Soul – St. Thomas

Year 11 – Playlist 29/52 – For the week of November 2nd 2014

Modern St. Thomas and the US Virgin Islands were originally inhabited by the Ciboney people. They were later replaced by the Arawaks and then the Caribs. Christopher Columbus sighted the island in 1493 on his second voyage to the “New World”. Columbus may not have discovered “America” but he certainly discovered the West Indies.

Speaking of Columbus, I think it’s cute that everyone is all unhappy about “Columbus Day.” I asked the question of the people of three European countries this summer – Italy, Spain and Portugal – and more than one person in each country claimed Christoper as their own. So while the Americans don’t want to have anything to do with the explorer, at least three European countries claim him and would like to believe that he did it all for crown and country.

Somewhere around 1657 the Dutch West India Company settled in the Virgin Islands and set up shop. By 1666 the Danish, of all people, attacked and defeated the Dutch and took over the surrounding islands. St. Thomas was one of the first to go. While the sugar trade had brought prosperity to the island’s free citizens, by the early 19th century Saint Thomas was in decline. The continued export of sugar was threatened by hurricanes, drought, and American competition. Following the Danish Revolution of 1848, slavery was abolished and the resulting rise in labor costs further weakened the position of Saint Thomas’ sugar producers.

Given its harbors and fortifications, Saint Thomas still retained a strategic importance, and thus, in the 1860s, during the American Civil War and its aftermath, the United States government considered buying the island and its neighbors from Denmark for $7.5 million, but at the time failed to find domestic legislative support for the bid.

It wasn’t until 1917 that St. Thomas was purchased (along with Saint John and Saint Croix) by the United States for $25 million in gold, as part of a defensive strategy to maintain control over the Caribbean and the Panama Canal during the First World War. The transfer occurred on March 31, 1917, behind Fort Christian before the barracks that now house the Legislature of the U.S Virgin Islands. The baccalaureate service for the transfer was held at the St. Thomas Reformed Church as it was identified as the American church in the Danish West Indies. In 1927 US Citizenship was granted to all of the people who live in the territory. The US Department of the Interior took over administrative duties in 1931, but the territory did not achieve “full home rule” until 1970.

I’ve heard about the Caribbean all my life. I’ve heard it called the Cari-bee-an, and the Ca-rib-ean. It always depends on who you’re talking to. The ride is called the Pirates of the Cari-bee-an, but anyone who’s ever been there calls it the Carib-ean. So I’ve always called it that. Seems like it’s better to use the

pronounciation of the people who’ve visited than the people who named a carnival ride after it, right? That’s what I think anyway. Growing up I watched my wealthy friends go and return from St. Croix, St. Thomas, St. Barts and other islands with a warm golden glow and a big smile. The word on this place was always that it was heavenly, beautiful beaches, no one around, and the drinking age is only 18. So somewhere between a paradise and a never ending spring break (with the added bonus of hurricanes.) I always wanted to see for myself, but the opportunity had not yet arrived.

Friday night I played a party in St. Thomas. I came here basically on a lark for my dear and long time friend Hooman who moved here years ago to open a night club with his partner in crime Tim – together they ran the now legendary Club Five in Washington DC – and their decision to sell the club totally surprised everyone, but their exit to the Caribbean was an even bigger surprise. Sadly, the US Virgin Islands just weren’t ready for house music, and after a solid go at it the club closed and Tim returned to DC. Hooman stayed behind and opened a killer restaurant bar and has made a terrific success of himself. Now, naturally, he felt it was time to throw a party. He asked, and I cancelled my halloween gigs, packed up my swim trunks, my records and Martha and we got here just as fast as we could.

I found a U.S. territory. The prices are inflated (for understandable reasons), there is a huge rift here between rich and poor. The wealthy and well off appear to be European and American and the poor appear to be of African descent. We arrived at a magnificant house on top of the hill stocked with everything you could ever want – amazing food, beautiful accomodations, great coffee, and beautiful people. I spent Friday resting from a crazy 24 hours of travel, and wondering what I might play in a heavy drinking, off season, expatriot, southern style enclave in the most remote location which can still be called the United States. Hooman said “It’s time to bring house music to the people.” which is typically my battle cry… and that’s what I did. But I have to admit that my guard was up for about an hour into the set. I mixed into the opening DJ – who was playing some hard and heavy radio remixes – still standing on the dancefloor with my equipment turned around, and my back to the crowd. When I finally got turned around I studied my work carefully, and didn’t look up for a long time. I relaxed into my music, I sang a few songs, I had a really, really, really drunk guy see that I was using the mic and so he wanted to take a turn. I introduced him on the mic, and he said “Oh man, I’m really drunk” and I said “That’s not my probelm man…” and so he launched into some popular hip hop lyrics and no one seemed to notice. Then, as I took back the microphone, I took a deep breath and surveyed the room. Everyone was dancing. Everyone. They loved it.

I took it deeper and deeper and sang more and more. Long and lean men with suspicious faces watched me in awe like I was doing science experiments. Women in crazy halloween costumes were bending down low, and raising their hands to the rafters. One woman finally realized that I was actually singing and freaked out completely. It was like no one had ever heard house music before and I was given the honor of annointing them to a solid heartbeat at last, a drink of water after a lifetime of summer. I fell in love with them. I want to stay and teach and preach the gospel of fearless deepness and vulnerable soul and reflective, meditative, spiritual dancing.

The people I’m staying with are angels. A family of three beautiful brothers, each talented and gifted in his own way. Their companions are stunning, smart, and successful. They have built their lives through ingenuity and couage, family, faith and love.

I see now that my guard never needed to be up at all. Wherever love lives is truly home, and so in that case I am at home here. I am so thankful that I am playing again today, from 1pm until they make me stop… I can’t wait.

Thank you for listening. See you next week.

Here is the track listing for Sunday Soul: St. Thomas

1. Another Station – Todd Terje Remix – Lindstrom
2. Feel It – Vocal Mix – Matthew Bandy
3. Son Of Raw – Dennis Ferrer
4. Light Of Day – Dub Mix – Fred Everything
5. The Cure & The Cause – Fish Go Deep
6. Pure – Jay’s Original Vocal – Blue Six
7. Miss Me – Stephane Lefrancois Remix – Homegroove Project
8. Breathe – Look Brown
9. Loving Back – Dub Mix – David Panda
10. Touch Me – Christian Hornbostel Philadelphia Rework – Kienzle & Iberle
11. Night Belongs To Us – Ivan Melnik
12. How Do I Let Go – Demo mix – Dennis Ferrer
13. Slipby – Tim Fuller
14. No Limit – Jonny Miller Remix – Luka
15. Forever More – Francois Kevorkian Vocal Mix – Moloko
16. Josephine (dmc remix) – Chris Rea
17. Sunday Soul – Program ID
18. Just Breathe – Telepopmusic
19. Sunday Soul – Program ID

Year 11 – Playlist 29|52
2 November 2014
Total Running Time: 01 Hour 59 Minutes

Buy this music if you love it. Buy it on vinyl. Play it loud. I am curating something personal for the people I love who take the time to listen. If you have feelings and would like to be stricken from the record here, please let me know and I’d be glad to never play your music here again. I’ve been mad about love before, and I totally understand.

May the stars above you shimmer and shine, guiding your heart always, all of the time. May they guide you sweetly, all the way home. And may all your sundays have soul.