Taking a stroll down Memory Lane
THIS MEMORY LANE essay from Francois Mathiot, Seychelles’ unsung ambassador to Australia, should be of paramount interest to well known Seselwa musicians with flagging recollections….
’Walking down Royal Street from Malakoff Street, and just before chucking a right on Bel Air road, I would admire the very proud style and composed nature of the Legendary Sidonie as he stood in the doorway of his shoemaker shop. He was not only a very beautiful man, but he also was the leader of the Famous Sidonie and the Nightingales Kamtole Band. Pti Tin Tin was his triangle player. By the time I reached my old Friend the Multi-Talented Jack Yokoro's house on Bel Air road, Jack would be playing on his acoustic Guitar in perfect tune with the Beatles! Across the road from Jack's house was a wall that formed part of Bel Air road and looking over the wall I saw ageless France Lagrenade putting the icing on a four-tiered wedding cake that Dada had baked. Dada's dog, Jackie, did not bark at me as usual and you can ask your friend David Thomas why, Popip, and he will tell you. To think that in only a few hours time, the grand music band master would be leading the Starlights at the Old Pirates Arms! The Man on Double Bass was the jovial, always smiling Tip Ti and the greatest Seychellois Drummer at the time was none other than Satini. I would wave hello to Mr. Marcel Zatte as I made my way past Master LoLo and behold, Rays Music Room where Jim Reeves ruled the airwaves with "He'll have to go". Upon reaching Benezet Street and Royal Street corner, there was a new Hotel opposite the curio shop of Mr. Ah-Tim and, nearby, Monsieur Amede was a very busy shoemaker. Jamming on stage was a Band called the Zests made up of local Sailors from the Oil Tanker the Derwendale. Then another group came on and the Lead Guitarist was no other than one of my best friends Jimmy Baker with his unique playing style.
I would then walk past the Central Police Station and I would tease the Guard Gro Zenou, including Sam Vidot, sitting on the wall next to the entrance to the Immigration Section facing Progress House. And next door on stage at the Continental Hotel, my old Mate Mickey and the Chevrons would be practising the Banana Boat Song. Albert Durrand was on Bass, Marcel Rouillon on his Gretsch Guitar and the incomparable Ron Rose on rhythm Guitar. Frank Juliette known as Solda, was on Drums. I would then walk on past the old taxi stand where the taxi drivers lazed about waiting for the arrival of the Kampala. I would then chuck a left on Albert Street and say hello to La Pat Sek, Monsieur Moulinie upstairs and the very kind hearted Gro Philip Mancham sitting at his desk across the road at Richard’s. If I was in luck, I would score some chewing gum or toffee from him.
I would then proceed towards "Kris" at the start of Castor Road and the sound of music would again permeate the air this time from the Revellers Band comprising of the Pool Brothers Bernard on Lead Guitar, Charles on rhythm, Andre on Bass with Gilbert Chow on Drums. The Revellers were to later on win the Battle of the Bands against the new comers The Nightshades and Mickey and the Chevrons at la Salle d’Doeuvres with a song "I Should Have Known Better With A Girl Like You."
From there I went to see another family band, the Hoareau Boys at English River. Kabwer Zulu was singing Devil Woman followed by Clifford Adam singing "I see a red doll.” The PWD Goal Keeper who incidentally, in an error of judgement during a match with Ascot Eleven, tackled Younas Suliman as he was about to shoot for goal came out second best with a broken leg! On my return to Seychelles I never heard one romantic song! Sad! On my next trip I hope to hear Ton Pat singing the Blues in the Island Fever band. Anyway, I proceeded back home at Malakoff via Market Street and after a hot cup of tea and a biskwi sale, I decided to head up to the Seychelles' master musician, France Lagrenade’s Biznak Residence to have a peek preview of some new kids on the block. ‘Les Boys’ was being formed with Brothers Perly, Mark and Antoine Hoareau and Ton Pye was the front man and that was before John Wirtz came around. I felt contented and happy for they did not play a blues song but they instead played and sang "Malaika, na koo penda Malaika" which was a massive hit out of Africa. Jack Yokoro, Daniel Marie, Tony Delorie and Georges Delpech were the Candy Boys and they ruled the roost at Maryse's Bar. "Gro" Daniel went to join the Buccaneers and the super-talented and gifted Rolly Chang-Him was invited to join Danny Deltel. Danny and the Wanderers were formed. The Wanderers folded not long after and the dispute ended up in Court which was really sad and unprecedented in the History of Seychelles.
Jack, who was my best Friend and I have since discovered is my nephew, went on to form the Merry Makers with Eddie Micock on Drums, David Pothin on Bass, Gilmer Pragassen on rhythm guitar and Pat "Boto" Barallon on Lead Vocal. Rolly was invited to join Mickey and the Buccaneers with Georges on Pearl Drums, Tony on Hofner bass guitar, the incomparable "Gro" Ken Marie on Hofner lead guitar and the legendary Dick Morel on Saxophone. The Vibrations were the best, most popular and most versatile band around! As a result, I soon found myself in conflict with Mickey, the Nightshades and others because I would get bookings for the Vibrations from the great man, Grand Jimmy the Boss of Temooljee, to play at the Beach Hotel whilst their approaches to Manager Doo-Doo were turned down. The Vibrations, in which yours truly, Tikouto played rhythm guitar on a Hofner organised a few Fund Raising Dances for the Famous Rovers Football Club that was under the Chairmanship of Robert Frichot. The Beach Hotel Dance scene was the place to be seen. It was with great sadness that I learned the passing away of Jimmy! My sincere sympathy goes to Rolly and the Baker Family.’ Tikouto.
Contibuted by Dr L. Popip SIK