by Dalton Narine
A conversation with Kathryn Barbour, Cordell’s wife from 1979 to 1992
Cordell “Spongy” Barbour
Allow me to speak with your late husband, for we were deep friends and panists in the 1960s.
A memorial piece about one of my best fiends ever in Pan, he was.
Sure, Bertie Marshall, who excoriated me for growing up next door to his band of merry men in Laventille, yet my leaning on Neville Jules and the Trinidad All Stars big band in Port of Spain, even though Marshall had just crafted and tuned his original Double Tenor.
Cordell, of course, snapped it up.
Cordell “Spongy” Barbour, be advised that since you left this Far East Earth, (for the real Tokyo’s nickname now answers to Electric Town), just ripe for your beloved poems and that pretty music you played while circling Electric Town (your band’s panyard arena and the Dry River self), you actually gave life your best, Spongy, and left a satisfying feeling in my heart the way you, Bertie Marshall’s right hand man, expatiated on the band’s premier instrument, belting out Cole Porter’s Night and Day, and all y’all loving up those miraculous double tenors. City Syncopators panist, Khalick Hewitt was moved to coin this line: “City Symphony? Hmm, goose bumps.”
It was that new-style, new fangled J’Ouvert reminiscent of fete bands, when Cross Fire Steel band lit up Rainbow Terrace and Queen Street, too, with their wicked Bomb, Another Night Like This.
I’ve just now read a whole Bible of your immaculate poems -- truly a state of the J’Ouvert and the Panorama arts.
Your “Tokyo” band and Berty’s pre-Highlanders orchestra, as well as Neville Jules’ Garret band still remain set in my mind.
Cordell (upper left) on the porch of his grandmother’s house
Truth to tell, Trinidad All Stars, around the corner and Behind the Bridge was back in the day, deep into the Port of Spain culture of J’Ouvert Bombs.
Then, on Remembrance J’Ouvert, I learned that Cordell “Spongy” Barbour, with whom I grew up, passed away a few years ago.
I didn’t know. I was an editor and writer for EBONY magazine. I would have definitely written a whole story about our PAN movement as well on Spongy, for it was right there, near the Mosque that Spongy and I hooked up that fo-day morning, Spongy belting out Cole Porter’s Night and Day on the Double Tenor. Cordell found time to send me a CD. It was as if he was saying, “Hold on to that, more to come.”
I’ve just now read a whole Bible of Cordell’s bold, yet illustrious poems.
So now, in the vein of my fave poet, Mervyn Taylor (Back in the day), FYI, here’s another to wrap your head around: The late Cordell “Spongy” Barbour.
Wishing you, Cordell and your late brother, Ancil, a solid Rest in Peace from me.
We’ll be in touch sooner than later.
Dalton Narine - Cordell’s longtime friend since school days.
Cordell fascinated visitors to Fisherman’s Wharf and Union Square in San Francisco
see Cordell “Spongy” Barbour’s Bio.
see Cordell “Spongy” Barbour’s Poetry...
Dalton Narine is a Belmont-born Trinidadian who dabbled in the arts and wrote about Trinidad & Tobago culture. He spent the other half of his career as a filmmaker and TV broadcaster during T&T’s annual Carnival. Narine is an avid collector of calypsos by The Mighty Shadow, a singer, he says, who had a knack for telling stories on himself and his own country that, at last, has embraced him.
contact Dalton Narine at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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