An authentic Bajan

Quite often parents will give their children Christian names with a particular meaning. Barack and Jabez are two examples. Others get surnames like Pilgrim with implied meaning, and, maybe expectations. David Pilgrim, the son of Charles and Grace Pilgrim, has both.

From childhood, David had diverse cultural influences. Parents – music; avant-garde jazz, African, ska. Father – chorale music. Mother – cassette tapes/albums; calypso, R&B and pop. Janice Millington (school teacher) – classical music structures and banjos/tuk. Nicholas Brancker – international musician and best friend.

Today, when performing on the American stage, David shows no pretence. He is authentic Bajan.

Eaves dropping of his answering machine will reveal these sound bites:

“Wuhloss, Wuhloss, yeah yeah … man you got it right … lef’ a number. Hear you soooooooon.”

His father’s smile

In person, he greets you with his father’s smile, he warms you with his mother’s presence and charm, and speaks dialect almost by default: “man yeah”, “long time nuh see”, “yuh know”.

On Facebook he shares “ole time clippings and bare foolishness”.

If his persona doesn’t conform to the title “pilgrim” maybe it is because of his “double life”, as an advertising executive and a musician. He explains the balancing of challenges this way:

“Advertising is far more demanding time wise as it is both my main source of income and is deadline driven. The bottom has fallen out of the music business. Recordings no longer generate livable income, and paying performances for seasoned acts are harder to come by and harder to generate audiences for.”

David Pilgrim, is the bassist, guitarist, one of three lead vocalists, contributing songwriter and PR leader of the band SOULFOLKEXPERIENCE, and was at his best, when the band performed two sets at the Iridium — an upscale jazz club on Broadway — to a cosmopolitan audience that included David’s parents, Charles and Grace, and many close friends.

Trademark hat

Wearing his trademark conductor-looking white hat, was animated, large and in charge, when it was his turn.

Jamaican singer, Latanya Hall in reviewing David’s performance, described him as a wonderful singer with a unique sound, that sings from an honest place — his heart.

SOULFOLKEXPERIENCE is a trinity of talented artists, who stay within their areas of competence, and who search the heart of soul, jazz and folk, and who build monuments and waves that ears enjoy and explore. In the song Hold On, launched the same night- Jeffrey Smith, David Pilgrim and Maritri each leads a verse, and after an instruments “collaborative”, the trio sings vocal harmonies on top of a crescendo of rhythmic patterns.

Listen, in part to David: “My people think about how to get a bigger share, put aside their deepest fears; I feel change is in the air. Hold on, Hold on… ’cause richie rich will have his time … soon the stars will realign, I will watch and read the sign … and then I’ll take what is mine. Hold on. Hold on.”

Today’s challenges

Clearly, Hold On is about today’s challenges. But, I also heard the voices of “Dutchie” and “Cordo” — two bus conductors. The bus ride on Trotman bus coming ’round Belle Gully was indeed as turbulent as times are today, and the bus seldom “dead stoppped” at a bus stop. Furthermore, every time someone was picked up “Dutchie” and “Cordo” would shout “Hold on!” and then “Ride!”

That chorus was sweet music to every child’s ear. And so too was David and SOULFOLKEXPERIENCE.

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