Maestro Vere Gibson passes away
For those who don’t know, Vere was half of the Vere and Vern duo that also included Vern Best, the late El Verno del Congo. The two were incredible limbo and tap dancers but they were both past that when I met them.
They were a staple part of the entertainment in that celebrated night club, The Belair Jazz Club. There is nothing like it today so it’s hard to recreate it for those who didn’t have the good fortune to experience it first-hand.
As Sophia of The Golden Girls would say, “picture this”. The year is any time about 1972 or so. It’s a Saturday night and you’ve just come from a fete at YMPC, The Drill Hall or somewhere. You don’t feel like going home yet, so after a visit to Gwen Workman’s shop in Nelson Street there’s nowhere else that will give you the thrill of The Belair.
So it’s off to Bay Street, just past Harry’s Nitery where live sex shows were the order of the night, and into the smoky room where the action took place. The official action, that is, since there were rooms in the back where pleasures untold were delivered at a price by the ladies of the night who would go there when their time on the road was over.
In that main room, though, would be assembled the greatest line-up of Bajan entertainers one could imagine – Mike Sealy on guitar, Bel Small on bass, Ebbie Gilkes on piano, El Verno and his brother Freddie Best on percussion, Vere Gibson or Vere Miller on drums, ol’ man Harris on tenor, Ernie Small on trumpet/piano and other musicians of note just dropping in to jam when their own gigs were over.
You had to be of the very top rank to jam with this ensemble, because those fellas weren’t easy. From jazz standards to blues, to calypso as it should really be played, the music on offer was of the highest quality. I have seen tourists who came to check out the “cute” local entertainment stand with their jaws literally dropping when Mike took off on one of his runs or Ernie went to town on trumpet and piano at the same time.
Vere Gibson was very much a part of that scene, always with a quiet smile and always right on the beat. He played, I believe, on CiCi’s last recording. It’s always with sadness that you observe the passing of an era. El Verno has gone, as I believe has Harris, Slims Giddings, bartender/drummer/late-night counsellor supreme, and Vere Miller. Now Vere Gibson has gone to join them.
There’s some serious jamming going on somewhere tonight, with those guys together again. Condolences go out from VIP PASS to Vere’s loved ones. Please be assured that he will never be forgotten. He is right at the centre of many memories that will never die. Rest in peace, my brother.