Maestro Vere Gibson passes away

I got the news from CiCi on Monday night that Vere Gibson passed away that same day.

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.

3 Responses to Maestro Vere Gibson passes away

  1. Craig Codrington August 23, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    Hello everyone, I am Vere’s youngest son Craig. I apologize for the lateness of my father’s obituary. I am working on it as we speak. I am so pleased to see this article as I just spoke to my brother Tony Gibson not an hour ago in NYC to deliver the news to him. My father was a force for sure and a brilliant musician. He lived in Vermont with us for a short while returning to Barbados in 1990 and even though he returned to Barbados 22 years ago, not a week goes by where someone up here in Vermont doesn’t ask how Sonny is doing. His brand of fire is not common these days and unfortunately I only got drippings of his talent but he is greatly missed and equally admired. His obituary will be out shortly. I will be traveling to the island this coming Saturday and the service which will also be announced will be on Tuesday Aug 28th at 2 pm at the Westbury Cemetery. Again, thank you for this article and thank you all for loving my father. He was great one!

  2. Annette King August 24, 2012 at 7:42 pm

    It is with great sadness that I have to say goodbye and happy journey to a dear old friend of mine, Vere Gibson. May the wind carry you to wonderful places and know that we all love and miss you dearly my friend. The world was a better place with you in it and we will never forget you….I will listen for your drums playing and your wonderful laughter in the wind knowing you are always close by… dear friend Vere, we all love you.
    Thank you Craig for posting this information (dont know if you remember me, we spoke on the phone briefly once not too long ago….)
    My condolences go out to Vere’s family and loved ones, and he will surely be missed….Rest in Peace Vere, love and respect.
    Annette King
    Ottawa, Ontario

  3. JD McCreary November 21, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    To Whom It May Concern:

    Please assist.

    My wife (Born at Welch, St John) is researching how to submit her Grandma’s obituary for 11/26/2012. Please provide the guidance.

    Your assistance is much appreciated.


    JD McCreary


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