Words by LargeUp Crew
Photos by Anduze Visuals
Reggae, dancehall, soca and calypso dominate musical expression across the English-speaking Caribbean. But, as much as these sounds have diffused throughout the islands, sub-regional genres and local musical styles remain a crucial part of the identity in many Caribbean territories. In the U.S. Virgin Islands, there is quelbe, played by scratch bands using mostly homemade instruments — flutes made from car muffler pipes, banjos made from sardine cans. And Stanley and the Ten Sleepless Knights, the long-running St. Croix-based unit led by Stanley Jacobs, are the undisputed kings of quelbe.
On “100 Years Strong,” reggae star Pressure Busspipe enlists the help of Stanley and crew (a quartet in their current incarnation) to celebrate the centennial of the U.S. Virgin Islands, acquired by the United States from Denmark in 1917. That was a year ago, but as the USVI gets set to celebrate 101 — as well as the upcoming carnivals in St. Thomas and St. John — Pressure, Stanley and crew convene for a visual representation of their I Grade Records-produced tune, featuring scenes shot across St. Croix by director Dwight Winston. If you don’t know about the early history of the USVI as a Danish colony, you can actually listen to Pressure’s lyrics, and get right up to speed. And, thanks to Stanley and company, you can also get a succinct introduction to quelbe. Watch the video below: