Sunday, August 14, 2016

Rake 'n' Scrape Music Festival, Arthur's Town, Cat Island

June 2016

We sailed into Arthur's Town after departing from New Bight just after sunset.  We dropped anchor in the dark while an alternating mix of American Hip Hop and local Rake 'n' Scrape music blared from the direction of a few flickering lights on the coast.  In the morning we could see where it was all coming from, a little bar with a hut overlooking the vibrant turquoise water.  The bar has two floor-to-ceiling height speakers sitting just outside the front doors facing the beach. 

Clear turquoise ocean meets white rocky shore on Cat Island. A hut sits elevated above the beach overlooking the water.

Unlike New Bight, Arthur's Town has a rocky coast, so you have to wedge a dinghy anchor somewhere in the rocks, let it float it the shallows, and scramble up to the walkway.

But behind the rocks, calm clear shallows swirl atop soft white sand making it a perfect beach.

Sailboat anchored in the distance on bright turquoise seas. The view from shore.
Sailboat anchored on horizon of bright calm turquoise ocean seas.

We walked the town to inquire about the location of the Rake 'n' Scrape festival that evening. There weren't that many people around, but we were offered a ride out to the site by the first person we asked. Her name was Flora, and she was going to be making crab at the festival!  Crab is my favorite and I had yet to see it on a menu in the Bahamas. 

The Rake 'n' Scrape festival began around sunset.  Rake 'n' Scrape is a form of Goombay music (native to the Bahamas) that originated on Cat Island.  The music requires a Goombay drum and scraping a carpenters saw with a metal file.  Like all saw music (Rip Saw of the Turks and Caicos, Hoedown of Appalachia, etc..) It originated when the people had to make instruments out of whatever they had. Now it has evolved into a full blown genre with the accompaniment of saxophones, harmonics. electric guitars, and any other instrument appropriate for the composition. You will probably hear it sitting at any local establishment in the Bahamas. That evening child and adult groups performed to compete for cash prizes and titles. The musical performances were accompanied by small troops dancing the Bahamian Quadrille or Heel and Toe Polka - dances evolved specifically for the boisterous Rake 'n' Scrape sound.

The picture below sums up the Bahamas pretty well.  It is a very wholesome place. Every festival is an all ages family friendly affair. FYI to any parents out there who want a remote chill beach vacation in a place where all local events are for the whole family (and swearing is prohibited!)- the Bahamas is the place to go. Cat Island in particular has a few small local "resort" hotels.  10-15 rooms/bungelos on a beach in a small community with fresh seafood and no souvenir key chain to even consider.

Around the parameter of the of the festival zone a dozen food booths smoked and sizzled with the aromas of fish, lobster, conch and crab.  I visited Flora and got a container of pan friend crab meat and rice. It was so much crab. Below is a man making the famous Bahamian conch salad. There will always be a man making conch salad. And for good reason, it's delicious.

At this point it was early June and we were planning our route back to Florida. We left Cat Island and raised sail for Nassau (approx 24 hours away) the day after the festival. Nassau was intended to be a quick one night stop en route home, but things didn't exactly go to plan.

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