Aug. 8, 2005 The spirit of the Virgin Islands will ring out in Denmark next week as Stanley and the Ten Sleepless Knights bring their steel, squash, guitar, banjo, flute, keyboard and cowbells to sound out on a 12-concert tour of the country.
"We've traveled a lot, but we've never been to Europe," band founder Stanley Jacobs said Monday. "This is a once in a lifetime thing to get to do." Jacobs says the band has traveled a lot, but "nothing like this."
The popular band has become part of the V.I. culture. The group started in 1969 when a bunch of musicians on St. Croix decided to get together to play their hearts out with their Crucian music. They play anywhere — from Government House to local bars — and are well-known and well-loved. They travel to St. Thomas, Tortola, down island and Virgin Gorda.
"We've played in the states, too," Jacobs says, "New Orleans and Miami, but never before to Europe."
The quelbe music they play was made the official music of the Virgin Islands in a resolution passed by the 26th Legislature. The band's trip is part of a cultural exchange the Department of Tourism initiated with Denmark. Early next year, a Danish band will perform at the Island Center on St. Croix.
Though he has never been to Denmark, Jacobs has friends there who are in a band that is sort of a Danish musical counterpart to the Sleepless Knights. "The Polcalpyso Band," Jacobs says, "we're old friends. They started a band copying our music it's the same, basically. They play our tunes. They will be our contact."
In 1988 bandleader Kazio Kierpaul discovered the Caribbean music and was sufficiently inspired to form the band Karlekammeret, The Original Danish Polcalypso Orchestra, and introduced this music to Europe. The name Polcalpyso mean polka plus calypso.
Jacobs says, "They've been here about four times. We've played together. All those guys are our friends." Kierpaul is running a club now, Jacobs says, "so the sax player will be our main contact."
The Knights have a heady schedule, including a performance at the prestigious Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, where Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Elton John have played, let alone countless classical performers.
Here is the band's European itinerary:
— August 13, Jonstrup Jazz Festival
— August 13, Munkenphus i Dronningmoelle
— August 14, Harbour Festival Bisserup (in conjunction with Skaelskoer Cultural Department)
— August 17, Folk Music House, Broby
— August 18, Long John Silver, Copenhagen
— August 19, Etnorama, Copenhagen
— August 20, Galleri Ravn, Valby Langgade
— August 21, Vallensbaek Commune Open Air Concert, followed by concert at Town Hall, Hvidore
— August 25, Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen
— August 26, Naestved Festival Week, Teatersalen Gronnegade Kaserne
— August 27, Hvidore, gardkoncert i Radhushaven.
Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.