Posts Tagged cat island

Rake & Scrape Festival, Cat Island, Bahamas

I am headed to the annual Cat Island Rake & Scrape Festival this weekend and I am quite looking forward to it. Dating back to the 1800s, rake & scrape is known as the folk music of the Bahamas and would accompany traditional Bahamian quadrille and polka dances. It has even been called the “heart of Bahamian culture”.

I am told that rake & scrape originated in Cat Island, where the locals are well known for making good use of whatever resources they have around them. It could have originated with the African slaves brought to the islands, who learned to create musical instruments out of the various materials they had available to them.

Rake & scrape musicians have been known to create a bass instrument out of a piece of wood, fishing line and an old tin tub, though, today’s musicians more often are seen using an accordion, a carpenter’s saw and goatskin drums (usually referred to as goombay drums). The saw is played by raking a screwdriver across the teeth. Bending, hitting, raking and scraping the saw creates raw, unpolished but surprisingly harmonic sounds. It’s a beautiful thing.

Bahamian music doesn’t get more authentic than this.

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Summer Festivals and Regattas In The Bahamas

Summer is considered the slow tourist season in the Bahamas. Peak tourist season is typically winter… and winters are wonderful in the Bahamas. But the balmy summers of the Bahamas have their charms as well. The temperature only varies about twenty degrees Fahrenheit between summer to winter so a tropical vacation can be enjoyed year-round but summer brings on a schedule chock-full of regattas and fun family-oriented festivals. In fact, you can find festivals and regattas occurring all throughout the islands of the Bahamas.

Regattas are an annual activity and an eagerly anticipated aspect of summer in the Bahamas. Amateur captains from all over the world make their way to the islands to participate in the sloop races. But for those more comfortable on the shore there’s an abundance of land-based festivities going on before, during and after the regattas.

Here is a list of just a few of the many festivals and regattas coming up:

Pineapple Festival in Eleuthera
June 01 – 05, 2011

43rd Annual Long Island Regatta
June 02 – 04, 2011

Cat Island Rake & Scrape Festival
May 25- 30, 2011

South Andros Regatta
June 3 – 5, 2011

Grand Bahama Regatta
June 17 – 19, 2011

Junkanoo Summer Festival in Marsh Harbour
To Be Announced

Bay Fest in Hatchet Bay, Eleuthera
To Be Announced

Black Point Regatta in Exuma
July 30 – August 2, 2011

All Andros Regatta
June 03 – 11, 2011

Cat Island Regatta
July 30 – August 2, 2011

All Abaco Regatta
July 01 – 09, 2011

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What I Know About Cat Island, Bahamas

I have lived in Nassau for just over a year and rarely travel to the other islands, though I know a few things about them. Mostly the facts, the history, the details written in books and on websites.

For example, when I recently got a chance to visit Cat Island I already knew that it was where you could find the highest point in all of the Bahamas – Mount Alvernia – reaching a humble 206 feet. And that at the top of Mount Alvernia you could find one of the island’s best known landmarks, The Hermitage.

I knew that the island was once home to actor Sidney Poitier. I knew that it had got it’s name from Arthur Catt, a pirate who frequented the island, though many also say it was named for its once large population of feral cats. I had heard intriguing stories of obeah, a form of ritualistic African witchcraft, believed to be heavily practiced on Cat Island.

Yes, I knew a few things about Cat Island, what I didn’t know was that I would fall in love with the island and its charms. We flew in and as I stepped off the small plane I immediately felt an air of relaxation settling over me.

We stayed at an unpretentious little boutique hotel that fulfilled all the ideals of an island getaway while meeting all our needs. As I lay stretched out in a hammock looking over the beach with a book in my lap I forgot about everything I knew and learned something else… how to relax in paradise.

I know this is a place to which I hope to soon return.

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