The announcement had been posted on social media: the search was on for cassettes recorded and sold between 1975 and 2000 by Walter Gavitt Ferguson. It was supposed by some fans and musicologists that the the calypso legend was living in Cahuita, off the Caribbean coast in Costa Rica – where he had never wanted to leave. It was urgent. The tapes were probably deteriorating, the singer didn’t have any copies and now, at age 99, he did not completely remember the songs on them.
The search ended in Canada, where nine cassettes were found – close to 50 songs that Bongo Joe is now planning to re-release. The 15 songs on the first volume radiate a timeworn charm, reinforced by the rustic recording (we hear a dog barking and a rooster crowing). Walter Gavitt Ferguson shaped calypsos out of guitar and vocals, like a craftsman. They swayed in slow motion, visibly overwhelmed by the sun; we imagine that a nap is never far away. And so, kudos to cassette hunters who save documents like this!
Walter Gavitt Ferguson, The Legendary Tape Recordings Vol.1 (Bongo Joe)