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Bahamian soul

Ira Storr's music reflects diverse genres

By MONIQUE FORBES,Guardian Features Reporter, Friday, May 7, 2004

If you're craving for the flavourful sounds of some good old-time Bahamian music, he'll be more than ready to dish you up an ample serving.

But what makes Ira Storr's sound unique is that his songs and lyrics combine a number of musical styles. From junkanoo, funk, rake n'scrape. calypso, and the Trinidadian beat blended beautifully with native rake'n'scrape.

Growing up to the soulful grooves of James Brown, the Bar K's and Confunction, Storr fell in love with their incredible sound. In later years, it was these styles he would incorporate with a junkanoo flavour, creating his own unique, ultra funky sound.

Storr was born in United Estates, San Salvador to the late Gerald Storr, and surviving wife Olive on November 17, 1958.

He lived with four siblings (three sisters and a brother). His father was a striving entrepreneur, who owned a bar on the island. By day, he worked at the Naval base. His mother was a housewife.

Both of Storr's parents were musically-gifted, and it was not unusual for him to spend an evening listening to his parents play the guitar.

"Dad had that Joseph Spence style when he played, and mommy was more country, and also church," says Storr. "I always loved music, and I always loved the guitar."

When Storr was 11-years-old, his family, like quite a few Out Islanders did back then, migrated to Nassau in hopes of a better way of life.

He attended Highbury High (now R.M. Bailey Senior High School) and graduated in 1976.

By age 16, he was working as a bartender at a local hotel. Although he had no formal training in playing the guitar, by night Storr recalls practising how to play with Ronnie and the Ramblers, a band headed by his mentor Ronnie Butler, whom he deeply admired.

"I used to go in the back of Atlantis on Nassau Street, and the Rebel Room and play my box guitar along with Ronnie and the Ramblers. After I got a lot of Ronnie's music down pat I said, I ready to play now. He said, 'Man you ain't ready.' I say, Yeah man, I can play, and he gave me a chance and I showed him I could play."

Storr got the job playing the guitar. His first performance would be the beginning of what would be a lifetime career for him.

After spending eight years with the band, Storr went on to play the drums for the band Page 99 for three years. Upon leaving Page 99, he joined up with fellow Bahamian artist 'KB' for about three years, playing in Boston. During this time, Storr began writing lyrics.

In 1995, he recorded his first solo album, Island Life.

Leslie Turnquest, the owner of Star Records, took note of Storr, now a solo artist, and approached him with a recording contract, which resulted in the album, Bread and Butter.

Storr dedicated the album to his parents, particularly the memory of his dad.

"The 'bread and butter' thing, that's something I got from my dad. He always said, I work for my bread and butter," explains Storr

"My parents gave me ideas because when I was growing up they always told me a lot of stories about the olden days."

Later, he joined up with 'The Funk Gang' of Harbour Island. The group traveled to the United States and opened for entertainers like Jimmy Buffet, and the Neville Brothers.

 

He's also known for his collaborations with fellow Bahamian artists with hits like Whine Your Bum Bum Baby, Down At The Fish Fry, and Inagua, with artist 'Geno D' and Crazy Boy O, with artist 'K.B'.

Presently, Storr is the leader of Spank Band, a group he formed in the 90's. And much like everything else in his music which takes him back to his roots, the name "Spank" for Storr is symbolic of the action of beating the goatskin drum, which is the heart of much Bahamian music.

The musicians have changed over the years, with present members including Micheal Hoyte, keyboard; Jeff Mackey, bass player; Ken McKenzie, drums; and Linc Scavella, keyboard.

Storr says he and his band are working on several projects. In fact their first single from their upcoming album Gone Wit Dis 1, is due in stores this month.

"We are trying to take Bahamian music to the next level," says Storr.