QUELBE RESURRECTION BAND
The Windmill Bar brings the Quelbe Resurrection Band to the Stage on the Fourth of July. This is why we travel to the Caribbean to soak up all the Island Vibes from the local musicians. Read about the history below.
The traditional music of the Virgin Islands is quelbe, also called scratch or fungi. A quelbe band consists of a banjo, a conga drum, a squash, and a triangle. Other instruments sometimes included are guitar, bass, saxophone, and flute. Quelbe musicians use objects close at hand to construct their instruments, although today some have adopted more modern instruments. The banjo was often made out of an old sardine can. The squash was a dried local gourd, serrated and then scratched with a comb or wire-pronged stick. The bass line was usually provided by someone blowing into the discarded tailpipe of a car, also called an ass pipe because its sound is similar to that of a donkey.
Quelbe music developed on sugar plantations, where slaves used materials at hand to provide a rhythm and melody to which they could tell stories, share jokes, and spread gossip. The music was influenced by African rhythms and the sound of Danish and British military bands. Quelbe music grew in popularity as the restrictions of slavery ended and the music form could spread freely. Many older Virgin Islanders have sweet memories of nights spent dancing to the sound of the village quelbe band.
Quelbe music still tells stories and jokes, often with a risqué undertone. Quelbe is especially popular at Christmastime, providing a new and refreshing take on Christmas music. Traditionally, quelbe bands would go serenading in the wee hours of Christmas morning, wishing their neighbors a merry Christmas.