Milwaukee Record is proud to present Public Domain. The monthly video series features Milwaukee musicians setting up at Colectivo Coffee to adapt some of the world’s best-known songs in ways they’ve never been heard before. Watch the entire series here.
This month, De La Buena put an Afro-Caribbean touch on a song with roots that stretch back to at least the mid-1600s. The traditional English ballad about a lover who is given impossible tasks to perform for his mate has taken countless forms throughout the years. Since then, it has evolved and the melody has been augmented into a version that became popular in the 1800s and persevered for generations thereafter. English singer Martin Carthy formally re-introduced the classic in the mid-1960s, shortly before Simon & Garfunkel brought the song to mainstream consciousness in 1966. Since Carthy’s rendition, “Scarborough Fair” has also been adapted by the likes of Bob Dylan, Andy Williams, Queensrÿche, and countless others. We’re assuming a 10-piece band has never covered the song…until now.
“The bulk of the tune is an Afro-Cuban 6/8 rhythm that draws from Bata drumming of Yoruba & Ifá lineage of West Africa, Cuba and the Caribbean,” De La Buena keyboardist David Wake says. “In the percussion break down and chant section, we used a Puerto Rican rhythm, Bomba Yuba. This dates back to the aboriginal Taino tribe, and is one of several rhythms within the Bomba tradition.”
The video was shot, recorded, and edited by Cheston Van Huss of Effigy Media. Travis Whitty produced the opening sequence. Public Domain is sponsored by Colectivo Coffee Roasters, Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts, and Transfer Pizzeria Café.