Winter in Chicago has been incredibly strange lately. Due to the El Niño weather system that has hit the United States, December has been unseasonably warm and rainy. Everything has been just been gray and wet. Sometimes, this type of weather works really well in the city. It creates a film noir appeal and adds a level of mystery to the buildings and cityscape. I can dig that, but it is December after all. That means Christmas is coming. While snow can really be a burden in Chicago, I want my holiday season to be white. Fresh snow for Christmas, a new blanket for New Years, and then it can all melt away for all I care.
Considering how brutal the last two winters were with their dreaded polar vortexes, I didn’t think I would miss winter this time around. All fall, I was dreading the temperatures dropping. I knew, eventually, it would result in blizzards and my face numbing in the below zero conditions. I wanted none of that. However, when I think there may be the possibility I will not have snow on Christmas, I reorganize my priorities.
This time last year, I was thinking of warmer air, sandy beaches, and crystal clear waters. I would have given anything to be on a tropical island sipping rum and listening to tide and birds in the distance. This year, my fantasy of escaping to the Caribbean hasn’t been as prominent as years before.
Part of these fantasies included indulging in the local music. One of my favorite Caribbean staples is the legendary calypso artist Arrow. Arrow was a pioneer in the style of soca; a subgenre of calypso characterized by additional funk and soul elements. Everything about soca music is so positive. It is about having a good time and dancing. So simple.
Arrow’s 1988 soca hit “Groove Master” is one of the finest soca tracks ever recorded. The calypso roots are clearly present, but Arrow’s delivery and the additional horns set it apart as a musical force that is purely soca. Arrow’s cadence and the backing vocals create a fun, free-form party atmosphere. The words are loose and flow freely without inhibition. The backing track is incredibly fun and very danceable. The island percussion and subtle synth inspire a rhythm within the listener. It is almost impossible to not want to dance. With the inclusion of a rap interlude and understated guitar solo, “Groove Master” creates a fun and complete party soundtrack experience.
Though the weather has been warm, rainy, and gray, the real heart of winter will come soon. And when it does, I’ll pop on some Arrow and lose myself in the Caribbean soca sound. Recently, my boss had me run some numbers on what it would cost to send our team to Berlin, Germany and St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The team would only go to one place and the numbers didn’t even come close. It would be cheaper to send our team to Berlin by over $20K, so I do not think a company trip to St. Croix will be in my future. But, that’s OK. I’ll always have Arrow.