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Keeping a legacy safe from Montserrat's volcano
Published on August 14, 2014 Email To Friend    Print Version

Air Studio's bar disassembled for travel

BRADES, Montserrat -- It seemed a shame. The Air Studio had rocked for ten years on a lush Caribbean hillside, rolling out hits for big-name artists like Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Jimmy Buffett, and Elton John.

That is, until Hurricane Hugo delivered a knockout punch to Montserrat in 1989.

As if that wasn't tragic enough, Montserrat's Soufriere Hills volcano rumbled to life in 1995, dangerously close to the Air Studio site. Now, nearly 20 years later, the original studio is a ruin -- taken over by volcanic ash and the other ravages of time and Mother Nature.

But at least one part of the studio has been salvaged and preserved in a much safer part of the island.

Locals and visitors to the island can rest their elbows where many a rock star satisfied a thirst for island rum.

The owners of Soca Cabana, a nightspot that sits on the beach at Montserrat's Little Bay, sought permission from Air Studios founder Sir George Martin to relocate the bar, which stood in the lobby of the studio. It now proudly stands at the sea side of the well-known entertainment venue with a killer view of each day's sunset.

The bar's owners, Tom and Mary Ann Walker, were ecstatic about the chance to display such an important relic from Montserrat's rich musical past.

“I really worried that as more time went by, this part of the island's legacy would become lost,” says Walker, himself a musician.

The Walkers attached brass plates at each bar stool, with the names of several famous artists including Arrow – a favourite son who put Montserrat on the map with his mega-hit “Hot Hot Hot”.

It has now been renamed the “Bar of the Stars”, and has won Soca Cabana mention in travel guides and news outlets including the Boston Globe.

The reggae and soca bands that now play at the beachside venue can add their music to Montserrat's history -- just a few feet from the bar that made its own contribution decades ago.

Now Soca Cabana's bar has a new outlook on the future:

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