What started as an idea over lunch turned into a huge production and a community effort that surpassed anyone’s expectations. One day last May, Will Workman, owner of the George Brooks House and Parsonage Inn B & B in St. Michaels was having lunch at Foxy’s Harbor Grille in St. Michaels, when an idea came to mind. Located on the island of Jost Van Dyke is Foxy’s Tamarind Bar, the inspiration for the name of the restaurant in St. Michaels. Foxy’s on JVD is owned by an island legend, Foxy Callwood, a philanthropist, philosopher and troubadour, largely responsible for putting this island on the sailing itinerary of boaters from all over the world.
The bar began in 1966 (moved to its current location in 1968) as a place to share a “libation” after church where residents would celebrate successful harvests. Workman was a frequent visitor to the British Virgin Islands having sailed through the islands on his boat many times. He approached the current owner of Foxy’s Harbor Grille, Terye Knopp, and asked if she had ever thought about bringing Callwood to St. Michaels. She hadn’t, but thought it was a great idea. So, Workman, via email, contacted Callwood and his wife Tessa, and surprisingly, they agreed. Saying they had no plans for September, and would love to come, they could use the opportunity to arrange some other visits to friends in the States. Callwood agreed to play guitar, sing and entertain with his unique Caribbean style of music and storytelling combined.
A date was set for September, and an event was created.What started as an idea over lunch turned into a huge production and a community effort that surpassed anyone’s expectations. One day last May, Will Workman, owner of the George Brooks House and Parsonage Inn B & B in St. Michaels was having lunch at Foxy’s Harbor Grille in St. Michaels, when an idea came to mind. Located on the island of Jost Van Dyke is Foxy’s Tamarind Bar, the inspiration for the name of the restaurant in St. Michaels. Foxy’s on JVD is owned by an island legend, Foxy Callwood, a philanthropist, philosopher and troubadour, largely responsible for putting this island on the sailing itinerary of boaters from all over the world.
Throughout the planning, one thing was clear. The seating capacity at Foxy’s Harbor Grille would never be enough to accommodate the interest, as tickets sold out within weeks. So, four shows were scheduled to take place over two days, September 12th and 13th. A backup band was arranged to accompany Foxy, who is now 78 years old and has had surgery for polyps on his throat, and four sets would stretch his limits. The ticket sales profits would be donated to the Jost Van Dyke Preservation Society, the foundation that Callwood began, whose mission is to “… promote the conservation of Jost Van Dyke, its adjacent smaller cays and marine systems through education, research, restoration and, monitoring.” Everything was in place.
Then came Irma. Just a few days before the event, the catastrophic hurricane destroyed the majority of the buildings on the island of Jost Van Dyke with a direct hit. Many of the surrounding islands that comprise both the British Virgin Islands and the US Virgin Islands were devastated. Without normal communications, the organizers Workman and Knopp relied on social media, a few text messages, and spotty emails to find out how Foxy and his wife faired, along with the other residents. The good news was that they were ok, but the bar was almost totally destroyed. They sent word via their assistant that they would not be able to get off the island to come to St. Michaels. But, they requested the continuation of the event, turning the monies raised through ticket sales and donations into relief funds for the Jost Van Dyke Preservation Society. These dollars would now provide much needed supplies to help the islanders begin the long, hard and expensive task of rebuilding.
So, the event went on as planned and it was a major success. Four shows – two on Tuesday, and two on Wednesday, with the band Trinidelphia from Philadelphia. Guests were treated to a special Caribbean menu, exceptional music, dancing and ironically, lovely weather. The money raised (over $12,000) will be hand-carried to the foundation’s accountant here in the states and will provide immediate help to the islands that so many here in this area have fond memories of. One couple in attendance had just returned from their annual boat charter to JVD and had had dinner with Tessa one week before the hurricane hit. Many of the guests travelled from out of state in the hopes of seeing Foxy Callwood, but were just as happy to party on in his honor and willingly donated their ticket costs for relief efforts.
The recovery will be long and arduous. If anyone would like to donate to the Jost Van Dyke Preservation Society, you can donate online at www.JVDPS.org. It is Workman and Knopp’s hope that someday, Sir Philicianno “Foxy” Callwood, knighted in 2009 for his significant contributions to improving the life of the people of the British Virgin Islands, can visit the bar that bears his name here in Maryland.
The organizers are planning to do this again next September in the hopes that Foxy Callwood can attend.
by Julie Imirie
If you would like to join us in helping Foxy and those wonderful folks that live on the island, you can send a check made out to “JVD Preservation Society” and mail to Will Workman, Caribbean Nights Productions, 24500 Rolles Range Road, St. Michaels, MD 21663. The charity is an approved IRS 501 (c)(3) foundation and they will mail you a receipt for your tax records. For credit card donations, go to their web site: www.JVDPS.org and the last section to the right is for donations (PayPal or your credit card). If you have any questions, give Will a Call on (410) 829-0510.