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Menezes, Bambalapitiya

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Everyone in Bambalapitiya will remember the quaint little Menezes music shop located on the seaside on the border between Colpetty and Bamba. One may still debate which of the two towns it really belonged to. It was located on the basement floor, where the instruments were displayed for sale, visible to the Galle Road, and the rear section of the basement was used for the maintenance and tinkering of musical instruments, which was carried out by the famous musical Menezes family in Colombo.

The family is said to have originated from Goa in India and claim Portuguese descent from the old colonial era. The shop was first famous for its 78 rpm gramophone records, later 45 rpm’s, and then even later EP’s and LP’s of the latest music in the industry. They also specialized in the import and distribution of acoustic pianos, guitars, wind and percussion instruments and music notes. In addition they also taught music.

The family members, comprising, old man “Papa” Menezes, and sons, Mickey, Tom and Ralph, and daughter, Helen, were all very talented musicians, each specializing in his own instrument yet having the ability to play any instrument he or she was called upon to. Helen was a famous crooner.

They also formed a band called “The Papa Menezes Combo” and played jazz, blues and oldies at parties, dances, weddings, concerts and other musical galas in town. With the passing away of Papa and Tom the rest migrated abroad to Australia and the business was closed, much to the sadness of many faithful patrons and musicians who used to visit the shop like a prayer almost every day.

Ralph Menezes, was the only son of Papa Menezes who sought academic excellence and qualified himself professionally at Medical school in Colombo, and passed out as a doctor. The rest of the family were all professional musicians right to the end. Dr. Ralph now lives in Chicago (as informed by his sister Helen by e-mail after she saw the Bamba story on the internet)

It was, indeed, interesting to read in the Sunday Observer of Dec 11 2005 that Helen and hubby, Ron Lucas, were in Colombo for the festive season to play and entertain all their fans at the Mount Lavinia Hotel. Here is the news item:-

quote

Musically elegant

Back in the land of her roots and overjoyed to perform here is pianist keyboardist, Helen Lucas who with her husband Ron vocalist / percussionist will be featured at the Mount Lavinia Hotel for the entire festive season.

Ron and Helen

They will commence their gigs on Tuesday December 20 and will be a star attraction for New Year's Eve as well.

Helen Lucas a famous band leader in Sri Lanka in the early years headlined her highly successful dance band the Helen Lucas Combo and held centre- stage for many years before she and Ron decided to move over to Australia.

Daughter of the famous Papa Menezes whose name was synonymous with music in Sri Lanka, she was and still is deeply invovlved in teaching music and a constant friend to other musicians-young and old. What is her major plus in her music artistry is her elegance and sophistication in expression be it Pop, Latin or Jazz and that is hard to beat.

Ron an exciting vocalist and percussionist sings a wide repetoire of Michael Buble the current rage, Frank Sinatra's songs as well as songs by the time honoured greats like Elvis Presley and Nat King Cole. Now performing at some of the leading hotels in Sydney, Ron and Helen's music has taken them overseas for performances in Germany, England, Malaysia, Goa and recently a successful tour of Los Angeles, Chicago and Vancouver.

Catch their gig at Mount Lavinia Hotel, you are bound to make returns. - (MP) unquote

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