About the Barbados Defence Force Band
The Barbados Defence Force (BDF) Band is a military band that places a strong emphasis on national duty and community service. The musicians are mainly reserve soldiers and range in ages between 18 to 50 years old. The band performs several styles of music from light classics and gospel selections to the very latest Barbadian calypso and the current Director of Music is Lieutenant Brian Cole.
The history of the Barbados Defence Force band can be traced to the West India Regiment era. When the West India Regiment was disbanded in 1927, the Band and Drums were retained and provided the foundation for the evolution of military bands in the Caribbean, particularly in Jamaica and Barbados.
A Corps of Drums remained active in the Barbados Volunteer Force and the Barbados Regiment and in 1973 a full band was raised which remained active until 1978. The Band and Drums of the Barbados Regiment were fully resuscitated in 1987 for the occasion of the Trooping the Colour parade and remained active until the early nineties. After a brief hiatus, the band was again revived as the Barbados Defence Force Band and in 1999 a substantial investment in recruiting and new equipment facilitated their outstanding performance at the Edinburgh Military Tattoo.
The Band’s nickname – the Zouave Band – derives from the colourful Zouave uniform worn by the band on Ceremonial Occasions. The story often told is that Her Majesty Queen Victoria saw the uniform worn by French Colonial troops of the Zouaoua tribe in Algeria and was struck by the beauty of the uniform and reports of their courageous fighting. The Queen commanded the British army to adopt the uniform for one of her regiments and the honour was conferred on the West India Regiment, which was serving at that time with distinction in Africa.
The uniform was first paraded in Barbados in 1858 and subsequently adopted by the Band and Drums of the Barbados Regiment and the Barbados Defence Force Band as a symbolic link with the old West India Regiment. The uniform is also worn by the Jamaica Military Band.