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It’s Carnival weekend

Friday, February 9, 2018

Everybody is a star at Fatima....

....more fete this weekend

It is finally here, the final weekend of the reign of the Merry Monarch for 2018.

Thus far, though short and hectic, it has been a clean and enjoyable Carnival, complete with beautiful music.

Last weekend there were competitions and shows, and fetes aplenty but the one stuck in my head is Saturday night’s You Are the Star staged by Fatima College Old Boys Association on the school premises. Despite the many other events taking place, including the semi-final of the National Calypso Monarch in Skinner Park, San Fernando,

Saturday’s all-inclusive attracted the largest attendance of all the annual fund-raising events staged through the years by the associa.

Among the many dignitaries and corporate people seen in attendance were Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and his wife, Sharon, House Speaker Bridgid Annisette George and her husband, Newman George, head of the HDC, Minister of Trade Paula Gopee Scoon, Education Minister Anthony Garcia, Public Utilities Minister Robert Le Hunte, Port-of-Spain Mayor Joel Martinez and former National Security minister Gary Griffith.

With guests being welcomed upon entry by St James Tripolians, managed by Keith Simpson, entertainment began as early as 5 pm with a performance by The Flick, an aggregation comprising of Fatima College musicians. With comedienne Nikki Crosby and Fatima old boy Rody Cumberbatch hosting, in what seemed to be a Brass Festival, which coincidentally used to be held on the same Saturday years ago, there was a seamless procession of some of the best soca talent in the land, right up to 1.15 am on Sunday when Kes the Band brought the curtain down on proceedings.

The music bands in the flow were Sekon Sta & The Soca Squad, Dil-e-Nadan, Bunji Garlin, Fay Ann Lyons & The Asylum Vikings Band, and D’ All Stars, featuring Blaxx, Ricardo Drue, Teddyson John and Tizzy.

As if that was not enough, the bands were augmented by individual artistes including Voice, Olatunji, Erphaan Alves, Preedy, Nadia Batson, Turner, Marzville, Shal Marshall, Marge Blackman, Patrice Roberts, Lyrikal, Problem Child, Rupee and MX Prime & Ultimate Rejects.

The other star attraction on Saturday night was the culinary array of goodies served up by top chefs and cooks led by Executive Chef Debra Sardinah-Metivier in over 35 food stations and five food clusters.

Fete, fete, till yuh drop In every nook and cranny of the country from tonight until Tuesday there are fetes aplenty and one of the big ones tonight is Island People Experience’s Represent Free Drinks Fete at the Campus Plaza, Wrightson Road, Port-of-Spain, from 10 pm.

It’s impossible to list all of tomorrow’s and Sunday’s fetes

so I will just mention the finals of the National Panorama competition tomorrow evening, at 7 pm, at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port-of-Spain, as the nation’s best medium and large conventional steel orchestra vie to wrest the title from Pan Elders and Massy Trinidad All Stars, respectively.

On Sunday, the Savannah will again be a battle zone when the finals of the National Calypso Monarch and Kings & Queens of Carnival are held. Based on Tuesday night’s preliminary, Krystal Thomas, portraying De Head Huntress from Paparazzi Carnival’s Nomadik Nation. Among the kings the frontrunners seem to be Kyle Matas (Manus X Machina: Mas in the Age of Technology); Curtis Eustace (Kamatachi: D Chinese Demon Butterfly); Ted Eustace (Dos Banditos); Alan Vaughn (Balla Fasseke, Griot and Master of Ceremonies); and, Adrian Young (Sundjata, The Lion of Mali).

Veteran defending monarch Chalkdust has his work cut out at the Dimanche Gras final of the National Calypso Monarch as he is up against 15 challengers, including young and hungry singers like Voice, Stacey Sobers, Helon Francis, Myron Bruce, Lady Watchman and Rondell Donawa. Other past monarchs in contention are Singing Sandra, Kurt Allen, Karene Asche and Sugar Aloes.

All in all, this weekend will be one of much excitement and music. Be safe, enjoy yourselves as you are needed to be alive and safe come Valentine Day (Ash Wednesday). Remember it is the Year for Love.

Pan in Yuh Face

As the pan fever reaches its crescendo, pan ambassador Dennis “Smithy” Smith, arranger, composer and producer, is over the moon.

The southerner, and well travelled panman who plies his trade on the high seas on the Princess Cruises vessel, is on a whirlwind visit to his homeland. He wears the title Pan Ramajay winner 1993 (soloist category) proudly, after having beaten a classy field.

Smith is elated that bands, birdsong and the 2018 National Secondary Schools Panorama champion St Francois Girls’ College played his song Pan Break.

The song vocalised by calypsonian Crazy, lyrically clothed by Gregory “GB” Ballantyne, came from the creative cranium of Dennis. While birdsong did not get past the preliminary round of this year’s national Panorama (Large Bands), he thanks both bands for recognising the song worthy of attention, especially arrangers Rudy “Two Left” Smith and Peter Rory Aleong, respectively.

In 2012, Dennis threw two songs Pan In Yuh Face and Jump Up and Play Yuhself. Pan in yuh Face was written by Keith Anderson and sung by his sister Dianne Saunders; Jump Up and Play Yuhself was sung by former Volts Express frontman Garth David, now based in the USA.

Although both songs got airplay, they did not resonate with the panmen. Undaunted Smith came back with Pan Break. We could look forward to more exciting music from him in the coming year.

From all appearances Monday and Tuesday are going to see steelbands again being a major force on the streets of Port-of-Spain as far as masquerade on carnival day is concerned. Republic Bank Exodus and bpTT Renegades have teamed up with masquerade bands to present mas, and Desperadoes is going it on its own.

In years gone, with the upper class segregating by playing mas on lorries, steelbands ruled the roost with mas for the masses with memorable presentations by Band of the Year winner Silver Stars, Starlift, Dem Fortunates, Desperadoes, San Juan All Stars and Trinidad All Stars. In fact, All Stars won two consecutive Band of the Year titles. With creativity and portrayals in mas being diminished to bikinis and beads, the steelbands were again sidelined in preference to excessively loud music and costumes that, according to veteran masman Ancil Mc Lean, “could fit into a nuts bag” or pizza box.

This year, Renegades has partnered with Belmont Exotic Stylish Sailors (Bess) to present Masters of the Art, a portrayal that will pay homage to the bandleaders, designers, wire benders, artists, copper workers, decorators, tailors, seamstresses and everyone involved in Carnival.

Having placed second in the Band of the Year (Small) competition for the past four years, Bess is confident of doing better this time around. This year, Renegades, currently in front in the race for National Panorama (Large Band) honours, is celebrating its 70th anniversary. The Renegades Fancy Sailor presentation in the union is Smooth Sailor.

To satisfy what is expected to be a large turnout of masqueraders, Masters of the Art will also be served by DJ Dynamic Sounds.

The public cannot wait to see the combination mas of Exodus Steel Orchestra and Peter Minshall as the dual producers present The Eyes of God: Black Eye Peas and Rice, what promises to be a new concept to authentic sailor mas.

On Monday night, at Machel Monday, the public got its first look at the king of the band, Earl Thompson portraying Death and the Maiden: The Fancy Sailor Plays Pegasus. The portrayal also won cheers on Tuesday night at the Savannah when its competed for a place in Sunday’s King of Carnival final.

There is much excitement in Desperadoes panyard as mas leaders Matthew Cox and Errol “Bushy” Holder, and the Elders Association continue to churn out designs for its presentation of Choose Your Flavour.

On Monday, the flavour will be the West Indies in Laventille and on Tuesday masqueraders will parade as the flavour of Africa, as a mark of respect to the ancestors.


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