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Dragon Boys remain Tassarama champs

Published: 
Friday, August 31, 2018
FCB Dragon Boys Tassa drummers from left, are, Adesh, Ramlal, Nankisoor and Rajive Rampartap.

FCB Dragon Boys has retained the National Tassarama crown for the second straight year.

The band, which hails from Thompson Trace, Brothers Road, New Grant, in South Trinidad, took home the title last Saturday night at the Gilbert Park, Couva, challenged by 19 rivals. Dragon Boys first won this coveted title in 2014 and again in 2017.

Nankissor Rampartap, who plays the cutter drum, said the band was formed in 1988 and started entering competitions in 1992.

The family band consists of nine members of the Rampartap clan. In addition to Nankissor, members are Ramlal, Rondel and Adesh (cutter); Rajiv, Dipchand and Rajnindra (bass); Ryan (Jhange); and, Doland (jhange).

All bands were required to play five tassa hands including a creative piece. Dragon Boys played in the 17th position and opened its ten-minute performance with the Tekoura hand.

This was followed by the Classical Ghazal, Dingolay, Calypso and the creative piece entitled Madhurtaal.

Placing second was Qualitech Sanjay Boys which also won the People’s Choice award.

Qualitech Sanjay Boys also placed second last year. First-time entrant to the competition, F5 Tassa Drummers of Princes Town, led by Bridgedeo Mandeo, secured third spot.

The junior competition was also won for the second straight year by the youthful players of Moving Stars Tassa Band, followed in second and third places by Demolition Youths Tassa Band and D’Evolution Tassa Band, respectively.

A total of $100,000 in cash and prizes will be given to the winners.

Saturday’s programme, fielding 20 senior bands and six junior bands, commenced at 5 pm with an opening dance from the Vikash School of Dance led by Mahindra Rampersad and Erica Caton. Proceedings came to an end around 2 am on Sunday morning with a vocal presentation from Couva chutney star Anthony Batson.

The free event attracted hundreds of patrons who had a good time dancing to the Tassa drumming and the music of the DJ during the eight-hour production. Patrons also got an eyeful from the dancers that accompanied the various Tassa bands as they gyrated the night away on the big stage, filled with verse and gusto.

Vijai Rai, the president of the Tassa Association of T&T (TATT), said Tassa still struggles to be recognised as the second national instrument of T&T.

He said TATT had done research in India that revealed that is no similar drumming taking place on the sub-continent that can be compared with local Tassa. Rai said Tassa was unique to T&T and was developed in this country and should be given its rightful due.

TATT vice president Wendell Eversley was not apologetic in his address. He bashed the Government, the Opposition and the Tobago House of Assembly for neglecting Tassa.

Eversley said pleas to get airline tickets for the Bao Simba Tassa Band from Tobago to Trinidad for the competition fell on the deaf ears of Caribbean Airlines, the THA and the Ministry of Culture. He said as a result, an excellent band was left out of the competition.

Eversley bashed the Opposition UNC for not highlighting the woes of the TATT at the level of the Lower House. He said government was giving a mere pittance to the competition and failing to recognise the significant role and importance of Tassa in T&T’s cultural development.

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