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Friday, 30 October 2009


The creative origins of Trinidad Carnival can be found in Africa.
 It is through the cultural retention of Africans brought to Trinidad during slavery that the characters and practices that we now call traditional mas, developed in Trinidad and the West Indies.
Take a look at these videos the first is the Dogon tribe of Mali doing their funeral dance, take a look at the costumes, amongst them are the precursors to ‘Cow Mas’ ‘Moko Jumbies’ and the creation mask that Minshall put on the 1982 King of Carnival ‘Calalloo Dancing Tic Tac Toe Down the river’.
The other video is of a recycling plant in Bamako Mali, there they are turning scrap metal into pots and pans for future use, there is one shot of a guy beating a huge metal bowl into shape, there is something in that shot ,something in the clatter of  beaten metal that clearly portrays  the limitless creativity of these people, and yes a link between them and those who harnessed that creative ability to create by beating a steel oil drum into the last musical instrument of the twentieth century  and a symbol of cultural resistance the Steel Pan.

Dancing Dogon 2 from Stef on Vimeo.
The Dogon people in Mali are famous for their masked funerary dances. Their elaborate masks are intended to placate ancestral spirits. They represent the whole world of the Dogon with a wide variety of totem objects including people, mammals, birds and reptiles. Dancers often wear the Kananga (creation) mask – this dance involves leaping high into the air in a state of frenzied excitement, then bending low down to touch the ground with the top of the mask.

Living Bamako 2 from Stef on Vimeo.
One of the strangest places in Bamako is the “recycling plant”.
It’s more a garbage belt where hundreds of people turn all kinds of used metal into pots, pans and cutlery.
It is recycling in its most primitive form.

Ever wonder what Trinidad and Tobago Carnival will be like without the contribution of the freed African slaves, without their cultural resistance that survived over 300 years of slavery and the oppression of the ruling class that followed...well look closer at Carnival today and ask yourselves where are the descendants of theses creative titans today, what positions of power or influence do they hold in the 21st Century?
Why are they missing?
And if you can answer those questions then you might understand why mas today is a copy of a copy of a repetitive theme, it’s not creatively growing because the roots are missing.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

The Hosay massacre of 1844

Anniversary of the Muharram Massacre in Trinidad and Tobago

By Dr. Kumar Mahabir

Friday will mark the 125th anniversary of what historians describe as perhaps the bloodiest massacre in Trinidad and Tobago under British rule. On October 30th 1884, 22 Indians were killed and 120 others injured in a hail of police gunfire at two Hosay processions in San Fernando. Included in the casualties were defenceless women and children.

Many historians who have studied the event reveal that Hindus as well as Africans were part of the Indian and Muslim-based street processions. Historians also believe that never before had such a large, armed military force assembled in colonial Trinidad, or in any other West Indian colony, at any cultural event.

Hosay is the commemoration of the death of the two soldier-grandsons of Prophet Mohammed who were killed in war in Iraq in 680 AD. The centerpiece of Hosay is the procession of taziyas made of cardboard and tinsel. They are symbols of the tomb erected over the remains of Husain, one of the two grandsons, in the plains of Karbala. Hosay is celebrated annually in Cedros and St. James in Trinidad. It has been banned by law in Guyana. In Jamaica, it is the second largest national cultural event. Hosay is not a festival, and it is not to be viewed or described as Indian Carnival.

In 1884, the government banned Hosay processions from entering the towns of Port of Spain and San Fernando. This was tantamount to killing the best part of the parade. An Indian by the name of Sookoo, and 31 others, drew up a petition to the governor which was rejected. Sookoo felt that the law was unjust and discriminatory, and consequently decided to defy the regulation with an act of civil disobedience.

In the 1884 Hosay, each estate had its own taziya, accompained by tassa drummers and stick fighters. There were processions from Wellington, Picton, Lennon, Rowbotton, Retrench, Estate, and Union Hall Estate. Other processions came from Ne Plus Ultra, Corinth, Palmyra and St Madeline estate. It was a dramatic parade, attracting huge crowds of spectators annually in San Fernando.

Police detachments were strategically deployed with cartridges loaded with buckshots to scatter-shoot into the crowd. A contingent of 74 policemen was headed by Captain Baker at Mon Repos Junction. Twenty soldiers arrived by special train from Port of Spain. Twenty-one British marines were sent to Princes Town to reinforce the police. The British warship, H.M.S. Dido, rushed down from Barbados to anchor in waiting outside the San Fernando harbour.

Armed forces were placed at the three main entrances leading to San Fernando. They were posted at the Les Efforts junction, which was a toll gate that lay at the junction of Cipero Street and Rushworth Street. At this point, 34 armed men, 20 soldiers and 14 policemen were stationed. The other entrance was at the point where Royal Road met Mon Repos Estate. The next (northern) entrance was where Point-a-Pierre Road formed a junction with Mount Moriah Road. Through this entrance, crowds surged from estates like Vista Bella, Marabella, Concord, Bon Accord, and Plein Palais.

Few Indians believed that the police would shoot them down in cold blood. After all, they were simply participating in a customary religious procession. One survivor said that he did not believe that the police would “shoot people like fowls.”

The massacre took place on a Thursday. On horseback, Magistrate Arthur Child read The Riot Act amid the thunder of tassa drumming, chanting, singing, and stick-fighting. Few Indians could have really heard what was being read. Even if they had heard, few could have understood English at that time. Child ordered the police to shoot at the procession at Les Efforts. Two volleys were fired into the crowd, followed by some sporadic shooting. Those in the front of the procession were mowed down by a hail of bullets. Taziyas fell to the ground. The dead and wounded lay in pools of blood in the street. There was shock and panic. There were shrieks of terror and cries of pain. Some ran into the canefields. Others scampered for shelter from the bullets.

At the Mon Repos junction, the stipendiary magistrate read the Riot Act. Shots were again fired. Again, tazyias fell to the ground, and men, women and children lay dead. The processions on the Point-a-Pierre Road were speared gunfire because they were persuaded to turn back. The nation was shocked into disbelief.

The number of Hosay participants who were killed on October 30th 1884 varies in different accounts. Historian Kelvin Singh concludes that 150 were wounded in the massacre. Those who were fatally wounded ran into the sugarcane fields where they were found afterwards. Others died weeks and months later at home and in the hospital. A reasonable estimate to make is that 22 Indians were killed and 120 injured.

Sadly, the events surrounding this significant day in the history of Trinidad are known only by a few. October 30th 1884 has been overlooked in many of the texts that chronicle the nation’s experiences during colonization. The courage of these jahajis [indentured immigrants] martyrs who fought and gave their lives for the freedom to worship must not be forgotten. The fact that Hosay survives to this day is testimony that the spirit of these martyrs continues to live.


- Story by Dr Kumar Mahabir. Assistant Professor
School for Studies in Learning, Cognition and Education
University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT)

Sunday, 25 October 2009


Blaxploitation is got to love it.

Sequins, Soca and Sweat at Wimbledon Odeon

Wimbledon Film Club has teamed up with the Njoya Foundation to present Sequins, Soca and Sweat followed by a question and answer session with its director next Thursday.
Stephen Rudder's film, which will be shown at Wimbledon Odeon as part of Black History Month, is his debut documentary and will also be accompanied by heritage short films and pre-film storytelling entertainment by Jeanette Angela Barrett.
Sequins, Soca and Sweat follows six Mas camps in the weeks leading up to Notting Hill Carnival and captures the unique atmosphere of camp life.
The diverseness of the camps ranges from the forefathers of carnival tradition such as Lawrence Noel, who brought the first costumes to the streets of Notting Hill in 1973 and represents the original essence of Carnival, to Poision UK, a camp increasing in popularity who have brought the wave of younger, progressive partying carnival spirits to the forefront.
Rudder’s interest in making a documentary on Carnival was sparked in 2003 when he saw a young boy at the festival with a horn in one hand and the other around the shoulder of his grandmother as they danced together in costume, intriguing him as to how it brought   generations together.
What he found when he looked behind the mask of the masquerade, was a small group of artists, designers, innovators and pioneers who managed to nourish their communities and inspire the younger generations, whilst also forming the backbone of the largest street festival in Europe.
Sequins, Soca and Sweat is their story.
Rudder, who has won Soho Images audience award for best film and best film by BBC Talent will be joined in the Q&A session with the films producers.
Barrett's story-telling session before will draw from her African and Caribbean Heritage and its rich oral/musical tradition and will be punctuated with bits of singing.
The Njoya Foundation was set up in memory of Christian Njoya Diawara Small, a victim of the London terrorist bombings on July 7, 2005, as a charity to advance the life and education of black boys and teenagers of African and African-Caribbean descent.
Sequins, Soca and Sweat: The Hidden Heart of Notting Hill Carnival, Wimbledon Odeon, The Piazza, The Broadway, , October 29, 8pm, £7 (children £3). Call 08712 244007 or visit

Wednesday, 14 October 2009


PanJazz UK

Invites you to

Calypso . Steel . Jazz

Featuring - Andy Narell, Relator

& Special Guest Etienne Charles 

Sunday 8th November 2009

@ Hackney Empire
291 Mare Street, London, E8 1EJ

Tickets are £22.50 (Stalls and Dress Circle), £18.50 (Upper Circle)
Limited VIP Tickets £50 (Includes Premium Row Seating, Pre-Event Sunday Dinner Reception, Complimentary Rum Punch)

Doors at 6:30pm | Showtime at 7:30pm

To purchase tickets visit or 020 7193 5859

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

MacFarlane gets CHOGM contract: Chutney/Bollywood segment for opening

A Chutney/Bollywood segment will be included in the cultural act for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) opening ceremony on November 27.
Carnival designer Brian MacFarlane has once again been contracted by Government to produce the opening event.
Following the Fifth Summit of the Americas opening ceremony in April, the producer was criticised by many, including the Indo-Trinbago Equality Council (ITEC), for a lack of sufficient East Indian cultural representation.
"When we actually went through the script at the end of it all and checked these complaints, the whole committee, we realised that the East Indians got more play than the Africans did," said MacFarlane during an interview yesterday at his Rosalino Street, Woodbrook, mas camp.

"Their segments were longer. There was a whole segment on Phagwa that was done, that was never shown because the cameras can't pick up everything that was being shown because the stage was pretty big.
"Nevertheless, we have looked at it and listened to what they have to say. There is going to be a whole sort of chutney with a Bollywood twist if, you want to call it that. That's going to be put in to it."
MacFarlane, who recently launched his 2010 presentation "This is Resurrection, The Mas" at Buccoo Reef, in Tobago, said he was already in talks with a popular local East Indian group to perform the Chutney/Bollywood piece.
He revealed that entertainers such as Sparrow, Denyse Plummer and Mungal Patasar have already been confirmed. He said a grand and exciting portrayal of Trinidad and Tobago's culture can once again be expected.
"It will be on par with what we did for the Summit of the Americas," he said.
"I have already made my presentation to the whole committee, including the Honourable Prime Minister who is very excited about the whole thing. We have started work already. And it's going to be the same amount of performers. Maybe 700 to 800. And the reason for this is there is no time for costume change because it moves so quickly."
MacFarlane defended the undisclosed multi-million dollar cost for his services in April.
"The cost that was quoted in the papers first of all had VAT in it. Secondly they itemised it as the cost for the opening ceremony, it was not, it was the cost for everything that was done," he said.
"The entire Summit Village, all of the artistes 800 plus, bringing Machel from away, bringing Arrow, also the lighting, the revolving stage, the fire-proof drapes we had to use by law," he said.
"All of the events we did at the Prime Minister's residence, the Diplomatic Centre, the plenary. So it was numerous, numerous events that took place the cost covered. So when you really start to break it down you would realise it is not that much."
Along with the opening, MacFarlane will also be working on the production of the Summit Village and other meetings for the November summit.
Trinidad Express

Monday, 12 October 2009


MAS MEN: Mas man Peter Minshall on Friday evening placed one of his trademark black felt hats on the head of the man who is regarded as his successor, Brian McFarlane. The occasion was a reception which is held annually at President's House, St Ann's, to honour outstanding artistes of Trinidad and Tobago. McFarlane, who took off the hat sometime after it was placed on his head, declined to comment on Minshall's action saying only: "I have had so much admiration for
Mr Minshall." McFarlane's 2010 presentation is titled "Resurrection The Mas" and it is understood that there is, or was, a project in the works for Minshall in 2010, a band titled Rezzarek.

I wonder what Minshall mean by that?LOL

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

A Communist Carnival.

Communist China celebrated 60 years in Power last week by putting on a fantastic propaganda   anniversary parade in Beijing. With soldiers rehearsing for eight months, and trained to blink every forty seconds, this was a show of militant precision.  These communist even cleared the skies of clouds to create the perfect day.
To me it is a Carnival, not as we know it, but a Communist, Carnival all the same.
Take a look at the impressive display on this time-lapse sequence by Dan Chung.

China's 60th Anniversary national day - timelapse and slow motion - 7D and 5DmkII from Dan Chung on Vimeo.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Ban on toilet trucks

Port of Spain Corporation gets tough on Carnival 2010

Masqueraders who have grown accustomed to the convenience of "wee-wee trucks" will now have to rely on-or find-alternative accommodation for Carnival 2010.
The Port of Spain Corporation has given notice of two big changes for next year's Parade of the Bands-the first being that truck-borne portable toilets will no longer be allowed along the route and the other, that food provided by bands for masqueraders must be consumed within four hours of preparation.
The food must also be stored at specific temperatures-four degrees Celsius and under for cold and 40 degrees Celsius and over for hot-and this could affect the bands' abilities to provide the full all-inclusive fare that has become the norm.
The notice, which was sent two weeks ago to vice president of the National Carnival Bandleaders Association (NCBA), David Lopez, has been ill-received by several band leaders.
A lack of consultation with them emerged as a pet peeve and the NCBA's handling of the matter was regarded as "irresponsible" by Peter Reynald, secretary of the National Carnival Development Foundation (NCDF).
"I am surprised with the irresponsibility of the NCBA," Reynald said yesterday.
"There has been no meeting with bandleaders on this. Many bands have launched already and-the NCBA knows this-they would already have contractual obligations with caterers and so on. I am not against the public vendors but the corporation must treat fairly with everyone, they cannot just sweep through the bands with this."
Reynald said that although the bands, who provide an all inclusive package, have a schedule for providing food through the day, keeping to the new specifications can be difficult with traffic, the pace of the parade and the time taken by masqueraders to access the food.
He also expressed little faith in the corporation's ability to provide adequate toilet facilities.
"They have been failing to get that right years," Reynald said.
The rules being enforced by the Corporation are not new and are in keeping with the Public Health Ordinance, which was cited in the letter.
On "wee-wee trucks", the notice stated:
"Public Health Ordinance Chapter 12 No. 4 Section 70 (1) (b), specifies that 'any privy so foul or in such a state or so situated as to be a nuisance or injurious to health'...
"The present system employed by some bandleaders poses a health hazard and as such the practice of 'wee-wee trucks' should be discontinued. The alternatives for accommodation for masqueraders on Carnival days are the use of sites, to be determined by the Association in collaboration with the Local Health Authority (PoS Corporation), where 'portable toilets' can be situated."
Attached to the letter was the Health Ordinance provision for the sale of food, on which the Corporation stated:
"The system now being used in 'all-inclusive' bands where food is provided for masqueraders needs to be monitored to ensure compliance with all Public Health Regulations."
Speaking to the Express yesterday, a representative of Island People, one of the country's largest bands, said the newly enforced regulations regarding the collection of waste could negatively impact on the band's security policies for 2010.
Female masqueraders are considered particularly vulnerable and were the main reason that "wee-wee trucks" were created. Having to leave the band to use another facility, or to locate a private place on a public street, leaves these band members open to a number of dangers.
"Our new focus on 2010 is high security for band members," the Island People spokesperson said, adding that the band has no issue with regulations but wants to ensure proper alternatives.
"So we hope that the Port of Spain Corporation provides safe, well-lit and well-managed facilities along the route, otherwise, we would have to seek out alternatives.
"As for food, we have a distribution schedule where the service providers delivers throughout the day, so there is no food sitting from morning and being eaten in the evening. It may, however, be difficult to monitor exactly when food was prepared to stay strictly within the four-hour stipulation."
The head of another leading band welcomed the moves by the corporation.
"To be riding through the streets with urine and faeces for two days was an unhealthy practice and what would happen is that the bands behind these 'wee-wee' trucks would have to endure the stench," he said.
However, the Island People representative sought to clear up the notion that two days worth of waste was being transported in the trucks.
"No, no. There were clean-ups along the way and mostly, the trucks would actually be replaced for the next day," he said.
Stating that "the law is the law", the NCBA's David Lopez said his group expects to meet with the Port of Spain Corporation in the near future.
"This has always been the law," Lopez said.
"In the coming weeks, there will be notices from other bodies as well-such as licensing and the police and so on-and we expect to be having some meetings with the corporation soon."
Trinidad Express

Sunday, 4 October 2009


The Brian Mac Farlane website is up and running, there are no prices up yet but the story line is there and the costume designs. Let take a peek at what’s there.

 The story of Resurrection the Mas. 
The Children of Port of Spain had gathered before her, sitting in a half circle, in the shadows just before dayclean.  

In the distance they could see the crooked light house standing in a sea of asphalt, its eyes closed.

They had lined the streets with flambeaux, all along Charlotte, Nelson, George and Duncan, all along the stretch from the cathedral to the sea.

The Children of Port of Spain honoured Madame Colombe by bowing their heads and, though bursting with anticipation, they waited for her to reveal the secrets of The Others. It would not do to hurry her with too many questions. She spoke only when necessary and her stories were like prophecies, great promises that at times seemed too big to be true. But the Children of Port of Spain knew Madame Colombe had never misled them.

"Where are we going?'' chirped the smallest of the Children who was just about wriggling with excitement.

Madame Colombe smiled, her face glistening like the black oil that had been pumped through the veins of the land, making some people strong, but others weak and forgetful so that they were distracted by anything shiny. Her bosom heaved as she laughed, and she shook her hair which fell about her and glistened as if spun from threads of white gold. "We are already here'' she replied.  "The streets of Port of Spain hold the answers you have been waiting for. The Others will soon be here. We must prepare for them.''

With that, she reached into the deep pocket of her skirts for the thick heavy book she kept wrapped up in copper cloth. She called it The Beginning because it contained stories of The Others and how they once danced and paraded through the streets and sang in a mixture of Creole and English before they went away.  "The promise is to be fulfilled,'' Madame Colombe said. "The old ways will live again.''

She shifted her weight on the oil drum she was sitting on. She blew on the tattered pages of the old book and they fluttered open on a special page. "One more time I will tell you the story of The Others and how it was in the beginning and how it shall be again.''

The Children of Port of Spain were spellbound, their eyes glistening. Madame Colombe was speaking in that melodious voice of hers that sounded like birds whistling.

"The past can never be scrubbed clean. The past is ours to remember and understand and once we walk through the fires of the past, we will be whole and strong and beautiful.

"The people of our land once suffered great indignities and cruelties. But they were  clever too. They found their own power 'under the mas'. So when the European masters dressed up in wigs and gowns and fancy costumes and played the masquerade, our people saw behind their masks. Our people had eyes that could see back to Africa; they could see from here to Europe and back to these selfsame shores.

"They disguised themselves too and put the business of their masters in the streets, so all their excesses and hypocrisy and buffoonery were exposed.''

Madame Colombe eyes flashed like the flambeaux and her shoulders shuddered and the tremor made the asphalt beneath her bare feet grow hot.

"We made jokes but all skin teeth is not laugh.'' Shadows flickered in the half-light, as if dancing to life. To the Children of Port of Spain, it was like watching clouds and trying to guess their shapes. That one looked like a woman in a short nightdress holding a baby doll in her arms. This one has a banjo, another a whip.

"Our people didn't need silk and velvet to tell their stories,'' Madame Colombe continued. "They used dried banana leaves, strips of old cloth. They painted themselves black and blue and powdered their faces as white as the massa and mistress. Some wore nothing but a loin cloth, their whole bodies smeared with soot and molasses and a pair of horns on their heads.

"During the Time of The Mas, our people had special powers when they could become anybody they wanted-from sailor to devil to clown. Some of our people grew tall, tall, tall overnight and could peep over the tops of houses. They wore satin pants and you knew they were coming before you saw them because of the music of the boom drum played by musicians who accompanied them.''

Madame Colombe paused. "See?'' she said, holding up one of the pages of the big book, with a picture of an elaborately dressed lady twirling a parasol, her skirts set wide at the hips, like the fine French ladies. But her smile was mocking behind the painted lips. Madam Colombe chuckled. "She pretty for so, oui. Bet you can't tell she is really a man in disguise. Her name is Lorraine.''

Madame Colombe continued with the story to help the Children remember. "These devils and sailors and clowns and all the others who knew the powers of the old ways began to fade away. These are the The Others-the old ones, the elders who first showed us the power in the mas. The Others are the beginners. Without them there would be no Big Sunday, no Fat Monday and Fat Tuesday. No rebirth and renewal.

"You see, people forgot The Others. They forgot how we began. They bathed in oil and ate the bread of forgetfulness. They sold their heritage for some pretty beads and colourful feathers. They forgot The Others. But the Others did not forget us. They are ready. They are here to teach us again. It is time to begin again.''

Madame Colombe rose and her skirts rustled like so many whispers. The Children of Port of Spain raised their flambeaux and encircled her.

The shadows began to dance, this time the Children of Port of Spain could make out faces and colours, as the early morning light grew brighter. Then Madame Colombe blew a light mist and the shadows took shape.

'This is where The Others have been waiting,'' said Madame Colombe. "They were with us all the time, wandering the streets of Port of Spain, which they called L'Oubliette, the Place of Forgetting. We just did not know they were here because we had been blinded by shiny beads and shiny coins. We had forgotten how to see from here to Africa and Europe and back to these selfsame shores.''

One by one, The Others began to appear as their true selves, cracking their whips, blowing their whistles, playing their banjos, beating their drums. The Children of Port of Spain sang praises to welcome them back to the land, back to a new beginning.

Madame Colombe sang too, her voice like a thousand angels. She raised her arms which turned into wings, her skirts into feathers. The Children of Port of Spain gasped and tried to clutch her hems, but it was like trying to grasp a cloud.

Madame Colombe, a great white dove, flew off into the early morning sky. But the Children of Port of Spain could still hear her voice, carried on a beam on sunlight.

"This is  Resurrection, The Mas.''

Saturday, 3 October 2009


Mas Man the movie will have its European Premiere at the 11th bfm international film festival on Saturday 7th November 2009 at the RICH MIX CINEMA 2   35-47Bethnal Green Road London E1 6LA. There will also be A Q+A with the Director Dalton Narine.

“A sparkling documentary that examines the life of  Trinidadian Carnival “Masman” Peter Minshall, whose lifelong ambition was to prove that Mas (the Carnival stage) can be high art...Minshall’s work transcended Carnival and he was asked to work on high profile performance projects such as the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games in 1992, 1996 and 2002.”

It seems that Trinidad and Tobago culture will be well represented at the festival with another documentary called “THE PAN MAN.” “Pan Man tells the story of renowned jazz pianist and steel pan player Russ Henderson from his days as a struggling musician in the 1950s to receiving recognition in the form of an MBE from HRH Prince of Wales for long standing services to the music industry” Director Mike McKenzie. 

Another European Premiere is the Claude Santiago directed documentary “Soca Power in Trinidad and Tobago.” It will be shown on Monday 9th of November 2009, at the Rich Mix cinema 2at 7pm.
“A dazzling documentary that follows four of soca’s most influential local talents throughout one Carnival season...The films main characters are Machel Montano, considered the most powerful man in soca; Bunji Garlin, revered even feared, for his biting lyrics and bold outspoken personality; Fay-Ann Lyons, soca royalty and one of the genre’s brightest young stars; and Isaac Blackman, son of soca’s creator Ras Shorty I...”

Friday, 2 October 2009

Steelpan legacy to be honoured

THIS COUNTRY’S steelpan legacy will be honoured during the 2009 eight annual Steelpan and Jazz Festival, now on at Queen’s Hall, through the live works of three revered and accomplished orchestras: Trinidad All Stars, Desperadoes and Exodus.

“Alive at 75”: That’s Trinidad All Stars’ celebration of their Diamond Anniversary. The six-time Panorama Champions will present new adaptations of classic orchestrations by several of their arrangers including the late Fitzgerald “Gerry” Jemmott, who joined All Stars in 1968 as their musical director and the late Nelson Villafana; Leon “Smooth” Edwards, Rudy Wells and Deryck Nurse.

The band will replicate Neville Jules’ majestic arrangement of the hymn “How Great Thou Art” as dancers from Malick Folk Performers enhance the song’s inspirational message. Marionettes Chorale, with whom the band has extensively collaborated, will join the performance of Rossini’s “Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves” while the remainder of their set will showcase All Stars’ diversified repertoire, which ranges across genre classics by Verdi, Michael Jackson and the Afrobeat of Fela Kuti.

Originally called Hell Yard Boys, Second Fiddle then Cross of Lorraine, the band settled on the name All Stars because it reflected its players’ stellar musical capabilities.

All Stars cultural contributions were recognized in 1982 by the TT Government’s bestowal of the Humming Bird Medal (Gold) and then four years later with an award from the Port-of-Spain City Council. The band’s members have pioneered many developments in the steelband including playing European classical music on the road at carnival and the introduction of the guitar pan.

For their TTSJF appearance Despers will offer a retrospective of calypso favourites and other contemporary songs arranged by the late Clive Bradley, the troubled yet enormously talented multi-instrumentalist who led the band to several of their ten Panorama triumphs prior to his passing on November 26, 2005.

Born November 4, 1936, Clive Bradley grew up in the residential valley of Diego Martin when it was still a remote country district. He was a self-taught musician who worked with some of Trinidad’s greatest musicians of the 50s and 60s including Choy Aming, Johnny Gomez, Clarence Curvan and later Andre Tanker. He led his own groups, the Bradley Bunch, and brass band, Sounds Incorporated and helped to elevate the late Mighty Duke into calypso stardom. Bradley was Duke’s arranger for the four years the latter won the national calypso crown.

It was Roy Cape who influenced the late legendary Rudolph Charles to hire Bradley, who did not play pan, as the band’s arranger. Bradley’s initial assignment with Despers was a 1968 Panorama arrangement of The Mighty Sparrow’s “Mr Walker”. In 1970 Desperadoes won the contest with Bradley’s arrangement of Lord Kitchener’s “Margie.”

More Panorama championships followed for Bradley and Despers in 1976, 1977, 1983, 1985, 1999 and 2000 but Bradley’s pan genius wasn’t confined to his work with the Laventille band: His celestial arrangement of David Rudder’s “High Mas” for the Arima based Nutones won Panorama in 1998 and he scored a record ten victories with various New York steelbands at Brooklyn’s annual Labor Day weekend Panorama. “Bradley best rode the world of the arranger like a Colossus,” said Trinidad’s esteemed musicologist and pan arranger Dr Pat Bishop. “Nobody handled the minor-key mode like Bradley. Nobody could make you weep at Panorama which, of course, is supposed to be a time of unbridled joyousness, but he captured the tragic underside of the human condition and gave it a voice that was utterly awesome, authentic and Trinidadian.”

Returning to the TTSJF, Tunapuna-based Sagicor Exodus Steel Orchestra, equally recognised for their precisely rehearsed sets as for their sartorial elegance, presented customised renditions of a wide-ranging repertoire of pop, jazz and calypso standards during its performance on opening night.

Formed in 1981, Exodus are relative youngsters in the steelband fraternity but their formidable achievements nonetheless command immense respect. Exodus has won Panorama four times; they are the current champs of the Caribbean Panorama competition, which was held in Grenada in 2002; they took top honours at the Pan is Beautiful competition in 1998 and again in 2004 and are the reigning victors of the World Steelband Competition, securing that title in Port-of-Spain in 2002 and most recently at NYC’s Madison Square Garden in 2005.

Exodus’ TTSJF repertoire included renditions of three calypso hits honouring the steel pan written by a departed trio of TT’s most esteemed composers: “Pan Talent” by The Mighty Terror (Fitzgerald Henry), “Pan In “A” Minor” by Lord Kitchener (Aldwyn Roberts) and “Steelband Times” by Andre Tanker.

Exodus’ special guests included saxophonist Sandy Gabriel from the Dominican Republic who has previously performed with the band at some of their international gigs and upcoming Trinidadadian vocalist Candice Alcantara, accompanied by the band’s resident arranger, the highly regarded Pelham Goddard on keyboards. Goddard’s musical vision helped to develop soca in the mid-70s and he went on to arrange many Carnival Road March winning songs throughout the 80s and 90s. Goddard’s arrangements for Exodus brilliantly transpose classic soca’s boldly swinging rhythms into complex steelband orchestrations.

“The TTSJF has for years been the singular organisation promoting our national instrument in any meaningful way,” observes Exodus’ manager Ainsworth Mohammed, brother of Exodus’ founder the late Amin Mohammed.

“Their efforts to encourage steelbands to demonstrate the versatility of the pan and the virtuosity of steelpan players must be highly commended.

Steelbands are afforded the opportunity to present on the same stage as many world renowned international acts and we must step up to the plate on these occasions.”




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