Search Mas Republic

Sunday, 20 February 2011

UWI’s Jouvay Ayiti inspired by earthquake in Haiti

There are no costumes on display at the launch of Jouvay Ayiti, a J’Ouvert band presented by the Department of Creative and Festival Arts (DCFA). Instead, guests were told they would be making their own mas. Emcee Marvin George explained that Jouvay Ayiti was more than just a mud band; it was an attempt to have participants engage ideas about Haiti, and through the creative process, arrive at new understandings.
He told the guests at the St Augustine venue, who had braved heavy rains on the night of February 10 to support the venture, that the idea for Jouvay Ayiti was inspired by the earthquake that devastated the island in 2010. He said more than 50 Haitian students had been adopted into the St Augustine campus community, following the disaster. George said Haiti was important to the heritage of the region and calledthe island “the Mudder of civilisation,” making a pun on the J'Ouvert theme.
A Guyanese traditional masquerade, made of recycled materials,
portraying Fowl Cock, at the launch of Jouvay Ayiti.
This year’s Old Yard event, (formerly Viey la Cou),
 on February 27 from noon,
also at the DCFA, will feature elements of Guyanese Carnival.
 Photos: Gillian Moore
He said in keeping with T&T and Haitian Carnival traditions, all costumes should make a personal statement and be crafted from recycled, found and natural materials. He also cautioned that J’Ouvert mud should complement, not mar, the designs. Guests were treated to several cultural presentations, including performances by singers Baby Pink and Amrika Matroo and sailor mas. Haitian Rara dancers also performed.
They will be featured in the upcoming theatrical production, Here is my Ass Now Try to Whip It, opening on March 25 at UWI's Learning Resource Centre. A traditional Guyanese Fowl Cock, fashioned from bamboo and chicken feed bags, also made an appearance. George noted that this year’s Old Yard event (formerly Viey la Cou), to be staged at the DCFA on February 27 from 12 noon, would highlight Guyanese traditional Carnival traditions.

For further information on Jouvay Ayiti,
contact Marissa Brooks at 663-2222 or

Enhanced by Zemanta

Edmund and Lil Hart, Stephen and Elsie Lee Heung... Power couples of T&T Mas’

Complimenting each other all the way in their mas-centred lives were the legendary power couples of mas—Edmund and Lil Hart and Stephen and Elsie Lee Heung.  Together they captured a total of ten Band of the Year titles, five a piece, between 1966 and 1988. They were also runners up on 12 occasions, the Lee Heungs seven and the Harts five times.  In both the King of the Bands and Queen of the Bands categories, the Lee Heungs captured the title six times while the Harts did so twice.  In total, these two power couples produced some 62 bands between 1961 and 1994.
Hart’s...oldest surviving Carnival band
Today, the oldest surviving Carnival band in Trinidad and Tobago, in the large band category, is Hart’s, a econd generation family organisation, that celebrated its 50th year of conceptualisation in 2010. The evolution into thousands of masqueraders from a small band of 140 in 1961, the Hart’s Carnival Band, started by Edmund and Lil Hart, following stints after moving from San Fernando with Harold Saldenah and Bobby Ammon, is truly a remarkable one in the history of Trinidad and Tobago’s Carnival. 
Today, their children have firmly taken control of their parent’s legacy and those children, Louis, Gerald, Thais, Aixa and Karen, have kept the Hart’s carnival flag flying high. “Fun in Mas” continues to be the motto of the popular band that passed to the current generation in 1993. The revered founding father of the legendary mas dynasty, Edmund, is still around in his late 80s to offer advice but it is his children who carry the mantle nowadays. Lil Hart died in 1991.
It didn’t take the newly-formed group decades ago to capture their first title with the portrayal “Playing Cards” in 1966 to be followed by four other titles with presentations “Inferno” (1970), “Mas Sweet Mas” (1983), “Islands in the Sun” (1986) and “Out of this World” (1988). During the heyday of their reign, in 1973, Edmund Hart received the Humming Bird Gold Medal for his contribution to Carnival development. 
His wife Lil hart is credited as being the designer who took the traditions of historical depictions into the realm of the more imaginative. For their 50th year conceptualisation celebrations, the children of Edmund and Lil Hart chose to revisit their past and honour their parents in 2010 by portraying the band titles over the years with sections within the band named after such themes as “Brazilian Fiesta” and Latin Fire,” “Oriental Fantasy and Utopia” and “Persian Empire and Mesopotamia.”  The band saw many of the masqueraders of the past returning to take part in the celebrations along with their children, grandchildren and even some great grandchildren.
Lee Heung’s hat-trick
Recently turned 90, Stephen Lee Heung, like Edmund Hart, began playing mas with Harold Saldenah in the early 1950s. Together with wife Elsie Lee Heung they won the Band-of- the-Year title five times (1967, 1975, 1976, 1977, and 1983) including the hat trick. From 1964 to 1975, Lee Heung’s bands were designed by Carlisle Chang, in 1976 Peter Minshall designed “Paradise Lost” and in 1977, Tedder Eustace designed “Cosmic Aura.” Woodbrook, like so many of the bands of today, including Harts, was the base for their popular mas camp.
As a young man Stephen Lee Heung brought out his first band in 1946 from San Juan, Two Ten Carmen, featuring Egyptian costumes. Siam was next and in 1948, Lee Heung’s wife, sisters and female friends introduced women to the streets, in The House of Hanoverians. China, the Forbidden City, their first Band of the Year title in 1967 was a spectacular display of the temples, gardens and animal life of China and was the only carnival band to have been used on a postage stamp. 
They won again in 1975 for the portrayal We Kind Ah People in which Chang celebrated the various cultures of the people of Trinidad and Tobago. Chang’s themes reflected the world’s artistic traditions: Japan, Crete, Central America, Russia and Arabia. China the Forbidden City was the first band sent abroad by the government to the Montreal Expo in 1967, and then on to Toronto’s Caribana.  We Kind Of People was sent to the Dallas Trade Fair in 1975.
Elsie Lee Heung was twice crowned Queen of the Bands, in 1968 winning with “Honey of the Polynesians” and in 1983 with “Diana, Goddess of the Hunt.” In 1975 Stephen Lee Heung received the Humming Bird Medal Gold for his driving force in the Carnival arena.
hart’s presentations
1961—This Was Greece
1962—Flagwavers of Siena
1963—The Etruscans
1964—The Maya
1965—Mesopotamia BC
1966—Playing Cards
1967—Oriental Fantasy
1968—Brazilian Fiesta
1969—Life in the Waters
1971—Butterflies and Moths
1972—Four Seasons
1973—A Medieval Dream
1976—The American Indians
1977—Tribute to Broadway
1978—Adventure on the High Seas
1979—Faces and Places
1980—Reflections of Childhood Days
1981—Let’s Make Waves
1982—Anthony and Cleopatra
1983—Mas Sweet Mas
1985—Time for A Tale
1986—Islands in the Sun
1987—Local Sights and Delights
1988—Out of This World
1990—The Witches Brew
1991—Come Leh We Dance
lee heung’s presentations
The presentations
1964—Japan-Land of the Kabuki
1965—Les Fetes Galantes Des Versailles
1967—China, The Forbidden City
1968—Primeval- The Rites of Spring
1969—1001 Nights
1970—Conquest of Space
1972—Russian Fairy Tales
1973—East of Java
1974—Terra Firma
1975—We Kind A People
1976—Paradise Lost
1977—Cosmic Aura
1978—Love Is...
1979—Hocus Pocus
1980—The Bermuda Triangle
1982—Victory at Trafalgar
1983—Rain Forest
1987—Cocoyea Village
1989—Pow Wow
1991—Toute Bagai
1992—Columbus 1492-1992
Source: Nasser Khan

Friday, 18 February 2011

Carnival in Colombia:

Marimondas del Carnaval de BarranquillaImage via Wikipedia

Carnaval De Barranquilla!! Description: Each year during the four days before Lent, Carnaval de Barranquilla offers a repertoire of dances and cultural expressions of different cultures in Colombia. Given its geographical location on the Caribbean coast and its booming economy during the colonial period, the city of Barra nquilla has become one of the first centers of commerce in the country and in a convergence of indigenous peoples and cultures, European and African.
The blending of various local traditions permeates many aspects of the carnival, especially in the dances (like the monkey and the micas from the Americas, African congo and paloteo of Spanish origin), musical genres (mainly cumbia , but variants such as the puya and porro) and folk instruments (drums and joyful, maracas, claves). Carnival music is generally performed by sets of drums and wind instruments. The material culture of handcrafted objects profusely includes floats, costumes, head ornaments and animal masks. Groups of masked dancers, actors, singers and musicians delight crowds with theatrical and musical performances based on both historical events today. Contemporary political life and their personalities are the subject of ridicule in speeches and satirical songs that give the carnival burlesque.
With the growing success in the twentieth century, the Carnival of Barranquilla became a professional event, the subject of extensive media coverage. This development generates economic benefits for many low-income families, the increasing commercialization is a potential threat to the survival of many traditional expressions.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Costume contribution to Carriacou's 2011 carnival

St. George’s, February 11, 2011 – Cultural enthusiasts, including Senator Arley Gill, are encouraging greater collaborative efforts to help further develop the carnivals of Grenada and Carriacou.

They have hailed a donation of costumes from the Grenada-based Summercrew to a Carriacou mas’ band, “The Spirit of Carnival.’’
“I believe that this gesture would enhance the quality of the Carriacou carnival product,’’ Sen. Gill, the Junior Minister of Culture, said at the costume presentation at Club Bananas in St. George’s.

Shanel Edmund received the donation on behalf of “The Spirit of Carnival’’ at the presentation and news conference that were attended by Sen. Gill; Grenada Carnival Committee (GCC) chairman Colin Dowe; Summercrew president Bobby Steele; and two of his executive members, Meloni Archbald and Alexandra Otway-Noel. There was also the modeling of a costume by Reisa Fletcher.

Like Trinidad and Tobago, the Carriacou carnival is a pre-Lenten festival. This year, it's being held March 7 and 8.

Ms. Otway-Noel said Summercrew’s aim, since its formation in 1986, has been the growth and development of culture.
“In that vein, Summercrew has decided to extend a hand to Carriacou by way of donating costumes to help enhance the Carriacou carnival experience,’’ she said.

Mr. Steele said his organisation is not only helping to market Carriacou’s carnival, but also intends to send a delegation to play mas’ in the Sister Isle.

“This year, Alex, myself and other members of our executive sat down and decided that we needed to send a delegation across to Carriacou to partake in their carnival as well to show that our support is all-round,’’ he said.
“From today on,’’ Steele pledged, “we’re going to be marketing very heavily carnival in Carriacou for everybody to come up and enjoy. We will be there with you on the road, in the fetes; we’re coming.’’
Sen. Gill said government’s commitment to cultural development in Carriacou has included strong marketing of the island’s carnival celebrations.

“We believe that continued marketing in Grenada can result in more and more Grenadian masqueraders and carnival lovers going to the Sister Isle for carnival,’’ he said. “I want to use this opportunity, as well, to appeal to Grenadians to support Carriacou’s carnival and let us go to Carriacou for carnival.’’
Mr. Dowe, also appealing for Grenadian participation in Carriacou’s carnival, said it’s both a “wise’’ economic choice and an opportunity to enjoy a great cultural festival.

“When we speak of the economic crunch that we’re all experiencing,’’ Dowe said, “when we speak about being wise with our monies, it seems fitting for us to spend our monies in the State of Grenada but not miss out on carnival. And Carriacou provides that opportunity; Grenada, of course, being the only Caribbean island with two carnivals, which is something we boast about.’’

The GCC chairman commended Summercrew on making the EC$8,000 costume donation in support of the Digicel-sponsored Carriacou carnival. He wants to see similar exchanges between other mas’ bands
“While I congratulate Summercrew on spearheading this collaborative initiative, I would also like to issue a challenge to other major bands to have this type of partnership,’’ Mr. Dowe said.
“Because when we speak of product development, we certainly can’t think merely in terms of people doing it in isolation. There is need for us to lend a helping hand to those who might be a little bit behind us, not for lack of ideas, but quite often for the lack of resources.’’
Collaboration and assistance could lead to more people playing fancy mas’ and a better quality product on the street, Mr. Dowe added.
The promotion of Carriacou’s carnival continues with the playing of calypsoes on Grenadian radio stations, as well as through websites such as partygrenada.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

T&T mas designs to be protected by copyright

WIPO emblem.Image via WikipediaMas costume designers and masqueraders can now enjoy real benefits from their labour as “Works of Mas” are now globally recognised and protected by intellectual property rights. Dr Vijay Ramlal, head of the T&T Copyright Collection Organisation (TTCO), confirmed this during a telephone interview on Sunday. “TTCO, in collaboration with the Legal Affairs Ministry, under the Intellectual Property Division and through National Carnival Development Foundation, had successfully piloted to the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) in Geneva to establish and accept the Works of Mas into the WIPO convention,” Ramlal said.
He said this was approved last December. “This would also make TTCO the only entity to collect and negotiate royalties for mas bands,” Ramlal said. He stated this was a significant achievement as it would allow any works of mas in the world to be recognised as intellectual property. “This was the first phase and we are now pushing for it to be recognised under the WIPO treaty and if it is successful, then T&T would be recognised globally as the intellectual property centre for the works of mas,” Ramlal said. “We would now be known for the headquarters for the works of mas.”
He added that all countries will be able to sign on and have protection for their mas under this copyright, just as was done for music. The WIPO treaty is expected to be negotiated and formulated around April /May of this year, he noted. Ramlal said with that achievement TTCO would also be able to collect royalties and accreditation fees internationally for its 153 membership mas bands in T&T. “We are the only recognised body in the world to do so,” he added.
Stakeholders to receive their just dues

Ramlal said stakeholders in the mas industry have not been receiving their just dues. “The system which NCC and other bodies has been using is undermining the value of our Carnival,” he said. Drawing an example, he said the accreditation fees collected by the NCC from organisations and international media provided no real value for mas stakeholders. “It is equal to holding a ticket to enter a fete…these subscription rights cannot be exploitative and cannot be used for commercial use… as it has no real value,” Ramlal pointed out. However, people were abusing that right and placing photos in magazines, postcards and DVDs without proper authorisation, he noted.
He also stated that there were no proper monitoring systems in place to oversee these organisations and international media during the staging of Carnival in T&T. He added: “These are some of the issues that have not been explored and we are in the process of dealing with them. “Therefore we need to negotiate with NCC, the international media and every carnival committee to obtain a royalty collection licence with the TTCO for the masqueraders, designers and producers to have their just due,” Ramlal said.

Two sets of rights

According to Ramlal, there are two sets of rights. In one instance, where an establishment like the airport may showcase a costume, the airport has to pay copyright protection fees. The other, he said, is an appearance fee where masqueraders perform at shows like the King and Queen mas competitions.

The body responsible for the show has to pay fees, including performance rights and costume rights and another that will protect the designer/producer of the costume.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Sunday, 13 February 2011


Legendary Band Leaders of Yesteryear
Norman Samaroo
We continue our series that takes a look back at the contributions to our Carnival art form.  For the fourth in the series we look at a different kind of legend of mas, Norman Samaroo, a name synonymous with the supply of Carnival materials since the early 1950s when he started that division of his business. Norman “Sam” Samaroo passed away on February 3, 2011 in Miami, having recently celebrating his 90th birthday in relatively good health.  He had moved to Miami a few years ago to be with his daughters.

The first three in this series reflected on the contributions of legendary mas band leaders Harold “Sally” Saldenah, George “Sir George” Bailey and Irvin “Mac” Mc Williams.  Suffice it to say that had it not been for the business acumen of Norman Samaroo in identifying the need to become a supplier of mas making materials to these early legends, none of the spectacles produced by these creative geniuses would have been possible.  The same can be said for Edmund and Lil Hart, Neville Aming, Cito Valasquez, Wayne Berkely, Ken Morris, Stephen Lee Heung, Raoul Garib, Bobby 
Ammon, Russel Charter and Peter Minshall, among many others.

Diminutive in stature, and hailing from San Fernando, Samaroo learnt the trade of tailoring at an early age from Joe Gopee’s tailoring shop at Cross Crossing, after which he moved to Stephen and Todd tailoring in Port-of-Spain.  Those stints along with his later training as a chemist at Point-a-Pierre’s refinery and at Forest Reserve where he played cricket as a wicketkeeper, gave him the confidence to move to Port-of-Spain (POS) again, this time to work at Joseph Gonzales’ hardware store on Marine Square.

It was here that his shrewd entrepreneurial spirit began to manifest itself.  Every Sunday he would leave POS with two suitcases filled with pots and pans, clothing and perfumes which he acquired from merchants at wholesale prices. He would then sell them, on foot, door to door, to the people in the country making a small profit. By 1949, he had saved enough to acquire 3 Observatory Street, which he named Samaroo’s Regent Store as if a sign of things to come; that of becoming the King of Carnival supplies.

About a year later, he purchased 5 Observatory Street.  It was not long after this he met up with the owner of Eve’s Fancy Work on Frederick Street, Fritz Heilbron, who introduced him to the Carnival business and from whom he eventually acquired that business. Thus, started Samaroo on the path to becoming the number one supplier of Carnival materials, sourcing and supplying the latest in items such as fabrics, braids, sequins, appliqués, beads, feathers, glitter dust and leatherette.

He became very popular with the people in the Observatory Street/Belmont areas such as the infamous ‘Drx Rat’ and wrestling legend, ‘Thunderbolt’ Williams. The customer always came first in business and he proved this by opening very long hours during the Carnival period.  He always said that "no sale was too small" and if a customer wanted to purchase a needle or a spool of thread, that customer should be served with the same respect as any other.

Due to circumstances beyond his control, Samaroo had to close the business at Observatory Street in 1989 and moved on to the racing pool and hotel business at Abercromby Street and at Valley Vue/Luciano in St Ann’s respectively.  He was also at one time the owner of Hotel Normandie and a director of Accra Beach Hotel in Barbados.

He promoted boxing under Regency Promotions, was a fete promoter and a member of the Arima Race Club.  He won big races when he owned horses like Quiz Kid and Now Geraldine that won major races.  His biggest boxing promotion was when T&T's Leslie Stewart fought Canada’s Donny Lalonde in Trinidad for the WBC title which was shown live on ABC television.

Current and ex band leaders such as Wayne Berkely and Earl Patterson, Stephen Derek and Rosalind Gabriel fondly recall their days shopping at Observatory Street, with Norman “Sam” Samaroo at the helm.  He was always open to serve his customers at just about any time, especially around Carnival time, a trend that his nephew Steve continues today from his locations at Abercromby Street, Port-of-Spain and at San Fernando.

According to nephew Steve, who took over the Carnival arm of the business when his uncle “retired” from the mas business: “Everybody knew him as Sam. He was a charitable person to the churches, orphanage, fed the poor in Woodford and Tamarind Squares and even donated his property on Observatory Street to the Credo Foundation, a religious organisation, to provide a rehabilitation centre for young people.  He was an elder at the St Ann’s Church of Scotland and Greyfriars Church on Frederick Street.”
Today Samaroo’s Ltd has grown to become a well-known international supplier of Carnival materials serving the entire Caribbean (with branches in Port-of-Spain, San Fernando and Barbados) and the dozens of other Trini-styled Carnivals around the globe.  Its founder Norman Samaroo was no doubt proud of him, as the Samaroo legacy lives on.

Samaroo was the father of five children and seven grandchildren. His funeral took place earlier this week in Miami, however there will be a memorial service in Trinidad and the public will be advised as soon as arrangements are made.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Thursday, 10 February 2011


Chinese labour making T&T mas

Workers getting down to business at Legacy’s workshop in Woodbrook.
Chinese Labour has not only impacted on the local construction industry, but has been playing an increasing role in the local production of mas. Every year for Carnival, millions of dollars is spent by bandleaders on materials and labour out of China. Several costume designers and producers last week said it could cost up to $3 million to produce a Carnival band, especially a large band. For a number of years, China has been leveraging its labour and machinery in order to compete in the global marketplace. Using its comparative advantage to gain access to countries like T&T, China has been successfully attracting local costume designers and producers with its cheap labour, reasonably-priced raw materials, in addition to the accessibility and variety of these materials. “We do not have any manufacturing company nor do we get all the raw materials here in T&T,” said bandleader Mike “Big Mike” Antoine. Antoine, Legacy’s five-time Band of the Year winner, who produces all his costumes locally, said accessing materials is his biggest challenge. “I have no choice but to buy the materials out of T&T.” He explained that stores, like Jimmy Aboud, would only supply some of the cloth, and other stores like Samaroo’s Ltd and Tulip, provided other inputs used in the creation of mas costumes. “Therefore, we have to turn to countries like China to purchase materials.”

The cost of playing mas

Being in the business more than 20 years, Antoine said it cost him about $75,000 to produce a band when he started out. Producing one costume now costs between $1,200 and $1,800, he says.

Antoine, who said his band has a maximum of 2,000 masqueraders, said the cost of a costume was an estimate as there were hidden costs and major expenses such as music, food and security.

He said that in addition to paying his 30-member staff, security costs roughly $250,000, depending on the size of the band, a deejay costs between $60,000 to $75,000, and the bill for a music truck is $100,000. Antoine said producing mas is a costly venture and one will not survive in the business of Carnival if you don’t love the culture.
“Carnival is my life, so I market myself effectively. It is also a risky business, therefore marketing yourself is key,” Antoine said he has managed to keep his prices down for the benefit of his loyal masqueraders. Legacy’s theme for 2011 is South Pacific. Antoine said he hopes that one day soon, bandleaders would be able to produce a Carnival band entirely in T&T. He said more needs to be done for mas designers and to raise the standard of Carnival. “We need a voice to lobby for us. We need to market our product outside as well. T&T Carnival is the mother of all Carnivals and we need to raise the bar.”

Limited raw materials
Stacey Des Vignes, a director at the Oasis mas camp, said it costs 100 per cent more to produce a band locally than to import costume-related materials from China. “This is the reason those who are just in the business aspect of it and not for the love of it, take this route of importing costumes,” she said. Des Vignes, who produces her costumes locally, said she shared the same challenges as others in the business of producing a Carnival band. “We do not have the machinery nor the raw decorative materials, so we have to source it from China,” she added. She explained that the Chinese operate out of New York where customers have the option of ordering or purchasing their product from there and then have it shipped from China. She said China has cornered the market because they have the resources available. Des Vignes lamented that taxes on raw material must be reduced. The taxes, she added, need to be structured. “It costs about $1,500 to produce one costume and that does not include staff and other overhead costs,” she said. Des Vignes, who has been involved in producing mas for about eight years, said she does it for the love of T&T culture. She first started with a section in Poison, moved on to produce a section in Tribe and another in Element. She decided to take a year off and branched out on her own, along with her other partners, for 2011. We budgeted and used our savings. It’s a big risk to bring out a band, but we are doing it on love and debt,” she said. She indicated that costume sales were great for a new band.

Bring back creativity in mas

Echoing similar sentiments to those of Des Vignes was bandleader Peter Samuel, a disciple of veteran masman Peter Minshall, and an eight-time King of Carnival, who has decided to return to Carnival this year with his band: Skullduggery—The Dance of Deceit. He noted that mas designers need to bring back creativity in mas. So even though some of them produce mas locally, there are limited jobs available.

“It’s the same thing all over. It’s a poor imitation of Las Vegas showgirls,” Samuel stated. Totally against the idea of importing costumes wholesale from China, Samuel said seamstresses have been looking for work, but they are no longer needed. Samuel said the production of mas has turned into an assembly line, whereby workers are just required to cut and stick. He said he’s made the bold decision to stay away from bikini-and-beads type of costumes. Samuel said he recognises the limitations of producing a band locally.

He said his band has had to source materials from China for two of his 18-sectioned band because the items were not available locally. Items were also sourced  in the United States. Multiculturalism Minister Winston Peters on February 2, during a tour of mas camps in San Fernando, said that mas designers who import their costumes wholesale from China would experience prohibitive taxes in an effort to maintain and nurture the artform in T&T. While Samuel agrees with Peters on the subject of taxes on importing mas materials from China, he said that designers who produce mas locally should be assisted in order to bring down the cost of production. Samuel said it costs him up to $900 to produce a costume, but given other costs, such as music, food and security, final costume prices have been kept at between $1,900 and $2,895.

Government assistance

Even though the cost of producing a mas band is very high, there are six new bands for Carnival 2011.

Among them are Yuma, Bliss, Oasis and Skullduggery. Spice is returning for a second year. One of the new bandleaders, who wished to remain anonymous, said banks should be encouraged to facilitate new Carnival bands. The bandleader said it is very difficult to get a loan from the bank because they do not want to take the risk associated with Carnival. The bandleader said the Government should find alternative means to assist in the growth of the Carnival, that the high cost of producing a band has to be passed on to masqueraders. Earlier, Trade and Industry Minister Stephen Cadiz had said that one of the ministry’s plans is to establish a factory for the sole purpose of producing costumes locally. Cadiz said he would also reduce and, in some cases, remove certain duties on particular raw materials to bring down the cost of Carnival costume production.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Monday, 7 February 2011

ADDICTED for Nottinghill 2011:

Specialist Entertainment 's Mas division ADDICTED  have released a little teaser for the upcoming  Notting Hill Carnival in August 2011. I wonder if there is another message in there somewhere?

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Irvin McWilliams: ‘Localising the mas’ 32 spectacular presentations

Legendary Band Leaders of Yesteryear
We continue our series that takes a look back at the contributions to our Carnival art form of the famous large band leaders from around 1955, the first year of the official Band of the Year competition.  For the purpose of this series we take a look at that era following World War II when designers were able to and began to more widely use their creativity and artistry to portray mainly tangible and non-abstract costumes that would transform our streets into a thematic visual spectacle of colour and living theatre.

Irvin McWilliams (1920-2007)
Mas legend Irvin “Mac” McWilliams, unlike the legends we have featured previously, Harold Saldenah (1925-1985) and George Bailey (1935-1970), lived to a relatively advanced age of 87 (1920-2007).
During his band producing years from 1956 to 1988 he provided T&T with some 32 spectacular presentations, many of which were based on themes of Trinidad and Tobago, its history and its culture.
The first of such local-themed bands was in 1961 Hail La Trinite and the last Stay up Trinbago in 1988. Such presentations one might say were learning tools for Trinbagonians as our folklore and culture were depicted through the vivid imagination of another legendary mas man adept at portraying things local and who was credited as being the first to present a totally local theme on the streets of T&T in his category.
While the title of Band of the Year eluded him for many years it was only until 1971, with the belief that “within our own shores there is untapped material for magnificent mas,” and his presentation Wonders of Buccoo Reef that he finally won the judges approval for the prestigious prize.  Confident in localising his themes he again captured the title the following year with the indigenous Anancy Story and capped off his third trophy in 1978 with the band entitled Know yuh Country.  This was a 3,500-member kaleidoscope of Trinbagonian cultural education described as “a folk festival…in the medium of mas with sections such as Pointe-à-Pierre Oil, Arima Dial, Caroni Bird Sanctuary, and Chaconia Gold Awards had their impact multiplied by the sheer number of costumed revellers. 
Portrayal of Buccoo Reef which won in 1971
“I won’t mind if other mas men do better than me, but it is essential that citizens know the things that make up their islands.”  In 1974 he ventured further afield regionally with his presentation Somewhere in the Caribbean, with costumes and sections including “Jamaican Ackee,” “Grenadian Nutmegs” and “Barbados Flying Fish.”  His bands won the People’s Choice Award on five occasions (1971, 1972, 1977, 1978, 1980) with an increasing number of female masqueraders.  Buccoo Reef also captured the King of the Bands title.  His King Albert Moore also captured the coveted title in 1965, 1968 and 1969, the latter portraying the immensely popular ‘Man in the Moon’.
Especially popular in the 1970s and early 80s, McWilliams was described as a simple and modest man of the people:  “I enjoy mas…I enjoy producing things people like and can play in…I get a kick out of it and as long as I can break even, I’m easy.” He was the first bandleader to use multiple mas camps to assemble costumes in their large numbers as bands grew, and was the first to start selling off costumes if registrants did not collect them on time. Irvin “Mac” McWilliams was awarded the 1971 Trinidad and Tobago Humming Bird Medal Silver for his contributions to Carnival development.
McWilliams Band of the Year Titles:
1971 Wonders of Buccoo Reef;
1972 Anancy Story;
1978 Know Your Country Carnival presentations: Click Here to Share
1956 King David and the Ammonites;
1957 Ten Commandments;
1958 Rulers of Persia;
1959 Feast of Belshazzar.;
1960 The Grandeur That Was Rome;
1961 Hail La Trinity;
 1962 Tribute to India;
1963 Festival of Mexico;
1964 Monarchs of the Nile;
1965 She and the Tibetans;
1966 Effigies of the Gods;
1968 Conquerors of Niniveh;
1969 Realms of the Kings;
1970 One Day in Persia;
1971 The Wonders of Buccoo Reef;
1972 Our Anancy Stories;
1973 Mama Look Ah Mas;
1974 Somewhere in the Caribbean;
1975 Root of All Evil;
1976 Toute Monde Ca Danse;
1977 Season Greetings;
1978 Know Yuh Country;
1979 Our Famous Recipes;
1980 The Rains Came;
1981 Among My Souvenirs;
1982 Dance Zulu Dance;
1983 We Money;
1984 A Woman's World;
1985 The Days of Moses;
1986 Mas Trinidad Style;
1987 The Wedding of Montezuma;
1988 Stay up Trinbago.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Friday, 4 February 2011

Legendary BandLeaders of Yesteryear: Call that George:Colourful journey ends

We continue a series that takes a look back at the contributions to our Carnival art form of the famous large band bandleaders from around 1955, the first year of the official Band of the Year competition. For the purpose of this series, we take a look at that era following World War II when designers were able to and began to more widely use their creativity and artistry to portray mainly tangible and non-abstract costumes that transformed our streets into a thematic visual spectacle of colour and living theatre.
GEORGE BAILEY (1935-1970)
The Mighty Sparrow in his calypso Memories recalls: “George Bailey, I’ll always remember, jumping when ah big band pass, playing big mas... George Bailey, wherever you are bredder, just for you, we go gih dem real thunder this year.” ( Carnival 2010 saw a return of the spirit of the genius of the late Woodbrook-born and bred George “Sir George” Bailey, via the Stephen Derek and Associates produced band Call That George, a 15-section presentation, each named and designed after bands produced by Bailey from 1956 until his death in 1970 (it should be noted that it was his brother Albert who was the bandleader in 1956 although George himself did the designs). 
Also involved in no small way in the C2K10 production were brother Albert, niece Lee Ann and grand niece Leandra, herself now a budding young designer and avid mas player. His other brother Alvin, well-known mas designer and costume producer, sadly passed away just before Carnival 2010. Their father Aldwyn “Sonny” was also a bandleader in his day. “Sir George,” so nicknamed due to his personality and the high standard of his art, along with Harold Saldenah, between 1955 and 1969, each captured six Band of the Year titles.
One can only imagine the number of titles he would have added to his tally had he not passed away at such a relatively young age in 1970. A prodigy at the age of 20, the eldest of seven children to his parents, he co-produced with brother Albert, their first independent band in 1956 entitled Timu and the Leopard Kingdom a pre-cursor to 1957, and the African-history themed band Back to Africa, which captured the first of his titles. This presentation largely credits Bailey for changing perceptions of Africa, history, and Carnival itself depicting instead a regal heritage, portraying magnificent, meticulously researched African costumes instead of a past largely portrayed in mas before that by the use of rags, paint and spears.
A number of his bands were portrayals of periods of African history and before Bailey, people could not conceive of African mas matching the grandeur of Roman, Greek or any other European themes. George thoroughly researched his portrayals and came as close to the original thing as was possible. During his 15 years involved as a Carnival bandleader, George Bailey’s presentations won the coveted Band of the Year Award six times (1957, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1969) and the People’s Choice Award ten times (1957, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970).  He was the first to capture a beaver-trick of Band of the Year titles.
From a young age, Bailey  developed a love for drawing, painting, and sculpting under the guidance of MP Alladin, the renowned local artist. He was also an outstanding athlete, in track and field, playing basketball with the Woodbrook Limers and the T&T national team. He began his Carnival career by designing for Invaders Steelband in 1954 and 1955, then formed his own band with brother Albert and a few others associates.
In 1962, when T&T gained Independence, he was a member of the committee that designed the emblems for the new nation. In 1969 he was awarded the Trinidad & Tobago Humming Bird Medal Gold for his contribution to Carnival development. On a number of occasions it is recorded that there were huge disparities between the non-George Bailey Band of Year winners and the actual winners with Bailey’s band gaining a much larger number of votes. In 1970, returning to Trinidad from an overseas trip to Bermuda, he fell ill.  When the aircraft landed at Seawell airport in Barbados, he asked for fresh air.  He was led to the ramp, where he collapsed and died of an apparent heart failure.

Carnival presentations: 
1956-Timu and the Leopard Kingdom; 1957-Back to Africa; 1958-Of Pagan History; 1959-Relics of Egypt; 1960-Ye Saga of Merrie England; 1961-Byzantine Glory; 1962-Somewhere in New Guinea; 1963-Realm of Fancy Bats and Clowns; 1964-Age of Gods and Heroes; 1965- Indian Lore; 1966-Kings Go Forth; 1967-Deities Spectacular; 1968-Fantasia; 1969-Bright Africa; 1970-Tears of the Indies.”
Descriptives of a few of George Bailey’s bands:
Relics of Egypt (1959): The historical detail of Egyptian dynasties was described as magical and realistic and was the first occasion that the prize called The Band of the People’s Choice was awarded, which it won overwhelmingly. Byzantine Glory (1961): Depicting the Byzantine Empire from 337 AD to 1454 AD, presented in a blaze of colour and religious zeal, the grandeur, the ecstasies and the agonies, under Emperor Constantine of the Holy Roman Empire. Somewhere in New Guinea (1962): Spectacular again, especially the leading characters, dazzling to the eye and mind, featuring a broad spectrum of life amongst the natives of New Guinea. 
Remembering “Sir George”
According to his brother Albert: “George was the one to start the first ‘Drag Brothers’ right there on Buller Street in Woodbrook. He also worked at the Port-of-Spain General Hospital where he was in charge of the clerical department of the Casualty Ward. But with George’s creative ability, he was transferred to the Culture Ministry in St Ann’s.” 
As a mascot to George Bailey’s King of the Band Mac Ward (of De Nu Pub/Mas Camp Pub), Carnival supplier Steve Samaroo of Samaroo’s Ltd recalls proudly his George Bailey mas-playing days as a young man from 1966 to 1970: “Those were truly the days of masquerading when you put on a costume and you felt transformed to another era in history.”
Band of the Year Titles

• 1957 Back to Africa
• 1959 Relics of Egypt
• 1960 Ye Saga of Merrie England 
• 1961 Byzantine Glory
• 1962 Somewhere in New Guinea
• 1969 Bright Africa

Nasser Khan

Enhanced by Zemanta



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...