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Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Mas Assassins Top 10 Trinidad Carnival moments 2014.

I know T&T carnival came and went in March and most post mortems on the festival have came to this conclusion or that one but here is my top ten list of carnival 2014 moments. 

1: Bunji Garlin , Arguably the best Soca tune of 2013 Differentology  propelled Bunji into 2014 with another carnival classic ‘carnival tabanca’ and a classy videomentary  to go with it. Followed up with the monster hit truck on the road, and the internationally acclaimed TUN UP RE-MIX , as the Viking still ascends we can only watch and admire.

2: Mr Killa , rolley polley was without a doubt the ‘BIG TUNE’ of carnival 2014 and Mr Killa one of the busiest artiste of the year. Newspaper articles describe how the tune empowered big girls to go out and celebrate their plus sizes. RP was not just another power soca track it’s a motivator a fresh breeze and a Trans- island classic.

3: The return Of the Mighty Sparrow. The death of the Mighty Sparrow has been falsely announced so many times that even he sang a song about it. So when it was announced that he was dead last year only to find out he was in a coma his fans waited and prayed that the legend would see another carnival and he did. Carnival 2014 saw Sparrow return in better shape than he has been in years and he also enjoyed honors accolades and the admiration of the masses as the government paid all his medical expenses. The bird is far from dead but like the phoenix he gave us some real fire this year.

4: Minshall returns: While Peter Minshall never truly turned his back on MAS entirely  the costumes he designed for Tony Hall's, Lord street theatre presentation ‘Miss Miles’, did mark the return of Minshall’s work on the streets making a statement, at the same time leaving the question on the lips of his he really back?

5: All stars win band of the year. Not since the 1963 when Silver stars steelband won band of the year with Gulliver’s travels has a pan side won the band of the year title. Was it a real victory or did the side win by the fault as other bands were disqualified? Or was the NCC making a statement on behalf of MAS? Let’s see if MAS bands will lift their game next year.

6: Benji’s soca monarch semi final performance. Come out to play was already a fairly popular tune for carnival 2014 when Benji came on stage to perform the tune in the soca monarch semi final held at the Arima Velodrome. However it was after his performance in nothing but his underwear that night made benji’s tune even more popular, and ‘benji’ became the newest noun for a man’s privates.

7: The Socadrome: led by Tribe and Bliss band leader Dean Akin, Harts Yuma Tribe and Bliss opted out of crossing the world famous savannah stage and created their own rival stage at the Jean Pire complex coined the socadrome no doubt after Brazils Sambadrome (how’s that for imagination?) while Akin claims the venture to be a success, an empty complex reflected a different reality.

8: Kerwin wins groovy monarch. Machel Montano lost his grip on the groovy monarch title to Kerwin Dubois, a man who in my opinion is the personification of the genre. Too Real was one of the biggest hits of 2014.

9: Anti government calypso: The calypso monarch final was like an anti People’s partnership rally as almost every calypsoian sang against the govt in one way or the next. The Calypsoian is said to be an accurate gage on the feelings of the masses, and from the sound of it the current regime is going to need a miracle in the next election.

10: Chromematics last carnival wrap up: after 3 summarizing kind of love in the verses of his music Trinidadian Rapper aka ‘Mr. don't care’ has recorded his last kind of love carnival rap up, and is real real boi!

It constantly baffles me how every year, the powers that be; always announce that this carnival was not only a success but also the best carnival yet. For that to happen it would mean in my opinion, that there were more visitors than the years before, the music was better than before , the mas  was more spectacular than any preceding year, and the society benefited greatly from it all. This is simply not the case adult mas on Tuesday was weak, pitifully so, the North Stand and the new Socadrome were empty monuments to how boring the greatest show on earth has become.  

While commercialism of carnival increases, venders report drops in sales. Panorama actually competes for an audience with the lime on the greens (another commercial venture) as even a swimming pool was added in the hope of making more money this year while the competition went on.
The King and Queen of carnival competition was far from being one of the best years as the big mas simply failed to provide anything outstanding enough that history will recall as iconic or truly memorable.

As for soca…when the hardest working man in soca today Machel Montano says power soca is dying you know it’s in trouble. There is an ebb and flow to carnival and every year does not surpass the one before it, but when the brightest star in the soca universe says ideas are getting scarce it is time to re evaluate this so called success. 

Wednesday, April 02, 2014


Minsh meditates on mas, Miss Miles

By Austin Fido
There was a time when designer and masman Peter Minshall had only two dogs: Elizabeth Taylor and Michael Norman Manley. But he encouraged them to enjoy themselves, and “they enjoyed themselves all over the house and the yard, and in front of guests when they were drinking tea.” Such enjoyment resulted in the night Elizabeth Taylor, a white dog with a look of Labrador about her, gave birth to ten jet-black puppies on the landing outside Minshall’s bedroom. “In that moment, I realised: one little black dog is just another little black dog, but ten little black dogs is a more beautiful, interactive work of art than the Mona Lisa!” He calls them his children. There are only eight of them now, but they fill the yard of their home, which they share with their parents (two canine; one human), with an exuberant kinesis of barking and play and joy.

Minshall, who has just completed a late-afternoon shave in the open air, leaves the yard to give his first interview since the band he designed, Miss Miles—A Band on Corruption, was presented at Carnival 2014. But first he must negotiate with Mr Mauvais, a ginger tom with hazel-green eyes, sitting on the stool at the kitchen counter Minshall would like to claim for himself. Gentle words are deployed, persuading Mr Mauvais to exchange his perch for a fruit bowl on the counter, where he lounges and listens with feline solemnity. One can see echoes of Miss Miles—a small band with every member identically dressed in black—in the sable children of the yard. One black-clad mas player is just another black-clad mas player, but four dozen of them is a statement. It is a statement Minshall regrets was not made on Carnival Tuesday, in the full context of the Band of the Year competition.

Minshall loves a sailor band—it is a mas form he regards as entirely original to Trinidad Carnival—and he does not begrudge All Stars its title for Carnival 2014. Still, as he maintained in an e-mail to Tony Hall, co-producer of the band Minshall designed this year, if the white masks and black costumes of Miss Miles had marched to the Savannah on Tuesday afternoon, crossed the stage with their banners and placards held high, each individual step amplified by the identically-uniformed steps of the rest of the band, “WE WOULD HAVE EAT DEM UP!” This is not a critique of All Stars. It is Minshall’s way of describing the power and effect of mas as an original art form. And he knows, as few others do, the impact mas can have when it is done right.
It is the impact once described to Minshall by an admirer of his work as “a statement as lasting as the pyramids.” It is the impact Alyson Brown described to him after a day of playing Tan Tan on the streets of Kingston for Jamaica’s Carnival. 

Peter Minshall at his Port-of-Spain home in a post-Carnival interview.
 Photo: Anu Lakhan
“Minsh, rub my shoulders, they are so tired,” he recalls her saying. Minshall was concerned.  “A modern king or queen costume is designed for someone to carry it for five or ten minutes, then rest,” he says. He asked her why she was so exhausted, why she hadn’t stopped for rest. “I couldn’t,” he remembers Brown saying. “Everywhere I looked, all I could see were the smiles.” “Now tell me,” asks Minshall, “Can you achieve that with a painting in an art gallery?” Few who saw Tan Tan will ever forget her. The face of Miss Miles in 2014 is also powerful. Minshall recalls labouring with terror over the mask for Miss Miles. His first effort to make the face which would define the mas and the band “came back looking like Hulk.” Working quickly, Minshall adjusted the lines of the face in clay—refining Miss Miles’ features, making her superlative, but not slapstick. He sent the new mask out to be turned into plastic, “and they sent it back to me painted white—I had to become the make-up artist.”

Knowing the first mask was the only one he would make himself, knowing he was creating a template for others (working under greater time constraints than himself) to follow, knowing this one had to be perfect  because only perfection could withstand the inevitable errors that creep into a harried mas-camp production line, he set to work. “I made mistakes. I ran inside, got white paint to cover my mistakes, worked on the line of the eyebrows.” He mimes trembling hands and nervous glances at the sky, “Oh Lord… Lady looking from heaven, this is your eyebrow—and I’m sending you out on the road.” All in the service of one objective: getting it right. When the moment arrived that he looked at his creation and did not feel the urge to run back into the house for more white paint, Minshall felt a thrill of nervous energy: “Miss Miles… you’re real.” 

His voice is barely a whisper at the memory. It is the same whisper he used to describe witnessing the puppies squeaking into life on his landing: “I had never been that close to birth before.”
Mas, like the frenetic swirl of love and noise that greets Minshall every time he enters his yard, is powered by life. When Minshall looks at pictures of Miss Miles on the road and sees a headband out of place or a costume too hastily assembled, he is angered by the opportunity missed to affect people the way he knows mas can: “You only have one shot!” There may be no repeat performance, but it is a mistake to call mas ephemeral. A statement remains until it is retracted or superseded. Minshall leaves the room to change into a lighter-weight shirt. Mauvais raises his head to interrogate the space his companion has vacated: is he coming back


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Minshall unhappy with Carnival’s progress

Masman Peter Minshall says Carnival and culture have been reduced to an exercise about money and are without feeling. He was speaking at the annual general meeting of the Patrons of Queen’s Hall at Queen’s Hall, St Ann’s, on Monday. “The country boasted a Carnival balance between spirit and flesh, between attained and entertained. The entire culture of the country was in a fairly healthy state,” he told the audience.
“But Independence has inexorably led to a preponderance of tribalism, greed and shameless grabs for power by any means. And that is what I fear, where the culture of the country has followed. It’s all power and greed now, no matter the spiritual cost. The Carnival visually, musically, is flesh and money, horrifically skin-deep and without feeling. “The Cabinet in turn is all feathers and beads. It’s pure show and shallow propaganda. Indeed, Carnival in the worst sense of the word.
“So what of the people? Fewer and further in between will you find a good, solid, true human being nowadays. Man, woman, young, old, hetero or homo.”  Minshall, who made a return to mas this year by designing for small band Miss Miles, A Band On Corruption, said citizens have fallen under the age of Mancrab nowadays, which is an overwhelming force of power and greed. Mancrab was a symbol of greed and technological madness in one of his popular bands—River—in 1983.
Minshall spoke about his time in the performing arts in Trinidad and his experience at Queen’s Royal College and Radio Trinidad and his work in London’s Notting Hill Carnival in the mid-1970s. However, he said his first adventures in the world of performing arts were local and praised T&T’s cultural diversity. “We could all play each other. It is the nature of life on a little island like this. Our ancestral riches seep from one to the other,” he said.
“My ancestors are not from Europe alone. My ancestors are from India, Africa, Europe and places in between, because if I belong...all that they have belongs to me...and vice versa...” Minshall said early in his career he designed the set for Pirates of Penzance and received support from Paul Hill from the British Council and even Sir Solomon Hochoy.
Critics in the earlier stages of his life raved that he had great promise and his work was also showcased in the ballet, Beauty and the Beast. This also received rave reviews over his set design. During his address, Minshall broke into song, thrilling the Patrons of Queen’s Hall. He recalled how Dance Macabre, his 1980 mas band, shocked the audience into silence when it took the stage at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port-of-Spain.
Minshall said the gods gave T&T oil to make music: “When groups met was a drum of steel and make war with music.” He quoted operatic diva Maria Callas, playwright Frederick Garcia Lorca and choreographer Martha Graham and explained the rationale behind his own work “I have to do mas as art, whatever that means. But it had to be in the balance between attainment and entertainment.
“My grief was to help my people now emerging from the womb...we have a destiny. Here we have a man and we should embrace the whole world as islanders...tell Keith that, tell Kamla that...” Minshall also described former Queen’s Hall chairman Margaret Walcott, who died on Ash Wednesday, as a “great lady.” “I am tempted to say to you they don’t make them like that any more, but my faith in the regenerative power of the universe lets me hold my tongue...

SOURCE: Camille Clarke

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Minshall applauds All Stars victory

Celebrated masman Peter Minshall has applauded the selection of Neal & Massy Trinidad All Stars as the 2014 Band of the Year (Large) winner. The Duke Street, Port-of-Spain, band portrayed Sailors Ashore at a Tropical Fiesta, a traditional sailor mas with approximately 2,000 masqueraders. Speaking on Monday, Minshall, who said he was not feeling well, said of the All Stars victory:

“It feels like if every river, even Maracas, was polluted, and have been cleansed. I felt refreshed and clean. It has reached the point where all the other s--t has now balanced itself.” Asked about his input into the production of the Miss Miles band, presented by theatre director and playwright Tony Hall, Minshall said: “I cannot appraise my own work. I was not on the road and only saw pictures of the band in the papers. I never saw it in performance. It was a very elemental design but the challenge was exciting.

“Tony’s inspiration was based on three characters dressed in black some time last year in Woodford Square. I think that Tony needed to have about 100 people to be effective. “I thought that if you are going to put Miss Miles on the road she needed to look young and sexy. She also had to look like an avenging angel.” About the influx of small creative bands in the mas, like K2K, Cat in Bag and Vulgar Fraction, Minshall said: “A band doesn’t have to be big to win Band of the Year.

“One little costume had the power and integrity to upstage an entire Carnival. That’s what art does.” He was referring to his design of the Humming Bird for Sherry Ann Guy in 1974. “There ought to be a competition in which bands need to be no less than 30 and no more than 300 masqueraders. Breaking with all the old rules, one criteria would be the band with the most creative mas will win the prize of $3 million. All young people who would want to do something creative will be inspired by this.”

Refusing to comment further on the Band of the Year competition or the proliferation of bikinis, feathers and beads costuming and mega-sized bands, Minshall added: “The rules for creating art in Africa and in India have always been community-oriented. That is what Carnival has always been and we have that in our memory. ‘Good art’ no longer just happens in a gallery.”

Source: Trinidad Guardian

Monday, March 03, 2014

Roderick “Chucky” Gordon Calypso Monarch of Trinidad and Tobago 2014

  1. Roderick “Chucky” Gordon - Wey Yuh Think/Wedding Of De Century
  2. Kurt Allen - Sweet Sizzling Summer/The Lost Psalm Of King David
  3. Selvon “Mistah Shak” Noel - Bois/Crime Round De Clock
  4. Hollis “Chalkdust” Liverpool - Ah Miss De Bards/De Guest List
  5. Brian London - The Heart Of A Warrior/Call Dem Out
  6. Victoria “Queen Victoria” Cooper - Political Love Affair/Congo Warrior
  7. Alana Sinnette - Sea Lots/And Calling It Rain
  8. Weston “Cro Cro” Rawlins - Pious, Poor But Proud/Goodness Delayed
  9. Carlos “Skatie” James - Calypso Woman/Jack And Jill
  10. Myron “The Incredible Myron B” Bruce - One More Sip/First Black Prime Minister
  11. Eric “Pink Panther” Taylor - De Richest Man/Not Tonight
  12. Roger “Bodyguard” Mohammed - Aloes Vendor/False Papers  



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