Thursday, March 05, 2015


For the first time in years I was assigned to the bench for a carnival. The
evil that is chikV caught up with me in January did battle with me for a week went its way and two weeks later came back with a crippling vengeance , I had little choice but to sit quietly and grumble to the virus, well played chikV well played..

So from the bench I watched whatever I could of carnival from the living room TV from social media, and the radio, and it is from there I will call my top ten aspect of carnival 2015.

1)Machel Montano:  
A friend said to me that ‘Machel saved carnival this year’, a feat that is super human in my book but in truth he arguably (if you listen to the 15 tunes the stations played most of the season) released some of the most popular tunes for the season and the hype generated for his concert was exceptional, his soca monarch performance sans all the usual special effects and monkey tricks was still that of a boss truly leaving his rivals still performing in the 1990s it seems.
For the road we all knew ‘like a boss was going home with the title, but it was his duet with Angela Hunte ‘Party done’ that was my favourite I hope she writes and performs with him again.
Hats off to the HD BOSS OF MONKS MM.

2) Destra’s ‘LUCY’:
Now I’m not  the biggest  Destra fan myself, but with one song 'Lucy’ Destra had all my support for one of the sweetest songs for carnival 2015. What made it so sweet in my opinion is that is the story of most of us that love carnival in Trinidad. Destra sang about the character Lucy, but how many of us were good boys and girls until we went to our first school fete or were on the road for jouvay when that spirit, that good vibe of carnival energy combined with the music changed us forever!

‘Lucy' easily could have been a groovy monarch winner, I pictured Destra finally winning an official title with a voice and a song that could not be beaten but at the final hurdle something went wrong,.
You know how some people fall apart at an exam, I get the impression competition does that to Destra, maybe she should forget the stress of soca monarch or get a new team when it comes to competition. But LUCY was indeed a big winner in 2015.

3) The Soca Drome
Last year I was totally against the socadrome concept, I felt it represented an anti carnival spirit separating ‘them from us’, a move of an elitist minority that wanted to profit on every aspect of mas. This year after seeing it on TV I think it should stay, the flow of bands at the Queens Park Savannah at least on television was exceptional without the monotonous constipation that is Tribe and Bliss, big and small bands alike crossed the stage early starting as always with Harts at 8am. By midday most  of the big competition guns had already crossed the stage and Minstrels, Gorillas,   Pan sides etc, all what seemed like sufficient time to cross the stage, and perform, on occasion I changed channels to see what the’ drome was saying’  and to me it was exactly what I did not want to see headpieces here and there and masses of flesh with the dash of an individual here and there, seasoned masquerades told me they hated it for the second year running , but for the sake of the viewing audience it’s a good thing, they need to move it to Chaguaramas that will be even better.

4) Olatunji Yearwood,
Last year I went to the soca monarch semis especially to see this artist called ‘Olatunji’,
I loved his Taliban tune and thought this guy could wreck shop if he did it right, however his 2014 performance in Arima for me was a great disappointment. But before the year ended and it seems even before the 2015 season began his song Ola  was had most of us caught up in its groove, this was indeed a big tune that dominated the carnival season all the way to the soca monarch final. Congratulations to Olatunji.

5) Groovy Soca :
 this was a big year for groovy  but I’m old enough now to now that this does not mean power is dead, it just means that 2015 was a groovy year , to be honest  if the title was around in the 80’s David Rudder would have been a groovy monarch, or Kitch or Lord shorty !
But groovy dominated the airways sweet sounds of Raze, Lucy, Cloud nine, OLatunji  and the list went on gave carnival a laid back vibe that was  a welcomed change to that of a power dominated carnival.

6) The All stars double:
As a child all stars was my favourite band  for two reasons All stars was my uncles favourite band and their name was all stars, the name gave me the idea that the pan side had to have the very best musicians in the country and so were unbeatable!
This year All Stars not only won Panorama but also for the second year won the prestigious carnival title of band of the year, a title I felt they deserved. Watching all-stars cross the stage was a dramatic scene of officers of various ranks, sailors’ big guns pan and powder. A display of mas most of us might have only heard about but never seen, reminds me of a saying to move forward we sometimes have to step back.

6a) Band of the year. Who really won?
The Tribal connection Pawnee section photo via facebook
While it has not exactly made ripples on the face of carnival there is a question among carnivalist as to what band actually won band of the year? Yes the official results placed the Massy All Stars with Ships Ahoy at a French Festival top of the large band category with 2,392 points, thus making them band of the year, however the winner of the ‘Mini ‘band of the year title Tribal Connection Cultural Promotions earned 2,518 points with their presentation ‘From the Dark Hills of Dakota’ earning even more than the overall winners but because of size were not the overall winners, an achievement,and an injustice in the eyes to some. 

7) Television coverage of carnival,
  TV coverage was mediocre this year, being stranded at home I did appreciate the live coverage of fetes and competitions throughout the season. However I was disappointed by absence of kiddies carnival on from the channels, I also understand that live feed s did not always give the international audience what they wanted or value for money at times.
On Monday and Tuesday Ctv Cnc3 and channel 4 all covered the festival, channel four covering the southland mas  and seriously has me considering mas in San-do now as Port of Spain  has become a bit of an old cliché. Coverage of the socadrome was in my opinion just as much a disaster as the venue
Itself people being interviewed could not hear questions because of background noise masqeraders were often lost in shadows, and because everybody wanted to get on camera you had to watch sometimes a section for maybe half an hour so you know I went back to the superior coverage at the savannah. It was good TV but it could be so much better.
Oh yeah Paul Richards of CTV seems to be their go to man for EVERYTING! One will think by now channels can afford specialised experts depending on what is being covered.
photo;Jeff Mayers
8) Queen of carnival 2015 Stephanie Khanai
If Carnival ever had a Cinderella story it was that of Stephanie Khanai in her winning costume
Sweet waters of Africa. In my opinion this moko jumbie queen crossing the sage with such an aquatic flow has not been seen since Minshalls queen of 1995 'Joy to the world' yet the queen of a small band with limited resources and budget  said to be inspired by the music of Ellah Andell effortlessly crossed the stage of the QPS and won the crown proving once again that passion simplicity and creativity can overcome the brute force of big budget any day.

9) The Photography of Maria Nunes, and LeslieRobertson Toney
The warship Bismark Photo by Maria Nunes
Some of the most detailed, dramatic, and visually stimulating photos I’ve seen this season came from the lens of Maria Nunes and Leslie Robertson Toney. Nunes took some iconic photos of all stars crossing the stage that made me wish i was in the midst of it all and Robertson Tony captured from her DSLR and phone moments of traditional and children’s mas that give hope that the culture is far from dead.

10) Arts in Action:
I had the privilege of accompanying the Arts In Action team to see them
perform and teach primary school children about environmental conservation through the performing arts, using almost if not all the disciplines of carnival art to educate and  entertain the younger generations to learn through theatre and group participation the importance of looking after the environment.

I think the use of characters influenced by local myth and legend topass a message on to the younger generations to be a fantastic approach to both cultural preservation and social studies and awareness.
Arts in Action performance
The children being edutained
Arts in action Performer. (photo mas assassin)

While chromatics has not made my top ten list this year I’m still going to close of this post with his summary of this season because nobody does it better than Mr Don’t Care!

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