ROYALTY: Calypso Monarch 2011 Karene Asche. Photo: ISHMAEL SALANDY

Tools

Karene Asche cops Calypso Monarch

Madray is King of Carnival, Marchan is Queen

Karene Asche was crowned 2011 Calypso Monarch, at the Queen's Park Savannah, in Port of Spain, early this morning (March 7).

The three-time National Junior Calypso Monarch captured the $2 million first prize with her two selections, "Be Careful What You Ask For" and "Uncle Jack".

Michael "Sugar Aloes" Osouna‬ copped second spot, ahead of Dr Hollis "Chalkdust" Liverpool and Devon Seale.

Defending champion Kurt Allen had to settle for sixth spot, while Soca artiste Rodney "Benjai" Le Blanc finished 12th and last.

Wade Madray, with his portrayal of "Pacific Tsunami", claimed the King of Carnival title. And Peola Marchan - "D Jeweled Chandelier" - was named Queen of Carnival.

RESULTS

Calypso Monarch

1 Karene Asche

2 Michael "Sugar Aloes" Osouna‬

3 Dr Hollis "Chalkdust" Liverpool

4 Devon Seale

5 Dexter "Stinger" Parsons‬ ‪

6 Kurt Allen

7 Brian London‬

8 Tameika Darius‬ ‪

9 Kizzy Ruiz‬

10 Joanne "Tigress" Rowley‬

11 Weston "Cro Cro" Rawlins‬

12 Rodney "Benjai" Le Blanc‬

King of Carnival

1 Wade Madray (“Pacific Tsunami”) - 421 points

2 Owen Hinds Jr (“Battle of the Marabuntas”) - 420

3 Curtis Eustace (“Bozo-D Legend Lives On”) - 416

4 Marlon Rampersad (“Bedazzled”) - 394

5 Lionel Jagessar Jr (“Wakinyan-Quest Of The Feather Seeker”) - 387

6 Roland St George (“Pan On Fire”) - 386

7 Gerard Weekes (“In The Beginning Good And Evil”) - 382

8 Glenn Dave Lakhan (“The Jewel Spider”) - 371

9 Fareid Carvalho (“Mr Carnival-The Return Of The Fire Man”) – 370

10 Leroy Prieto (“Mukasa-The God Of Water”) – 350

Queen of Carnival

1 Peola Marchan ("D Jeweled Chandelier") - 416 points

2 Gloria Dallsingh ("Splendor Of Lights") - 414

3 Kay Mason ("Island Queen") - 407

4 Roxanne Omalo ("Serpent Sorceress") - 389

5 Gayle Marcano ("D Ruby Brooch") - 387

6 Cherryann Valere ("Forest Blossom") - 374

7 Patricia Bailey ("Diamonds Are Forever") - 373

8 Jenna Marie Andre ("Botanica-A Floral Extravaganza") - 372

9 Avernell Johnson ("Chia-The Goddess") – 357

10 Sevell Nicholls ("In The End-Dance And Rejoice") - 356

This content requires the latest Adobe Flash Player and a browser with JavaScript enabled. Click here for a free download of the latest Adobe Flash Player.
Counting Down To

T&T Carnival 2014

Mar, 3 2014

Events

$textday, $util.date("MMMM",$listDate) $util.date("dd",$listDate)

3 Canal Show: GRiMeEE

3 Canal Show: GRiMeEE

More details >>

Triniposse Fete 2014

Triniposse Fete 2014

More details >>

Promenade Countdown 24/02/2014

Promenade Countdown 24/02/2014

More details >>

K.I. feat. Olatunji: Runaway

K.I. feat. Olatunji: Runaway

More details >>

Ultra Cooler Fete 2014

Ultra Cooler Fete 2014

More details >>

Girls Gone White 2014

Girls Gone White 2014

More details >>

Feting with the Saints 2014

Feting with the Saints 2014

More details >>

Promenade Countdown Ep# 6: 07/02/2014

Promenade Countdown Ep# 6: 07/02/2014

More details >>

The Buzz Episode 1

The Buzz Episode 1

More details >>

Promenade Countdown 2014

Promenade Countdown 2014

More details >>

UWI Fete 2014: Brasil

UWI Fete 2014: Brasil

More details >>

QRC Fete Royale 2014

QRC Fete Royale 2014

More details >>

Carnival Countdown 2014 Episode #1

Carnival Countdown 2014 Episode #1

More details >>

Destra Garcia: Mash Up

Check out Destra Garcia's music video release for Carnival 2014 entitled Mash Up Credits: Video Directed and Produced by denithy Performed by Destra Garcia Written by Patrick 'Mista Vybe' Gordon and Destra Garcia. Co-Written by Kasey Phillips. Produce.d & Mixed by Precision Productions. Mastered by Mike Wells, CA.

More details >>

2014 Junior Calypso Monarch launched

About 50 children were invited to sing the words of the Mighty Sparrow’s classic calypso “Education” at the launch yesterday of the Trinbago Unified Calypsonians Organisation TUCO)/First Citizens Bank (FCB) National Junior Calypso Monarch 2014.

The idea came from Olson Oliver, School Supervisor 111, Port  of Spain and Environs Education District who felt the lines “Children go to school and learn well, otherwise later on in life you will catch real hell”, would inspire the prospective contestants. The launch took place at FCB Corporate Centre, # 9 Queen’s Park East, Port of Spain.

Several preliminary events will take place throughout the country from February 2 with the final taking place on February 24 at the Grand Stand, Queen’s Park Savannah from 10 a.m.

Among those present were TUCO officials led by president Lutalo “Brother Resistance” Masimba. Also attending were calypsonians Mark John (Contender), Duane O’Connor, and Road March champion Austin Lyons (SuperBlue). They were joined by Thora Best, chair, TUCO Junior Calypso committee and Stephen H Pennie, manager, St Vincent Street Branch, FCB and past and current monarchs Aaron Duncan and Jeromy Rodriguez, Express 2013 Youth of the Year. The first prize is $25,000. 

Oliver encouraged the children to develop their God-given talents via the medium of calypso. Among the schools present were Woodbrook Secondary, Holy Name Convent, South East North Secondary, Bishop Anstey High School, Trinity Junior and St Mary’s College. 

Oliver said, “It is a pleasure to speak to you about an opportunity to develop your creativity. Pursue the things which are life-giving and laudable. It speaks to the competition and how you can excel in kaiso. Look at the eloquence  of excellence in kaiso. You cannot be on stage without showing the beauty of your God-given talents. God has made each one of you with a special gift.” 

He told them to remember their topics should be uplifting and that they are ambassadors for the art form.

More details >>

De Fosto leading the way with selections for Panorama

This year has seen a proliferation of pan songs like no other. Already there are well over 50 songs and the list keeps growing every day.

Every year new composers and singers come to the fore just to be in the game but with all these songs only a handful are played at the annual National Panorama competition.

The composer who leads the pack this year is one who has been at the forefront in pan songs, The Original De Fosto Himself. He has two songs “In De Minor” and “Pan in the Atmosphere”.

Six steel orchestras will be going to the savannah with “In De Minor” including bp Renegades with Duvone Stewart as arranger; Arima Angel Harps with Shelton C Besson; Supernovas with Amrit Samaroo as arranger, and Andre White with Tamana Pioneers. 

La Brea Nightingales (BJ Marcelle) and Curepe Scherzando (Yohan Popwell) will play “Pan in the Atmosphere”.

Following De Fosto are reigning Road March Champion and Soca Monarch SuperBlue, Brian “Bean” Griffith and Clive Telemaque. Their songs are being played by three steel orchestras.

The last time arranger Robbie Greenidge won a Panorama (1994) he teamed up with Superblue (Fire Coming Down). He is going with the high priest of soca this year as he does “Spankin—A Tribute” with Witco Desperadoes. His nemesis Len Boogsie Sharpe is arranging the same song for Katzenjammers from Tobago and the third band playing “Spankin” is T&T Music Stars.  

Clive Telemaque has “Excitement” sung by Shurlaine Hendrickson and N&M Trinidad All Stars and arranger Leon Smooth Edwards are hoping to make it their ninth Panorama winner while RBTT Sound Setters and Merry tones are also looking for victory with this song.

Anslem Douglas vocalised “Big in the Dance” for Brian Bean Griffith and Ken “Professor” Philmore is coming to town with NLCB Fonclaire to try to make it into winners row; so too are Cordettes and Fascinators.

Reigning Calypso Queen Joanne Foster vocalised two songs by GB and Don Clarke and two steel orchestras are playing each. “Take me with You” is being played by Power Stars and Tipica and “On the Drag” is being played by Tokyo and Longdenville Claytones.

Joint reigning Soca Monarch Machel Montano has three songs being played on pan; his “Happiest Man Alive” is arranged by Keith Salcedo for White Oak Starlift and Michelle Huggins-Watts for Valley Harps, “EPIC” by Cary and Keisha Codrington for Codrington Pan Family and “Drop it Down” by Khari Codrington for Crown Cordaans.  

To date Boogsie has not recorded his song which is written by Reynold Howard, the man behind the popular “Woman is Boss”. Whatever the name of the song, it will be sung by the Queen of Bacchanal—Destra. But the defending Panorama champions are in rehearsals already.

Republic Bank Exodus is led by Pelham Goddard with “Pan is Carnival”, Solo Harmonites are doing a Seion Gomez arrangement of “Men of Steel”, Siparia Deltones will do Carlton Zanda’s arrangement of “Play More Local” while Skiffle Steel will do Ray Holman’s “The Wedding”.

Andy Narell coming with “We kinda Music” for Birdsong, while Liam Teague is arranging “The Reason” for PCS Silver Stars. CAL Invaders and Arddin Herbert are still to name their song but are also in rehearsal. 

Next week the Panorama 2014 competition kicks off with the Single Pan competitions are various venues.

More details >>

Anslem Douglas nominated for Canadian award

This country’s first and only Grammy Award winner Anslem Douglas is in the running for a Black Canadian award. 

Douglas, who was nominated in the Best Caribbean Style Act category,  won a Grammy in 2001 for Best Dance Recording with the song “Who Let the Dogs Out”—a redo of his soca hit Doggie. The song was made famous by the Baha Men. 

Artistes Ammoye, Jahsmin Daley, Shalli, Soca Emperor, Ms Paige are the other nominees in the Best Caribbean Style Act category.

“This is something to say hooray about,” Douglas told the Express yesterday about his nomination.

“There was a time when my music wasn’t playing in Trinidad and Tobago and it was though I wasn’t happening anymore.

“The marvel of the Internet kept my music going because the whole world is online. Plus the team I work with ensured that they worked social media to my benefit...so I guess the awards people took note.”

The Black Canadian Awards celebrates and showcases the achievements of Black Canadian artists, trail-blazers and leaders within the Canadian community.

Douglas has been based in Whitby, Canada for 20 years. He is now in the process of moving back to Trinidad where he will continue to work on his music .

For Carnival 2014 Douglas has released “Broughtupcy” and “Boom Boom”—two songs he will take to the Power Soca and Groovy Soca Monarch.

Last year the singer entered the the Soca Monarch after 13 years of absence. This year he said he is more prepared for it.

“I think  last year I had an old-school approach to the competition. I  jumped back in  thinking that I would do a little semi-final show; not realising that the semi final is like a final...you have to bring it.”

The Black Canadian Awards will take place on March 1 at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Downtown Toronto. The organisation has received more than 20,000 total nomination votes over the past eight months. 

Douglas said he has already received his invitation to the show from the awards committee.

More details >>

Schools Soca Monarch semi-finalists announced

University of the West Indies (UWI) Sixth Form School pupil, Sasha Ann Moses, advanced to the semi-finals of this year’s Flavorite Supreme Ice Cream National Schools Soca Monarch competition when she topped the preliminaries at the Woodbrook Playboyz Panyard on Tragarete Road in Port of Spain, on Saturday. 

Performing the selection “Red, White and Black”, Moses amassed 246 points, two more than a trio of performers who shared second position.

Timel Rivas of Hillview College, who sang “Soca Spirit”; Cowen Hamilton Secondary’s Jeremy Rodriguez, with his rendition of “Soca Soldier”; and Reshawn Goodridge of St Mary’s College, delivering “Trini People”, all earned 244 points to lead the rest of the contenders.

The semi-final is carded for Saturday, February 1, at the same venue from 9 a.m., where a total of 20 competitors will be vying for a berth in this year’s final.

Following is the list of all semi-finalists:

1. Sasha Ann Moses (UWI Sixth Form School)—“Red, White and Black” - 246 pts

2. Timel Rivas (Hillview College)—“Soca Spirit” - 244

2. Jeremy Rodriguez (Cowen Hamilton Sec)—“Soca Soldier” - 244

2. Reshawn Goodridge (St Mary’s College)—“Trini People” - 244

5. Joshua Sargent (St Georges College)—“Carnival Is Here Again” - 235

5. Tsahai Corbin (St Jposeph Convent)— “My Island” - 235

7. Shervonne Rodney (El Dorado West Sec)— “Ole Time Carnival” - 232

8. Christina Duprey (Corpus Christi College) —“Wine Down” - 231

9. Khiry Flemming (St Kevin’s College)— “Pressure” - 230

10. Janiece Calliste (Point Fortin Sec)—“Carnival Is Here” - 226

11. Kevan Calliste (St Benedict’s College)—“Box Lunch” - 223

11. Alesha Alleng (UTT NAPA)—“Rude Boy” - 223

13. Kerwin Alridge (Couva West Sec)— “My Rhythum Of Life” - 222

14. Jerrisha Duncaqn-Regis (St Francois Girls’ College)—“It In Meh Vein” - 221

15. Joel Jones (Presentation College)— “Waste Disposal” - 219

16. Sarchell Smart (Tranquility Secondary) —“Flag Against Crime” - 217

17. Kynon Christian (St Georges College)—“Soca Moving” - 215

18. Nku Mandella (Naparima College)—“Lynette” - 214

19. Garfield Ryan (Barataria South Sec)—“Me Two” - 213

20. Anton Cumberbatch (El Dorado South Sec)—“We Thing” - 212

More details >>

The Buzz Episode 2

The Buzz Episode 2

More details >>

Machel Montano Mr Fete Ep. 3

Machel Montano Mr Fete Ep. 3

More details >>

Monster Winer: Kerwin Du Bois feat. Lil Rick

Monster Winer: Kerwin Du Bois feat. Lil Rick

More details >>

Machel Montano: The Return Ep 1 Season 1

Machel Montano: The Return Ep 1 Season 1

More details >>

The glitz and the skits

In a competition not everyone can win, so we bring you some scenes from the Dimanche Gras show held at the Queen's Park Savannah, Port of Spain, on Sunday night.

—Photos: STEPHEN DOOBAY and MICHEAL BRUCE

More details >>

O’Connor crowned Calypso Monarch

Duane O’Connor delivered two solid performances to be crowned 2012 Calypso Monarch at the Queen's Park Savannah, in Port of Spain, early this morning.

The 2012 Young King sang “The Hunt Is On” and “Long Live Calypso” to take home the $1 million first prize, beating Kurt Allen and last year’s monarch Karene Asche into second and third, respectively.

O’Connor’s energetic delivery of “The Hunt Is On”, a tribute to TV6’s Crime Watch host Ian Alleyne, was further enhanced when Alleyne and Sgt Roger Alexander of the North Eastern Division Task Force (NEDTF) drove on stage with a white Mercedes Benz, registration number PCN 2.

O’Connor was relieved of his microphone and escorted off the stage by Alexander, with both hands behind his back as if handcuffed, while Alleyne, attired like Police Commissioner Dwayne Gibbs, waved to patrons before addressing them.

“It is not alleged, it is a fact, that is performance.

“Ladies and gentlemen, it’s wet, after wet, after wet.”

At this point the already cheering crowd responded by adding a few more decibels to its roar of approval.

O’Connor’s second selection, “Long Live Calypso”, delivered the message that other art forms such as Chutney and Soca came out of the bowels of calypso, and despite the prominence they appear to hold over their “mother” (calypso), she will remain strong and live long.

Allen had to settle for second despite two crowd pleasing renditions - “Long Live Calypso” and “Ah Ledge”. Asche’s delivery of “Against All Odds” and “You Will Win The Battle But” saw her cop third spot.

Also registering victories this morning were Roland St George and Chariss Bovell, who were crowned King and Queen of Carnival, respectively.

Portraying “Ralliez-Vous A Mon Panache Blanci”, St George earned 586 points to the 583 collected by “Malak Yahweh – The Praying Mantis”, portrayed by Gerard Weekes, after the judges had to go to a tiebreaker to separate the two. Curtis Eustace’s portrayal, “D Midnight Messenger” was third with 417 points.

And Bovell, who portrayed “Mother of Humanity—The Weeping Madonna" from Brian MacFarlane's Sanctification—In Search Of, but presented by The Art Factory, won the approval of the judges with 424 points.

Roxanne Omalo’s "The Last Dance of The Enchanted Witches", from Goodhope Association's presentation, Dance Dance Dance, collected 400 points to take second, while Rose Marie Jagessar finished third with "Wachiwi–I Dream of a Bustle Dancer" from Lionel Jagessar & Associates' Festival of Nations.

DIMANCHE GRAS RESULTS

Calypso Monarch

1. Duane O’Connor (The Hunt is On, Long Live Calypso)

2. Kurt Allen (Long Live Calypso, Ah Ledge)

3. Karene Asche (Against All Odds, You Will Win The Battle But)

4. Devon Seale (One Is One, Snapshots)

5. Heather Mac Intosh (The Adjective, One Gone)

6. Dr. Hollis “Chalkdust” Liverpool (Shame Mr Shak, How’s Dat)

7. Michael “Sugar Aloes” Osouna (Doh Force Meh Hand, Chinese Kidnapping)

8. Dexter “Stinger” Parsons (My Reason For Being Here, Advice In Song)

9. Brian London (Not Brian, Doh Complain - Come Plain)

10. Sandra “Singing Sandra” Des Vignes-Millington (On Turning 50, Why I Sing)

11. Lesley Ann Ellis (Street Justice, Mothers and Others)

12. Weston “Cro Cro” Rawlins (Say Something, Release Them)

King of Carnival

1. Roland St George - Ralliez-Vous A Mon Panache Blanci

2. Gerard Weekes - Malak Yahweh - The Praying Mantis

3. Curtis Eustace - The Midnight Messenger, The Mask Of

4. Adrian Young - The Crow

5. Earl Thompson - Icarus Ascending

6. Brian Chin - Prince Siegfried, the story of Swan Lake, tribute to Wayne Berkeley

7. Zainool Mohammed - Kwak Waka Wakin - the Sacred Totem

8. Wade Madray - Flight of Conscience

9. Jhawhan Thomas - Alpha

10. Shane Philip - Tree of Life

Queen of Carnival

1. Chariss Bovell - Mother of Humanity-The Weeping Madonna

2. Roxanne Omalo - Last Dance of the Enchanted Witches

3. Rose Marie Kuru Jagessar - Wachiwi-I Dream of a Bustle Dancer

4. Shari Derek - D’Woman and D’Butterflies

5. Kay Mason - Amethyst Rising

6. Lanie Lezama - Harmony

7. Cherry-Ann Patrice Valere - The Limbo Dancer

8. Laura Rampersad - Princess of the Mardi Gras

9. Patricia Bailey - Exotic Sunset on the Horizon

10. Avernell Johnson - Princess Odette, Queen of the Swans

More details >>

Big win for Rick

RICK RAMOUTAR became the winner of the first ever National Carnival Chutney Soca Monarch held in San Fernando yesterday.

The competition was the alternative to the Chutney Soca Monarch finals which was this year shifted from Skinner Park, San Fernando to Queen's Park Oval, Port of Spain by Southex promoter George Singh.

Ramoutar, who played a violin before kicking off his song "I wish I was single", copped the first prize of a Ford Fiesta car valued $186,000 and a $50,000 recording contract in the show dubbed Super Saturday.

"I am very much happy right now. I am pleased and I feel more confident in my career," Ramoutar who has been entering competitions for the past eight years said yesterday during a telephone interview.

Second place prize of $75,000 in the competition went to Chris Garcia and Sally Sagram was awarded the $50,000 third prize.

Many of the 12 other contestants who each netted $10,000 for their performances used props and fireworks during their presentations.

And though the show was in honour of Sundar Popo and Garfield "Ras Shorty I" Blackman, was off to a late start on Saturday night, hundreds of patrons attended the competition which ended in the early hours of yesterday morning.

Guest appearances were made by David Rudder, Black Stalin and Rikki Jai and Blackman's wife Claudette Blackman was also presented with a plaque on his behalf.

The event was organised by former San Fernando mayor and current Chairman of PLIPDECO Ian Atherly and produced by the National Chutney Foundation of Trinidad and Tobago (NCFTT). The Point Lisas Port Development Corporation Limited (PLIPDECO) also helped sponsor the competition.

Last week the 2012 Chutney Soca Monarch finals, organised by Singh was held in Port of Spain.

Ramoutar placed third in that competition which was won by Kris "KI" Persad. Rikki Jai came second.

More details >>

LATEST CARNIVAL RESULTS - All Stars wins Panorama again

Neal and Massy Trinidad All Stars retained its title as National Panorama Champions in the Large Conventional Band Category for 2012.at the Queen's Park Savannah, early this morning.

All Stars scored 279 points to beat 10 other steelbands and take the title for the second successive year.

Petrotrin Phase II Pan Groove was second with 274 points while PCS Nitrogen Silver Stars secured third, scoring 271.

In the Medium Band Category, Katzenjammers was also successful in defending its crown after scoring 288 points.

The Tobago band's nearest rival was NLCB Buccooneers, also out of Tobago, which scored 284 points. Courts Sound Specialists of Laventille rounded off the top three with 279 points.

Large Band Category

1. Neal and Massy Trinidad All Stars -279 points

2. Petrotrin Phase II Pan Groove -274

3. PCS Nitrogen Silver Stars -271

Medium Band Category

1. Katzenjammers -288 points

2. NLCB Buccooneers -284

3. Courts Sound Specialists of Laventille -279

More details >>

Asche draws four

Reigning Calypso Monarch Karene Asche will perform in position four in defence of her title at the 2012 Calypso Monarch finals on Dimanche Gras night at the Queen’s Park Savannah, on Sunday.

Asche faces a very tough lineup that includes five former monarchs - Hollis "Chalkdust" Liverpool, Kurt Allen, Michael "Sugar Aloes" Osouna, Sandra "Singing Sandra" Des Vignes-Millington and Weston "Cro Cro" Rawlins.

Also in the lineup are 2012 Young Kings’ winner Duane O’Conner and seasoned campaigners Devon Seale, Brian London, Dexter “Stinger” Parsons and Heather Mac Intosh.

Sunday’s order of appearance

1. Michael “Sugar Aloes” Osouna – Doh Force Meh Hand/Chinese Kidnapping

2. Sandra “Singing Sandra” Des Vignes-Millington – On Turning 50/Why I sing

3. Kurt Allen – When Will It End/Long Live Calypso

4. Karene Asche – Against All Odds/You Will Win The Battle But

5. Weston “Cro Cro” Rawlins – Say Something/Release Them

6. Hollis “Chalkdust” Liverpool – How’s Dat/Shame Mr Shak

7. Devon Seale – One Is One/Snapshots

8. Lesley-Ann Ellis – Mothers and Others/Street Justice

9. Heather Mac Intosh – The Adjective/One Gone

10. Dexter “Stinger” Parsons – Advice In Song/My Reason For Being Here

11. Brian London – Doh Complain-Come Plain/Not Brian

12. Duane O’Conner – The Hunt Is On/

More details >>

Machel sweeps Soca Monarch

Machel Montano retained his Power Soca Monarch crown at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain this morning. He was also crowned Groovy Soca Monarch.

Montano sang "Pump Yuh Flag" in the Power category and "Mr Fete" in the Groovy competition.

SOCA MONARCH RESULTS

Power

1. Machel Montano (Pump Yuh Flag)

2. Iwer George (No Pain)

3. Destra (Link Up)

4. Prophet Benjamin (Throw Wine) & Blaxx (Inside Ah Band)

Groovy

1. Machel Montano (Mr Fete)

2. Kerwin Du Bois (Bacchanalist)

3. Benjai (People's Champion)

4. Nadia Batson (No Pressure)

5. Kees Diffenthaller (Stress Away)

More details >>

Four South champions crowned

Minister of Arts and Multiculturalism Winston "Gypsy" Peters sat in the Mayor's Box at Skinner Park, San Fernando as his sister Lynette "Lady Gypsy" Steele competed in the calypso category at San Fernando's pre-Dimanche Gras show on Wednesday night.

Steele, the first calypsonian on stage, shouted "doh lie" before belting out her tune that focused on her relationship with Peters and her soca celebrity daughter Fay-Ann Lyons-Alvarez.

The competition, which started an hour late due to final stage preparations, saw the crowning of the King and Queen of the Band,  Extempo and Calypso Monarch.

Steele failed to make the cut to the final four of the competition.

It was Selvon "Mista Shak" Noel's song "The Blue Print" that earned him the top position in the competition.

Peters applauded Noel who sang about the laws being inconsistent in the calypso fraternity.  

Second place went to Rondell Donowa, third to Victoria Cooper and and fourth to Steve "Ras Kommanda" Pascall.

In the Queen of the Bands race, Gloria Dallsingh's portrayal, "Queen of the Masquerade Gold" from the band Ivan Kalicharan and Associates We Going Carnival was judged Queen of Carnival South.

Fernando Marchan, the King from Dawad Phillips' Going Down the Nile with "Piankhy, Nubian Conqueror of Egypt" got the judges' nod.

The extempo competition narrowed quickly from four to two men expressing their views on the topic "Doh Hut Yuh Head, I Is More Man Than You".

Hezekiah Joseph won out, over Neil Baptiste.

Joseph said it was a difficult time for him following the recent death of his mother Iona Joseph at age 83. He said before she died she urged him to go and sing and "bring back something" and her words inspired him.

More details >>

LATEST CARNIVAL RESULTS - Lady Africa captures Extempo crown

Leslie-Ann “Lady Africa” Bristow sang her way to the 2012 Extempo King title at the Trinbago Unified Calypsonians Organisation (TUCO) "Kaisorama-A Night of Champions" competition, at the Queen's Park Savannah, Port of Spain, on Thursday.

After solid performances in the two elimination rounds, Bristow stepped up her game in the championship showdown with Brian London to become the country’s first female champion.

Also victorious on the night were Calypso Monarch finalists Duane O’Conner and Kurt Allen.

O’Conner gave a polished rendition of his 2012 Young Kings winning song “The Hunt Is On” to win the Social Commentary category while Allen captured the Political Commentary crown with “Long Live Calypso”.

Allen, singing "When Will It End”, and Hollis “Chalkdust” Liverpool, with "How’s Dat”, were second and third, respectively, behind O’Conner. Heather Mc Intosh, who performed "The Adjective", was second in the Political Commentary category, while third spot was copped by Neville “Bunny B” Brown with “Political Lightening”.

RESULTS

Extempo

1. Leslie-Ann “Lady Africa” Bristow

2. Brian London

3. Joseph Vautor La Placelier (Lingo)

Social Commentary

1. Duane O’Conner – “The Hunt Is On”

2. Kurt Allen – “When Will It End”

3. Hollis “Chalkdust” Liverpool – “How’s Dat”

Political Commentary

1. Kurt Allen – “Long Live Calypso”

2. Heather Mc Intosh – “The Adjective”

3. Neville “Bunny B” Brown – “Political Lightening”

More details >>

Junior Queens shine

Former Arima Junior Queen of Carnival Nikkita Katwaroo on Tuesday won the 2012 National Junior Queen of Carnival, with her portrayal of "Gold Rush" from the band, The Colours of Jewels, Gems and Precious Metals, at the final of the competition, which took place at the Queen's Park Savannah, Port of Spain.

Scoring 429 points, Katwaroo beat her 14 opponents to earn the title on a night when the Junior Queens proved much more impressive than the Senior Kings, who competed in their semifinal round of competition in the Kings of Carnival competition.

Masquerading before the judges and less than 400 patrons seated in the Grand Stand, the majority of the 20 kings received very little reaction or applause from the audience as they crossed the stage.

Among the kings that did create an impact and bring the Grand Stand to life was Gerard Weekes, with his portrayal, "Malak Yahweh - The Praying Mantis" from MacFarlane Carnival, which topped the standings with a score of 443 points.

Weekes went into the semis in first place, having scored highest in the preliminary round, and now he enters Sunday's final during Dimanche Gras.

The night's competition progressed smoothly for the most part, with only one mishap when Glen Dave Lakhan's costume, "Sankofa Dingolay", seemed to malfunction. The costume featured a sailor in white, with a skulled head above it.

Midway through Lakhan's presentation, the skull fell to the stage and, without missing a beat, he picked it up and put it on his head as a mask. The audience cheered him on as he made his way off the stage. Unfortunately, Lakhan did not make it to the final.

More details >>

1940 Hell Yard Record: The First Ever

Information has been unearthed that indicates that the Hell Yard Band of 1940 had three-note kettle pans thereby strengthening the contention by many such as Bully Alleyne, Big-Head Hamilton Thomas, Ginghee Davidson, Sonny Jones, Oliver "OJ" Joseph etc that "notes" were first placed on pans in Hell Yard. The pans of Alexander Ragtime Band the first all-iron band that emerged in 1939 were "flat" and did not have "notes". Also it calls to mind the statement by Roaring Lion (See George Goddard's book) that the year after Ragtime, appeared "a band calling itself All Stars using empty steel paint pans caused a sensation".

It was while talking about "pan" in the 1940s that both Big-Head Hamil and Neville Jules indicated that panmen, because of the stigmatisation and the association of "pan" with violence and hooliganism, were usually ashamed to be openly identified with the movement. Jules said that in that period he would never have thought of putting his sticks in his back pockets if he was going out to play as would most youngsters do nowadays; "no one wanted to be known as a panman. Right where we are sitting," said Jules, "was people who hated pan; the neighbours had a kitchen here, and if you didn't look out, they would throw garbage on your back… nobody thought then that pan would be sounding the way it is now or that pan would be accepted…" Trinidad Guardian: "Before They Were All Stars" by Robert Clarke, Tuesday February 19, 2002 Big Head Hamil concurred with Jules and recalled the day when Eric Stowe came at his home and said that he had a job to make a record, and how they were so ashamed "to walk with pan in the road" that he put his pan "in a flour bag" and followed Stowe; and having said that he went on to conclude that that was the day when "pan was first immortalised": "six panmen played pan on a recording of Roaring Lion's 'Leggo de lion', each man get $5 except Stowe. He take the lion share…" Ibid.

When he was asked to provide the year this recording was done, his memory failed him and after his offspring present attempted to jolt his memory, he suggested that it might have been "around 1949". However if Eric Stowe was the man in charge as implied in Hamil's story, then it follows that the recording would have been done much earlier maybe between 1939 and 1943, the period of Stowe's captaincy. In reality the recording that Hamil referred to was done by Decca Recording on Feburary 11, 1940 at the Sa Gomes Emporium located at Marine Square and the name of the calypso was "Lion Oh" the first two lines of which were "Leggo me Lion, Lion Oh, Oh leggo me Lion, Lion Oh" and the Decca recording card listed the performers as "the Lion with his West Indian Rhythm Band." West Indian Rhythm: Bear Family Records – P.O. Box

This recording of "Lion Oh" was included in a 10 CD collection of 267 calypso recordings by Decca engineers in Trinidad between the years 1938 and 1940 and issued in an elaborate box set with a detailed 316 page hard-cover book in 2006 by Bear Records. In fact, "Lion Oh" was one of the 35 recordings in this box set which were not previously released. The accompanying book also asserts that this performance "is the earliest known recording of a steel-band" and lists the instruments used as "boom (metal drum), tenor (two large cans or biscuit tins), du-dup, and the ubiquitous bottle and spoon." Ibid.

More details >>

Aaron Duncan retainsJunior Calypso crown

Eight-year-old Aaron Duncan (Newtown Boys' RC) has won the Trinbago Unified Calypsonians Organisation's (TUCO) Junior Calypso Monarch crown for the third consecutive year beating 15 competitors at the Queen's Park Savannah, Port of Spain, yesterday.

Duncan's song "Ah Learning" was an ode to education outside of the classroom. He credited travel, his experiences as performer and life in general as some of his most valuable educational moments.

After winning, Duncan said he felt "very good" and that hard work allowed him to succeed. "I put all my life and all my energy to win this for a third time." Duncan received a strong crowd response with cheers coming at the announcement of his name, during and after his performance. In addition to an opening skit depicting his absence from school, Duncan entered the stage with a suitcase symbolic of his mobile education.

Among Duncan's prizes is a First Citizens NEO Account worth $150,000 as well as a return trip to Barbados. Duncan is also the reigning Junior Soca Monarch in the primary school category, a title he received only three days prior, and the winner of the Eastern Credit Union's Primary School Calypso Competition.

In second place was Helon Francis, 18 (Woodbrook Secondary) with "I'm In Love With You," a song dedicated to this country's 50th anniversary of independence. Francis' performance also garnered resounding applause and cheers from fellow students in addition to ending with a firework show and the release of red, white and black balloons. Francis also played the steel pan for part of his performance.

In third place was Sherisse Collymore, 17 (COSTATT) with "A Plea From the Children." Collymore's number was a social commentary on the need for peace worldwide. Participants were judged on lyrics, music and presentation.

The programme included addresses from the Minister of Arts and Multiculturalism Winston "Gypsy" Peters, the Minister of Education Dr Tim Gopeesingh and TUCO president Lutalo "Brother Resistance" Masimba. The host was the reigning Young King Duanne O'Connor who also provided a guest performance of his popular song "The Hunt Is On."

Guest performances were also made by the Junior Calypso Monarchs of Dutch St Maarten and Barbados, Denisia Martinbor and Samantha "Sammy G" Greaves respectively. Before the results were given, soca artiste and former Junior Calypso finalist Erphaan Alves also gave a guest performance.

Junior Calypso Monarch Results

• 1st- Aaron Duncan (Newtown Boys

RC), "Ah Learning"

• 2nd – Helon Francis (Woodbrook

Secondary) "I'm in Love With You"

• 3rd – Sherisse Collymore (COSTATT)

"A Plea from the Children"

• 4th – Rivaldo London (Fyzabad

Presbyterian) "Put Kaiso in Schools"

• 5th – Tsahai Corbin (St Joseph's

Convent) "National Pride"

More details >>

KI dethrones Rikki Jai

With what must be hailed as a superb performance of his runaway hit, "Single," JMC 3Veni lead vocalist KI won the 2012 Chutney Soca Monarch title at the Queen's Park Oval on Saturday night.

Almost every patron was singing the song's hook, "I will single forever" and other lines as KI performed before the more than 8,000 people at the Oval. By the end of the performance, one could have believed without doubt that KI would pocket the $1 million first prize, which is half of what defending monarch Rikki Jai took home last year.

Jai had to settle for second place this time around although he too enjoyed a favourable response from the audience for his performance of "De Drinkers Anthem".

The night, however, belonged to KI, who exhibited full confidence on stage. The performance began with KI standing roughly 12 feet over the stage on a platform with a pole upon which he slid down to the stage after singing the opening lines.

Accompanied by only dancers, KI commanded the crowd's attention with just his voice. The entertainer that started performing with the family band as a child made some adjustments to the song, adding new lines including a speedy raga-styled chant. Near the end of his presentation, KI told the audience that for weeks fellow competitors have had their say about him and his song and it was now his time to respond.

KI shouted out to Jai saying that all the antics he used in his performance would not save him from defeat.

"Last year they give the wrong guy, but tonight the Chutney Soca Monarch is mine," sending the audience wild again as he made his way back to the top of the platform for one more chorus before disappearing down the pole as the stage went black.

At the end KI earned 36, 737 of the more than 119,000 text votes sent, the most ever in the history of the competition. Third-place winner Rick Ramoutar received only 3,982 votes, while Jai accumulated a total of 32,731 votes, proving that even in second place, Jai still enjoys the respect of chutney music fans throughout Trinbago, up the islands and in the US and Canada. Each mobile phone was allowed 18 text votes until the time that voting closed.

Jai performed wearing a ring master's outfit and was accompanied by a number of dancers. His stage props included a line of ornate silk pagodas and a Roman daybed that when eventually turned around revealed soca artiste Destra Garcia lounging. She rose and joined Jai in the performance much to the delight of the audience. Garcia actually opened the show with a guest performance that saw her performing several of her hits from the past to present.

The show got on the way minutes before 10 p.m. and for the most part progressed smoothly with most competitors taking the stage quickly and keeping their performances tight. There were the couple of exceptions where acts remained on stage a bit too long lobbying the support of the patrons and people viewing at home on either television of via live streaming on the Internet.

Final results, with the number of votes, as provided by the producers were as follows:

1st: KI 36,737

2nd: Rikki Jai 32,731

3rd: Rick Ramoutar 3,982

4th: Nigel Salickram 3,879

5th: Arti Butkoon 2,578

6th: Terry Gadraj 1,240

7th: Fiona Singh 1,124

8th: Sassy Ramoutar 821

9th: Sally Sagram 731

10th: Haresh Singh 681

More details >>

Machel Celebrates 30

In addition to celebrating three decades of music, "Machel Monday" will herald a new beginning for Reigning Soca Monarch and Road March King, Machel Montano. The double champion revealed plans for the concert event on Wednesday afternoon following his performance at "Soca in B Square" held at Woodford Square in Port of Spain. In an exclusive interview with the Express, hosted by telecommunications giant, bmobile, at their Brian Lara Promenade store in Port of Spain, Montano expressed great pride in the overall success of last year's debut event and credited his mother for suggesting moving the concert to Monday. He said:

"We're all really pleased that the event went down so smoothly last year—both in terms of how it looked and sounded and also the impact it had on the festival and the way it made people feel. I think that in celebrating Mr and Mrs Carnival—Sparrow and Rose, we really struck a chord and got people to understand that Machel Montano, the Alternative Concept, the HD Family, Xtatik Limited—all these things are not just about me personally, but it's about building a legacy and a culture that celebrates our own, while still influencing and being influenced by all the other genres and cultures of the world."

Montano explained that in planning this year's instalment, he and promoter, Anthony Chow Lin On deliberately chose not to celebrate his 30th anniversary in music.

"We did not want to celebrate my 30th anniversary because we don't feel old... and we don't want people to get the idea that Machel is ready to retire. So what we'll be doing on Monday is telling the story of Machel and showcasing the concept of 3Zero—which is celebrating the 3 decades and then resetting to zero. One of the high points of the show will be how we teach them how to reset to zero—meaning that three decades of Machel have gone by and now I'm ready to start over, so this will be the zero point—and it's not just me because all the artistes I have worked with and influenced and encouraged over the past three decades will be there to tell the story from their perspective and also to represent resetting to zero to prepare for the next decade."

Montano admitted that staging the concert during the final week of Carnival had a great part to play in ensuring his victories in the Soca Monarch and Road March competitions. He said:

"Long time SuperBlue used to come and destroy Brass Festival the week before Carnival and that momentum would carry him straight through to Soca Monarch and the road on Monday and Tuesday, so this is what the Machel Monday has become: it's the night when we're all playing to 20, 30,000 people and once you get them in the right zone—it's all about public perception and if we lift them up on this night, then they will carry us all the way. Again, it's not just about me: all the acts on the show will be giving their best to set Carnival 2012 right."

Among the special guest artistes billed to perform at this event are: Kerwin Du Bois, Benjai, Kes The Band, Shadow, The IZ, Farmer Nappy, Patrice Roberts and International Pop Star, Armando "Pitbull" Perez.

Though he will be competing with many of these acts in the days following the event, Montano stressed that there was no real animosity among the fraternity. He said:

"This night is not about competition and the performances you will see at Machel Monday will not be the same as RAMA two nights before, or even at Fantastic Friday four days after. This night is all about showcasing your brand as an artiste—yes, we're in the competition and we all enjoyed it and had a time last year, but you know Machel is not about the competition thing and the whole idea behind our concert in the first place is to showcase the music of T&T alongside all the sounds and the genres of the rest of the world—that's what we're all about and that's what we'll be doing on Machel Monday."

More details >>

Stickfighting king crowned: 'felt my dead father's spirit'

ONEIL Odele's unique style of stickfighting brought victory to the Valiant Brothers Gayelle and helped him claim the King of the Rock title on Wednesday night.

It was the fourth time the 21-year-old from Sixth Company Circular Road, Princes Town, has battled in the National Stickfighting Competition.

He placed third last year.

Odele was crowned king when the final bois was thrown and walked away with the $15,000 first prize at the Mayaro Recreation Ground.

His team was rewarded with $30,000. Valiant Brothers is made up of Odele and his brothers, Donald and Ronald Lewis.

Minister of Arts and Multiculturalism, Winston "Gypsy" Peters, attended the event and pledged that the first prize in the gayelle competition would increase to $50,000 next year. He said stickfighting was a unique artform, which should be recognised internationally.

Odele said his dream was to win the battle for his deceased father who was known as "King Middle".

"My father was a stickfighter and he would take us along to competitions.

"As a child I knew that is what I wanted to do. In school I would use my rag and play stickfighting. I began entering competitions four years ago. And I would always be practising, while I am in work. I would pick up a stick and pretend I am fighting. It is my passion," he said.

Odele said stickfighting was a "spirited" sport and he felt his dead father's presence during the fight. "I knew my father was there, watching over me. I made some blows that were unbelievable. In five minutes my final round was over and I won," he said.

Odele said he was looking forward to defending his crown next year.

"I want to tell people that stickfighting is a dangerous sport. People have lost their eye, fingers, teeth. You have to be careful...you cannot go in feeling frightened. You have to be prepared, go in strong and confident," he said.

St Mary's Gayelle won the second prize ($18,000), Mc Bean Gayelle third ($12,000) and Cuche Gayelle fourth ($6,000).

Peter Noel placed second in the King of the Rock competition ($10,000), while Evan Ralph finished third ($8,000). —CK

More details >>

No ‘challenge’

“A Tribute to Trinidad Carnival” and “Tribute to the Mas Player”, the challenge trophies for the King and Queen of Carnival, have found “permanent” homes. But this was never the intention of the designer, Kenneth Matthews.

The trophies, valued at US$5,000 each, are still in the possession of the 2005 King and Queen of Carnival, and not with the reigning champions.

“When I handed over the trophies to Richard Affong and Michael Heath of the National Carnival Bands Association (NCBA) in February 2005,” Matthews tells Express Online, “it was conveyed that they were challenge trophies and can only be kept permanently if an individual won the King or Queen title for three consecutive years.

“However, in 2009 I was informed that the trophies were in the possession of Curtis Eustace and Pamela Gordon, after being presented to them on winning the respective King and Queen of Carnival titles in 2005.

“I subsequently wrote the National Carnival Commission (NCC) and the NCBA in an attempt to have the situation corrected, but I never got a response from either party.”

Matthews, a Carnival mas man in the 1960s and 70s, is very disappointed that winners subsequent to 2005 were denied the honour of being presented with the trophies.

“Something must be used for which it was made. Additionally, they were created with the hope that youths will be inspired and get involved in arts and culture, especially the art of metal craft.”

Matthews, a former secretary of the Arima branch of the NCBA, shut down his mas camp in the late 1970s after becoming a Christian, and eventually migrated to the United States.

However, he felt the need to continue to make good use of his skills, and built the beautiful four-by-four-foot copper trophies.

“You can’t stay with a skill and not make a contribution to your country. I donated the trophies to the country so in effect they belong to the government, so they (government) should be concerned with them.”

Matthews says he sent a letter to the Minister of Arts and Multiculturalism, Winston “Gypsy” Peters, via Tourism Minister Rupert Griffith, in the hope of bringing closure to the issue.

The retired mas man has also crafted a challenge trophy for Panorama, but is reluctant to hand it over because of his experience with the Carnival King and Queen trophies.

NCBA secretary, Wrenwrick Brown says he knows the trophies ought to be returned to the NCBA, and so does Gordon.

“She cannot lift the trophy because of its weight, so we will have to make arrangements to have the ‘Tribute to the Mas Player’ trophy collected and returned to our office.

“We need to have the trophies returned,” he continues, “so that they can be used for the purpose for which they were intended.”

Brown tells Express Online that because of the busy schedules of NCBA officials, no arrangements were made during the past six years to retrieve the trophies.

The NCBA secretary says the trophies will be returned, but could not guarantee it would happen in time to present them to the 2012 King and Queen of Carnival, at the Dimanche Gras show on Carnival Sunday night.

But even if the NCBA does make the return of the trophies a priority, retrieving “A Tribute to Trinidad Carnival” could prove a logistical nightmare since it is currently in Toronto, Canada.

Eustace, who received the King of Carnival trophy in 2005, says he was never informed by the NCBA that it was a challenge trophy.

“That information was never passed on to me. I have between four and five hundred trophies and they are all in Toronto.

“Had I known it was a challenge trophy,” the veteran mas man ended, “I would certainly have given it back.”

donstan.bonn@trinidadexpress.com

EDITOR’S NOTE: Curtis Eustace is a nine-time winner of the King of Carnival title. His most recent victories came in 2005, 2007 and 2010. Pamela Gordon won successive Queen of Carnival titles in 2005 and 2006.

More details >>

O'Connor takes Young Kings crown

Duanne O'Connor beat 17 competitors for the crown at the 28th Annual National Action Cultural Committee Young Kings Calypso Monarch Competition with his tribute to CCN TV6's personality Ian Alleyne, "The Hunt is On." The competition was held on Monday at the National Academy for the Performing Arts (NAPA), Upper Frederick Street, Port of Spain.

O'Connor's reputation preceded him as the crowd was in an uproar both before and during his performance in which he impersonated Alleyne masterfully. Alleyne was seated front row and joined O'Connor on stage near the end of the song.  O'Connor placed sixth in last year's competition. In second place, moving from fifth place in the 2011 competition, was Stephen Marcelle, who also gave an impressive performance in his social commentary "Stand Up & Be Counted." Calypso Prince also sang social commentary with his "Diary of a Madman" putting him in third place.

The many strong competitors included last year's second-place winners Olatunji Yearwood and Sekon Alves. Yearwood and Alves both sang social commentary with the tunes "Our Nation's Dilemma" and "Where Anything Goes, Everything Goes" respectively. Alves placed fourth in this year's competition.  

Fifth place went to Dillon Thomas with the anti-domestic violence number, "A Woman's Worth." There were two participants with songs about Minister of Works, Jack Warner, which were Brother Alpha with "He Take in Front" and Ninja with "Queen Ah De Pack" placing 13th and 11th respectively. Sheldon Nugget's "It's Not Over" dealt with the recent State of Emergency claiming that the nation was still under siege and brought him the tenth place. Dee Diamond's "Law Abiding Citizen" was a message to the Prime Minister from the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago. Also singing social commentary were Rondell Greaces with "Hold Strain" and Nigel Salickram with his message about race relations, "Blood."

National Joint Action Committee (NJAC) president, Peter Caesar and the Minister of Arts and Multiculturalism, Winston "Gypsy" Peters, both addressed the audience. Awards for excellence were presented to composer Mohip Poonwassie and comedian and radio announcer, Dennis "Sprangalang" Hall.

Proceedings were hosted by Brian London and Dr Phaedra Pierre. The Vikash School of Dance was the guest performer. Music was provided by Earl Knight and The Services Brass.

More details >>

K Rich delivers 'Nothing Less'

The annual Soca in B Square began with a smaller turn out on day two of the five-day lunchtime concert series at Woodford Square, Port of Spain, despite performances by Raymond Ramnarine with Dil e Nadan, K Rich and reigning Chutney Soca Monarch, Rikki Jai yesterday.

The show started at noon and Woodford Square remained devoid of people apart from the small crowd gathered close to the stage. Raymond Ramnarine, Derek Seales and the band exploded with energy onto the stage as they went through a wide selection of Carnival songs for 2012 as well their release for the season "Hard Pong".

As the show went on the crowd grew as Ramnarine and the band took soca on a journey. Selections like Black Stalin's "Blackman Feeling to Party" and the late Alphonsus "Arrow" Cassell's "Feelin' hot, hot" had the crowd swaying and moving. The vibe was definitely a groovy one as they mixed it up with some tassa and a little bit of pan.

Screams from the audience could be heard as Kenneth Richards better known as "K Rich" came to the stage and had the crowd singing along with his popular hit single "Nothing Less".

Keeping the energy high, Ramnarine and his band kept the crowd moving singing Machel Montano's "Mr Fete", Darryl "Farmer Nappy" Henry's "Surrender" and Iwer George's "Jab No Pain."

The crowd by this time had swollen and could be seen from almost every corner of Woodford Square. The climax of the afternoon came with the arrival of reigning Chutney Soca Monarch Rikki Jai who got an overwhelming response from the crowd as he came onto the stage singing one of his most popular songs "Barman". The five-time Chutney Soca Monarch quickly went into a verse and a chorus of "Scorpion, Pumping", and his release for 2012 "Johnnie Walker" which closed the show.

Machel Montano HD and Swappi are scheduled to kick things off today, day 3 of the bmobile Soca in B Square lunchtime concert.

As the week progresses there will also be hour-long performances by JMC 3Veni, Blaxx and Roy Cape All Stars and Shurwayne Winchester and his band, You.

More details >>

Phase II, All Stars tie for lead

Petrotrin Phase II Pan Groove and Neal and Massy All Stars tied for first place in the national Panorama semifinals on Sunday evening at the Queen's Park Savannah, Port of Spain. Performing in positions no 9 and no 12, respectively, they both got 268 points for their renditions of "Archbishop of Pan" and "Play Yourself", respectively.

It was therefore the end of a drawn-out day when RBC Redemption Sound Setters from Tobago performed to a mostly empty stands in the wee hours of Monday morning, 2.30 a.m. to be exact. This was 17 hours after the start of the event dubbed by pan lovers as the "savannah party".

Strangely Gordon's arrangement of "Gie Dem Tempo" was good enough to better ten other performances on the night, putting Sound Setters in sixth place.

The large band category kicked off at 8.01 p.m. with a roar from the audience as CAL Invaders was announced. Their eight minutes of Arddin Herbert's arrangement of "You Know Ah Like It" set the tone for things to come.

Birdsong's sweet music arranged by Raf Robertson did very little to move the audience and the judges. But the shock of the night came in the form of bp Renegades with Duvone Stewart's arrangement of Ken Philmore/Mark Loquan/Destra Garcia's "Vibes". For many it was vintage Renegades.

PCS Silver Stars performed Edwin Pouchet's arrangement of his composition "Gie Dem Tempo" with energy not seen by any band for the day, the youthful members set out to entertain.

Republic Bank Exodus' tribute to T&T's Culture great Dr Pat Bishop (Aunty Pat) as arranged by Pelham Goddard showed how well rehearsed and disciplined they are.

Next up was Desperadoes and their young arranger Andre White who was making his debut in the large band category. A relaxed-looking Robbie Greenidge, the band's former arranger played tenor in the frontline under White. However the masses associated with Desperadoes were absent from the stage and that took away from the feel.

White's first time effort was encouraging but the current Desperadoes unit seems to be a work in progress

Defending champions Neal and Massy Trinidad All Stars drew appreciation from both stands even before they started playing Leon Smooth Edwards' arrangement of "Play Yourself". They too performed as a well rehearsed unit with their many runs.

Solo Harmonites under the baton of Seion Gomez's arrangement of Len Boogsie Sharpe's "Archbishop of Pan" proved to be interesting and will need more work for the final.

Another debutante, Shenelle Abraham was good with Junior Sammy Group of Companies Skiffle Bunch and her arrangement of "Play Yourself".

It was 12 .55 a.m. when Len "Boogsie" Sharpe and Petrotrin Phase 11 Pan Groove came on stage with Boogsie's arrangement of "Archbishop of Pan". Theirs was an extremely confident arrangement.

Though he did not "jam" the song he did enough to "blow his followers minds'" and won the hearts of the judges.

There was a second exodus of patrons after Phase 11 leaving very little for the bands that followed. The first was with Neal and Massy All Stars.

T&TEC Tropical Angel Harps gave a good showing with Clarence Morris' arrangement of "All Over". So too did NLCB Fonclaire with Ken Professor Philmore's arrangement of "Vibes".

In the wee hours of the morning, Liam Teague and Starlift tried their best to lift those present with their rendition of his arrangement of "Vibes" but it was difficult.

Results - Conventional Bands - Large

1. Neal & Massy Trinidad all Stars 268.0

1. Petrotrin Phase 2 Pan Groove 268.0

3. PCS Nitrogen Silver Stars 263.0

4. Republic Bank Exodus 262.0

5. BP Renegades 254.0

6. RBC Redemption Sound Setters 253.0

7. T&TEC Tropical Angel Harps 250.0

7. Solo Harmonites 250.0

7. NLCB Fonclaire 250.0

10. Petrotrin Siparia Deltones 246.0

10. Caribbean Airlines Invaders 246.0

12. WITCO Desperadoes 245.0

13. Starlift 243.0

14. La Brea Nightingales 238.0

15. Junior Sammy Group Skiffle 236.0

16. Birdsong 229.0

Results Conventional Bands - Medium

1. Katzenjammers 275.0

2. NLCB Buccooneers 271.0

3. Valley Harps 270.0

3. Courts Sound Specialists of Laventille 270.0

5. Power Stars 264.0

5. Pamberi 264.0

7. Curepe Scherzando 263.0

8. West Side Symphony 258.0

9. Melodians 257.0

10. Sangre Grande Cordettes 256.0

11. Carib Dixieland 255.0

12. Pan Elders 253.0

13. Petrotrin Hatters 252.0

14. Steel Xplosion 251.0

15. Belmont Fifth Dimension 248.0

Results Conventional Bands - Small

1.Tamana Pioneers 265.0

2. Codrington Pan Family 263.0

3. Nu Tones 260.0

4. Golden Hands 256.0

5. Super Novas 255.0

5. Arima Golden Symphony 255.0

7. LH Pan Groove 254.0

8. Tornadoes 252.0

9. Merrytones 250.0

10. Simple Song 249.0

11. Laventille Serenaders 245.0

12. Fascinators Pan Symphony 242.0

13. Southern Marines Steelband Foundation 241.0

13. T&TEC New East Side Dimension 241.0

15. Tobago Pan-Thers 239.0

16. Longdenville Claytones 238.0

16. Old Tech Steel Orchestra 238.0

18. St Margaret's Superstars 237.0

More details >>

Raising the Bar

The lyrics to his song have hit a nerve. "Single Forever", he sings, and the appeal appears to be wide, for women and men, young and old, in a changing society where marriage is no longer a requirement but an option.

The entertainer behind the "sleeper" hit is Kris 'KI' Persad, who has found fame at the Carnival fetes with patrons lapping up his music.

He was also a crowd favourite at the Southex-promoted semi-finals of the Chutney Soca Monarch competition at Rienzi Complex, Couva last weekend, and a shoo-in to the finals of the competition on Saturday at the Queen's Park Oval, Port of Spain.

But to hear KI tell it, the lyrics to his song (which may infuriate the married) were meant as no disrespect to those who have decided to tie the knot.

The intention, he said, was not to promote infidelity, but for persons to simply to be entertained by his music.

The 25-year-old, who has kept a hectic schedule for Carnival, said the song was co-written with his father Veerendra Persad, leader of the famous band JMC 3Veni.

KI said he didn't believe the tune would receive so much attention, but he is happy with the decision of Southex Promotions' George Singh to include a clause in the Chutney Soca Monarch competiton that limits "rum song" lyrics.

The JMC 3Veni front line vocalist said since the promoters indicated that the promotion of alcohol in chutney soca lyrics would be banned from the competition, he felt it was raising the bar for the art form to another level.

Persad said, "That was a good idea. I feel it shouldn't look like we are glorifying rum and the rule is not to sing and endorse it (alcohol) in a positive sense."

Persad, who is single, said he had been singing professionally for the past 30 months and had his heart set on capturing two titles this season: the Groovy Soca and the Chutney Soca Monarch.

He said he had no intention of taking part in the 2012 National Carnival Chutney Soca Monarch organised by former San Fernando mayor Ian Atherly and former president of National Chutney Foundation of TT Vijay Ramlal on February 4.

Persad said he has lived in Toronto, Canada for the past 17 years and working with JMC 3Veni is a full-time job. He said the 14-member band is a business.

One of his biggests fans is his mother.

Contacted at her Toronto home last week, Maya Sahadeo-Persad, said she was sure that KI's song would win him renowned recognition.

She said, "If I get a back stage ticket to come and see him sing, I will buy my own plane ticket down. It don't have nobody in the competition that can compare to him (KI)."

Sahadeo-Persad said she conceived and gave birth to KI when she worked at the Trinidad Express several years ago, which she explains, makes K.I "a Express baby".

She said KI doesn't own a vehicle but went out and purchased one for his younger brother, Rich who turned 17 last December 29.

Sahadeo-Persad said she represented this country at the International Miss World Pageant in 1992. She said K.I's "Single Forever" was the dawning of a new chutney soca. She said it was telling a story of the way in which people live their lives without being vulgar or, with an emphasis on alcohol. She said being "proud" of K.I's accomplishment after two and a half years bursting on the scene was an understatement.

Rather, said Sahadeo-Persad, she was "ecstatic".

Lyrics to Single Forever by Kris "KI" Persad   I don't have to stay at home, I don't have to answer phone. I could have any gyal in meh car. Ooh I go be single forever (repeat 2x) When meh partners have it hard, I don't have to clock no card. I could have any gyal come over. Ooh I go be single forever (repeat 2x) Talk: This is KI and 3Veni When ah liming I is de boss, I doh have nothing to loss, no gyal could tell me what to do. I could lime on ah Monday, no woman to bother meh. I could do what I want to do. I don't want to hear the same thing over and over. Yes I always want to remain single forever. I don't have to stay at home, I don't have to answer phone. I could have any gyal in meh car. Ooh I go be single forever (repeat 2x) River lime we playin card, no woman to get on mad, no gyal to tell me what to do. Everyday is ah holiday, so I doh have to run away. I could do what I want to do. I doh want to hear the same thing over and over. Yes I always want to remain single forever. I don't have to stay at home, I don't have to answer phone. I could have any gyal in meh car. Ooh I go be single forever (repeat 2x). My girlfriend use to vex, so she leave me for a next. No gyal could tell me what to do. Go on Facebook, check meh wall, is not one gyal, I have all. I could do what I want to do. I don't want to hear the same thing over and over. Yes I always want to remain single forever. I don't have to stay at home, I don't have to answer phone. I could have any gyal in meh car. Ooh I go be single forever (repeat 2x). When meh partners have it hard. I don't have to clock no card, I could have any gyal come over. Ooh I go be single forever…

More details >>

Iwer, Belfon excite at 'Ladies Nite Out'

For the second week running Neil Iwer George showed he is on track to destroy the Queen's Park Oval at the finals of the Soca Monarch Competition.

He even mentioned in his song how "they gave" Machel Montano his title.

Iwer's momentum was seen at Friday night's "Ladies Nite Out" party at the Jean Pierre Complex, Port of Spain.

From the time his name was mentioned by the MCs the crowd were in an uproar and Iwer continued with some of his favourite songs keeping the audience on their toes.

Iwer continued a jam session which was started by Denise Belfon. When she was announced the entire Complex went up in unison with patrons running to the front of the stage. Her wining session went down well with the audience. Iwer was followed by Shurwayne Winchester and You with the former Soca Monarch/Road March winner performing all his winning as well as current songs.

Before the "madness" of Denise Belfon, Iwer and Shurwayne Winchester several ladies treated the audience to some great calypsoes. Lima Calbio set a standard with her song "That Somebody" in which she had a patron from the audience working with her.

She was followed by reigning Calypso Monarch Karene Ashe who stepped onto the stage to a rousing welcome. She performed her popular "Uncle Jack" and a song called "Against all Odds", a song she says she will perform in defence of her title.

Ashe was followed by former monarch Denyse Plummer.

Plummer had the audience singing along with her throughout the song.

Bunji Garlin, his wife Fay Ann and Asylum took the stage and they provided a good show, with patrons eating out of their hands.

Destra and her band followed and she continued the soca onslaught as her fans lapped up her performance. She was joined by TC who performed his song and left.

Destra was then joined by the hottest act for the season, Kerwin Du Bois who from all indications is a true "Baccanalist".

More details >>

Divas dazzle on opening night

If you want to hear social and political commentary, soca, humour and chutney all in one place then the Divas Calypso Cabaret International is the place to be.

Based at the Mas Camp Pub, Corner French Street and Ariapita Avenue in Woodbrook, the Divas opened its doors last Wednesday to a full house. Manager Rudy Ottley gave patrons a package that will make them want to come back for more.

The quality of the music was excellent. A band of musicians from UTT and COSTATT worked cohesively with an engineer who knows his stuff; they are proved themselves. The MC called the band the Lacouray Connection.

The opening salvo by Catherine (The Spiritual Diva) with "Rae Rae", left no doubt that it was going to be a good night. Stacy Sobers came next with sweet soca music in "My Land"; she was accompanied by dancers, making her performance very visual.

"Calypso is Alive" is true calypso performed by Tenaj Smith, so too is "Close to the Edge" by Lady Nurse. But a debutante with the sobriquet Tiny brought the crowd to life with her song "Piranha". She told of the troubles women go through in the calypso world. She was raw and held nothing back. Tiny is a bomb.

Following close on Tiny's heels with another ditty was Sharon Alexis. Her song "Panty Line" is well constructed and was well delivered. You have to listen very carefully to understand her point.

Shradah McIntyre is another debutante who is passionate about Trinidad and Tobago and she said so in her song "Because I Know".

Veteran Karen Eccles gave a grand performance of "Turn off the Lights" and got the audience's attention. Using all her expertise in performing Angela Ramoutar's rendition of "I Am Your Lady" sent patrons into fits of laughter and dance simultaneously. She had them

dancing and singing.

Shorty closed off the first segment of the show with "Mashing up Road". By this time intermission was welcome.

Upon resumption, another newcomer to the tent, Shelly, had her "Fun in the Sun" and Sister Virtue gave a lesson on "Parenting". Lady Chaconia had the "Key to Success" while the Messenger "Hang Jack", all good calypsoes.

But it was Joy C (Bridgette Cresse) in her first appearance in a tent who caused a stir, with a powerful delivery of "Life's No Disaster" in which she told people to get down on their knees and pray. She received two encores and was going on a third but time did not permit.

Lil Jean (Jean Lewis) continued where Joy C left off and had the Mas Camp buzzing. Patrons got off their seats and waved anything they had.

Lil Jean's song was a mockery of soca artistes, their songs and their performances. "Low, on the count of four, anybody horning, anybody from Trinidad, wave something and low" were the words to the song. The Mas Camp audience lapped it up and Lil Jean had to come back on stage on three occasions.

The Mama Diva Sweet Jean (Jean Sam) closed the show with "Mad One" and "Chiney Wedding". She too had the audience laughing with her peculiar brand of humour.

The Divas Calypso Cabaret International is a power house of laughs and could turn out to be one of the best tents for Carnival 2012.

More details >>

Patrice gone freaky for 2012

Expect some freaky behaviour from Patrice Roberts during Carnival 2K12. The svelte, simply stunning soca siren has released a song titled, "Freak," composed and produced by prolific soca hit maker, Kerwin Du Bois.

The groovy soca is a really lighthearted explanation of just what Roberts gets freaky over as she sings that whenever she hears soca music she behaves like a freak on the stage and the dance floor. "Freaky dickie, when ah wining ah not picky, anybody could come and take a taste . Freaky dickie, when ah wining ah real sneaky, yuh have to tell from the motion in meh waist," sings Roberts in the chorus.

"People would probably say that I am singing about sex and being a freak in the bed, but for me, I am a freak for soca music, which is what I am saying in the song. When I hear soca, I just get carried away and behave like a freak. I am also a freak for the gym and can’t stay away from it for even a day. And of course, I am a wining freak. Carnival is all about being free on the road and just letting go of all the stress, wining like a freak," Roberts said.

This is Roberts’ second collaboration with Du Bois for the season thus far as they previously released, "I Am Soca" in which they perform a duet. This song gives soca music a voice in which it laments that although soca music drives Carnival and brings joy to so many, people show little love for the art form and once Carnival is over they shove it aside for all other music forms such as dancehall and hip-hop.

"That song very special to me because soca is really our music and people sometimes don’t appreciate it and the joy it brings. I have always wanted to work with Kerwin (Du Bois), but the time did not come till now. He believes in his music and he has a unique style of writing and composing. We really kicked it off this year. I did not really have a topic and he created the concept of "Freak," Roberts said.

On the morning the Express spoke with Roberts she had not too long come out of Rama Studios where she recorded another new song titled, "Horn Pass," produced by Kernel Roberts. In this song Roberts sings that rather than stress over whether her man is unfaithful or not, the woman should give him a horn pass allowing him to go and have a time with another woman. There is, however, a catch.

"The song is about giving your significant other a pass to go and do whatever he pleases with whomsoever. Sometimes in a relationship you get that gut feeling that something is wrong, that your lover is cheating or whatever and then the lies start to come and you begin to feel insecure and as if you are not good enough."

"Don’t force anyone to love you because if its not meant to be, what can you do? So give them the freedom to please themselves, but while they having a time, you go enjoy yourself too. The flip on that is, maybe when they ready to come back, you would have already found something better. Because while they doing what they want to, I doing what I feel like doing with whoever also," Roberts said.

September this year marked the tenth anniversary of the passing of calypsonian, Lady B who was Roberts’ mentor. Lady B composed calypsoes for Roberts to sing at the calypso competitions and encouraged her to develop her natural talents. We asked Roberts what is her reflection on Lady B a decade after she died.

"I have maybe eight women that are like mothers to me and Lady B was one of them. She is the person responsible for Patrice Roberts the artiste. She took the time to show me the ropes and teach me to write and compose. You’ve brought back a sad memory here. I looked up to and loved her deeply. After she died, her sister, Verlene Bobb took up writing songs for me," Roberts said

Roberts continues to be a part of the Machel Montano HD family and knows she is in for a very hectic Carnival season, again. She continues to work out in the gym at least three times a week to maintain her physique and stamina for the stage. And even if she is in studio, Roberts makes the time to workout.

"I go to gym three times a week at 9 a.m, but if I am in studio, I try to get there at three in the evening. Going to gym for me is like putting on clothes. I have to do it. Since I began working out, I’ve seen my body transform into something I love and I am comfortable with. I really worked on it and I am loving the results. The results so far motivate me to work even harder," Roberts said.

For Christmas Roberts intendeds to spend as much time with her family and close friends as possible because once the Carnival season begins she will hardly see them. And when Carnival is over there is the touring with HD, which means more time away from them.

"My personal Christmas wish is to spend time with my family. I don’t really get time with them or my close friends. I don’t even get to talk to them after Christmas because it’s pace from then into Carnival and after. For the New Year, I want to take my music and career on the whole to another level. I want to win, not just in the competitions, but in my career as far as building a name for myself out there. It’s not every year will be your year, so you have to always work hard. Always work hard," Roberts said.

More details >>

North 'big bands' impress in panyards

The judges' visits to the panyards of the large conventional steelbands on Monday night turned out to be a pilgrimage for pan music aficionados.

The visits which are part of the preparation for the national steelband Panorama semi-finals scheduled for this Sunday February 5 at the "Big Yard" Queen's Park Savannah began at the Tragarete Road, Port of Spain panyard of twice-Panorama winners PCS Nitrogen Silver Stars. Arranger Edwin Pouchet led the charge with his arrangement of his composition "Gie Dem Tempo". They performed with energy and vigour.

Pouchet who suffered a heart attack last year defied the odds and made it to the panyard. Responding to concerns, he admitted to tiring very quickly, but "this does not stop the music, that comes from my head and I can handle it, it's more physical thing."

The judges next visited 10 -times Panorama winner WITCO Desperadoes, at Cadiz Road, Queen's Park East. Many were there to see what new arranger Andre White would do with "Prophet of Pan" by Tellison Forde.

The 21-year-old arranger did not disappoint musically, Desperadoes sounded good, a bit slow but good. The Desperadoes executive and WITCO all looked satisfied with what they heard.

The pilgrimage continued as people walked down to Charlotte Street to get to bptt Renegades. It was difficult getting into the Renegades yard. Pan lovers were spilling onto Charlotte Street.

From the first salvo arranger Duvone Stewart injected energy into the arrangement of Ken "Professor" Philmore/Mark Loquan/and Destra Garcia's "Vibes". They seem to be headed for a resurgence.

Manager Michael Marcano expressed no surprise at Stewart's talent.

The pilgrimage next continued to Duke Street and into the legendary "Hell Yard" the home of seven-times Panorama winner Trinidad All Stars. Once again it was extremely difficult getting into the venue. Their tune of choice "Play Yourself" (Clive Telemaque) is arranged by Leon "Smooth" Edwards who did well with this song.

Calypsonian Crazy, who did the vocals was there to wave the flag with his trademark energy.

Smooth was pleased with the execution of his arrangement and said "we just have to get the right tempo and all will be well."

The Queen's Park Oval car park, Tragarete Road was the next stop where CAL Invaders anxiously awaited the judges with their "Yuh Know Ah Like It" sung by Rembunction who performed the song live. When arranger Arddin Herbert gave the count, the players immediately moved into high gear and throughout the song they were dancing. For a song which is not popular, Herbert did well with the arrangement which is interesting and could take Invaders places.

Next stop for the judges was the "Village" on Hamilton Holder Street where Len "Boogsie" Sharpe, Ray Holman and Petrotrin Phase 11 Pan Groove were delighting their fans with "Archbishop of Pan".

The yard was packed. Sharpe welcomed the judges and told them this song was for Pat Bishop, "We love you wherever you are. You were the mother of culture in Trinidad and Tobago."

Phase 11 gave a superb performance of their arrangement with lovely musical passages and crescendos. In the end Sharpe said he was very happy with the execution of the song by his players. Phase 11 will try to get their sixth Panorama title this year.

Starlift on Mucurapo Road was the final stop of the night with Liam Teague as arranger with the help of Desmond Waithe. His arrangement of "Vibes" by Philmore/Loquan/Garcia is very musical.

Teague, who comes out of Northern Illinois University, US is in his second year with Starlift. He commented This year is different, I have more players, there is more interest in the music and there is more discipline in the band. This will carry us a long way."

More details >>

Super soca sistas

The women of soca are looking good for C2K12 with hot releases scorching local airwaves and having folks slow wining and jumping up and down from one radio station to another. Many of the songs are sexy in nature with a few being quite risqué. Let’s explore several of the more popular among them.

Fay Ann Lyons comes out strong with a retro-styled soca gem titled, "All Over," a duet with the Sweet Soca Man, Baron. The storyline here is that Lyons and Baron can be found partying just about anywhere one can think of and they are having a good time on this island where anyone can have some kind of fun

"There’s a time and place for everyone to have some fun, to have fun. So enjoy yourself, free up yourself. Tonight everybody come on over. Grab somebody make them yuh lover and yuh grab somebody hand, lead them in the band, let’s go. We partying all over. We doing it all over. Swing swing swinging it all over and then we taking it all over," sings Lyons.

Her other release for the season thus far is a very unique groovy soca titled, "Denial," a song about a woman finding it hard to admit to her lover that she has another man in her life. When he questions why she never answers her phone when he calls or who is the man dropping her home late at night, she claims she has no clue what he is talking about.

"I’m in trouble and I really didn’t want to mention, on the level ah started off with good intention. You see ah really didn’t want to hide it, you see ah really didn’t want to lie. But every time that he ask the question, ah had no choice to reply, when he ask meh, where yuh was when ah call yuh phone this morning, ah answer, ah don’t know what yuh talking bout," sings Lyons.

Remaining with the Lyons clan, Terri Lyons already has a crop of C2K12 songs on the YouTube network and she is enjoying a lot of hits as people browse her work. One song doing well is, "Feeling Fine."

This techno flavoured dance song is really catchy and should do well if all is fair and equal in radio land. Yeah right. With allegations of radio DJs demanding sex from young female soca artistes in order to play their songs, we wonder just how fair the playing field is. Anyway, back to Lyons, this song will have you dancing in the club and in the fetes, at least wherever the band Nadia with SASS performs as Lyons is a featured artiste with the band.

"The vibes of the session right now it nice, nice, it real nice. We love soca dey it nice, this have to be paradise. Whole day ah standing by the truck waiting for the DJ to pump it up. As the truck start roll DJ ready to play," sings Lyons who has also released, "Cah Stop Moving" with the band, SASS thus far.

SASS leader, Nadia Batson is challenging men to stop the old talk and make a move if they are really interested in her. The former member of the Kes the Band frontline now fronts her own all girl band that has been the talk of the town since delivering a fantastic performance at their launch some weeks ago. One of the first 2012 releases from the very gifted songwriter is "Shiver" recorded on the Antilles Riddem created by Precision Productions.

"If yuh want to make me shiver stop the talking and deliver. Put meh bam bam on yuh zipper darling, boy make meh quiver. If yuh want to make me shiver stop the talking and deliver. Make meh run just like a river boy, just make meh bawl out aye yi," sings Batson who also has other releases including a very risqué number titled , "Whey Yuh Want" alongside Lyrical. "Whey yuh want? Anything yuh want I will give yuh boy. Yuh could wine on me make me bawl. String me up on the wall. Grip hard and hold me tight. Take all you want tonight. Yuh could bend me over like that. Don’t want you holding back. Let’s play the riding game. Make me scream out yuh name," sings Batson.

Although this is her third year on the circuit, Jadel Legere is considered to be the little lady among the soca women as she spent her first two seasons as a member of the band Surface followed by Traffik, which did not afford her much opportunity to fully showcase her talents. Now a solo artiste, Legere is quickly rising to the top and her first C2K12 release, "On Meh" is doing pretty well on radio.

"Boy wuk it on meh. And when ah fling meh bumper around boy wuk it on meh, boy put it on meh. Well yuh know when ah come out to have a time is a time we having. Liquor in the lime, man woman is constant jamming. Ah wha yuh come and put yuh body on meh. How yuh want it, boy yuh just say, cyar stop this waistline from rolling whole day, ah say no way. Doh let that bumper get away from yuh. Cause ah feeling good, me wukking up on yuh," Jadel sings.

More details >>

2012 Soca Monarch Live On The Net

Caribbean Prestige Foundation for the Performing Arts will take the Digicel International Soca Monarch competition to the World Wide Web with live streaming in High Definition (HD) via Carnival TV's signature series, LIVEOnStage2Nite. The pay-per-view (PPV) broadcast will go live from the Arima Velodrome for four hours from 8 p.m. to 12 a.m. with the semi finals of the Play Whe Groovy Soca Monarch and the Digicel Power Soca Monarch competitions today.

The Digicel International Soca Monarch has become a staple of the cultural landscape of Trinidad and Tobago's Carnival, being the foremost barometer for proficiency in the soca realm of the Caribbean. In it's 20th anniversary year, international audiences will witness some of the 53 regional semi-finalists vie for entry to the finals of this year's competition. Carnival TV will stream four hours of the eight-hour show live, featuring performances from both competitions.

Carnival TV was launched in March 2011, as the premier HD Internet TV station streaming live Caribbean content to the globe, with an aim to capture and present the essence of everything Caribbean through the eyes of Caribbean people. In it's pilot year, the station successfully kicked off its programming with live streams of Trinidad and Tobago's Carnival including the National Steelband Panorama Finals, Dimanche Gras, and the Parade of the Bands, which attracted more than 300,000 viewers in 137 countries around the world. 

This Sunday, soca and Carnival enthusiasts can get their front-row PPV seats for US $0.99 for the Digicel International Soca Monarch Semi Finals at www.carnivaltv.net. Payment can be made by credit card or PayPal only. For more information visit www.facebook.com/carnivaltvtt or www.facebook.com/socamonarch or tweet to @carnivaltvHD or @intlsocamonarch or email: carnivaltvHD@estuarypr.com.

More details >>

Machel gains momentum with 'Groovy' contender

Reigning International Power Soca Monarch Machel Montano appeared to be a strong contender in the Groovy Soca category this year as his song "Mr Fete" proved to be a crowd favourite at HOTT 93.5FM's Inferno event on Friday night.

Also making waves in the fete were Darryl "Farmer Nappy" Henry's "Surrender" and Kerwin Du Bois' "Bacchanalist".

The trio performed their respective selections and vied for public support in tonight's semi-final round of the International Soca Monarch competition during Montano's closing set at the HOTT 93.5FM fete at Pier 2, Chaguaramas.

Du Bois joined Erphaan Alves and Montano, near the end of the performance, in a showcase of their songs on the popular Precision Productions-crafted Antilles Riddim while Henry delivered his Red Boyz-produced selection during his own segment.

Montano interrupted Henry while he was performing "Surrender", and the two friends engaged in some competitive banter while trading lines from their respective songs.

Asked afterwards about the seemingly strategic interruption, Henry smiled and said: "A wise man keeps a still tongue. I'm grateful to have the people embrace "Surrender", and I'm looking forward to the competition." 

Over the past five years, "Nappy" has become more recognised for releasing quality groovy songs and has qualified for the finals a number of times. With Montano making his debut in the competition last year, this marks the first time the Road March King has entered the Groovy Soca category. 

Fierce competition is expected tonight at the Arima Velodrome as over 50 acts vie for a spot in the finals, scheduled for February 17 at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain.

At Pier 2 on Friday, hundreds gathered, with coolers in tow, to celebrate the Carnival season with HOTT 93. KES The Band opened up the live action, with guest performances coming from Shal, TC and Michelle X. K-Rich and Swappi both delivered exciting and entertaining performances on tracks in between the band change before Raymond Ramnarine and Dil-e-Nadan took the stage around 1.30 a.m.

The band suffered some technical difficulties and had to stop their performance, wait for the issues to be corrected and then start again. Afterwards, the band's musical director, Richard Ramnarine, referred to the incident as "part and parcel of showbiz" and said the members had "taken it in stride".

"These things happen sometimes," he said. "You can't expect everything to go smoothly every night—show business is filled with triumphs and challenges, and we've been around long enough to know how to take them in stride and still be professionals and cut the gig.

"Raymond is fighting a cold at the moment, but this is the start of the weekend and in the midst of the season, so he did what he had to do, and we got some great energy and love from the crowd."

Hosted by Caribbean SuperStation (CSS) presenter Jason "Jus Jase" Alleyne and HOTT 93.5 drive-time announcer Franco De Freitas, the event ended at around 4 a.m.

More details >>

Kerwin, All Rounder steal Battle of the Sexes

Kerwin Du Bois showed he might be the hottest ticket for Carnival 2012 with a his performance at the Jean Pierre Complex, Port of Spain, on Friday night.

Appearing on the stage with Destra Garcia, the two thrilled the audience at Battle of the Sexes.

Introduced as the "Bacchanalist", Du Bois gave a vibrant performance even after singing praises to All Rounder for his "Garlic Sauce" performance with a member of the audience.

Du Bois accepted a challenge from a patron and asked if she forgot he was the man who sang "Big thing, small thing, I wining on anything."

What followed could be described as outrageous, with the singer lifting a woman three times his size to wine with her. The crowd lapped up the performance.

The challenge between the sexes was tame, though, and many times MCs Nikki Crosby and Errol Fabien were the livewire acts of the event.

All Rounder, the granddaddy of calypso and his daughters Lady Wonder and Shurlaine, also provided the audience with a lively performance.

All Rounder sprayed garlic sauce over his body and on patrons who chose to wine with him on stage.

Bunji Garlin and his wife Fay-Ann both did well as they engaged the Jean Pierre audience in their performance with their band Asylum.

The Battle of the Sexes showed the difference between professionalism, experience and young artistes trying to make it.

Singing Sandra ("Sexy Employers"), Denyse Plummer ("Gih Dem Tempo"), Nadia Batson and Terri Lyons, Ronnie McIntosh and Destra Garcia all performed with a band.

Patrice Roberts, JW and Blaze, Iwer George, K Rich, KI, Shal Marshall and Denise Belfon all performed with live musical accompaniment.

Iwer George caused a stir when he came on stage and had the crowd rocking and singing. So too did TC and Shal Marshall.

Singing Sandra and Denyse Plummer showed that experience is the greatest teacher with their delivery.

Plummer even brought pannist Donnel Thomas on stage with her.

Jadel, Lima Calbio and Kees also made appearances at the show.

More details >>

Iwer: Machel can't beat me

Three-time Soca Monarch Neil "Iwer" George is looking forward to some intense competition in the upcoming rounds of the contest — from everyone but the Reigning Monarch Machel Montano.

Speaking to the Express after performing at Tribe's One Fete, at the Queen's Park Oval, Port of Spain, on Sunday evening, George said he doesn't believe the contest is only between Montano and himself.

He said: "It is unfair for anyone to say that the race is between Machel and myself because everyone knows I'm going to beat him very bad. There are several good songs out there, so I don't think he's my only competition at all, cause he has already lost."

Referring sarcastically to his controversial defeat last year as "a new high for entertainment", George said the price for that decision had already been paid by those responsible for it.

"Nowhere else in the world can an entertainer who is booed in a contest go on to win just so," he said. "If an artiste performs at The Apollo and is booed, his or her career usually doesn't go much further after that, but somehow we managed to set a new standard for entertainment in our forum. We cannot ignore the Gospel, which clearly states that the voice of the people is the voice of God. So they did their thing last year and end up paying a very high price, so I know that can't happen again this year."

George made a guest appearance during the annual event, which was held at the Oval car park and featured Machel Montano HD and Kes The Band, along with guest acts George, Michelle X, SuperjiggaTC and Shal Marshall, among others.

From the time he was announced, thousands of hands raised in the air in support of George's latest release, "Jab (No Pain)", and during his 12-minute stint, he kept the crowd bouncing and waving appreciatively.

Michelle X and Kees Dieffenhaller also performed their Power Soca contender, "Head Bad/On D Road", and got the masses involved in the swaying dance which accompanies the catchy song.

Taking the stage around 11 p.m., Machel Montano worked his Power Soca selection, "Pump Yuh Flag", and delivered his usual HD-embellished routine – in spite of a few light drizzles of rain and much to the audience's delight.

The event was well attended and featured a host of premium dishes and beverages, which kept the masses contented all evening long. It ended around midnight.

More details >>

UWI fete celebrates Africa

There were notably fewer Government ministers and Members of Parliament at this year's 22nd annual UWI all-inclusive Carnival fete. The theme this year was Zangalewa: It's Time for Africa and it came off at the traditional venue, the grounds of the principal's office from noon to around 9 p.m. Among the ministers that were in attendance were, Trade Minister, Stephen Cadiz and Energy Minister, Kevin Ramnarine.

The event featured performances by several bands including, the Roy Cape All Stars, Karma, KES the Band and Dil-e-Nadan, which was the only one that even attempted to follow the theme. The band opened its set with the Eddy Grant song, "Hello Africa" for which lead singers, Raymond Ramnarine and Derek Seales sat in front the stage playing African drums while Candy Hoyte and Imran Beharry danced.

Dil-e-Nadan would go on to deliver a first class performance that had even fellow musicians commenting that they did a great job. The band mixed the hottest new soca with retro calypso and chutney as well as bits of rave, disco and other genres that had the hundreds gathered around the stage dancing for the better part of an hour.

KES the Band too did well on the evening when they performed on the other end of the venue where patrons including American actress, Tatyana Ali were dancing throughout their roughly 45 minute set. Later on back over on the eastern stage artistes such as the Black Stalin, Ronnie MacIntosh and Lord Nelson took the people back to the good not so old days performing some of their most loved hits of the years accompanied by Roy Cape.

More details >>

East Side Symphony opens with a bang

Defending National Panorama Single Pan champions San Juan East Side Symphony opened the East competition on Friday night with a bang at the Larry Gomes Stadium Car Park in Malabar.

With an energetic, stirring rendition of SuperBlue's 1991 hit "Get Something and Wave" in position number eight in the East preliminaries, the San Juan band sounded a warning to its competitors that it is intent on defending its title.

Its performance, arranged by Duvonne Stewart, earned the appreciation of the crowd, and the confidence of the band was unmistakable.

It would have been a difficult chore for its Santa Cruz neighbour Pan Jammers to follow that performance, playing a lively interpretation of Biggie Irie's "Nah Going Home" from 2007.

Also earning praise was Toco's Pan Stereonettes playing David Rudder's "Madness" from 1997, while Arima's Pan on the Move ("Uncle Crazy") and Brazil RX4 ("Gimme More") also moved the crowd.

On the night, the bands paid tribute to cultural icon Pat Bishop and multiple Panorama champion Desperadoes songwriter/producer Ralph MacDonald. Both Bishop and MacDonald died last year.

A moment of silence was also kept for Marsicans late captain Robert "Miguel" Gonzales, who died last week, and Lloyd George, another veteran panman who passed away on Wednesday.

Results will be tabulated tomorrow at the National Academy for the Performing Arts (NAPA) in Port of Spain and the national semi-finals will be held at Queen's Park Savannah, Port of Spain, on February 5.

More details >>

Occupying 2012 with 3Canal

For Carnival 2012, rapso group 3Canal is continuing to do what it does best – meld social commentary with the arts. The dynamic trio is preparing for the 2012 edition of The 3Canal Show, a new album and even a pan tune written with Pelham Goodard, "Auntie Pat", which is a tribute to Pat Bishop and will be performed by Exodus for the Panorama competition.

In 2011, the album was Re Evolution Time while this year it's Reborn, but even without the "re" this theme of renewal has always been a part of 3Canal's music. "Looking back is something that we tend not to do in Trinidad. We tend to always feel that we have to be creating stuff new and not looking back at the tradition and the whole platform of the music that was done before which is the base of everything, the early calypso," says 3Canal vocalist Roger Roberts. "We always would refer to the tradition, refer to the early calypsonians and the griots when we make our music. Looking back and being aware of our history is a very, very important part of it. Carnival is a cycle of life and death and rebirth as a kind of a metaphor. So being reborn is like going into a new phase but always mindful of where we came from and the platform that was made before us."

Off the 12-track album singles released thus far are "Can't Done," "Work it Out," "Sacrifice," and "The Pappy Show" with productions by Keshav "Laza Beam" Chandradath Singh and Greg Assing. There are no collaborations on the album but one track features a chorus with youth from the NGO Tallman Foundation. The 3Canal Show, which returns to Queen's Hall after being the first performance at the renovated Little Cairb Theatre in 2011, will include two acts, The Pappy Show and The Reckoning, a combination of elements from the show for the past two years that will take a humorous look at the current affairs in T&T, according to bank vocalist Wendell Manwarren. "The PappyShow is more in the vein of the Jam It show in that it's very theatrical and The Reckoning is more in the vein of the Re-Evolution Time which was much more song and movement oriented. For us it's pleasing both sides of ourselves and pleasing both sides of the audience because we have the fans of the theatre and the fans of when we just do our thing. What's also new is that Penelope Spencer did most of the writing and normally we would do that all ourselves," he says.

The show will include appearances by performers such as Spencer, Cecilia Salazar, Mark Nottingham and Conrad Parris. The guest artistes are still to be determined. The selection of additional performers will take place at the Backyard Jam Sessions to be held at 33 Murray Street, Woodbrook, Port of Spain through a jury by the audience and band members. Manwarren feels it is important to give lesser-known musicians much needed space to showcase their talent.  The space is also significant to the band's history. "This is a very active yard. Godfrey Sealy, the late local playwright, this was his home. A lot of the early theatre that we were all a part of, the rehearsals would take place back here. It was a space that we were familiar with. It had a nice vibe," says Manwarren.

This year they are also working with Mang Car Studios on a documentary – or "revo-mentary" as they call it – covering the day-to-day preparations and rehearsals for Carnival. The 3Canal Carnival season will end with their Jouvert band which is this year is themed "Occupy 2012" in homage to the US Occupy Movement. "The Jouvert band is the culmination of the whole vibes. That's when we take the music to the streets, to the people. That's when people come out of the house and enjoy the vibration. Occupy the streets. Occupy the road. Occupy Trinidad. Occupy the world!" exclaims Roberts. "The idea is that what these people are doing is what we do ritualistically every year. We occupy the streets. The road make to walk as Kitchener say. The intent is different. Their intent when they occupy is to speak to the system and speak to the establishment that is oppressing the people. When we do it here in Trinidad we just do it because we're having a good time. So we're trying to bring some of that into it so that people are aware of some of the things that influence their lives on a daily basis. The things that impact their lives and to make that statement together with us."  

Tribute to Pat Bishop

This year 3Canal is also returning to the panyard working with Pelham Goodard on the tune "Auntie Pat" in tribute to Pat Bishop. The band has worked with Goodard previously on the song "Festival Time". "Auntie Pat" is the Exodus tune of choice for Panorama 2012.

Bishop worked with Exodus for more than 14 years, helping with repertoire selection, conducting and, as Goodard puts it, "shaping the music". Goodard says all members of the band took her death as a major loss because she was highly respected many times bringing practice to a standstill when she entered the yard.

Goodard says when he came up with the melody he called Manwarren because he wanted a group, rather than an individual to sing, so that the track would sound like the entire band saying thank you to Bishop not only for the work she did for the band but for the nation. "What the nation should remember about Pat Bishop is her talent, her knowledge. She's also an artist. When she came to drill she took things in stride and she got into every detail about everything. She's a good person, a teacher, a lecturer. She's all sorts of things. She's a people's person. That was a loss to all areas of society and even the government or authorities of arts and culture are at a loss," says Goodard.  

Although, 3Canal never worked professionally with Bishop they note that no practitioner of the arts is outside of her influence. In fact, Manwarren had met with Bishop two nights before her death and agreed to work on a production with the Lydian Choir and Stanton Kweley, 3Canal vocalist, worked with her at UWI. "My experience was different with Pat because she was a fellow staffer at UWI when I was a lecturer there. She would be one of those people who would pop in and watch what you're doing. My students would ask her for advice and she was just somebody you could bounce ideas off of. You really couldn't miss Pat Bishop she was like a saltfish in everything," described Kewley.  

Goodard says the song has received positive responses from players as well as audiences and was pleased with the outcome of collaborating with 3Canal. "People don't know that these guys are so talented. They know how to put over a lot of things and intelligence plays a big part in it because when you get a song about Pat Bishop you have to be careful with what you write."

The 3Canal show runs from February 12th-18th at Queen's Hall, St Ann's. The backyard jam sessions are on Friday 27th January & Friday 3rd February at 33 Murray Street Woodbrook.

More details >>

Kerwin Rules the Fetes for C2K12

Oh bacchanal… I ready for eeeeeet!!!

From this opening refrain to the emphatic chorus statement, "I'z ah bacchanalist", audiences everywhere can't help but to be captivated and energised by the unique voice, flow and delivery of Toronto-based producer, singer, songwriter, Kerwin DuBois. While his single "Bacchanalist" voiced on the Antilles Riddim has risen to the forefront, it's his production and songwriting credits that are most enviable.

From Destra's "Baddist" to Bunji's "Runaway", Patrice's "I am Soca", Kes' "Wotless" and "Ah Ting" of 2011, along with Machel's "Illegal", Farmer Nappy's "Pavement", "Breathless" by Blaxx, all the way back to Shal's "Gyal Farm" in 2008 and beyond, DuBois has infiltrated and infected the masses with his signature sound and bubby production values.

"Carnival 2012 so far has been a balanced, vibrant year for all who have been contributing to the art," he opined. "Yet again, the Groovy songs have completely dominated the atmosphere so I expect a great season for myself and a great season of fun and good times for all the true lovers and supporters of soca music. The fetes and the mas will definitely be memorable for each and every one in 2012."

With such a formidable repertoire, we had to ask him what inspires his creative process.

"The environment in general and my immediate surroundings inspire me," he revealed. "Time and place is very important in the initial creative writing stages. Ideas are formulated through serenity and vision and then everything else falls into place. Sometimes one element comes before the next depending upon my mood at the time. Some days it will be the music first inspiring the lyrics or concept and others it will be vice versa."

After more than a decade networking with the top acts in the industry, it was no surprise that DuBois was called to ride the ever popular, Antilles Riddim, but being a producer himself, it was somewhat unusual for him to record the song on another producer's riddim.

"Kasey sent the riddim to me and at first I was a bit iffy about it," said DuBois, "because I realise sometimes with riddims it's a chance taken due to the number of songs/artistes featured on it – which could sometimes lead to preference by the mass public, which then leads to disappointment within yourself. So I took up the offer of going on it, which was actually my first ever Riddim outside of my own Productions. I started off recording another song on it – which I wasn't happy with, so I never moved from behind the mic and within three hours 'Bacchanalist' was created. No pen, no paper. Just an enclosed vibe between myself, the headphones, the mic and my vision of what being a Bacchanalist is all about."

For DuBois, the success of the song is a validation of his personal and professional vision for the industry and the music which fuels it, but perhaps more importantly, it's a vision that has been embraced and is being shared by the general population.

"I never lose sight of my foundation and where I come from," he enthused. "My roots are continuously buried in Trinidad. I always stay in line to the fad and the swag, the way of life, the changes, the lingo and everything that rotates in Trinidad and everywhere that Caribbean entities dwell. I try my best to tap into the systems and minds of people. I try to always slowly become a part of what they might like, what triggers off reactions within them to either wine or jump or wave or just feel good about themselves. So I observe a lot and take mental notes and that's why I always have some form of emotion attached to the music I make."

Born in the capital city Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, it seems DuBois was always destined for success in calypso and soca. He began singing in primary school and not only entered the nation's first Junior Calypso Monarch competition, but also won the title in the second year. The young performer rose through the ranks of the calypso world, captured the Young Kings title and even reached the Big Yard for the National Calypso Monarch finals on several occasions.

Hailed as a rising star, he delighted all with his melodious voice and thought-provoking lyrics and was selected to represent Trinidad along with other young calypsonians for a Calypso Youth Exchange Programme hosted by the Association of British Calypsonians in the UK, where he settled for a number of years, eventually capturing the UK Calypso Monarch title.

In recent years, Du Bois has spread his wings and can no longer be considered simply a Calypsonian, having branched out into soca not only as a performer but also as a highly rated producer and songwriter. His efforts have been acknowledged by some of the top soca artistes, who have tapped into the talents of this accomplished hit maker.

"If I fail to succeed then let success be my failure, I was born a winner," DuBois concluded, "This is the mantra that has kept me going over the years and continues to propel me to achieve greater things! I believe that perseverance and hard work definitely pay off in the end, so Carnival 2012 and beyond – I ready for eeeeeet!"

More details >>

Triniboi Joocie to ignite T&T

Soca lovers can look forward to a fresh face on the scene for Carnival 2k12, in that of Triniboi Joocie. The 22-year-old entertainer released his 2012 offering titled “Party Anthem” last month and is ready to take Trinidad and Tobago by storm.

Born Rodell Sorzano, Triniboi has been making waves on the European circuit for the past three years. And now he’s back in the land of his birth to showcase his talent for the first time at Carnival 2K12.

“Party Anthem” will be my flagship song for carnival, so I’m looking forward to a memorable debut season in my homeland,” Triniboi said.

The young soca artiste, who lists The Mighty Shadow and Tobago Crusoe as two calypsonians he holds tremendous respect for, says it pure fate that has him here for Carnival 2K12.

“I was asked by Kernel Roberts to come back home for Carnival after performing at a festival in London that featured artistes such as Machel Montano and Kees Dieffenthaller.

“After the show I was invited to where those guys were based, so I took the opportunity to showcase my lyrical ability. Kernel was impressed with my freestyling and written pieces so he extended an invitation for me come and work with him in T&T.

“It also presented the opportunity for me to collaborate with one of the biggest name in the soca industry,” Triniboi said.

The talented youngster is also penning a couple songs for Olatunji Yearwood.

Triniboi spoke about what led to him becoming a soca artiste.

“I left Trinidad when I was 10 to pick up residence in England, but my love for music never diminished as I had been playing pan with NuTones Steel Orchestra from the age of seven. That passion led to me performing with Ebony Steel Band, one of best steel orchestra in the UK.

“And after completing my undergraduate degree in performing arts I just naturally gravitated towards soca.”

In 2009, the singer-songwriter-producer did his first recording with Iron Fist Production titled–“It’s Time”. A previous composition, “Easy Fame”, was never recorded. He later recorded “Beast in Me” which featured on an 11-track album titled “Within De Soca Mix”.

“That album really gave my career a huge boost as songs such as “Beast in Me” and “Controlling Meh” were well received. And the recognition it brought led to me securing gigs at Notting Hill, Manchester, and Birmingham Carnivals as well as the renowned Labour Day Carnival in New York,” he said.

Other noteworthy performances came at Leicester, Hyde Park, London the Camden Centre, London Wembley Live, Rotterdam carnival in Holland and Cannes in South France.

Triniboi explained that because soca is still something of a rarity on the UK airwaves he sometimes faced challenges when introducing it.

“I have performed in places where soca was never heard before and it basically meant taking the art form with me so people can learn about it. What it did was open their eyes and ears to the point where they are now actually researching soca music.

“It’s something that I really love doing because it’s not only showcasing what I can do but it’s also spreading a message and getting people involved in its consciousness.”

He credits his family, friends, and fans as the source of his determination to overcome all challenges.

“I have had a lot of key people around me, especially from my family. One strong point I have always had has been my mother who would always say to me, keep pushing, keep doing it no matter what, God is there.”

A performance at last July’s annual six-day Paleo music festival in Switzerland is an ideal example of the kind of fan support he enjoys.

“The response I got from the crowd was amazing as they kept calling for more.”

Triniboi believes that although soca has not really exploded internationally, it can do so on the European market.

“The way artistes presented themselves before gave the impression that soca is all about a rag, making it somewhat symbolic, however, they are focused now on how they brand themselves and the image they present.

“Secondly, the mixing and blending of genres where dance and techno music are now being infused into soca to give it a wider appeal. We did not have that before, but some artistes are now tapping into the techno sound to give soca an international appeal rather than keeping it authentic.

“Additionally, our market has been too limited. Many artistes relied solely on the local market to showcase their products and promote themselves without seeing Europe, Asia or Africa as potential markets."

However, he believes a lot of them are now realizing the vast potential of the European market.

“Soca has developed considerably as a fair amount of improvement has been made in those aspects. So yes, soca can make it,” Triniboi stated.

Full of energy and enthusiasm, armed with a Bachelor’s of Arts (Hons) in Performing Arts from De Montfort University, Leicester and a couple of good songs, he’s extremely confident that he’ll make more than a stir for Carnival 2K12.

Fans can follow him on www.youtube.com/TBJoocieMusic and Twitter @Triniboijoocie.

Editor’s Note: Triniboi Joocie was featured in the December 2009 edition of SOCANEWS, a bi-annual magazine featuring soca stars in the UK.

More details >>

Rediscovering Terry Seales

Two sons born over a period of two years led to Terry Seales' two-year absence from the local music industry. The change in his personal situation, he explained, laid the foundation for his changed attitude towards his music.

"Soca has evolved and with that evolution, I saw where I needed to reinvent myself. I have been an artiste for over 20 years but my ultimate goal of becoming a globally-known artiste has not yet been accomplished. I saw this evolution of our music as an opportunity to show my versatility. I want people to see me not as Terry the soca artiste but as Terry the artiste," Seales said.

His first contribution to the 2012 soca season, "Please", was written and produced by 1st Klase. "It's a song about relationships and I think a lot of people will be able to identify with it.

"Going into Carnival, there is a frenetic pace and some people enjoy it — they want to be in all the fetes and play mas and lime for the season. But if they are in a relationship with someone who doesn't get into the vibe of Carnival or someone who doesn't want to go out and doesn't want them to go out, it could feel like they are being tied down when they want to be free, just for the season.

"After Ash Wednesday, the relationship could go back to normal," he explained. "It's funny in a sense, true in a sense and the video was done by Remy Yearwood and it stays true to the concept of the song."

Seales has more music for release as the season progresses. "I have songs written by Jason "Shaft" Bishop, Nadia Batson and an island pop dance track called "Wok" written by Umi Marcano and produced by MadMen Productions.

"My focus is global. I could do pop, dance, soca and the move to dance pop soca crossover music helps showcase my versatility. I think the marriage of soca and dance music is a wonderful thing. It makes our music more accessible to global listeners who may not have been able to understand or appreciate our music before. It makes our music club-friendly for foreigners and this direction should be embraced because it will help us get our music noticed easier at the international level," the artiste shared.

Check out the "Please" video on Youtube and keep up with the entertainer on Facebook (C.TerrySeales) and Twitter (TerryCSeales).

More details >>

Two-Million-Dollar Men Ready for 2012

2012 promises to be another exciting year for entertainment in Trinidad and Tobago – and of course, the action has already begun as the fete season commences next weekend and the race to Carnival begins in earnest. Last year around this time, the industry was abuzz with the return of Machel Montano after a one year hiatus. Kees Dieffenthaller's "Wotless" ruled the airwaves, Benjai's "Trini" ruled the dance floors and Rikki Jai's "White Oak and Water" informed bartenders everywhere.

As fate, luck, destiny and the people would have it, these four men dominated the Carnival and emerged triumphant in the major contests. While there were many winners in various categories and indeed, all competitors should be considered winners overall, only two men took home the much coveted top prizes and became known the world over as the "two-million dollar men".

That's right, did you forget that the Government increased the grand prizes of the top competitions to two million dollars each last Carnival? Yes, we know your memories only last nine days or so on average and this is why we spoke to the two two-million-dollar men and asked them exactly what they did with all that money...

Machel Montano returned and took advantage of the town, winning the International Soca Monarch title and the Road March with his Kernel Roberts-penned and produced hit, "Advantage".

"The money was spent in the overall presentation of the show," said Montano. "I also gave half of the earnings to Kernel immediately and some was donated to various charitable causes and the rest went to the TEAM because I could not have done it without them."

While Samraj "Rikki Jai" Jaimungal did not have to share his earnings with a full band, dancers, or a big-name writer, the six-time Chutney Soca Monarch is also a father and husband and no stranger to winning big.

"Anybody who knows Rikki Jai knows that I'm a very conservative guy," he said. "I still drive the same vehicle, I didn't invest in any luxurious vehicles or anything like that. Of course, I put some in the bank, I invested in some land and pretty soon, the family will have their own new house. So, I put my money where I can see it working for me. It's easy to go out there and buy a new Range Rover or something like that, but I'm a guy who puts my priorities first and the safety and security of my family is definitely number one on my list. Of course, I also created a nice retirement egg because in this music business, there are no guarantees; today, you're on top and God forbid, the next day you may not be. I'm a guy always planning for future, so I made sure my pension plan is paid up so that when we reach to that point, we could still move around town."

During the year, these two six-figure earning gentlemen took the T&T flag to territories across the Diaspora and beyond and shared their success with Caribbean music lovers around the globe.

"We make a point to visit our loyal fan-base throughout the world," Montano revealed. "We were fortunate to see them in Belgium, London, Miami, Chicago, Canada and LA. We played to sold-out shows in New York, as well as the Antilliaanse Festival. The demand for our performances has risen, so we try to accommodate as many fans in as many cities as possible."

"It was a great year," Jai enthused. "It was the first time in the history of Chutney that a prize of that magnitude was offered and that in itself told a story that travelled and was shared everywhere. Along with it came additional respect because anywhere yuh go, if they had a high regard for you, it suddenly became higher because when you capture the highest prize – it's like winning the Olympic Gold medal then. The younger artistes look up to you more and seek your advice and a lot of different dynamics. The first part of the year was spent getting over the hectic Carnival season, but I also visited Guyana and Suriname before taking a lil time off to recharge the batteries. Then, it started again with Toronto, New York, Washington, as far out as Winnipeg, but my circuit is really all up Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa, all those different cities in the US. Caribana of course. Toronto is one of the biggest destinations on the Caribbean circuit – we always look forward to Caribana and his year was big and I have a feeling next year will be even bigger. Summer was great and up until about October, I was having a great year and that's when things started to slow down a bit, but that's when I went back into the studio and started working on my first release, the first-ever Dance/Chutney song, 'Pania Baran Matja'. I let it bubble for a few months on the East-Indian stations and then I sent it to Destra, who loved it and now the remix is just called 'Pania' and its getting a lot of love."

In 2012, Montano will celebrate 30 years in music and aside from defending and reclaiming his Soca Monarch title, the 'youngest veteran' also intends to release a double album.

"For 2012, my goals are to complete numerous collaborations with various artistes," he stated. "I want to have a bigger and better Machel Monday, to complete my double album celebrating 30 years in music, strengthen my apps and technological dominance, increase my musical downloads, build on Facebook/Twitter following, go international with my music, explore various business ventures and have a better year than 2011."

As far as New Year resolutions, Montano has vowed to:

"Maintain my weight by never going over 180 pounds, repeat as the Soca Monarch champion, promote togetherness and love toward human-kind and strengthen my relationship with God by being a loyal servant to him."

Meanwhile Jai is looking forward to retaining his crown, while also promising to "take the Chutney art form further than it has ever been before via the release of several top-quality and unique-sounding selections as well as videos to accompany them". Both men have indicated that they will also enter the Calypso Monarch competition in 2012 and hope to vie for the prestigious title in the Queen's Park Savannah on Dimanche Gras night.

As for the two million dollar lady who currently holds that title, twenty-something year old, mother of one, Karene Asche is confident:

"I think it will be an interesting competition," she said, "It should be a nice twist to the show having both the Chutney and the Soca monarchs involved and I look forward to competing with them. I will be coming with my songs and do what I normally do: what God has blessed and inspired me to do, which is to come and perform and captivate the hearts of the people. I'm still in studio working on my songs and unlike them, this is not new to me so I won't reveal any information just yet. 2012 will be very interesting indeed!"

More details >>

Gailann Back For 2012

Artiste Gailann Stephen, known as Gailann, is back for Carnival 2012 with a new tune for the road "Inside De Biggest Band".

Gailann has been in the music industry since 1998 but has been better known for her crossover music. She is also known as the "godmother" of the popular Godfather's Asylum, however, she is now working towards establishing herself as a solo artiste at home and abroad.

"I left the band six years ago and being a solo artiste in Trinidad is not easy. As a solo act it's hard to get your music out there because most people are affiliated with someone or in a group. I'm still gracing people with my music though. I don't do soca only. Fans can look forward to a reggae single after carnival and I'm looking into house music."  

"Inside" was produced by Island Traffic Entertainment out of Grenada on the Grapevine Riddim. Gailann admits it's a late release but is gearing up for 2012 nonetheless.

"I'm looking forward to networking and letting people know that I'm here. I haven't been seen for a while so people think I'm still in the states."

She also admits that it has not been an easy road being an artiste, particularly as a woman.

"Before I got into the industry I've been watching female artistes struggle. It's not even about being male dominated anymore. If you're a female and you attractive you'll get things coming to you, but friends don't work all the time especially out on the urban market. Especially outside of Trinidad. Sometimes people put things to you that are not acceptable and I'm very spiritual. I'm not going to do anything bad to get out there. It's very hard as a female but I've watched other artistses who are solo and seen their struggles also."

Pushed by the support of her family and her fans, Gailann has never let the negatives of the industry get her down. Her deep love for music and overarching mission also keep her going through the hard times.

"I love music from since I was small. It's in my blood. As much as the industry hurts I'm not doing this for me at the end of the day. I want the masses out there to learn something from my content and my music. I want to teach more positive things and ways of living. I've been doing a lot of soul searching the last few years a lot of my lyrics have a lot of uplifting messages."

And the stronger messages won't come just at Carnival time. Gailann is currently working with Pen Co Music on recordings to be released throughout 2012 and is even putting together a television programme focusing on Caribbean entertainment to be launched in the summer.

"I just want people to know that I'm a very hard worker and I will be bringing a very good contribution to music. I just want people to know that aside from music let's work on loving each other. We have to pray like we breathe nowadays. I'm just looking for more unity and that's what I'm about."

Keep up with Gailann on Facebook under GAILANN.

More details >>

Fire Fete moves for 25th Anniversary

Fire Fete celebrates its 25th anniversary in the year ahead with plans to make it a mega showcase of cultural excitement. The venue has been moved to the Queen's Park Savannah in Port of Spain.

In recent years, the fete, which had been hosted at the St John's Ambulance Hall outgrew its venue, with scores of patrons crowding the facility to capacity.

Following the State of Emergency and curfew in the second half of 2011, Fire Fete is being touted as the fete to get the nation back to its natural state of being. The upcoming Carnival starter will feature female songwriter and vocalist Nadia Batson and her brand new all-female band, SASS. According to Batson's camp, securing Fire Fete means that they're certainly off to a great start as they too understand that this is the fete that the nation looks to for what's big in the season. It will be Batson and her ladies' chance to prove that they are up for the C2K12 challenge and according to Team SASS they are more than ready to bring the heat.

The 'Fireman' Bunji Garlin will also be at the fore of Fire Fete, along with Fay-Ann Lyons and Asylum. On December 20 at Woodford Café, MovieTown, Bunji proved he is a real crowd pleaser and fans of the artiste will have their first big taste of his energy in C2K12 at Fire Fete. Other artistes include, Kes The Band, Iwer George, Kerwin Du Bois, Super Jigga TC and more. Tickets for the event go on sale immediately after Christmas.

For more on Fire Fete check out Facebook- Keyword: Fire Fete 360º.

More details >>

Lil' Bitts up to Mischief

Lil' Bitts stopped being the baby of the bunch a long time ago and though she remains quite petite she is big in the soca arena and is expanding her horizons beyond the studio and the stage. Bitts is now getting into the business side of music, having recently established her own entertainment services company, Go 4wd Entertainment alongside her brother, Sherrard Churche who has for some years now composed for and managed Bitts.

The new company will serve mainly new and rising young artistes, providing development as well as booking services, which will be overseen by Seon Isaacs who has been managing Benjai since last Carnival. Go 4wd will also be working with artistes coming out of Rama Studios, owned by Kernel Roberts.

"We needed to expand beyond the composing and performing, my brother and I. So we set up the company to work with young artistes because we have experienced the difficulties to get ahead in this business when you are now coming up. It's very exciting to have your own company, but we know it will require a lot of hard work,"

As for Bitts' music for Carnival 2012, she has already released, "Mischief" composed by her brother and produced by Roberts. There is an accompanying video coming soon and Bitts said it will be very funny. Her other release thus far is, "Ketching It," which was also produced by Roberts on what is called the Coca Cola Riddem. Done as a promotional tool for the soft drink company this riddem features other artistes including, Benjai and Screws.

Bitts has also gathered her fans creating a following called Bitts Army which consists of 12 diehard fans who go wherever she is performing. The army has created a Facebook page as well as a Twitter account to help promote her music and Go 4wd. Still pursuing her associate degree in Performing Arts and Music at COSTATT, Bitts is actually considering moving over to the University of Trinidad and Tobago because their course contains less theory.

"I want to focus on more of the practical aspects of the performing arts and UTT is offering just what I am interested in. We will see. I am focusing on broadening myself as an artiste because stagnation kills a music career. My song, "Sweetness" did very well and it afforded me a lot of traveling for gigs abroad. I will record more songs for the season, but will be really pushing these two. I am ready to work even harder," Bitts said.

More details >>

Several projects promised for Carnival 2012

Despite the small turnout, several things seem to augur well for Carnival 2012, launched Saturday at the Grand Stand, Queen's Park Savannah, Port of Spain.

Arts and Multiculturalism Minister Winston "Gypsy" Peters promised to work closer with the interest groups to produce a better product.

Chairman of the National Carnival Commission (NCC) Patrick Arnold, who performed his first official function at that event, announced several projects.

The first, Arnold said, was an exclusive route for steelbands for Jouvert. "I have already spoken to Mayor Lee Sing and we are working this out."

The second involves the Tourism Development Authority, where he wants steel orchestras to put on concerts in their yards to attract tourists. "For too long all we hear in the panyards is the Panorama song. This is an avenue for the bands to generate some income," Arnold said.

The chairman's third project is to honour several living legends in pan, mas and calypso on Dimanche Gras night. "We need to show them appreciation while they are still alive," he said.

He continued, "There are 400 Carnivals all over the world and if we are not careful soon the world will not need Trinidad and Tobago. I have seen it happen with the steel pan and pan tuners. The world is not looking at the land of steel pan anymore.

"Carnival is a big industry and Trinidad and Tobago is the home of Carnival we just have to make sure we are the leaders. We have to stop importing costumes from China."

Arnold praised former NCC chairman Kenny de Silva for the work he has done. He also thanked Vice Chairman Don Sylvester and CEO Clarence Moe for helping him, although, as former Pan Trinbago head, he is no stranger to the Carnival scene.

In their speeches, both Peters and Arnold said their respective organisations were on a mission to transform Carnival into a family-friendly festival.

Peters said he wants Carnival to  harmoniously encourage family relationship and be a festival that parents and their children can enjoy together.

One element towards this end was the opening on Saturday of the Carnival Children's Play Park at the Savannah. The park features rides including a train, face painting and children can interact with Carnival characters and make costumes they can then wear.

"The NCC is engaging Carnival as a family event," Arnold said.

The launch kicked off at Keate Street with a parade of traditional mas characters, pretty mas, steelband and music trucks moving up Frederick Street, into the Savannah, before a Grand Stand audience.

Capping the launch was a show incorporating dance, calypso, soca, rapso and parang hosted by Tommy Joseph.

Among the acts were; Roy Cape All Stars, Shurwayne Winchester, 3Veni, Karene Asche, Ninja, Shiv Shakti Dancers, Ataklan, Karega Mandela, Aaron Duncan and Sheldon John.

More details >>

Digicel to sponsor 2012 Soca Monarch

Digicel is the new title sponsor for the International Soca Monarch competition.

Signing the agreement yesterday were Digicel chief executive officer Nigel Dorrian and Caribbean Prestige Foundation (CPF) executive chairman William Munro.

Digicel officials said yesterday they were happy to take the opportunity to partner with CPF as they prepare for the 20th edition of the International Soca Monarch in 2012.

Dorrian said, "The competition is iconic in local and regional culture, and the mass appeal is staggering." He said his organisation saw it as an opportunity to reward loyal Digicel customers and add value to the experience for patrons.

Digicel already sponsors six mas bands and three soca artistes, Destra Garcia, KES The Band, and Ravi B and Karma.

Munro said the collaboration meant that for the first time, the voting platform would be accessible throughout the region, and Digicel was open to allowing votes from the other network provider.

An official launch event is set to take place in early December, officials said.

This new collaboration brings to an end the title sponsorship held since 2006 by telecommunications rival bmobile (Telecommunications Services of Tri- nidad and Tobago—TSTT). Prior to that, bmobile had also been a major sponsor of the competition.

Asked for a comment yesterday, TSTT officials said the organisation was proud of the role it has been able to play in supporting the growth of culture, in general, and soca, in particular.

"While the overall experience with the International Soca Monarch competition has been very satisfying over the years, TSTT is unable to renew the sponsorship of this particular event. The company, however, remains committed to continuing to play its role as one of the nation's most fervent supporters of culture and the arts in Trinidad and Tobago."

More details >>

Slamming 2012 Soca

The year 2012 is fast rolling in and many are wondering about the Mayan prediction that the world ends on December 31 2012; that this is it for civilisation as we know it and if C2K12 will be the last Carnival. Not making light of the ominous forecast, but if such is the case the soca artistes are ensuring we go out with a bang, no pun intended.

For some weeks now we've seen songs being released by the big guns of the soca arena and for the most part the tracks are really slamming. From sweet groovy soca to fast-paced power soca songs, there are tracks that should have you dancing all the way to Ash Wednesday, February 22 and long after that. Let's explore a few of these songs.

Reigning International Power Soca Monarch and Road March Champion, Machel Montano released, "Mr Fete" on his birthday, November 24 and almost immediately there was a buzz that this is going to be one of the hot numbers for the coming season. The groovy soca may, if Montano so chooses, give Kees Dieffenthaller a run for the millions at the Groovy Soca Monarch competition 2012.

"They call me Mr Fete, since ah born ah never miss one yet. If sun shining ah dripping sweat, thunder storm and ah soaking wet. They say Mr Fete yuh mad and I say Mr Fete yuh mad. I came here to get on bad. Feting is we name, we doh play, we going night and day. No fete can tire we. We coming again every day, we full ah energy, is fete they calling we, like dat is we name," sings Montano in the chorus.

Montano's biggest rival of last Carnival, Bunji Garlin himself has already released a few 2012 tracks, all of them receiving very positive re-views. One that stands out, however, is "Tun Up" featured on the X6 Riddem produced by Keston Patrick. Here Garlin executes a triple-tongue chant style (rapid chanting) in a song that advises fellow artistes to just do what they came to do without fear when on stage.

"How much time ah tell dem as a soca artiste on stage man cyar be a coward? Come pon stage with yuh jump and wave and yuh rave, leave de venue with yuh forwards. Some man feel dey lock de business fe deyself and gwan like absolute powers. If dey feel dey bad, dey like raging bull we go cool yuh like rain and showers. Me nah business what yuh write on line, man a bonafide artiste on time. Yuh want a name what could mash up the dance well call mine," chants Garlin in "Tun Up". His other released songs include, "Irregular" and the most recent, "Bless U," an introspective song that is receiving high praise from all quarters.

Reigning International Groovy Soca Monarch, Kees Dieffenthaller and his family band, KES is also bringing it full force with their catchy, "Coming Over". This tells the story of foreigners wanting to be here for Carnival. Among them is a Canadian that declares he is coming to Trinidad to drink rum and wine on pretty women because he is not going to freeze in the North American winter. The song is reminiscent of the Mighty Shadow's style without being a carbon copy of the Bassman from Hell's musical trademark.

"A man from Canada, skin white like vanilla. Love hard rum and soca, said he coming over. It cold and snow is falling, so right now the road it calling. Ah cyar miss Jouvert Morning. If yuh hear de man talking. Ah never thought ah could break away and ah never thought ah could dingolay and ah never thought ah could drink de hard rum, Ah never thought ah would stay for so long. Ah never thought ah woulda see so much woman, jam on a bam bam in such hot sun boy, a lil bit ah dis a lil bit ah dat, next year ah coming again," sings Dieffenthaller who manipulates his vocals to get different tones throughout the song. Another release from KES the Band is "Precision Wine," which is also gaining popularity.

You can always depend on Farmer Nappy to give you a beautiful melodic groovy soca every year and thus far for 2012 he has released the zouk flavoured, "Surrender". The frontline member of Machel Montano HD instructs a woman in a dance to turn around and surrender her posterior to him to take a wine, even if her man is somewhere in the fete. The song was written by Nappy and Jason "Shaft" Bishop and produced by The Red Boyz of Barbados.

"Baby ah feeling, feel for yuh sexy body. Would you give that chance to wine on you when we playing Jouvert? The way yuh wining is not helping meh. You put meh in the mood gyal and yuh looking good. Did you come this place with your boyfriend tonight? And if he standup dey next to you make him go grab a bite. I have no time to waste. Right now is plenty pace Gyal. So whatever you doing right now just stop it and surrender. Surrender yuh body to me," sings Nappy seductively.

From being Miss Bachannal to Madame Sassy, Destra now declares that she is, "A Baddest" in her 2012 offering recorded alongside Kerwin Dubois. This was written jointly by Destra and Dubois who also produced the groovy track. The duo sing that they will have the time of their lives without apology for Carnival as they wave their rags with so much pace that people will feel the breeze generated.

"Feel that breeze, just come and give me a squeeze. You can sneak up from behind and tief a wine, but I'll keep meh flag (waving, waving). Move as we proceed to a badder time indeed, wavers in the front, wavers in the back everybody just can't stop. A never meet no one who could get on bad like me. Ah never meet no one who could wave a flag like me. I am a baddest, a baddest," sings Destra and Dubois.

Dubois himself has a track titled, "Bacchanalist," recorded on the Antilles Riddem and produced by Precision Productions. "Hello and greetings, ah hope yuh not leaving, just stay a lil bit. I'll keep it formal, please just act normal. I grow up in the house of bacchanal and this month is mine, ah go jump if ah want to, wave up or bend down and wine. This month is mine, ah go stamp on the ground and you cant tell me what to do," sings Dubois in the first of what we are sure will be several releases for the coming Carnival.

Shurwayne Winchester seems to have a great season shaping up for him despite the troubles he found himself in over the video for his hit single, "Wine On It". With that behind him, Winchester is moving ahead releasing more material for C2K12. The newest single from SW Studios is a double entendre titled, "Wining Addiction," about a woman who just can't get enough of calypso and soca music. Produced by Alton "ABX" Bertie, the song is built on a vintage piece of pan music that immediately grabs one's attention.

"Dat gyal have a wining addiction and she doh care bout no man situation, only truck and plenty vibration. Dat gyal have de good reputation. Wining addiction, doh make she call out she whole delegation……Wining addiction, soca is she only solution ," sings Winchester whose lineup of releases for 2012 thus far includes, "Harder," "Jiggle It (remix)" with Inches, "Work It." and "My Little Lady" with Anil Bheem and Raymond Ramnarine.

We will continue to explore the releases for C2K12 in the coming weeks and even expand on the ones mentioned here giving you the complete lyrics so you can sing along as you wine, wave and be a baddest. Of course this goes for the guys too.

More details >>

Will Smith pops in for Anya's Carnival section launching in Tribe

Hollywood actor and multi-platinum rapper Will Smith popped in to Trinidad last night and surprised patrons at Anya Ayoung Chee's Carnival section launch when he showed up toward the end of the event.

Smith was said to have had dinner at a Port of Spain restaurant and missed the actual costume presentation, but was greeted warmly as he walked around the venue meeting and taking pictures with fans. 

Asked about his reason for being in the country at this time, Smith said:

"I have a friend who grew up here... So we just popped in... I'm taking him to Philly next week."

Smith's appearance put the proverbial icing on the cake after Ayoung Chee's exclusive section with popular mas band, Tribe titled "The Runway" was shown to a couple hundred specially invited guests.

"I can't believe he's here!" said a stunned Ayoung Chee. "I'm such a huge fan, so I feel honoured and blessed to be alive at this moment."

Asked about her Carnival section, she said: "Ok, let me focus on your questions. Fashion plays such an integral part in Carnival so as a designer I wanted to make a costume that wasn't just about the beads and feathers – although the beads and feathers are sexy, don't get me wrong, but I tried to add a lil extra magic and I hope that will go a long way in making this a truly beautiful and memorable experience for all our masqueraders."  

Tribe bandleader Dean Ackin referred to the collaboration as a "win-win partnership that was long in the making", and described Ayoung Chee as a "proud national talent with international acclaim".

He said: "Long before Anya's win on the hit television series, Project Runway, she had approached us about the possibility of a collaboration and this particular discussion actually began in 2010. Tribe is proud to be the first and only Carnival band to feature an Anya Ayoung Chee original as part of their offering for Carnival 2012. This world premiere of Anya's design is – we hope, the beginning of a long and successful partnership."

Ayoung Chee's designs were received well by guests with some committing themselves to play in the special section. Photographer and graphic artist Laura Ferreira described the costumes as "chic and sexy".

She said: "I think the colours she chose really give it an extra classy look and the patterns she added also give it some flair and pizzazz. Overall, it's a hot costume that any woman would love and enjoy playing mas in. It will definitely photograph well and should look fabulous on the road come Monday and Tuesday."

Among the models who showed off the costume were three former Miss T&T delegates- Gabrielle Walcott, Valene Maharaj and Jenna-Marie Andre.

Guests at the launch included Minister of Trade and Industry, Stephen Cadiz, sporting icons Brian Lara, Dwight Yorke and Russell Latapy and businessman Richard Sabga.

More details >>

Pan For 2012

Pan Trinbago, the world governing body for pan, has released a provisional schedule of pan events for 2012 which includes all pan competitions in the various zones in Trinidad and Tobago.

Pan music lovers get an early start as the National Single Pan Preliminaries kick of in the South/Central Zone at the Pleasantville Community Centre Grounds on January 19 from 6.00 p.m.

This venue proved to be a very accommodating with the zone scoring "big times" this year.

The action shifts to the to the spacious car park at the Larry Gomes Stadium, Arima the next day, January 20, for the East Zone Preliminary. This is another very spacious venue, conducive to the event which will get under way at 7 p.m.

A venue is still to be announced for the Tobago leg of the Preliminary round which is carded to come off on January 21.

The same applies to the North Zone round which comes off on January 22 as the organisation has not yet secured a venue. Both events will start at 7 p.m.

The National Small and Medium Bands Preliminary round will begin in the South/Central Zone at Skinner Park, San Fernando on January 26 from 7 p.m. while the Larry Gomes Stadium will host the East Zone on January 27 with a starting time of 7 p.m.

January 28 and January 29 will see the National Small and Medium bands preliminary round of both Tobago and North zones respectively and again venues are to be announced.

The format changes on January 30 as Pan Trinbago officials visit the Large Conventional bands in their yards for the players check. This will happen simultaneously in all the zones from 7 p.m.

The action shifts to the Queen's Park Savannah for the National Panorama Semi-final for Small, Medium and Large bands from 9 a.m. on February 3rd, 2012.

On February 11 the Larry Gomes Stadium Car Park is the venue for the National Single Pan Semi final round from 6 p.m.

The children get their turn at competition on February 12 with the staging of the National Junior Panorama finals at the Queen's Park Savannah, Port of Spain, from 9 a.m.

February 13 sees the Arima Panorama at the Larry Gomes Stadium while February 14 is the THA Pan Finals at a venue to be announced.

Victoria Square, Port of Spain is the venue for the National Single Pan and Small bands final on February 15 from 6 p.m.

Medium and Large Bands will go for pan glory on February 18 at the Queen's Park Savannah, Port of Spain from 7 p.m.   

More details >>

Pan Songs Ready For 2012

Carnival is some distance away but already there are several "pan songs" circulating in the panyards, as singers try to grab arrangers' attention.

Here are some that are making the rounds.

Since last month The Original De Fosto Himself completed "An Intervention of Hope" (Lives have been saved).

De Fosto's song is about the current State of Emergency, a nice concept, well structured, with a good melody. Of course the song is composed and sung by De Fosto.

Crazy followed with "Kamla The Greatest", a song praising the Prime Minister as the first woman PM of Trinidad and Tobago and her courage to call the SoE. Composed and sung by Crazy, "Kamla The Greatest" possesses a great hook line and was arranged by Junior Ibo Joseph.

Dunstan 'Car Wash' Lawrence has thrown his hat in the ring very early with "Million Dollar Music". His composition is arranged by Pelham Goddard. Car Wash has been very consistent with his compositions and this one might see a repeat of his biggest song to date, "Me and Meh Lady", made popular by Trinidad All Stars.

"Pan Pan" can be called a true Caribbean song; it was composed by Harry Best of St Lucia, with Duvonne Stewart of Trinidad and Tobago playing pans on the track. It was arranged by Roland Richards of Montserrat.

"Trials of a Pan Woman" sung by UK Calypso Monarch Alexander the Great was composed by the singer, along with Debra Romain-Ahmad (Pan Diva) and produced by Martin York. Pan Diva is the Musical Director of Cambridge University Steel Orchestra and has been in the forefront of the pan movement in the UK.

Alexander the Great is a former "Belmont boy" who uses calypso as a social vehicle in the UK. Together they have documented a piece of pan history in song which will be well appreciated

"Muster Point" is Dr Will B's contribution for 2012 and, as always, he composed and sung his song.

After a short break Anthony "Lexo" Alexis is back in the game with "Pan Turbulence"; the former journalist put lyrics to a song composed by Jason "Peanuts" Isaac, sung by Natalie Yorke and arranged by Leston Paul.

Lexo had a "fairy tale" run with master arranger Len "Boogsie" Sharpe and Phase II Pan Groove, chalking up several victories at the National Panorama competition and he hopes to continue his success with Peanuts.

It is early days still and we look forward to the many more pan compositions as Carnival 2012 draws near.

More details >>

Kalicharan cops Sando title—for fifth consecutive time

VETERAN masman Ivan Kalicharan has copped the San Fernando Band of the Year title for a fifth consecutive time.

Kalicharan's victory this year is his 17th and he will attempt in 2012 to equal his previous record of six consecutive wins.

His Queen, Gloria Dallsingh, with her portrayal "Splendour of Lights", placed second in the National Queen of Carnival at the Queen's Park Savannah on Dimanche Gras night while his King, Marlon Rampersad, placed fourth in the King category with his portrayal "Bedazzled".

Kalicharan's presentation Colours of Lights surpassed We People International's D Big Dance—Sel Duncan at Palms Club and Lionel Jagessar's Around My Teepee.

In an interview following the announcement of his victory at the San Fernando City Hall yesterday, Kalicharan said he felt really good.

Referring to a similar win by his Port of Spain counterpart, Brian Mac Farlane, whose presentation Humanity—Circle of Life earned him his fifth consecutive title, Kalicharan said he hoped his victory would be given the same prominence.

He said his experience on the streets of San Fernando this year was a beautiful one and plans for next's year's presentation were well underway.

As expressed by other bandleaders, Kalicharan said mas in San Fernando is suffering from a lack of sponsorship.

"We could match up with any band in Port of Spain," he said.

"Our mas is just as good or even better.

"We have kept asking over the years for an increase in the prize money but nothing has been done. The National Carnival Bandleaders Association (NCBA) is pleading for money but they (Government) not giving us any more.

"We need more sponsors to assist the band because it is very costly to provide DJs and security and permits and insurance."

Kalicharan said several letters written to the business community have been met with rejection.

"They keep telling us that they have no funds but there are businesspeople in South who support bands in Port of Spain and don't give us nothing here in San Fernando," he said.

Sharing the spotlight yesterday was ole mas band De Blue Boys whose presentation Spying Is Over was adjudged best Traditional Band for jouvert.

—Full results in

tomorrow's Express.

More details >>

NCC apologises to MacFarlane

National Carnival Commission (NCC) boss Kenny De Silva yesterday apologised to masman Brian MacFarlane and all other distressed band leaders for the long wait to cross the Queen's Park Savannah, Port of Spain, stage.

The apology has come following a complaint by MacFarlane of not only a longer than usual wait time to cross the stage, but of special privileges being given to "certain bands" on unofficial routes.

De Silva said the NCC recorded ten new large bands and as much as 30,000 additional masqueraders over the Carnival period, which added to the high level of congestion on the parade route.

"This would have contributed to the overall congestion that band leaders faced on Monday and Tuesday," De Silva said in a telephone interview yesterday.

"We had between 20,000 and 30,000 more masqueraders this year and the same real estate had to accommodate them. There was bound to be congestion," he said.

When asked if the NCC did not recognise that the increased number of band registrations would have eventually led to a higher level of congestion, De Silva said the NCC petitioned to have additional routes opened and other efforts were made to extend the routes, but both were turned down by the protective services.

"They advised that it was too late to do anything for 2011, but that would have to be revisited for 2012," he said.

"Remember too that the board came in late and by November the NCBA (National Carnival Bands Association) had the routes locked down. We tried to address it but it was outside the purview of the NCC," he said.

"This Carnival is the biggest I have seen. My jury still out on whether it was the best, cause in my 30 years in Carnival I have seen really good ones, but this was definitely one of the biggest," he said.

With regards to the NCC officials doing favours to certain bands, De Silva said he planned to investigate the matter once a formal complaint was lodged.

"Once again though on behalf of the NCC, I apologise," he said.

"We would not allow one of the officials to break the rules like that," he said.

Legacy bandleader Mike "Big Mike" Antoine said he too recognised that officials on the route were allowing non-competing bands access to the official parade route and leaving competing bands waiting behind.

While Antoine acknowledged that there were more bands on the road on both days, he said the level of mismanagement was disappointing.

"The NCBA is a waste of time," he said in a telephone interview yesterday.

He said that experience taught him that he needed to leave the mas camp early in order to cross the stage early, but the "problems with the route" affected even that plan.

"It was just not properly managed. Non-competing party bands are allowed to go where they want because they not in the competition, but then they should not be allowed back on the competition route," he said.

He said he agreed with MacFarlane's complaint about the low prize money. He said people think band leaders make money, but that is just not true.

"How many mas men become rich off their mas? None. There are people who become multimillionaires from soca, but none from mas," he said.

He said he was willing to meet with the band leaders to form a band association to give a real voice to the issues that band leaders face.

Antoine said if the authorities wanted to know the value that mas brings to the country, they should give each of the components- mas, pan and soca—two days each and see which one pulls a bigger crowd.

"People come for the mas," he said.

In response to the statements, NCBA president David Lopez said band leaders were their own worst enemies.

"They should respect their colleagues, but they cut across each other, leave the mas camp late, gather on the route and them want to complain. How could we regulate these things?" he asked yesterday.

He said the fact was that no band overstayed their time on the stage.

"But when one band complaining that they waited five hours to cross the stage and then spend a lot of time doing theatrics on stage, it left others waiting behind them too," he said.

Lopez said the reality is that there were more bands crossing this year, yet the only thing that was improved was the Grand Stand and the size of the stage.

"We met with 80 per cent of the band leaders prior to Carnival, Big Mike was not there, but his representative agreed with the proposed route. The NCBA supported the move back to the Savannah, but without a proper cultural centre it's the same situation from years before," he said.

More details >>

Five in a row for MacFarlane

Brian MacFarlane has, for the fifth consecutive year, captured the George Bailey Band of the Year title. His presentation, Humanity— Circle of Life, earned 1,335 points, 57 more than second-place winner Trini Revellers and their presentation Tales of Merrie Olde England.

The National Carnival Commission (NCC) announced the winners of Carnival 2011 at a news conference at the VIP lounge of the Queen's Park Savannah in Port of Spain yesterday.

MacFarlane is now one win away from matching the record set by masman Wayne Berkeley, who won the award six times consecutively between 1989-1994.

In 2007, MacFarlane won the title with India—The Story of Boyie; in 2008, with Earth—Cries of Despair; in 2009, with Africa—Her People, Her Glory, Her Tears; and in 2010, he captured the title with Resurrection the Mas.

Legacy and Showtime Trinidad placed third and fourth respectively in the large band (senior) category.

Although president of the National Carnival Bands Association (NCBA) David Lopez initially indicated more than 80 bands crossed the Savannah stage on Tuesday, he later apologised for the error and said the official figure was 61.

According to the NCBA, medium band Just Friends was the first band to cross the stage at 8 a.m. on Tuesday while the last band to cross at 11.20 p.m. was medium band D Band Kalalloo.

Speaking after the announcement of the winners yesterday, Minister of Arts and Multiculturalism Winston "Gypsy" Peters said he was not entirely satisfied with the length of time it took for masqueraders to cross the stage.

Peters said: "I want to take the opportunity to thank all the masqueraders, those who behaved well and those who did not behave well on the stage...and hope that next year, they will understand when you're crossing the stage, please, for God sake, when you get to the end, go off the stage and allow other people to come on so that we have a smooth Carnival because Carnival is televised around the world, and we want them to know that we have a smooth running."

Lopez told the Express no band took more than one hour to cross the stage. He said according to the NCBA's record of events at the Savannah on Tuesday, the band Tribe spent the longest—59 minutes— crossing the stage.

Peters said he was very pleased with his first Carnival as the Minister responsible for the event and hailed it a success

"Carnival 2011 is nothing more than a success story because at the end of the day, Carnival is supposed to achieve a couple of things: one, relative safety for all of the people involved, secondly, Carnival is supposed to bring people because without the people, we don't have any Carnival, and we have done that," he said.

"All the hotel rooms reported that they were all filled, all the guest houses, and I believe that the success of Carnival depends on people having a good time. All that has been achieved, so I believe Carnival was a very successful one."

In the medium category, Ronnie and Caro The Mas Band copped the first prize with their presentation Survivors while the Catholic organisation The Word and Associates, who presented Genesis 1— Creation, placed seventh, beating Genesis Carnival and Carvalho Mas.

More details >>

THAT'S Insulting

FIVE-TIME George Bailey Band of the Year winner Brian MacFarlane last night took time off from his celebrations to condemn the Government for what he called its inability to make any change in the 2011 Carnival festivities.

A visibly upset MacFarlane spoke with reporters at his mas camp on Rosalino Street, Woodbrook, in the height of celebrating with his band members, and swore he would "break all the rules" next year, even if it means not competing for the title.

His complaints centred around the congestion he said his band faced in getting to the Queen's Park Savannah in Port of Spain on Carnival Tuesday. He slammed the organisers for their mismanagement at the Savannah and the congested entry to that judging point.

"With the change in Government, we went back to the Savannah thinking we'd support it and go back, even after I said I was not going to do it. But it has not worked," MacFarlane said.

"I really feel that next year, I will break all the rules. We will present next year, but I don't think I'd attempt a third year in the Savannah. Something has to be done."

He said the waiting time of more than five hours left a lot of his masqueraders tired, and they left the band long before they could reach the final judging point.

MacFarlane reassured the public and his loyal members he would present a band next year but said if things did not change, he would parade through the "clear streets" of Port of Spain and present in an available open space. He said the area along the parade route on Carnival Tuesday was fenced, but that did not contain the throngs of people lining the streets.

"Why spend so much money on fencing and it did not work?" he asked.

The masman also complained about the prize money being offered.

"I don't want $2 million, that amount is ridiculous. But $300,000, $350,000 is insulting," he said.

MacFarlane said chutney has only been "on the scene" for eight to ten years now, and yet it qualified for a $2 million prize while band leaders worked and slaved for a small amount of profit. He said the congestion in the Savannah could be addressed by staggering the days the bands parade and present.

"I think the band leaders should get together and pull numbers to see who presents on what day. I already said I am willing to parade on Monday," he said.

With regard to this year's presentation, Humanity—The Circle of Life, MacFarlane said it was more spiritual and emotional for him than the previous bands.

"I was emotionally moved; the masqueraders were also emotionally moved," he said.

This spiritual presentation did not stop the party at the mas camp last evening.

"Winning always feels great. I just wish there was more competition on the streets," he said.

More details >>

MacFarlane, Machel sweep Downtown

When Port of Spain Mayor Louis Lee Sing announced the 2011 results for the Downtown Port of Spain Carnival competition at City Hall yesterday, the judges' final decision came as no surprise.

This was due to the fact that the results were the same as those announced earlier by the National Carnival Commission for the national competition—Brian MacFarlane won the Large Band of the Year title, with his portrayal, Humanity Circle of Life, while Machel Montano took the Road March title with "Advantage".

MacFarlane's presentation amassed 474 points, while Trini Revellers' Tales of Merrie Olde England placed placed second with 442 points. Third place went to D Dream Team Carnival's The Art of Dance, which amassed 407 points.

Soca Monarch winner Montano's "Advantage" literally did just that, having been played 75 times to closest contender, Rodney "Benjai" LeBlanc's "Trini" (31), with Iwer George's "Come to Meh" (25) a distant third.

The Medium Band category was won by Ronnie and Caro's Survival, Genesis' The Nest was second and We International's Pieces of a Dream was third.

Lee-Sing said a post-mortem conducted revealed there was an upsurge in illegal vending along the parade routes, while the length of time it took masqueraders to cross the stage also increased.

"This Carnival we wanted to ensure bands moved faster and smoother," Lee Sing said.

The mayor said when the bands paraded around Ariapita Avenue, provisions were made to ensure vendors could not ply their trade "one block before and one block after the judging points". Lee Sing said this never really materialised, since vendors were moved and others re-appeared.

Adding that the wait to cross the big stage was another hiccup, Lee Sing said: "Because of the new stage, people waited for five hours and this is unacceptable. Though we like the stage, are we doing the right thing in the best interest of Carnival?"

Lee Sing said he will also be initiating a no-glass policy for next year's Carnival season, as many incidents of violence involved perpetrators using glass bottles. He said his concerns will be made in writing to National Carnival Commission (NCC) chairman Kenny De Silva, in the hope that those with the responsibility for Carnival return to the drawing board.

More details >>

'Advantage' takes Road March

Machel Montano ran away with the 2011 Road March title with his hugely popular “Advantage”. The song was played 410 times as mas bands crossed the various judging points throughout Trinidad and Tobago.

Rodney "Benjai" Le Blanc's "Trini" was played 107 times to emerge as the second most popular song.
 
Road March 2011 results
1 "Advantage" - Machel Montano (410)
2 "Trini" - Rodney "Benjai" Le Blanc (107)
3 "Come To Me" - Neil Iwer George (61)
 

More details >>

Humanity Circle Of Life wins Band of the Year

Brian Mac Farlane's Humanity Circle Of Life has captured the George Bailey Band of the Year title for Carnival 2011. Humanity Circle Of Life amassed 1,335 points to finish ahead of Trini Revellers' Tales Of Merrie Olde England (1,278) and Legacy's South Pacific (1,198).

BAND OF THE YEAR RESULTS

Large Band Category (George Bailey Band of the Year)

1 Humanity Circle Of Life - Brian Mac Farlane (1,335)

2 Tales Of Merrie Olde England - Trini Revellers (1,278)

3 South Pacific - Legacy (1,198)

4 Colour Of Green - Showtime Trinidad (1,058)

Medium Band Category

1 Survivors - Ronnie & Caro Mas Band (1,190)

2 Village Life - Rosalind Gabriel & Village Productions (1,177)

3 D Latin Flavour - The Harvard Revellers Inc. (1,173)

4 Fleets In - Neal & Massy Trinidad All Stars (1,167)

5 D Kingdoms - D Midas T&T (1,153)

6 Rhythms - D Krewe Carnival Band (1,150)

7 Genesis 1-Creation - The Word & Associates (1,148)

8 Skullduggery - Woi! Mas (1,135)

9 The Nest - Genesis Carnival (1,113)

10 Valley Of The Nile - Carvalho Mas (1.094)

Small Band Category

1 Beauty Beneath The Sea - Belmont Original Stylish Sailors (1,203)

2 Gathering Of The First People - Tribal Connection (1,193)

3 Greece The Legacy - Belmont Jewels (1,036)

4 Sailing Around The World - Mt Hope Connection (1,023)

5 Snake In The Grass - Cat In Bag Productions (997)

6 India Through The Ages - Paradise (969)

7 Fantasy Of D Deep - Stampede Mas Band (939)

8 Creoles Of Trinidad & Tobago - D' Harvard Boys (935)

9 Coalition Forces - Rhapsody Steel Band (911)

10 Rites Ritual & Readings - Reefer & Associates (884)

More details >>

SCREAMS OF DELIGHT

Newly-crowned Soca Monarch and front-runner for the 2011 Road March title Machel Montano worked the stands at the Queen's Park Savannah, Port of Spain, into a frenzy yesterday during the Parade of the Bands on the big stage.

Montano's "Advantage" commanded masqueraders to jump, prance, trample and tremble on the wider, longer stage—absent for the last three years—and was the song of choice for the majority of bands.

Montano, who appeared on the last music truck of the Island People Mas presentation Shades of the Universe, in the section Mars Secret, brought screams of delight from the thousands of masqueraders and spectators assembled at the venue.

Proclaiming this country's Carnival was the greatest in the world, Montano called upon the crowd to raise their hands and follow his instructions.

"Everybody, stand up!" he shouted at the spectators in the North Stand, and they all willingly obeyed.

Members of the protective services had a busy time clearing passageways and staircases from adoring fans, who strained to get pictures of the soca star as he wined, flexed his muscles, bowed and blew kisses to the stands.

Neil "Iwer" George's "Come to Meh" was a favourite along the road, receiving heavy rotation just before and after judging points. One DJ on a music truck told band members during Iwer's tune that he was just "warming them up".

Revellers had much to celebrate this season, with not only the return of soca star Montano to the arena, but Government's move to bring the mas back to the Savannah as well. For the last three years, masqueraders paraded on the streets after a promise was made by the last administration to construct a Carnival Centre in the Savannah.

Even with Montano's stage presence and the thousands who paraded, however, the wideness of the new Queen's Park stage seemed to "swallow" some presentations.

The first of Tuesday's bands, Just Friends' Dancing with the Stars crossed the stage shortly after 8 a.m., and the flow of masqueraders continued at a steady pace. Eight other bands would cross the stage by noon.

Bands such as D Harvard Revellers Inc Ltd's D Latin Flava and Harts Ltd's Planet Rock paraded before judges under brilliant sunshine, in a day otherwise dominated by large bands.

Community-Based Environmental Protection and Enhancement Programme (CEPEP) workers cleaned up confetti off the stage between bands and picked up litter as fast as it was dropped onto the greens.

Popular band Tribe with The Way of the Warrior had crossed the stage in less than an hour, and The Spice Carnival Band Ltd's Season 3, The Signature Collection moved with similar pace. The Island People presentation took nearly three hours to cross the stage, which may have attributed to a bottleneck on Frederick Street.

Bandleaders also complained about the new route to the Savannah, saying music trucks and other supply vehicles had a hard time manoeuvring at certain intersections. National Carnival Commission chairman Kenny DeSilva acknowledged the complaints and noted this was something the commission will take into consideration for next year's celebrations.

Legacy's South Pacific followed and Yuma's Zodeak, which featured celebrity revellers President George Maxwell Richards and soca stars Iwer George and Destra, crossed by 6 p.m.

Taking the the stage shortly after six o'clock and under lights was DKrewe's Rhythms.

Other small and medium bands also entertained spectators at the Grand Stand, North Stand and the heavily populated public seating opposite the National Academy for the Performing Arts (NAPA).

The highly anticipated Humanity Circle of Life by multiple Band of the Year winner Brian MacFarlane began to cross the Savannah stage at 8.45 p.m.

Iwer George sought to make a dent in Montano's Road March run when he appeared on one of Yuma's trucks late in the afternoon, but Montano, by then, had a significant lead.

More details >>

Rain fails to dampen San Fernando mas

The rain that threatened all day finally came at 3 p.m., but San Fernando masqueraders and thousands of spectators feted on into the night.

Many said they enjoyed the change from what is normally blistering temperatures this time of the year.

And what is now tradition, the Parade of the Bands, scheduled to begin at 10 a.m., was late.

Shortly before noon, the deserted High Street in San Fernando was transformed as Ivan Kallicharan's Colours of Light reached its first judging point.

Before that, few spectators waited anxiously for the bands to cross the "stage".

Kallicharan, last year's winner, tried to wow the six judges again this year, spending 22 minutes on the stage,

The ban is vying for a fifth consecutive win.

Dancing to the tune of Machel Montano's "Advantage", it was led by its queens Gloria Dallsingh portraying Splendor of Light, Laura Rampersad with Light up the Sky and its King Marlon Rampersad with Bedazzled.

Dallsingh placed second at the National Carnival Kings and Queens Competition at Dimanche Gras at the Queen's Park Savannah, Port of Spain, on Sunday night.

Montano's "Advantage" was not just a favourite in Port of Spain alone.

The song was definitely the most popular tune played by the bands.

By the time the band finished its presentation, the street was crowded, especially around the judging area and lower High Street.

Some of the large bands, including Lionel Jagessar and Associates, Owen Hinds International and Wee People International opted to chose the judging point in front of Skinner Park as their first stop.

Owen Hinds Jnr placed second in the King's competition with "Battle of the Marabuntas" at the Savannah.

National Queen of Carnival, Peola Marchan with her portrayal of "D Jeweled Chandelier" also paraded her winning costume, as part of the band Wee People International. (See Page 22)

Yesterday's celebration was visited by Police Commissioner Dwayne Gibbs, who spent several hours in the company of San Fernando Mayor Marlene Coudray.

The parade was carried live on television for the first time in many years.

At High Street, a small band House of Gray Eagle Ltd featured American Indians. The band had mostly children dancing to the beat of Rodney (Benjai) LeBlanc's "Trini".

Medium band Abzal Shaffi and Associates wined to the sound of a tassa band.

Its presentation "From the Black Hills They Came" featured feathered American Indians.

The other large bands to cross the "stage" was Fireworks Promotion with its presentation Minerals of the Earth.

In Cedros, councillor Fitzroy Beache said many turned out to witness the parade of the bands in Cedros. For the first time there was an "ole mas" band called "The Chatham Posse" taking part in Jouvert celebrations.

In Princes Town, police pulled the plug on the street fetes at 11 p.m. on Monday after a fight broke out.

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar who played with the People's Band in Port of Spain on Monday was expected in Penal last night.

More details >>

Sando mayor elated over Marchan win

SAN Fernando Mayor Marlene Coudray is elated by the success of Peola Marchan who was crowned on Sunday as the National Queen of Carnival at the Dimanche Gras finals at the Queen's Park Savannah, Port of Spain.

This is the second time that Marchan, a resident of San Fernando, has copped the title. She did so in 2007.

Marchan also scored her seventh win last Wednesday as San Fernando's Queen of Carnival at Skinner Park in San Fernando with her portrayal "D Jewelled Chandelier" from the band We People International—D Big Dance—Sel Duncan at Palms Club.

Sunday's victory in the Queen category was the second consecutive one for a San Fernandian following on the heels of Rosemarie Kuru-Jagessar who took home the top prize last year.

The second position, in both the Queen and King categories, also went to masqueraders from San Fernando. They are Gloria Dallsingh—- "Splendour of Lights" and Owen Hinds Jnr—"Battle of the Marabuntas" who was adjudged San Fernando King of Carnival last Wednesday.

Coudray said the successes of the San Fernando participants was evidence of the high level of creativity and workmanship coming out of the South.

"We expected her (Peola) to win in Port of Spain because we found the presentation was so good and so unique when she paraded in San Fernando," Coudray said.

"We have always maintained that San Fernando has top quality mas. We have indigenous crafts and skillful people building costumes by hand from scratch.

"We went around to the mas camps in San Fernando and saw the children being trained in the art of making costumes and we were quite happy to see that. So we know that San Fernando's tradition will live on in terms of the creativity."

Coudray was also high in praise for newly crowned National Calypso Monarch Karene Asche who won the $2 million first prize.

"It says a lot for us women that when we put our minds to something we do it and I think she had one of the less offensive compositions. I am happy for her.

"We were in the (San Fernando) Carnival Village until late so I only saw the last end of the competition when I got home. I am sorry I missed it but I heard some of the calypsoes in the Calypso Fiesta and we were surprised at the kind of tunes that were picked for the finals.

"We are a multiracial, multicultural society and I found some of the compositions very distasteful."

More details >>

36 bands cross the stage

Carnival Tuesday in Tobago got off to a fantastic colourful filled day, with approximately 36 bands crossing the stage, before the judges in Scarborough and at Old Milford Road.

Some of those bands included The Happy Lost Sailors led by Robert Marshall, armed with its powder and pipes, one sailor was so happy he dropped his pants and danced before the judges.

Another band crossing the stage was Lue Ann Melville and Associates with its presentation I Am Legend. Five sections of the past and present, the red and white section, the Queen of the Band the female washer woman, The Queen of the Nile in her yellow red and white costume, and the King of the Jungle Andell McIntosh.

McIntosh following his presentation on stage, told the Express, this has been one of the biggest celebrations for Tobago, over the years.

"What is different with Carnival this year than previous years is the turn-out of masqueraders, more people spend money, and they come to enjoy themselves. The best place to be is Trinidad and Tobago, so to all those across the globe, come to Tobago next time," McIntosh said.

Also enjoying mas on the streets of Scarborough and Old Milford Road, was Tobago House of Assembly Chief Secretary Orville London, who said with the return of masqueraders, and new band leaders, he is proud of what he has seen so far. And while he said there was room for improvement, mas in Tobago is in good hands.

"Yeah, definitely in good hands, from the perspective of the management because one of the things that I found particularly interesting, is that when I talk to the officials, they were proactive, in fact they did give to all bandleaders money, not a lot of money, but enough to give them the encouragement to start the process."

When asked what was his favourite soca tune, London with a broad smile said, he is more a calypso type of person.

"Well let me tell you something. I think I am the least qualified person because my favourite calypsoes are Stalin's Black Man Feeling to Party, and Lord Nelson's My Lover."

Carnival celebrations continued in nightfall, ending with a mud mas band.

More details >>

Standing ovation for MacFarlane

After Brian MacFarlane's 14-section band passed the judging point on South Quay in Downtown Port of Spain yesterday, spectators in the bleachers on either side of the street rose from their seats and gave the veteran mas designer a standing ovation.

Although the colours used in MacFarlane's presentation, Humanity—Circle of Life, were largely limited to black, white and silver the costumes still shone brilliantly in the afternoon sunshine.

Masqueraders from the band were led by members of the Laventille Rhythm Section who were all robed in white.

Speaking with reporters after his band passed the judging point, the four-time winner of the Band of the Year title said this was his most creative presentation.

"I am very emotional having just looked at the presentation. I think this proves that mas is not dead and it is not nakedness and bikinis. I hope when people see this they will wake up and create," he said.

MacFarlane said this year's presentation cost him $2.5 million to produce and is calling on the Government to provide grants for masmen who need help to keep mas alive.

Unlike Monday, the bleachers at the South Quay judging point were almost full with spectators and hundreds more lined the streets. They were treated to a smooth flow of masqueraders during the morning period when the bands YUMA and Legacy were among those that made their way along the route.

Later on, the band launched by a Roman Catholic organisation, Genesis 1—Creation passed the downtown judging point. As promised there were was no skimpy costumes and no wining. The band's 12 sections depicted the various elements of creation.

Band leader Derek Walcott said although the band was smaller than he originally anticipated he believed it still made an impact.

"When we first announced that we were coming out with a band it was a controversial thing. People wanted to know why Christians were getting involved in Carnival. But we do not think that Carnival is an evil thing and we want to ensure that we keep it beautiful," Walcott said.

Dressed in a traditional sailor costume, Leader of the Opposition Keith Rowley made his way pass South Quay judges with the band Just Friends. He told reporters he was pleased with this year's Carnival celebrations and was happy with the police presence that he saw along the route.

Machel Montano's "Advantage" was the most played song when bands crossed the stage, with Neil "Iwer" George's "Come to Meh" coming in second.

More details >>

Queen Karene!

AFTER delivering sterling performances of "Be Careful What You Ask For" in round one and "Uncle Jack" in the second, Karene Asche was declared the 2011 National Calypso Monarch early yesterday morning at the Queen's Park Savannah in Port of Spain.

The 24-year-old reigning TUCO North Zone Calypso Monarch became the first calypsonian to win the lucrative $2 million first prize given to the Monarch by the People's Partnership Government.

Asche's first song addressed a mix of social and political issues in the four verses presented. The daughter of Errol Asche, one of this country's most popular vocalists during the 1970's into the 1980's, sang about women who leave one man to go with another because they believe he can give her a better life, only to realise they have ended up with a beast.

Asche also knocked the People's Partnership, accusing them of creating racial tension in the nation. She also touched on the firing of Fazeer Mohammed from CNMG and the standoff between the Public Service Association (PSA) and the Government. She sang that public servants had a bird in hand when the PNM was in power and now they have nothing, having rejected that party in favour of the Government.

"Take yuh one per cent and chill. Take yuh five per cent and chill," Asche sang as she exited the stage in round one.

Round two saw Asche performing her very popular "Uncle Jack", a tribute to Minister of Works and Transport, Jack Warner, who she sang was, "The world's first black Hindu". As Asche exited the stage at the end of her performance, patrons in the Grand and North Stands cheered her vociferously.

The Express yesterday spoke with Asche, who was at home resting after some intense days preparing for the competition. Still processing her victory and the claiming of the $2 million first prize, Asche said she did not feel any different. She praised Christophe Grant, who composed "Uncle Jack", and Errol Skeete, who composed "Be Careful What You Ask For", for creating songs that were perfect for her.

"I am feeling normal. I am just happy it is over because it was a hard few days preparing for the competition. I am taking it easy for the rest of Carnival. I might go and take a chip in town (Port of Spain) later (yesterday) or tomorrow (today). I have never played mas and prefer to watch what is happening on TV and be with my son, Shaheem," she said.

"I intend to use the money wisely and I have people around me who will advise me on doing the right thing. I was very frightened when I began to perform my first song because I had never performed it before. I did not really hear the other competitors as I was just in my room focusing on my performance, but I did hear a bit of Devon (Seale) and he sounded great. I know Brian (London) was very good also."

Just as the audience cheered in agreement over Asche's victory, they booed when it was announced that Benjai had placed 12th in the final that featured the same number of finalists.

In round one, Benjai performed "Wine To The Side" and had patrons singing along. For "Trini" in the second round, Nikki Crosby and others, including Cecilia Salazar and Clifford Learmond, performed a skit serving to introduce Benjai who, when he finally began his performance, had the majority of patrons in the Grand and North stands waving and singing.

The patrons also expressed disgust when it was announced that London, who performed "We Fed Up" followed by "Fly High", had placed seventh. One of the night's favourites, London sent the audience wild when, in the final verse of "Ah Fed Up", he chastised fellow calypsonian DeFosto for crying down the competition because he did not make it to the final.

"Dey vex with Benjai, Benjai, Benjai, Benjai, saying a soca man should not eat in kaiso food," sang London, who then held up a roll of toilet paper and a crown, both of which he tossed, singing to DeFosto, "I will take the two million dollars, you can keep the blasted crown."

This sent the audience wild as he was wheeled off stage on the platform from which he sang.

Defending monarch Kurt Allen also took the stage on a float featuring two giant clasped golden hands from which he emerged singing "Do So", a calypso in which he pleads with the Government, Opposition and people to stop warring over politics, race and other issues.

Allen sang that unity is the only option now as the world winds down to its end as we know it, and the only way we can be saved is through God and loving each other. Allen's second calypso was a tribute to the calypsonian Attila the Hun, who was born 100 years ago this year.

Allen weaved political commentary into the song, attacking both the PNM and the Government.

Sugar Aloes meanwhile walked away with $500,000 after placing second with his renditions of "Not One Word" and "The Cause of the Problem", while veteran Chalkdust was third with "Manning-jitis" and "A Wounded Pride". See Page 15

More details >>

'Camla' takes downtown Jouvert crown

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and Minister of Works and Transport Jack Warner were the subjects of the successful portrayals at yesterday's Downtown Carnival Committee's Jouvert celebrations at South Quay, Port of Spain.

Former prime minister Patrick Manning and the UNC/COP partnership were also the subject of satire, but the portrayals of Persad-Bissessar and Warner were the ones that emerged victorious during the individual presentations yesterday, which kicked off at 4 a.m.

The Public Services Association (PSA) band also portrayed their ongoing, protracted salary negotiations with the Government in their presentation entitled No 0-0-1 No, alluding to the initial offer by the Chief Personnel Offer last year.

In the individuals competition, Lennox Joseph was crowned Jouvert king with his depiction entitled "His Last Brother, The Last of the Strongmen", which showed Warner lifting weights, while he (Joseph) also unveiled several placards from his person indicating the number of various posts Warner currently holds, including Minister of Works and Transport, vice president of FIFA and president of CONCACAF and CFU.

The early morning crowd reacted to the interpretation and cheered Joseph's unique presentation.

Rondell Pierre, who placed third last year, moved up one spot to second with his presentation of "Lady of The Night Waiting for a Bus", while Herbert Pierre copped third with his demonstration of "UNSEE-COP Lie so Much, One End up With WASA-itis".

Helen Fullard, who took second place in last year's Carnival celebrations, moved up one spot to be declared the Jouvert Queen. Fullard won with a thought-provoking "Why Camla Stop Drinking". Goddard kept the judge's attention as she insinuated that the reason behind Kamla's rehabilitation was that Jack had "Warned her".

Margaret Montano was runner-up with her portrayal of "Old People - The Biggest Carrier of Aids", while Lillian Pierre demonstrated "Patrick Fall From Grace", which provoked some laughter and cheering.

The PSA No 0-0-1 No presentation highlighted the parade of the Jouvert bands, which followed the individual presentations. One section leader was the Duke of Abercromby, a representation of PSA president Watson Duke, as the band crossed the stage to Shadow's hit tune "Poverty is Hell".

The PSA band, which had National Trade Union Centre (NATUC) president Michael Annissette among its masqueraders, included sections like Blackout Tuesday, Scratch Yuh Bum Bum and Blue X Mas.

The PSA band was one of 16 bands, including five steelbands, that crossed the South Quay judging point.

Other bands included Mas Jumbies' Bourgeois, Home Made International's Red Toxic Sludge in Hungary, the Department of Festival and Creative Arts of UWI's Jouvert Haiti-Mother of Civilisation and WNC and Associates' Baby Talk.

More details >>

Sando Jouvert off to a late start

JOUVERT celebrations in San Fernando yesterday turned out to be an exercise in patience for lovers of the traditional ole mas portrayals.

The proceedings were declared open by Mayor Marlene Coudray to a smattering of spectators at around 6 a.m.

However, it was not until 7.40 a.m. that the first traditional ole mas band crossed the judging point at the Harris Promenade bandstand.

Even then, reigning champions, De Blue Boys, who managed to hold on to the San Fernando Jouvert Band of the Year title for a record 24 consecutive years, failed to ignite the enthusiasm of those gathered.

The myriad of missteps suffered by the People's Partnership Government since it assumed office 10 months ago, was a popular topic for all the bands crossing the stage.

Spying is All Over, the presentation by De Blue Boys, included a mock interview of Reshmi Ramnarine, whose appointment as Director of the Security Intelligence Agency (SIA) was short-lived after it was discovered that she was not qualified to hold the position. The masquerader sought to prove that Ramnarine was indeed qualified and produced certificates in modelling and dance, a correspondence course in spying, a degree in raising temperatures and her affiliation to a "social group" — the United National Congress (UNC).

"Reshmi With Draws (drawers)" was also portrayed by one masquerader, who had several items of underwear pinned to her clothes.

There was also no shortage of Peoples Partnership portrayals, including "De PP Taking Too Long", "Depositors Waiting on the Pee Pee" and "De Press Block De PP".

Coudray and Sport Minister Anil Roberts did not escape the jabs, as masqueraders pointed out "MA LENE De Top COP (Congress of the People) in Thong" and "Anil Thong Too Big 4 He Mouth".

The majority of the band, however, simply bore placards with statements without any attempt to flesh out their topics by way of depictions.

The second band, What Next by Phillip Montano, presented themselves before the judges at around 9 a.m. Their topics included "Male Marrying Mail", "U-Wee Get Buss (bust) Service", "Duke Say Go To Work and Scratch" and "Old People — the Biggest Carrier of Aids (walking sticks, hearing aids, crutches, wheelchairs, etc)".

They were followed by Play Boyz with their presentation Do So Eh Like So, with placards on topics such as "Kamla Stop Drinking ... Jack Warn Her", "Rowley and Manning Make-Up is Cosmetic" and "Chinee Come, Stray Dog Gone".

Pan enthusiasts were not left out and were treated to renditions by Pan Elders Steel Orchestra, who played "A Raging Storm" by De Fosto, San City Steel Symphony ("Trini" by Benjai), TCL Skiffle Bunch ("The Hill" by De Fosto), Southern Marines Steelband Foundation ("No No No Not Me" by Trevor Barrow), Old Tech Steel Orchestra ("Calling Meh" by Destra, and Southern All Stars ("Toco Band" by Kitchener").

Speaking with the Express during the festivities, Coudray said moves will be made to bring the traditional Ole Mas parade and the mud and modern mas together in an attempt to eliminate the long time lapses.

The mud and modern bands paraded along a separate route and were judged at Sutton Street in San Fernando.

"The modern and mud mas is what attracts the young people so you would find that the older folks who like to see the traditional Jouvert are here (at Harris Promenade)," she said.

"San Fernando is too small to have two venues and it is challenging to us and I am sure it is for the media as well to be at both venues at the same time. It is not working and we need to do something about it."

More details >>

'Minor incidents' mar Jouvert in Tobago

Jouvert celebrations in Tobago got off to an incident-free start, as locals as well as tourists came out in their numbers to enjoy Carnival festivities through the streets of Scarborough, Crown Point and Roxborough.

Shortly after 6 a.m. Jouvert bands, among them Radio Tambrin's That Should Have Been Top Secret, New Creations' It Must Be Obeah, Pixi and Friends' In The King Road, John Prince's Am Ah Trini and Celia Brooks and Associates' Wotless, paraded before the judges in downtown Scarborough.

Assistant Superintendent of Police Garfield Moore said his officers were ably assisted by Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force officials to ensure law and order.

He said, however, that there were a few minor incidents.

"Well, we have one person who was arrested in Scarborough, roadblocks outside of Scarborough, other persons were arrested being in possession of weapons and other related offences. We are going to continue with that momentum to ensure people have a safe Carnival 2011," Moore said.

Director of the Tobago Emergency Management Agency (TEMA), Owen Sandy, said persons injured were treated at the TEMA shelter by officials of the Tobago Regional Health Authority.

President of the Trinidad and Tobago Medical Association, Dr Maria Dillon-Remy, said the staff from the TRHA, doctors and nurses, were on hand to assist those injured. This, she said, would ease the traffic flow at the Scarborough Regional Hospital.

"We are hoping to be able to take some of the pressure off of the Accident and Emergency Department by being able to screen our patients here, do minor things here, like suturing, IV fluids, et cetera here," Dillon- Remy said.

More details >>

Tunapuna, Arouca take advantage

MASQUERADERS depicting Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, top cop Dwayne Gibbs and mythical blue creatures from James Cameron's award-winning movie Avatar, all took advantage of the stage in Tunapuna's Jouvert celebrations yesterday.

Around 6.45 a.m., First Time Again Sports and Cultural Club, with its presentation Jail Dem, crossed the stage in front of the Tunapuna Magistrates' Court.

Masqueraders were seen holding cardboard signs with the phrases "SIA Looking for Calder Hart" and "Undercover COP Gibbs" as they crossed in front the judging point. The presentation began with a man dressed in black and white striped clothes with chains around his wrists, being circled by women dressed in blue uniforms and holding batons.

Machel Montano's song "Illegal" played from the music truck as the presentation unfolded.

Montano's Soca Monarch winning song "Advantage" was then played and the masqueraders crossed the stage either chipping, jumping, waving or gyrating to capture the attention of the judges.

Lackville Sports, with its presentation Latin Fever, crossed the stage next.

A masquerader, donning a wig with a sign marked "Kamala in New York" on her back and a box with the words "Holding the Laptop for the Children" under her right arm, crossed the stage as the judges scrutinised the presentation.

The Persad-Bissessar impersonator was not part of the presentation though.

Ranchouse Sports Club and its presentation, Avatar, crossed the stage next. Masqueraders were painted in blue with black stripes.

Tony Warrick, who has participated in Tunapuna Jouvert for the past five years, said the 2011 crowd turnout was the largest he has ever witnessed.

"However, bigger is not necessarily better," Warrick said as he complained about the scramble for space in the packed crowd.

Tunapuna's Jouvert ended just after 10 a.m. yesterday.

Arouca's Jouvert started around 6 a.m. with Tombstone Good Seeds' presentation Tribute to Mother. The band's presentation was in honour of its founder, Lucy Winter, who died last month.

While the Arouca band was not as large as its Tunapuna counterparts, the choice of song to cross the stage remained the same—Montano's "Advantage".

Police officers and Defence Force personnel were also present at both venues to maintain law and order.

More details >>

Wee People, Legacy take King and Queen titles

Wade Madray, with his portrayal of "Pacific Tsunami" from the band Legacy (South Pacific), danced away with the King of Carnival title at the Dimanche Gras on Sunday at the Queen's Park Savannah, Port of Spain.

The huge float, representing a tsunami and featuring a face rising out of the ocean, thrilled the audience, who greeted Madray with cheers as he took the stage and it was no surprise that he eventually got the judges' approval. Madray received 420 points for his presentation.

Taking the Queen of Carnival title was Peola Marchan who portrayed "D Jeweled Chandelier" from the south-based band Wee People International, whose presentation this year is titled D Big Dance - Sel Duncan at Palm's Club. The costume, with hundreds of lights, earned Marchan 416 points and the adoration of the audience.

In the Queen competition there were a couple of anxious moments in the first half when about 50 feet of the top of Gayle Marcano's float, "D Ruby Broach", collapsed after it was hooked up on the skycrane camera and was pulled as the camera moved. Marcano had already been judged and so still managed to place fifth with 387 points.

The other incident came when Sevell Nicholls, who was on stilts, fell after slipping on foil confetti. Nicholls, who portrayed "In The End—Dance and Rejoice" from Brian Mac Farlane's Humanity Circle of Life, was aided by her crew to get back on her stilts and continue her presentation, but placed tenth with 356 points.

The King and Queen of Carnival competitions were two modules in the show that also featured the National Calypso Monarch finals as well as several other presentations, including a Unity Song that saw Chris Garcia, Rikki Jai, Mighty Trini, Shurwayne Winchester, Rex East and the Baron performing "Love Me".

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and Attorney General Anand Ramlogan took the stage alongside Minister of Arts and Multiculturalism Winston "Gypsy" Peters, joining the artistes in the performance.

Some patrons booed the Prime Minister as she waved to the audience, but she remained smiling throughout her time on stage, during which she presented the winners of the competitions with their prizes.

The show began at 6.25 p.m. and ended at 3 a.m., which caused many patrons to complain that it was too long and moved too slowly.

More details >>

PM crosses stage with People's Band

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and several Government Ministers made D' People's Band their choice, as they took to the stage at the Queen's Park Savannah, Port of Spain, yesterday afternoon.

When masqueraders from D' People's Band paraded onto the stage, it was reminiscent of an ole mas presentation and, in the middle of it all, dressed in an orange polo, jeans and a bright, multi-coloured head piece, was Persad-Bissessar chipping across the stage hand-in-hand with Minister of Arts and Multiculturalism Winston Peters and US Ambassador Beatrice Wilkinson Welters.

The free band, which started crossing the Savannah stage around 4.30 p.m., was established by Peters to give people who were unable to afford the high-priced costumes offered by private bands the opportunity to play mas.

Security was tight for the Prime Minister, her Ministers and the masqueraders within the band, as Persad-Bissessar was accompanied by her security detail, allowing her the freedom to let go and even wave a flag passed to her by someone within the band.

Other Government officials playing in the band were security adviser to the Prime Minister Gary Griffith, Minister of Education Dr Tim Gopeesingh and Minister of the People Dr Glenn Ramadharsingh.

Popular singers the Hendrickson sisters, Sherlaine and Dianne, were also spotted among the masqueraders.

Revellers in the band wore a mixture of recycled costumes and regular clothing. Some masqueraders were dressed as fancy sailors, with just their faces painted, and all jumped to the sound of Machel Montano's "Advantage", which was the frontrunner in the Road March race during yesterday's festivities.

More details >>

Machel on the march

NEWLY-CROWNED Power Soca Monarch Machel Montano was trampling all opposition in the race for this year's Road March title, as the final two days of Carnival festivities kicked off across the country yesterday.

As at 3 p.m. yesterday in Port of Spain, Montano's Soca Monarch winning song, "Advantage", had been played more than 15 times at the Queen's Park Savannah, with Iwer George's "Come to Meh" following with about nine plays. Benjai's groovy soca, "Trini", had played three times and Michelle Xavier's "Fettin For Days" received two plays. Montano's hit was the revellers' song of choice at most other venues in Port of Spain.

Action at the Queen's Park Savannah yesterday got off to a very slow start with the first band, Bliss, not taking the big stage until 12.21 p.m.

Once the bands started crossing, however, there was no lull to speak of, as the masqueraders came fast and furious to take advantage and stomp on the stage, which they only got a chance to return to this year.

Revellers had been parading on the streets for the past three years, after the previous People's National Movement administration announced plans to build a new Carnival facility at the venue.

The Spice mas band, with its presentation, Signature Collection, followed and, like Bliss and the majority of the large bands that crossed the stage yesterday, its masqueraders were not in costume. Masqueraders wore mainly T-shirts, with the women choosing the skimpiest outfits to wear to jump up.

While the bands, for the most part, moved swiftly across the stage, members of Tribe were jumping across the stage then returning to jump up more.

The Tribe masqueraders refused to leave the stage despite National Carnival Bands Association security instructing them to move along. The band took about 45 minutes to cross the stage.

President of the NCBA David Lopez said yesterday that any band that takes too long to cross the stage because of failing to marshal its masqueraders effectively will have points deducted.

This, however, will not affect Tribe, which does not compete for titles. Lopez said the NCBA will deal seriously with bands that hold up the flow of bands today.

Lopez also complained that the vendors, especially those with stalls on Frederick Street, contributed greatly to the congestion along the parade route. "I understand that everyone needs to earn money at Carnival and that everyone wants to have a good time, but something must be done to prevent bands backing up because there is no room for a smooth flow," Lopez said.

By 3.30 p.m., Harts Mas with its presentation, Planet Rock, Pulse 8 with Out of the Woods, Island People's Shades of the Universe and Ronnie and Caro's Survivors had crossed the stage, along with several small and mini-bands.

The Grand Stand had roughly 300 people sprinkled throughout, with the North Stand remaining virtually empty yesterday. The situation is expected to be much different today, when Carnival activity comes to a crescendo.

More details >>

Karene Asche cops Calypso Monarch

Karene Asche was crowned 2011 Calypso Monarch, at the Queen's Park Savannah, in Port of Spain, early this morning (March 7).

The three-time National Junior Calypso Monarch captured the $2 million first prize with her two selections, "Be Careful What You Ask For" and "Uncle Jack".

Michael "Sugar Aloes" Osouna‬ copped second spot, ahead of Dr Hollis "Chalkdust" Liverpool and Devon Seale.

Defending champion Kurt Allen had to settle for sixth spot, while Soca artiste Rodney "Benjai" Le Blanc finished 12th and last.

Wade Madray, with his portrayal of "Pacific Tsunami", claimed the King of Carnival title. And Peola Marchan - "D Jeweled Chandelier" - was named Queen of Carnival.

RESULTS

Calypso Monarch

1 Karene Asche

2 Michael "Sugar Aloes" Osouna‬

3 Dr Hollis "Chalkdust" Liverpool

4 Devon Seale

5 Dexter "Stinger" Parsons‬ ‪

6 Kurt Allen

7 Brian London‬

8 Tameika Darius‬ ‪

9 Kizzy Ruiz‬

10 Joanne "Tigress" Rowley‬

11 Weston "Cro Cro" Rawlins‬

12 Rodney "Benjai" Le Blanc‬

King of Carnival

1 Wade Madray (“Pacific Tsunami”) - 421 points

2 Owen Hinds Jr (“Battle of the Marabuntas”) - 420

3 Curtis Eustace (“Bozo-D Legend Lives On”) - 416

4 Marlon Rampersad (“Bedazzled”) - 394

5 Lionel Jagessar Jr (“Wakinyan-Quest Of The Feather Seeker”) - 387

6 Roland St George (“Pan On Fire”) - 386

7 Gerard Weekes (“In The Beginning Good And Evil”) - 382

8 Glenn Dave Lakhan (“The Jewel Spider”) - 371

9 Fareid Carvalho (“Mr Carnival-The Return Of The Fire Man”) – 370

10 Leroy Prieto (“Mukasa-The God Of Water”) – 350

Queen of Carnival

1 Peola Marchan ("D Jeweled Chandelier") - 416 points

2 Gloria Dallsingh ("Splendor Of Lights") - 414

3 Kay Mason ("Island Queen") - 407

4 Roxanne Omalo ("Serpent Sorceress") - 389

5 Gayle Marcano ("D Ruby Brooch") - 387

6 Cherryann Valere ("Forest Blossom") - 374

7 Patricia Bailey ("Diamonds Are Forever") - 373

8 Jenna Marie Andre ("Botanica-A Floral Extravaganza") - 372

9 Avernell Johnson ("Chia-The Goddess") – 357

10 Sevell Nicholls ("In The End-Dance And Rejoice") - 356

More details >>

STAR POWER

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar presented the first prize at the Panorama finals on Saturday night as two points separated two bands from $2 million.

It truly was showtime for Neal and Massy Trinidad All Stars as they performed at the final of the National Panorama Competition at the Queen's Park Savannah, Port of Spain on Saturday night.

Appearing in position one, dressed in dazzling red shirts and red hats with flashing blue lights, All Stars defied the saying 'the first shall be last and the last first' as the band from Duke Street, Port of Spain outdid all competitors with its fireworks, confetti, dancers and music to take the historic $2 million first prize.

All Stars gave the Queen's Park Savannah audience eight minutes and 14 seconds of a Leon "Smooth" Edwards arrangement of Edwin Pouchet and Alvin Daniell's composition of "It's Showtime" beating defending champions PCS Silver Stars at their own game.

Coming in second was Sagicor Exodus, the band which played in the second position.

Exodus brought a wave of people from on the track onto the stage which signalled the start of problems for the stage crew.

Their rendition of Pelham Goddard's arrangement of Mark Loquan, Ken Philmore and Destra Garcia's "Calling Meh" was eight minutes 11 seconds of sweet pan music.

From the one-minute introduction to the last note, Exodus's players exuded confidence.

In the end their performance was good enough to earn them the $1 million second prize.

There was anticipation as defending champions PCS Silver Stars rolled onto the stage.

They took some time to set up and this drew slow applause form the audience.

But when Silver Stars began to play people quickly forgot and showed their appreciation with shouts of joy.

The energy emanating from the youthful players along with the fireworks and fog made a good show.

Their seven minutes, 40 seconds rendition of Edwin Pouchet's arrangement of "It's Showtime" caused a stir among the audience but it was not enough for Silver Stars to retain their title.

Coming in fourth was Petrotrin Phase II Pan Groove with a fantastic rendition of Len Boogsie Sharpe's arrangement of "Do Something For Pan".

Boogsie's eight minutes and ten seconds of music was ecstasy, proving again he is one of the greatest arrangers in Panorama.

Also placing fourth was CAL Invaders, who played a fantastic Arddin Herbert arrangement of "Do Be On Dat".

This was one of the best performances by Invaders for some time.

With raging thunder and lightning coming from among the pan racks NLCB Fonclaire under Ken Professor Philmore gave the audience a very good performance of "A Raging Storm".

Bearing their sponsor's logo on the pans and banners for the first time in several years, Desperadoes came on stage to do Benjai's "Trini" as arranged by Beverly Griffith, A Robley and Eddie Quarless.

This was a totally transformed Desperadoes with the racks and float decorated like a house.

After their eight minutes rendition they received a healthy applause from the Grand and North Stands.

Petrotrin Siparia Deltones also played Benjai's "Trini" and tied with Desperadoes, their performance of Carlton Alexander's arrangement, though different did not meet with the approval of the judges.

RBC/RBTT Redemption Sound Setters playing "It's Showtime" as arranged by Winston Gordon and Starlift's rendition of Liam Teague's arrangement of De Fosto's "In She Rainorama" made up the cast of the show.

The large conventional band category was a show made up of ten individual shows each put on by the competing bands.

From the count one each occasion came lights camera and action.

In the medium category Tobago's Katzenjammers and Valley Harps were difficult to separate as the judges tied them for first position.

More details >>

Impressive showing by Sando revellers

THE streets of San Fernando received the first splash of colour for Carnival 2011 with an impressive showing from junior masqueraders yesterday.

Over 15 bands, most of them from Central and South, paraded from Circular Road, onto Royal Road, onto Coffee Street, then onto Cipero Street to make their appearances before the judges at Skinner Park.

The parade was scheduled to start at noon but did not get under way until about 1.15 p.m.

Eckles Village A C School captured the splendour of the sister isle with their presentation Tobago Sweet.

This was also well portrayed by the St Brigid's Girls' RC School with Come Ah We Go Tobago designed by Sheron Worrell.

Their sections included Buccoo, Tobago Jazz Festival and Crab and Dumpling.

Led and designed by Kay Fernandes-Jennings, the St Peter's Parish Communities, with the presentation of Masked Crusaders was also well received.

The children chipped and jumped to the popular songs of the season including Benjai's "Trini", "Consider it Done" by Fay-Ann Lyons-Alvarez and "Advantage" by Power Soca Monarch Machel Montano.

More details >>

The PP And PNM Under Fire

Women have always featured prominently in calypso and soca through the years. Remember Jean, Dinah, Ethel, Rebecca, Lucy, Barbara, Dorothy and the Bahia Girl? Names that continue to make us wine from centre to side years after they were introduced to us in song.

This year the woman on the bass is Reshmi Ramnarine whose name is heard in a couple dozen calypsoes from political and social commentary to humorous. Ramnarine is the former director of the Security Intelligence Agency.

Reshmi's appointment created a furore for several reasons and she eventually resigned, but many questions over her appointment are still left unanswered. The calypsonians are asking questions and even providing their own answers in song.

A three-tent clash on February 28 at the Queen's Park Savannah in Port of Spain featured a fair share of political commentary that entertained the audience at the Grand Stand. Coming together to present one mega show at the venue were Kaiso House, Kaiso Karavan and the Kalypso Revue tents.

Ramnarine's name came up several times including in the performance of Brian London from Kaiso House who was definitely the night's most popular performer receiving four encores for his presentation of "We Fed Up". Dressed like the Mighty Shadow, London's calypso tells of him sitting before the elder calypsonian who advises him on what topics he should explore.

London sings that the people are fed up of hearing, "Reshmi, Reshmi, Reshmi, Reshmi" sending the audience into peals of laughter. Patrons encored London three times and each time he returned he had them cheering louder and louder.

London also touched on the pelting incident at the finals of the Chutney Soca Monarch competition singing, "We cyar take no more Ravi B, Ravi B, Ravi B, Ravi B" leaving the audience calling for a fourth encore that did not happen.

Ramnarine was also cited in the humorous calypso of Alpha from the Karavan who sang "Whey Dem" in which he used a Ministry of Consumer Affairs campaign to make the public aware of tricks sometimes used by vendors to rob customers when weighing produce. Alpha sang that, "Reshmi say she have a UWI degree, but UWI say dey never see she" before the laughing audience.

The line that really sent the audience wild came from Sugar Aloes of the Revue during his performance of "Not One Word". Aloes sang that during a phone conversation he tries to convince a fellow calypsonian, presumably Cro Cro, to sing on the wrongs he believes are being perpetrated by the ruling party. Here too there is a litany of controversies tied to the Government.

As he explored the SIA affair, Aloes sang that Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar continues to do whatever she can to sweep the controversy under the carpet as well as to use other situations to divert attention. There is much more to the story, Aloes sang, and had patrons screaming with: "Ah want to find Sasha to find out who was rocking Reshmi Ship." The young woman's name came up a few more times during the night.

Neither side of Parliament, Government nor Opposition, can bask in the comfort of political bliss these days as both sides of the House are under fire from john public and calypsonians.

The string of controversies beleaguering the People's Partnership Government since taking office has provided the calypsonians with much fodder, while the mistakes made by the PNM while in government continue to make for good political commentary calypsoes.

Ninja, from the Revue, provided the perfect example of the previous administration still coming under fire after demitting office when he performed, "No Respect For Culture". Ninja sang that when former minister of culture, Marlene McDonald was in office cultural organisations approaching the ministry for support were always turned away with the advice they, "Keep a Bar-b-Que".

Former prime minister, Patrick Manning came under fire in "National Pride" by Derek Seales of Kaiso House who sang that the PNM spent millions on buildings and summits, while children are dying for lack of proper health care and the poor continue to suffer.

Other calypsoes addressed crime and other social issues affecting the nation. Duppy's calypso titled, "A Fool's Paradise" questioned that if this nation is such a paradise, how come people are afraid to leave their homes after 6 p.m. and why are they locking themselves up behind steel doors and barb wire fences.

Marvelous Marva too sang that people were afraid to go out after dark in her song, "Salvation". In the calypso Marva asks, "Who will be our prime ministers? Who will be our calypsonians?" Who will be our doctors and lawyers?" when all the young men are being killed some even before they are out of their teen years.

Dee Diamond looked at things from an interesting angle in his calypso, "The Hill". Opening with a verse about global warming and the melting of the polar ice caps that are causing sea levels to rise, Diamond swings to Laventille singing that the wealthy people living in coastal communities in Port of Spain such as Westmoorings are looking to buy out the Hill and move to higher ground before disaster strikes. "Every time they lock you up is your grandparents deed and will. They have their eyes on the hill," sang Dee Diamond.

Karene Asche treated with the political landscape from an interesting angle in her offering, "Uncle Jack", singing that Works and Transport Minister Austin Jack Warner goes beyond the call of duty to serve as the chief cook and bottlewasher of the People's Partnership and is really, "The minister of everything."

More details >>

All Stars win $2 million Panorama jackpot

Neal and Massy Trinidad All Stars emerged victorious in the National Panorama finals, at the Queen’s Park Savannah, in Port of Spain, this morning (March 6).

All Stars, playing a Leon “Smooth” Edwards arrangement of “Showtime”, earned 278 points to capture the $2 million first prize in the Large Band category, beating Sagicor Exodus (276) into second spot.

Katzenjammers and Valley Harps were joint winners in the Medium Band category, with 275 points each.

RESULTS

Large Band category

1st Neal and Massy Trinidad All Stars - 278 points

2nd Sagicor Exodus - 276

3rd PCS Silver Stars - 275

4th Caribbean Airlines Invaders and Petrotrin Phase II Pan Groove (tie) - 273

6th NLCB Fonclaire - 271

7th Witco Desperadoes and Petrotrin Siparia Deltones (tie) - 270

9th RBC/RBTT Redemption Sound Setters - 268

10th Starlift - 265

 

Medium Band category

1st Katzenjammers and Valley Harps (tie) - 275 points

3rd NLCB Buccooneers - 269

4th Courts Sound Specialists of Laventille - 268

5th Pan Elders - 266

6th Sangre Grande Cordettes - 258

7th Arima Angel Harps and Steel Xplosion (tie) - 257

9th Pamberi and Power Stars (tie) - 255

 

More details >>

Machel is the Monarch

Hundreds of patrons booed upon the announcement that Machel Montano had won the 2011 International Power Soca Monarch competition making off with the $2 million first prize.

The results were revealed at around 5:30 am yesterday after the marathon show that had gotten on the way at 9:30pm on Friday at the Hasely Crawford National Stadium, Port of Spain.

While many patrons did express delight over Montano’s victory as they exited the Stadium, even more were crying foul saying that Iwer George, who placed second, was the true winner.

During Montano’s performance of “Advantage” a large portion of the audience kept chanting, “Iwer, Iwer, Iwer,” every time Montano instructed the band to lower the music for him to speak to the patrons. The people jumped and waved as Machel sang, but from the moment he began to speak, they started chanting George’s name.

Earlier on George had sent the entire audience wild with his performance of “Come To Me” in which he appeared above the audience in a cherry picker customised to look like an airplane.

The patrons were waving and singing “Come to me” as George was deposited on a platform to the right of the stage where traditional mas characters including blue devils, jab jabs and moko jumbies were dancing.

George had the crowd running from side to side and then to the judges’ platform in the middle of the football field and back to the stage. Surveying the field and expressing delight over how many people were in the stadium, George shouted, “The promoter make a lot of money.”

He then returned to the cherry picker calling on the people to follow wherever it went, which they did. Long after George ended his performance people were shouting, “Iwer.”

Montano came down from the rafters of the stage with guidelines attached to his outfit and was greeted by a cheering audience. Two of his dancers also had guidelines attached to them and they took flight several times during the performance.

Declaring that he will be defending the Power Soca Monarch title next year, Montano sang, “Destra in trouble because she coming after. When I done with Iwer, he have to retire.”

With the audience chanting, Iwer,” Montano then turned his chiding towards Bunji Garlin singing, “Bunji we tired of your fire lyrics, tonight I giving you licks. Bunji don’t know what to do with Fay Ann, is like he is the woman and she is the man.” The crowd cheered over that comment, but some boos could be heard in the mix.

When Destra did take the stage she told the audience Montano’s behaviour on stage was disrespectful and called on the patrons to wave their hands if they agreed with her in saying, “No advantage.”

People began to wave and Destra said, “You don’t come on stage and disrespect artistes. Bunji work hard, Fay Ann work hard and I work hard. No advantage.”

With flames at the foot of the stage and shooting from the speaker towers flanking it, Bunji Garlin who placed third had the patrons jumping and singing as he sang, “Hold A Burn.” Responding to Montano calling him a woman, Bunji said, “Well a woman will beat yuh tonight.”

Bringing a microphone on a stand to the stage Bunji said that it represented his lyrics and what will happen to anyone that comes against him. When a man representing Montano touched the microphone it burst into flames along with the man’s hand.

Bunji had the audience erupting into cheers several times as he freestyled comments such as “Ah go beat yuh bad, see if Anand Ramlogan go help yuh” and “When yuh go by Kamla, give she a CD not one yuh burn,” aimed at Montano who he eventually said he had no more time to waste on.

Fay Ann Lyons singing “Consider It Done” placed fourth. Appearing on stage sporting a mohawk hairstyle and an outfit reminiscent of the movie, Mad Max, Lyons did have the audience singing the chorus of her song when the music stopped every time she got to that part of the song. Climbing one of the speaker towers, Lyons also got some people to move in whatever direction she told them to.

In the Groovy category, Kees Dieffenthaller came out the winner with his performance of “Wotless” in which he was joined on stage by Lord Nelson. For his efforts, Dieffenthaller took home $500,000. Benjai placed second with “Trini,” while Destra took third place with “Cool It Down” and Blaxx came in fourth singing “Tanti Woi.”

 

HOW THEY PLACED

Power

1st Machel Montano - $2,000,000

2nd Iwer George - $600,000

3rd Bunji Garlin - $300,000

4th Fay Ann Lyons - $200,000

Groovy

1st Kees Dieffenthaller - $500,000

2nd Benjai - $225,000

3rd Destra - $125,000

4th Blaxx - $115,000

More details >>

‘Chandelier’ on top

Peola Marchan's "D Jeweled Chandelier" topped the field with 420 points, in the semifinal round of the Seniors Queen of Carnival competition, at the Queen's Park Savannah, in Port of Spain, on Friday (March 4).

In the Junior King of Carnival final, Yanick Holdip ("Protector Of The Reef") amassed 448 points to capture the crown. Swayne Taylor ("King Corbeau") and Ryan Sooknanan ("The Fire Bird") finished second and third, respectively.

Queen of Carnival (semifinal)

1. Peola Marchan - "D Jeweled Chandelier" (420)

2. Kay Mason - "Island Queen" (418)

3. Sevell Nicholls - "In The End-Dance And Rejoice" (416)

4. Roxanne Omalo - "Serpent Sorceress" (413)

5. Jenna Marie Andre - "Botanica-A Floral Extravaganza" (408)

6. Gloria Dallsingh - "Splendor Of Lights" (401)

7. Patricia Bailey - "Diamonds Are Forever" (398)

7. Gayle Marcano - "D Ruby Brooch" (398)

9. Cherryann Valere - "Forest Blossom" (396)

10. Avernell Johnson - "Chia-The Goddess" (392)

Junior King of Carnival

1. Yanick Holdip - "Protector Of The Reef" (448)

2. Swayne Taylor - "King Corbeau" (434)

3. Ryan Sooknanan - "The Fire Bird" (417)

4. Enrique Sham Poo - "In The Mouth Of The Dragon" (416)

5. Kriston Chandler - "Mango Tusibutalizi

More details >>

Hopeful lyrics rule in Chaguanas

Songs with country and citizen in mind dominated at the Chaguanas Carnival Committee's Senior Calypso competition on Thursday night.

The competition saw 14 calypsonians vying for the crown, all with positive lyrical messages.

The competition was held at Market Square, Chaguanas, and found favour with the few who attended.

Many of the songs expressed hope for a better Trinidad and Tobago, instead of the usual picong and politics.

The competition, which started shortly after 8 p.m., crowned a new Calypso Monarch—Asten "Guidance" Isaac, who sang "Living in the 'And'". He will receive $6,000 as his first prize.

Lynette "Lady Gypsy" Steele won in the Vintage Calypso segment, with the song "Man Family".

Isaac's song criticised nationals for being oblivious to morals and values, focussing instead on foreign culture.

However, he failed to impress the judges in the Vintage Calypso category, placing 12th and last with "Melody".

The competition was part of the Chaguanas Carnival activities. Mayor Orlando Nagessar delivered the opening remarks and deemed the competition in Chaguanas "the best in calypso".

Nagessar said he was hopeful Chaguanas will soon have a venue where a permanent structure will be home for the arts and culture. He urged people to stay in Chaguanas to be part of the revelry and have an "incident-free" Carnival. He said, "Remain in Chaguanas and enjoy yourself. We have full cooperation from the police, private security and the regiment."

More details >>

Cops missing at Canboulay show

NO POLICE presence was visible at the re-enactment of the 1881 Canboulay riots at the Piccadilly Greens in Port of Spain yesterday.

Instead, a dozen officers from a private security firm were present to maintain law and order.

Luckily, no serious incidents were reported at yesterday's early-morning event.

Yesterday's apparent lack of police presence is in contradiction to the security plans unveiled by Police Commissioner Dwayne Gibbs on Wednesday.

"It should be noted that while particular policing attention will be placed in all sectors, heightened activity will be given to those areas in which criminal activity is most prevalent. Citizens and visitors will see more officers in uniforms throughout the city," Gibbs said then.

"There has been some concern raised by various quarters regarding the availability of officers for the Carnival festivities. Rest assured as customary, all available resources have been called out for the season."

The police absence from the Canboulay riots re-enactment led many to wonder whether they had made good on a threat to withhold their services during the height of the Carnival festivities. Police officers have engaged in sickout action during the past couple weeks in protest of the Chief Personnel Officer's proposed five per cent increase in salaries.

However, president of the Police Social and Welfare Association, Sgt Anand Ramesar, following a meeting with Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar on Wednesday, pledged that police officers will be out in their full numbers for Carnival. Contacted by the Express yesterday, Ramesar said he was unaware of the absence of police at the Canboulay re-enactment.

Municipal police officers upset with the Gibb's refusal to meet with them have also promised to sick out for the Carnival.

However, it could not be confirmed whether yesterday's police absence was as a result of this planned protest action.

Despite the lapse in security, yesterday's Canboulay went off without any major hitches. Don Sylvester, the deputy chairman of the National Carnival Commission (NCC), hailed the event as a success.

"Everything went off smoothly. There were no major incidents and everyone enjoyed themselves. I am proud that the event went off without a hitch," Sylvester said in a telephone interview yesterday.

Not even an exploding transformer at the corner of Laventille Road and Piccadilly Street could spoil yesterday's festivities. Traditional Carnival characters such as the Dame Lorraine, jab jabs, jab molassies and moko jumbies performed for the crowd, which at times encroached on the area used by the performers because of the lack of proper security.

More details >>

Panorama to open and close with 'Showtime'

Members of the Trinidad All Stars Steel Orchestra have declared that when they are finished playing "Showtime" in first place tonight at the National Panorama finals, the bands following will all be left to battle for second place.

Interestingly, Redemption Soundsetters of Tobago, the band bringing the curtain down on the competition at the Queen's Park Savannah, is also playing "Showtime", composed by Edwin Pouchet and Alvin Daniell, specifically for defending champions Silver Stars.

The Tragarete Road based band is playing in position eight, having made it to the finals after topping the semi-finals alongside Phase II Pan Groove, which is playing "Do Something For Pan", composed by Len "Boogsie" Sharpe.

Pouchet was hospitalised before the semi-finals after suffering a heart attack while in Tobago, where he was working on the arrangement for Katzenjammers, which topped the preliminaries and semi-finals of the Medium category.

Pouchet was released from the hospital on February 18, before the semi-finals on February 20 and went to the Silver Stars panyard where he worked on the end of the tune.

He was subsequently readmitted to the hospital and underwent a series of tests and was ordered by his doctors to rest. Pouchet is due to be released today and may be at the Savannah to support his pannists.

Having to leave its home on the Laventille Hill for the second year running because of the crime situation and settle at Cadiz Road, Belmont, the Desperadoes Steel Orchestra is hoping tonight will bring its 11th title.

In the Medium Band category, Pan Elders will face the judges first, playing "A Raging Storm", arranged by Alvin Gittens.

Katzenjammers performs in position three, while Pamberi, another favourite, takes the stage in position six playing "TKO", arranged by Brian Villafana. The final medium band performing is the Arima Angel Harps.

With the evening's competition expected to get on the way at 5 p.m. the first Large Band should take the stage no later than 8 p.m., once the medium bands move smoothly.

More details >>

Renegades will miss pan finals

Panorama finals will proceed as scheduled today at the Queen's Park Savannah in Port of Spain, after Justice Maureen Rajnauth-Lee yesterday dismissed an injunction by BP Renegades in the Port of Spain High Court.

On Thursday, Renegades, a nine-time champion, through its captain Candice Andrews, had filed a suit against Pan Trinbago, asking the High Court to intervene to allow them into the finals. This will be the first time since 1972 that Renegades will not be part of the National Panorama final.

Renegades had failed to make it to the finals following the semi-final round at the Savannah two weeks ago, after judges deducted points for distortion in their sound. In their suit, however, the band members claimed that DJ music from the back of the North Stand affected their presentation.

However, after hearing close to three hours in submissions from attorneys seeking the interest of both Pan Trinbago and Renegades, Rajnauth-Lee ruled that the show will go on.

In delivering her ruling, Rajnauth-Lee said she agreed with attorney Kerwyn Garcia's submissions that the suit filed "must be unusually strong" and the evidence before the court "does not begin to satisfy this extremely demanding threshold".

The judge said having considered the evidence, she was of the view that an injunction should not be granted, since the evidence presented was not sufficient to warrant the pan giants a place in the finals. Rajnauth-Lee said she was dismissing the Notice of Application and reserved a date to be fixed on the issue of costs and other claims noted in the suit.

Following the decision, a stern sounding Andrews said Renegades would respect the court's decision. However, Andrews maintained there was disturbance during performances.

"Win, lose or draw, I am happy that Renegades stood up to Pan Trinbago. We never failed, we were one of the favorites. Pan Trinbago on the other hand are not worthy of representing the players," Andrews said.

Andrews said the stance Pan Trinbago took in court was dishonest, especially when they knew there was noise coming from the DJs in the North Stand.

"What hurt me is that Pan Trinbago stood up in court saying there was no noise," Andrews said.

Andrews said Pan Trinbago was in charge of pan, yet did not ensure its members were respected.

"Pan is our national instrument and should be respected and protected," Andrews said.

Also commenting on the decision, Pan Trinbago vice president Bryan Serrette said Panorama was a work in progress and the concerns of DJs coming to the venue "will be a first and last occurrence". He said the DJs managed to "slip through the cracks" and this will not occur next year, since Pan Trinbago will be putting better mechanisms in place to avoid disturbances.

More details >>

4 Queens go forth

In other countries, it takes a revolution to capture the attention of the world.

In Trinidad and Tobago, it takes a celebration. We do it every year and we are set to do it again.

Carnival is finally here and we are almost ready to take to the streets.

There is just one thing we must do first — select and crown our Monarch.

As the days become hours leading up to Carnival, all attention is focused on the events unfolding in the "Big Yard" at the Queen's Park Savannah as 12 calypsonians vie for the top spot and bragging rights as Trinidad and Tobago's Calypso Monarch for the next year.

This year, four of the 12 calypso finalists are females — veteran performer Joanne 'Tigress' Rowley, Kizzie Ruiz, Karene Asche and Tameika Darius. Each delivered powerful performances at Calypso Fiesta two Saturdays ago, scoring top points with the judges as well as with the rank and file of the San Fernando crowd, arguably the most difficult crowd in competition.

They have made it to the finals and the guessing game begins.

Would a woman take the crown this year? If so, which woman? While members of the public may be willing to hazard a guess, these calypsonians are taking no chances. When they spoke with Express Woman last week, they all agreed it could be anyone.

Joanne 'Tigress' Rowley laughed aloud then said, "I cannot say and that is not my focus. This could be anybody's year. It is my aim and I think that it is everybody's aim, to be happy with my performance and to make sure that my audience is happy. After that, I would just let go and let God fill in the deposit slip."

No stranger to the final leg of the competition, Tigress said she had strategised early and planned every detail of her performance.Even the songs she is performing on the final night are craftily selected.

"The world is celebrating International Women's Day on Carnival Tuesday," she said. "They also dedicated this Carnival to Calypso Rose. In keeping with this theme, I chose to perform songs that celebrate women. I would be performing 'Woman to Women', which I performed at Calypso Fiesta and I would be performing 'Mature Woman'."

And while someone may say that her political commentary "Woman to Woman" is not celebrating anything, Rowley begs to differ.

"I believe the Prime Minister should be happy with the song," she chuckled. "I am only giving her some honest advice. I am not bashing her in any way. As a matter of fact, I am actually aiming to please and celebrate women to the best of my ability in my renditions."

Kizzie Ruiz, who placed fourth in the Calypso Monarch competitions last year and fifth the year before, laughed when she said she hoped to accelerate this trend and skip a few steps to make it to the top spot.

She would be performing "The Anti Corruption Cure" aka "Macco Dem" and "De Engine Stall".

Though she is unattached to any tent, Ruiz said she was encouraged by the feedback she received after her performance "De Engine Stall" at Skinner Park.

"It is a song that the people were unfamiliar with," she said. "And the way the song is structured, it is very easy to be misunderstood because it had a lot of metaphors. I was concerned that people would not understand, but that was quite the opposite. People felt that it was very crafty."

On the final night, she said, "I just hope that my performance grows from strength to strength. I would love to win but my philosophy for all competitions is to go and do my best. I never go too confident or with winning on my mind because you never know what can happen on the night. If the gods have spoken and it is my destiny to win, then I would. In the meantime, my aim is to just go and perform and have fun."

Twenty-six year old Karene Asche chuckled when she described her contender, "Uncle Jack" as a tribute to Minister of Works and Transport Jack Warner.Her second song, "Careful What You Ask For", calls on the public to be introspective.

This would be the fourth year that Asche would have made it to the final leg of competition.

Of her chances to win, she said, "I think anybody could be a threat because no one knows the other persons' second song and I think that is where it could get a bit sticky."

La Brea resident Tameika Darius is a relative new comer to the Big Yard. She would be performing "Ungrateful", portraying San Fernando East Member of Parliament Patrick Manning and "Pushers", which she described as an uptempo song about today's society where almost everything is for sale.

"I am very surprised that I made it this far," Darius said. "For years I have been trying to reach the semi-final. This is the first time I made it this far so I am just going with the flow.

So would this year's Monarch be a lady? The calypsonians are refusing to bet on it, but would you?

More details >>

Extempo champ John gets lesson from Gypsy

Minister of Arts and Multiculturalism Winston "Gypsy" Peters took on all comers in an extempo war, including newly-crowned champion Sheldon John, and drove them all into the ground at the Queen's Park Savannah, Port of Spain.

Peters achieved the feat as a guest performer (he did not defend his Extempo title) at the "Kaisorama—A Night of Champions Extempo and Categories Final" on Thursday night.

Gypsy answered everyone in song, saying, "I am the true champion of extempo and all you taking this Minister thing too far."

Gypsy also sang about the standard of the competition, saying the prize will rise when they all graduate from his school of extempo. This was in response to a question about the prize money for extempo, and the Grand Stand audience screamed their approval of his reply.

When he was finished demolishing the field, Gypsy sang, "Put violence on the shelf this Carnival, come out and enjoy yourself."

Before Gypsy's performance, Sheldon John calmly worked his way through the competition to be crowned 2011 Extempo Monarch.

From the first round when he chose the topic "Missing Piano from the PM's Residence", to the second round against Lady Africa with the topic "Calypso Rose", John was very smooth. The second topic made him work hard but he was able to come out looking good.

Black Sage was John's competitor in the final round after he walked his way through the first round by singing on "What You Think About Ravi B and De Fosto" and "Girls Wear Your Size" against Hezekiah Joseph.

The topic for the final round was "Government Then and Now".

John calmly approached but Black Sage won the first verse. After this, however, it was all John as he sang about the NAR, UNC, PNM and former president Sir Ellis Clarke.

Black Sage just did not have the resolve to answer John and had to settle for second.

In the Political Commentary Category, young Karene Asche gave a sterling performance of "Uncle Jack" to defeat an equally good performance of "Chalkie Say" by Pink Panther. Veteran Chalkdust had to settle for third with his Manningitis.

"Ah Need meh Carnival" took Devon Seale to the top of the Social Commentary Category. Appearing third, Seale executed his song with precision, each verse having a special Carnival character parading on stage. He was followed by Skatie with "Obeah Man Advice" and Black Sage with "Thank God for T&T".

Dressed as a sexy female, Young Creole stole the hearts of the judges with "Shave Meh Barbaman" for the Humorous title. The song, in which a young lady asks a barber to shave some hair off her two knees, had the audience in stitches as Creole motioned to the hair on his knees.

He was followed by Daz, who performed "Fork and Napkin", and Mr Mack "Crooks Family".

Calypso Queen of the World, Calypso Rose, was also honoured by both the National Carnival Commission and TUCO for her contribution to the art form on the night. She then celebrated by delivering some of her best songs to the delight of the fans.

There were guest appearances by Junior Calypso Monarch Aaron Duncan and Mighty Power at the top of the show, Twiggy in the middle, Chutney Soca Monarch Rikki Jai, David Rudder, who ended up in the Grand Stand singing on a chair, and the Black Stalin.

Kimmy Stoute-Robinson and her dance troupe also thrilled the audience with a flaming limbo dance performance.

More details >>

Tamika Darius 2011 Pt Fortin Calypso Monarch

The Pt Fortin Carnival Committee has announced the results for this year's borough celebrations.

The Calypso Monarch crown has been won by Tamika Darius, followed by Patrice Valentine and Melissa William.

The Queen of the Band crown was won by Akeera Esdell of the band Eastman Brothers, with the portrayal "The Guardian of T&T".

Second place went to Veronica Sharlenagna of the band John Paul and Associates with the portrayal "Stormy Weather".

Third place went to Paula Sookram of the band Sisco and Associates, with "Tribute to Calypso Rose".

The King of the Band was captured by Anthony Weekes of the band Anthony Weekes and Associates, with the portrayal "Uprising of Shaka Zulu".

Second place went to Francis Danile of the band Sisco and Associates, with the the portrayal "This One for Valentine Ferdinand".

Third place went to Jordaine Richardson of Eastman Brothers, with the portrayal "Joy of Steel Pan".

More details >>

'Soca' rehearsals hit snag

The non-payment of the $200,000 rental fee for use of the Hasely Crawford Stadium yesterday resulted in a delay in rehearsals for the bmobile Power Soca Monarch and the NLCB Groovy Soca Monarch competitors.

The competitors waited for hours but by noon the fees were paid and rehearsals got underway for the show that came off last night.

Vendors, stage builders and support staff for the artistes were among those affected by the delay as well, and complained bitterly about it.

Munro, however, said it was not his fault, as he had been "trying to sit down for weeks now" to work out payment of the fee.

He also slammed Sport Minister Anil Roberts, who ordered the stadium be closed, stating, "What he did was very ugly.

"I think he is deliberately trying to terrorise everyone," Munro said, "but I cannot go into detail right now as I have to prepare a show for the nation."

By noon, however, with the money deposited into the State's coffers, Roberts ordered the stadium be opened. "Yes, yes, I just ordered the stadium opened", Roberts told the Express yesterday at 12.10 p.m.

"I mean it's the normal $200,000 rental fee for that big stadium and that's a subsidised fee and it is very sad that it had to reach to this," Roberts said.

"The same principle applies to everyone. If you want to use the facilities, then the fee has to be paid and that's across the board," he added.

Soca artistes Ian "Bunji Garlin" Alvarez and his wife, Fay-Ann Lyons-Alvarez, were among the artistes affected.

Standing with some friends along Fitzblackman Drive around noon, the couple appeared tired and although news crept out that the stadium had been opened, they were not relieved as their preparations were pushed back by approximately three hours. "Because of this delay, we now have to fight up with everyone else to set up our props and so on, and there will be a rush with everybody to get in and do their preparations," said Alvarez.

"I don't even know how many hours we would be pushed back," he added.

Shurwayne Winchester, who defended his Groovy Soca Monarch crown last night, was at the stadium around 11 a.m. and although he too suffered as a result of the delay, he appeared much more upbeat.

"I'm sure everything will work out," he said before getting the news that the show would go on.

More details >>

Carnival time again

IT'S THE simple things that make it what it is and hopefully that will never change. Just when you thought nothing could top Machel Monday, you pass by a panyard in time to hear the band running through the full tune it will play at tonight's Panorama finals.

Where else in the world can you walk freely into a practice session of any renowned symphony orchestra and stand gaping at the wondrous sounds? Only in Trinidad and Tobago.

And when that band happens to be two-time defending national champion PCS Silver Stars, it doesn't get much better than that.

On Thursday night, the cosy little panyard on Tragarete Road was packed with locals and tourists alike, with those fans at the front brought into the act by conductor "Bravo", who had them singing: "It's showtime...now is showtime...practice, practice, practice...".

And everybody was smiling in delight, from a combination of the sweet music under the stars and just knowing that this is the best week of the whole year.

Right outside the panyard, a jouvert band had speakers set up on the pavement, under the big banner proclaiming what it was portraying come Monday morning in the first session of "The Greatest Show on Earth". And there was a group of limers dancing around as those making the costumes for No Drawers and Chocolate looked on from the band house.

Heading home close to midnight and turning on the radio, it was time to catch former extempo king Gypsy, now the Minister of Arts and Multiculturalism, making an appearance on stage for "Kaisorama" at the Queen's Park Savannah, reminding everyone that he is still the best, telling an opponent about the size of their "battleship".

Then later, sitting in an armchair in front the TV, first guest artiste David Rudder revived a recent favourite, "Trini to de bone", and then moved into the crowd in the Grand Stand to get most of the spectators on their feet for another classic, "High Mas", leaving Black Stalin to bring down the curtain with his all-time great, "Feeling to Party", which is what the majority of people are just itching to do come Monday and Tuesday, preceded by Fantastic Friday last night, Panorama finals tonight and Dimanche Gras tomorrow.

And everybody is home for the festival. Down at the Chaguaramas Golf Course on Wednesday, there were three tesses finishing up on the ninth hole and when you heard one of them cuss out loud after hitting a bad shot, you knew they were Trinis back from the cold.

With great timing, they walked off the course to be greeted by a fellow-golfer and New York girl, via Trinidad I'm sure, who offered them ice-cold beers from the cooler in her car. What a woman! What service! Only in T&T!

The week leading up to Carnival 2011 had started at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, where I had to thank my daughter for me finally making it to one of Machel Montano's concerts, which was undoubtedly the show of the year, and for those of us who don't get out much, maybe the show of the decade.

From 7.30 p.m. onwards, the venue filled up like time-lapse photography until, when opening act Benjai came on, the place was already almost packed to capacity. And Benjai was "good company" with "Trini", one of the megahits of the season, which had the masses swaying in unison.

And there was no problem with a little kick on your ankle or a bounced knee or a spilled drink. Sorry would suffice and everyone was smiling there, too, which is still how it is most of the time all over Trinidad and Tobago.

The visitors had already arrived, from Barbados to hear Lil' Rick and there was even a Venezuelan flag, which was acknowledged by Puerto Rican Pitbull, part of the cosmopolitan cast put together by Montano, which even included a troupe of ballerinas.

The all-star line-up was capped off by an appearance by Calypso King and Queen of the World, Mighty Sparrow and Calypso Rose, who gave some of us goosebumps when they took the microphone for "Congo Man" and "Fire, Fire", respectively.

Sparrow was not moving too gingerly, but his voice is still intact, and he and Rose deserve every accolade they receive, even with Brian Lara having a bit of fun with the great man by putting on his crown upside down and over his eyes.

Earlier, Kes The Band had followed Benjai and what struck me at my first sighting of Kees and his brothers performing was how an old s--- talker like my friend "Bunny" Dieffenthaller could make such talented children.

Just kidding, Bunny, who was one of the premier old mas bandleaders back in the days when such topical presentations preceded most Carnival fetes.

He must be really proud of those "wotless" boys, who will spread the good name of T&T all over the globe in years to come. And they were gracious enough to share the stage with two veterans of the artform in Explainer and Baron, providing proof that timeless calypsoes like "Lorraine" and "Ah Feeling It" never die.

Oh yes, there was Machel, who was a shoo-in for the Soca Monarch title last night just based on his popularity, what with more than 30,000 people at the stadium for his return last Monday—one of the highlights of a T&T Carnival which still has some way to go before Ash Wednesday.

Be sure to savour it!

More details >>

Sheldon John tops Extempo

Sheldon John triumphed in the Extempo, at the Trinbago Unified Calypsonians Organisation's (TUCO) "Kaisorama" competition, at the Queen's Park Savannah, Port of Spain, on Thursday (March 3).

John defeated Phillip "Black Sage" Murray in a keenly contested final round.

Also tasting victory at 'A Night Of Champions' were Karene Asche (Political Commentary Category), Devon Seale (Social Commentary Category) and Wilfred "Young Creole" Barker (Humourous Category).

2011 KAISORAMA RESULTS

Extempo

1 Sheldon John

2 Phillip "Black Sage" Murray

3 Leslie Ann "Lady Africa" Bristow

4 Hezekiah Joseph

5 Joseph Vautor "Lingo" Laplaceliere

6 Brian London

7 Francois Ottley

8 Wendell Etienne

Political Commentary Category

1 Karene Asche - "Uncle Jack"

2 Eric "Pink Panther" Taylor - "Chalkie Say"

3 Dr Hollis "Chalkdust" Liverpool - "Manningitis"

Social Commentary Category

1 Devon Seale - "Ah Need Meh Carnival"

2 Carlos "Skatie" James - "Obeah Man Advice"

3 Phillip "Black Sage" Murray - "Thank God For Trinidad And Tobago"

Humourous Commentary Category

1 Wilfred "Young Creole" Barker - "Shave Meh Barberman"

2 Winston "Daz" Noel - "Fork In Napkin"

3 Victor "Mr Mack" Mc Donald - "Crooks Family"

More details >>

BUNJI BLASTS MACHEL

FOUR-TIME Power Soca Monarch winner Ian "Bunji Garlin" Alvarez has accused fellow soca artiste Machel Montano of "playing politics" to win tonight's $2 million bmobile Power Soca Monarch grand prize.

Montano, who has never won the Soca Monarch competition, has been picked to walk away with the $2 million prize this year by Attorney General Anand Ramlogan.

Asked to comment on this, Alvarez, who won the Soca Monarch title in 2002, 2004, 2005 and 2008, told the Express yesterday the Soca Monarch crowd is not one that can be easily fooled.

"No matter who put whatever in place, if anybody put things in place from before, on the night, the crowd knows who they want as their winner, and they would not accept anything less," Alvarez said.

Alvarez, performing in various soca fetes over the past week, has been using his freestyle flow of singing to address the perceived political ploy being used by Montano to win this year's competition.

A YouTube video entitled "Bunji Garlin spits fire at 'Mr HD'" at Army Fete 2011 is currently being circulated on social networking sites.

"He gone up by Kamla to drop off CD, ask she to come in the video but she sending Gypsy. You ent see, you ent see, you ent see is politics playing on we, but when next week Friday come, tell them they cannot beat me. But they so caught up with two million. I will beat them from the stands to the pavilion. Hold a burn, hold a burn, that boy going to learn. You cannot pay for Soca Monarch, that's a title you earn," Alvarez sang at last week Friday's Army Fete, at the Queen's Park Savannah in Port of Spain.

In response, Montano, in a telephone interview last night, said he was elated about the endorsement by the Attorney General and appreciates being appreciated for honouring the Calypso King, Mighty Sparrow, and Calypso Queen, Rose, on Monday night, during his concert.

Asked whether he does not consider it to be a political endorsement, he said he saw it as "one from a man who saw his work and decided to salute it".

"It's not politically motivated as some have suggested because if a PNM (People's National Movement) senator or even a common man endorses him in that way, what would they call that? In any case, the Government does not judge these competitions, so they have no way to show favour to him in that regard."

The People's Partnership Government has increased the bmobile Power Soca Monarch's first prize to $2 million this year, as well as the three other major Carnival competitions— Chutney Soca, Panorama and the National Calypso Monarch.

Montano has entered the competition this year for the first time since 1996, the year when Austin "SuperBlue" Lyons won the third of his seven Soca Monarch titles.

Montano is expected to perform his soca song "Advantage" tonight at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain.

In the music video for "Advantage", Montano is seen receiving a key to the Savannah big stage from Arts and Multiculturalism Minister Winston "Gypsy" Peters.

"Leh we thank the Government. They take we off the pavement. And it was well worth every cent. I say they're intelligent," Montano sings before Peters hands him a golden key.

Three-time Power Soca Monarch winner Neil "Iwer" George echoed Alvarez's view that the Soca Monarch crowd cannot be tricked.

"All I can tell you is the competition is very sticky. It is the biggest show. It is the show with the most eyes on it. And this is one of the shows, definitely, where the winner has to be the winner. The winner has to be the winner; there is no other way they can go about this show. All that is said and done before the competition will have no impact. The winner is selected on the night by their performance," George said.

Ancil Isaac, one half of reigning Soca Monarch duo JW and Blaze, said Ramlogan's statement would only bring additional pressure on Montano and would not affect the other competitors.

"Well, you see, at the end of the day when you see headlines like that, it really doesn't put pressure on us, it puts pressure on the person who is being backed. Because if he doesn't win, then the pressure is on him. There's no pressure on us; it draws the attention away from us and let's us do what we need to do," Isaac said.

William Munro, chairman of Caribbean Prestige Foundation (CPF), the company responsible for the Soca Monarch competition, said he saw nothing wrong with Ramlogan's public support of Montano.

"Everybody has their preferences. I, for one, like Patrice (Roberts) but that does not mean that she is guaranteed to win. I like her because I have seen her grow as an artiste from the Junior Soca Monarch to where she is now," Munro said.

Roberts, a member of the Montano-formed HD Family, is competing in the Groovy Soca Monarch as a solo artiste and alongside Nadia Batson in the Power Soca Monarch competition.

Judges will allocate 80 per cent of the points and bmobile customers, the other 20 per cent, to decide the winners of both the bmobile Power Soca Monarch and Groovy Soca Monarch.

—with reporting by Nigel Telesford

More details >>

Kurt Allen draws four

Reigning champion Kurt Allen will perform in position number four at the 2011 National Calypso Monarch final, at the Queen's Park Savannah, in Port of Spain, on Sunday.‬ ‪

‪"Where Are They Now" and "Changes" are the two calypsoes Allen has chosen for his title defence. ‪

Weston "Cro Cro" Rawlins will perform in the opening slot while Brian London brings the curtain down in position 12.‬

Order of appearance

‪1 Weston "Cro Cro" Rawlins‬

‪2 Kizzy Ruiz‬

‪3 Dexter "Stinger" Parsons‬ ‪

4 Kurt Allen‬

‪5 Karene Asche‬

‪6 Dr Hollis "Chalkdust" Liverpool‬

‪7 Devon Seale ‪

8 Joanne "Tigress" Rowley‬

‪9 Michael "Sugar Aloes" Osouna‬

‪10 Tameika Darius‬ ‪

11 Rodney "Benjai" Le Blanc‬ ‪

12 Brian London‬

‪ ‬

More details >>

Brian London eyeing $2m prize to open youth tent

IF he wins the $2 million first prize in Sunday's National Calypso Monarch final at the Queen's Park Savannah calypsonian Brian London hopes to realise his dream of opening a youth calypso tent.

He says many people have been saying that traditional calypso is dying and it (winning) will be an opportunity for him to contribute towards the continued development of the artform.

London was speaking with reporters on Wednesday night moments after being crowned San Fernando Calypso Monarch for a seventh time. He was however blocked in his bid to score a hattrick in the Extempo competition by Hezekiah Joseph.

London won the Calypso Monarch title in 2004, 2005 and 2006. He stayed away in 2007 but returned in 2008 to win the title and again in 2009 and 2010.

He said he had no intention of defending his title this year but was encouraged to do so by his supporters.

London's calypso "We Fed Up" was well received by the small turnout at Skinner Park. The song, in which he relates a conversation he had with Winston Bailey—Mighty Shadow—earned him a spot in Sunday's Dimanche Gras show.

He said he composed "We Fed Up" after being debarred from singing another song by the managers of the Kaiso House tent in Port of Spain.

"I had about five days to prepare a new song," London said.

"I wasn't sure what I was going to write and I came home and started the concept. I found that certain things were being regurgitated too much in the media to the people and I felt we needed to deal with the real issues. I completed the song in a day and a half."

London praised the other participants for the high calibre of competition on Wednesday night.

"I applaud the likes of Victoria Cooper and Melissa Williams. It was a mixture of experience and youth. I thought Lady Adana had a very excellent song. The quality of the songs this year was better but I would like to see more youths being a part of this competition."

Placing second was reigning Best Village Queen Victoria Cooper who sang "I Distance Myself" followed by Michael "Protector" Legerton in third position with "Ah Rising" while Joanne Foster placed fourth with "Sacred".

Also scoring her seventh win in the San Fernando Queen of Carnival competition was Peola Marchan whose portrayal of "D Jewelled Chandelier" won her loud applause from the audience when the costume lit up in front their eyes. The costume was designed by her father, Miguel Marchan, and Dawad Phillip of We People International.

Attorney and seasoned mas man Owen C Hinds jnr was adjudged San Fernando King of Carnival with his portrayal "Battle of the Marabuntas".

More details >>

Inmates Calypso Fiesta wows Woodford Square crowd

IN THE heart of the capital city on Wednesday, prison inmates were given the opportunity to showcase their singing abilities in an almost four-hour long concert organised by the Trinidad and Tobago Prisons Service.

Inmates from the Carrera Convict Prison, Golden Grove, Maximum Security, Port of Spain and Women's Prisons, who secured places in the various prison calypso competitions, came together at Woodford Square, Port of Spain, for the Tenth Annual Calypso Fiesta.

Relatives of inmates showed up in their numbers to see their loved ones perform. Some were seen wiping away tears as they video recorded and took photographs of the performances.

The messages conveyed in song comprised mainly of the hardships of life and the rising crime problem.

Curtis "The Fighter" Greene, one of the first to perform, stirred up the crowd with "The News". Also giving the crowd something to cheer about was Diana "Foxy" Pasqual, the reigning calypso champion at the Women's Prison. She performed "A Woman's Plea", a song about domestic violence which secured her first place in the competition.

Adding some humour to the concert was Lennox "The Mighty Cripple" Hamlet, who performed "The Cripple Man" and urged members of the crowd to do "the cripple dance".

However, the highlight of the day's performances was clearly Nicholas "Bangladesh Baron" Gosine of the Maximum Security Prison, who had the crowd begging for more of his singing — his voice bearing a strikingly similar sound to that of calypsonian Baron.

Others who also provided entertainment were Marlon "The Teacher" Malcom with his rendition of "Daddy Popo", Edwin "Brother Kinabi" Graham with his song "A Poor Man's Cry" and Andrea "Diamondz" Cashe, who performed "Soca Energy".

More details >>

Renegades seeks to stop Panorama

BP Renegades Steel Orchestra will today know whether it can grace the stage at the Queen's Park Savannah, Port of Spain tomorrow evening as a contestant in the National Panorama finals.

Renegades, through one of its players Candice Andrews yesterday filed a suit against Pan Trinbago in the Port of Spain High Court, asking that Renegades be included in the finals.

The winner of the pan finals will receive $2 million.

Renegades failed to make it to the National Panorama finals, following the semi-final rounds held at the Queens Park Savannah, two weekends ago after judges deducted points for distortion.

The band members claimed that DJ music from the back of the North Stand distorted their presentation.

Preliminary arguments were heard yesterday afternoon before Justice Maureen Rajnauth-Lee. At the end of which Rajnauth-Lee ruled she needed to hear detailed submissions and will then make her ruling.

The judge allocated one hour each for attorneys to present their cases this morning, following which she will give her ruling.

Senior Counsel Theodore Guerra, along with attorney Angelique Olowe are representing Renegades, while attorney Kerwyn Garcia is appearing on behalf of Pan Trinbago.

Guerra, in his arguments told the court, that while Renegades was performing, there was unauthorised music coming from the back (North Stand).

Guerra said the onus was on Pan Trinbago to ensure conditions were fair by making sure there was no disturbance during performances.

Garcia rebutted this argument saying that Pan Trinbago has in its possession a recording from UTT music engineer Yoichi Watnabe and there was no distortion or background noise during performances and he was happy to present the recordings to the court.

Garcia said Renegades' concerns were referred to the Panorama Management Committee and following talks between Renegades and Pan Trinbago the issue was resolved.

But Guerra argued that today's technology made it easy for such noise to be erased.

Vice president of Pan Trinbago Bryon Serrette was also present in court and told the media he remains optimistic that the pan finals will take place tomorrow.

Apart from seeking a place in tomorrow's finals, Renegades is seeking a declaration that the results of the semi-final round of the national pan festival for large conventional steelbands held on February 20, be declared null and void.

They are also asking for a declaration "that there be a review of the results and an order for judicial review against Pan Trinbago for irrationality and procedural impropriety." The nine-time pan champion is also seeking legal costs in excess of $15,000.

Renegades is claiming that the umbrella organisation, Pan Trinbago, failed to ensure that conditions were adequate for the judging of Panorama.

Renegades said the constant noise—music being played by DJs—emerging from the North Stand during the semi-finals round was distracting and thus caused its players to become disoriented.

Renegades claimed the judges score was unfair and even the score sheet reflected the steelband sounded distracted.

More details >>

Heavy penalties for bands hogging Savannah stage

"MOVE along".

This is the call being made by Chairman of the National Carnival Bands Association (NCBA) Parade of the Bands Committee, Samuel Lewis, to masqueraders.

"Yes the stage is back, yes we know that there is a message going out that you should mash up the stage, however, I would suggest that as you try to mash up the stage, you don't live on the stage, move along because everyone, every single masquerader wants to experience that back to the Savannah (feeling)," he said.

Lewis, who also called on masqueraders, bandleaders, visitors and citizens to obey the rules, was addressing members of the media at a press conference held yesterday at the Police Administration Building, Sackville Street, Port of Spain, when he made the statement.

He said he knew people often got caught up "in the heat of Carnival" but they should not forget there are rules involved.

"If (bandleaders) were to obey the rules that have been laid down with regard to parade route, with regard to the time they stay on stage, with regard to how they conduct themselves and their bands, then we would not have the lock jam that we know plagued us over the years," he said.

However, if bands refused to follow the guidelines with respect to the route and the time they should spend on stage, Lewis said they will be penalised by having a maximum of 20 points deducted from their score sheets.

"Maybe this has not been exercised as it should have been in the past, but it will be exercised this year," he said.

In fact, according to rules and regulations, mini bands are allotted five minutes, small bands are allotted 15 minutes, medium bands are allotted 30 minutes while large bands are allotted anywhere from one hour to and hour and a half.

"So as long as they are prepared to enjoy themselves but think of the others, then I think we should pass through the Queen's Park Savannah comfortably and don't worry with Machel (Montano) you can't mash up the stage," he said.

Assistant Commissioner of Police (Mobile) Wayne Richards added, however, that a large police presence will be out during the Carnival period not only to ensure order, but to ensure that the "traveling public gets from one point to the other".

As for the routes being used by masqueraders, retired Captain Neville Wint of the NCBA said several alternative routes were recommended, but not all were approved.

More details >>

Kamla, Jack star in Traditional Mas

Political issues and figures clearly influenced several costumes at Wednesday night's judging of Traditional Individuals Mas at Victoria Square, Port of Spain.

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar was parodied in three of the 11 entrants in the Dame Lorraine category while Works and Transport Minister Jack Warner and Calder Hart, the former executive chairman of the Urban Development Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago Limited, were favourites in the Midnight Robber class.

Clowns also got into the fray with depictions such as 'Jail? How Pena Ain't See That' and 'Clowns Running the SIA', the latter of which caused some members of the protective services to shake their heads and sigh.

Over 100 traditional mas depictions crossed the judging point.

The show, which started shortly before 8 p.m. and lasted exactly five hours, attracted a crowd of local and foreign spectators, yet only a few were willing to pay the entrance fee of $50 per adult and $20 per child.

The spectators instead chose to peer through recently erected fences and took photographs of the participants before they entered the judging area.

Esau Millington's portrayal of the Midnight Robber, 'King of Death Valley, Hands of Surprise' was the first masquerader to stand in front of the judges. The 97-year-old Millington was led before judges and after a rousing speech was led back to the entrance.

Under heavy police presence, the night saw 16 categories of individuals which included moko jumbies, pierrot grenades, minstrels, jamettes, jab jabs, authentic Indians and burrokeets.

Officials quickly led entrants on and off the street and at no time was there a lull between categories.

Chipping to Benjai's "Trini", the revellers put on a show for all who attended and interacted with bystanders before being judged.

"Wotless" from Kees was also a preferred choice of tune.

Spectators rocked with laughter when one Baby Doll character tried to give her 'children' to an unwilling person.

"This is yours. Hold yuh chile!" she exclaimed.

"Dey doesn't like to stand up to responsibility." She then proceeded to give 'birth' to another doll in the middle of Park Street which she then gave to a bystander.

As the final category, the Jab Molassie, began, members of the Fire Services armed themselves with fire extinguishers and took up positions in case any flame went out of control.

One announcer said traditional characters were the original Carnival mas costumes and should be remembered and shown appreciation.

More details >>

Machel draws 9 for Soca Monarch final

MOST of the artistes have their eyes on the $2 million Power Soca Monarch prize but Groovy Soca Monarch contestant Denise "Saucy Wow" Belfon is not happy with the disparity in the prize money between the two competitions.

"I just found out the prize distribution. I believed that the $2 million was for all competitions and not just the Power Soca," she said yesterday at the draw for positions for both competitions at the Hyatt Regency Trinidad in Port of Spain.

Belfon said all the competitors were putting out the same high level of performance and could not understand why the Groovy artistes were being treated as less than those in the Power category. Though fellow Groovy Soca competitor, Kees Dieffenthaller, said he too had just learned of the prize structure and was expecting the same payout for both competitions, he was just gearing up for the performance.

Destra Garcia, who performs in both competitions, said she did not really have a comment on the disparity as it was not an issue that she would have raised.

"This is my first time re-entering the competition. My main focus entering is to put on a really good show," she said.

Garcia said the Groovy Soca competition was a "different show" and the competitors "have a point when the talk about that, but it is not an issue I would have raised".

Power Soca Monarch contestant Machel Montano said he was "ready and psyched" for the show. He said the prize money, which he often cited as his reason to enter the competition, was a good step.

"Our artistes work much harder than what we make. We are worth more and we work hard all year round. Carnival is a machine that makes a lot of money," he said.

He said he was pleased that Attorney General, Anand Ramlogan picked him to win the competition, but knew that Ramlogan would back him after Ramlogan attended Montano's show on Monday.

"Well after seeing him have such a great time at 'The Return' on Monday night, I think they feel the energy. But I welcome any backing right now," he said.

Montano said his decision to compete on the International Soca Monarch stage would urge other artistes to raise the bar.

"Everybody else will now step up to the plate, because somebody like Machel is there," he said.

Order of appearance

Groovy Soca

1 Ras Star

2 Jahmoun

3 Yankee Boy and Patch

4 Kees The Band

5 Blaxx

6 All Rounder

7 Shurwayne Winchester

8 Destra Garcia

9 Chucky

10 Benjai

11 Denise Belfon

12 Patrice Roberts

13 Kerwyn DuBois

14 Megan Waldron

15 Cassie

Power Soca

1 JW and Blaze

2 Andy “Blood” Armstrong

3 Skinny Fabulous

4 Michelle Xavier

5 Shal Marshall

6 Tallpree

7 Iwer George

8 Nadia Batson and Patrice Roberts

9 Machel Montano

10 Destra Garcia

11 Ravi B

12 Bunji Garlin

13 Tian Winter

14 Fay-Ann Lyons-Alvarez

More details >>

AG: Machel has my vote for Soca Monarch

ATTORNEY General Anand Ramlogan says he would not be surprised if Machel Montano wins tomorrow's International Power Soca Monarch final and walks away with the $2 million prize offered by the Government.

"I wish him the very best of luck. He certainly has my vote," Ramlogan said while speaking in the Senate on Tuesday night as he introduced the Miscellaneous Provisions (Remand) Bill at the Red House, Port of Spain.

He recalled, on Monday night, he had the "good fortune" of attending Montano's concert, "The Return", at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Mucurapo.

Ramlogan described as a "very moving moment" the scenario when Montano brought on to the stage the world "king and queen" of calypso, Slinger Francisco, better known as "The Mighty Sparrow", and McArtha Linda Sandy-Lewis, better known as "Calypso Rose", respectively.

He recalled cutting out pictures of the two calypso icons to stick in his copybook with flour paste while he was in primary school. He noted they were honoured by Montano in front of almost 35,000 fans, and Calypso Rose broke down in tears.

Ramlogan pointed out what Montano did was demonstrate respect for elders and "a kind of caring and compassion that is sadly lacking in the youths" in this society.

"The extent to which Mr Montano was able to do that and to send a message that as a superstar and an icon...that this is what he stands for, I salute Machel Montano...for that gesture and for the powerful message it sends, and I say he is indeed worthy of emulation, and I hope that others will lead by example to mentor and set an example for our youths," Ramlogan said.

Montano returns to the Power Soca Monarch competition after a protracted absence.

Opposition Senator Fitzgerald Hinds, in his contribution, pointed out Montano had been seen in the company of Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and the United National Congress (UNC) "frequent times". He added there were some citizens who were saying the artiste had been sponsored by the Prime Minister and the UNC and was a "liming friend" with Persad-Bissessar.

The Government members raised their voices in objection to this statement. (See Pages 9 & 33)

More details >>

Silver Stars to play in position eight

Defending champions PCS Silver Stars will play in position number eight in the Large Band category at Saturday's National Panorama Finals, at the Queen's Park Savannah, Port of Spain.

Silver Stars will seek to become only the second band to achieve a hat-trick of Panorama victories. Bp Renegades won in 1995, ’96 and ’97.

Five-time champions Petrotrin Phase 11 Pan Groove, who finished joint first in the semifinals with Silver Stars, drew position four. Neal & Massy Trinidad All Stars will perform in the opening slot.

 

 

Order of appearance

 

Medium Bands

Band/Selection/Arranger

1. Pan Elders - "A Raging Storm" (Alvin Gittens)

2. Power Stars - "It's Showtime (Arddin Herbert)

3. Katzenjammers - "Wake Up" (Edwin Pouchet)

4. NLCB Buccooneers - "Calling Meh" (Seion Gomez)

5. Steel Xplosion - "Wake Up" (Carlton Alexander)

6. Pamberi - "TKO" (Brian Villafana)

7. Sangre Grande Cordettes - "Calling Meh" (Andes Kappel)

8. Valley Harps - "Do Something For Pan" (Michelle Huggins-Watts)

9. Courts Sound Specialists - "Calling Meh" (Ken "Professor" Philmore)

10. Arima Angel Harps - "TKO" (Shelton Besson)

 

Large Bands

Band/Selection/Arranger

1. Neal & Massy Trinidad All Stars - "It's Showtime" (Leon "Smooth" Edwards)

2. Sagicor Exodus - "Calling Meh" (Pelham Goddard)

3. NLCB Fonclaire - "A Raging Storm" (Ken "Professor" Philmore)

4. Petrotrin Phase 11 Pan Groove - "Do Something For Pan" (Len "Boogsie" Sharpe)

5. WITCO Desperadoes - "Trini" (Beverly Griffith/A. Robles/Eddie Quarless)

6. Starlift - "In She Rainorama" (Liam Teague)

7. Caribbean Airlines Invaders - "Doh Be On Dat" (Arddin Herbert)

8. PCS Silver Stars - "It's Showtime" (Edwin Pouchet)

9. Petrotrin Siparia Deltones - "Trini" (Carlton Alexander)

10. RBC/RBTT Redemption Sound Setters - "It's Showtime" (Winston Gordon)

More details >>

‘Tsunami’ takes Savannah stage by storm

Wade Madray moved one step closer to being crowned King of Carnival 2011 when his portrayal "Pacific Tsunami" gathered 431 points to top the Senior Kings semifinal competition, at the Queen's Park Savannah, in Port of Spain, on Tuesday (March 1).

"Pan On Fire" (425), portrayed by Roland St George, and Marlon Rampersad's "Bedazzled" (417) finished second and third, respectively.

In last week's preliminary round, Madray and Gerard Weekes ("In The Beginning Good And Evil") tied for first with 436 points each.

Senior King of Carnival finalists

1 Pacific Tsunami (Wade Madray) - 431

2 Pan On Fire (Roland St George) - 425

3 Bedazzled (Marlon Rampersad) - 417

4 In The Beginning Good And Evil (Gerard Weekes) - 415

5 Battle of the Marabuntas (Owen Hinds Jr) - 411

6 Bozo-D Legend Lives On (Curtis Eustace) - 409

7 The Jewel Spider (Glenn Dave Lakhan) - 403

8 Wakinyan-Quest Of The Feather Seeker (Lionel Jagessar Jr) - 399

9 Mukasa-The God Of Water (Leroy Prieto) - 398

10 Mr Carnival-The Return Of The Fire Man (Fareid Carvalho) – 393

More details >>

Valentino cops Veterans kaiso crown

Brother Valentino has again been crowned the Veterans Calypso Monarch.

Brother Valentino, whose real name is Emrold Phillip, successfully defended his title at the SWWTU Hall, Wrightson Road, Port of Spain, on Monday evening.

He beat out ten other calypsonians with his rendition of "Glory Days", a tribute to the days of mas and brass, and his evergreen classic "Life is a Stage", which was sung almost word for word by the appreciative crowd.

This was Brother Valentino's third title in the competition, having also won in 2005.

Organiser was second with "They Have it Easy" and "Trinbago Yankee", while Funny was third with his delivery of "D Best Thing" and "Funny Win".

Earlier, servant chairman of the National Action Cultural Committee, Aiyegro Ome, told the crowd the organisers were considering changing the name of the competition to Veterans Honour List.

He explained, "This generation does not know the past and we are likely to fall into the danger that younger artistes will not recognise the artistes who will perform tonight. We owe them a debt of gratitude for the foundation which they laid for calypso. Out of calypso came soca, chutney soca and various types of music and we should recognise these great artistes for."

Singing Francine, who was the only female singer in the competition, finished seventh. Also giving creditable performances were Contender, with "Retirement" and "Yuh Cyar Buy One"; Power with "Island in the Sun" and "Trinidad Culture", Brother Mudada ("For Yuh Country" and "No Use") and Poser ("Is not That" and "Sometimes").

More details >>

Sparrow, Rose honoured as royalty at Machel show

Calypso icon McArtha Sandy-Lewis "Calypso Rose" was moved to tears on Monday night, as she was saluted and crowned alongside her contemporary, Slinger Francisco "The Mighty Sparrow" by sporting heroes Brian Lara and Dwight Yorke at Machel Montano's concert "The Return".

Sparrow and Rose were dubbed "King and Queen of Carnival" by Montano, who thanked them publicly for their contributions before thousands of patrons assembled at the Hasely Crawford Stadium for his "Return" concert.

Rose subsequently thanked Montano for "flying the flag of T&T music and culture so high" and tearfully told him she was proud of him.

This moment became the turning point for the highly-anticipated event, which left many patrons frustrated with the inadequate bar services provided.

With thousands assembled in both the VIP and General sections, the few tiny bars were clogged with patrons throughout the night and ran out of many products long before midnight. One disgusted and dehydrated patron said:

"Imagine I pay $450 so I could come and line up for a half-an-hour to get to the counter, only for the people in the bar to tell me they have no water! No water? No cranberry juice, no scotch, like all they have is rum and ice. If I didn't love Machel so much I would leave right now."

As Montano's two-hour-plus set evolved and more special guests were unveiled, frowns and frustration slowly became smiles and joyful appreciation for the epic moment. During the night, Montano was joined by Latin hip-hop star, Armando "Pitbull" Perez, Swedish R&B singer "Mohombi" Moupondo, Def Jam recording artiste Aaron Fresh, Chutney Soca Monarch Rikki Jai, long-time friend and collaborator "Walker" Hornung, among others.

In an exclusive interview with the Express, Perez thanked Montano for bringing him to Trinidad for the fourth time and said he would continue to support their ideal for musical unity.

"It's always a pleasure to be out here in Trinidad. Machel always puts on a great event and the people always have a great energy. Beautiful country, beautiful women, so for me it's about showing the world what happens when two people with great music unite and what level they can take it to together.

"We keep adding people like Mohombi and Aaron Fresh to the team and aside from being artistes who are gonna be big in the future, they're people with big hearts who understand the unity we're trying to create for the world through our music," he said.

From as early as 6.30 p.m, vehicular and pedestrian traffic flowed in and around the sporting complex as patrons attempted to arrive in time for the advertised 8 p.m start. Around 8.15 p.m., Rodney "Benjai" Le Blanc took the stage to open up the live performances and thus began an engaging night of music and revelry. Kes the Band followed roughly an hour later and their set included special guests and veteran calypsonians Winston "Explainer" Henry and Timothy "The Baron" Watkins Jr.

Closing with an extended version of his Soca Monarch and Road March contender, "Advantage", Montano inspired a final burst of excitement which saw one female patron clambering up a rigging on the edge of the general admission section to wine on the scaffolding 20-feet in the air.

In spite of early frustrations with the bar service, most patrons described the event as "fantastic" and "a great show" as they left the venue when the show ended around 1.30 a.m.

More details >>

London thrills

Brian London left the audience calling for more even after having received three encores on Monday night when he performed at the three-tent clash featuring the Kaiso House, Kalypso Revue and Kaiso Karavan at the Queen's Park Savannah.

London sang "We Fed Up", a socio-political commentary in which he gives an account of a conversation with the Mighty Shadow who advises London on what topics and issues he should focus on in his calypsoes.

The Kaiso House calypsonian sang that while the Government and Opposition waste time in Parliament arguing over trivial matters while the nation's poor continue to suffer for a lack of basic amenities.

Dressed like the Shadow did some years ago, London touched on the controversies over Reshmi Ramnarine and the SIA, Caribbean Airlines and Jack Warner and the missing piano at the Diplomatic Centre that was not actually missing.

On the second encore, London excited the audience even more when he sang on the incident at the finals of the Chutney Soca Monarch in which defending monarch, Ravi B, who this year placed second to Rikki Jai, instructed the audience to pelt if they believed he should have been the winner. As London exited the stage for the fourth time the audience continued to call for him to return.

Sugar Aloes, representing the Revue, also received an encore for his performance of "Not One Word", in which he sings that in a telephone conversation with someone that is no friend, but a fellow PNM supporter, presumably Cro Cro, Aloes tries to convince the person to sing on the Government.

The audience cheered periodically throughout the performance, but really went wild, shouting and jumping up when Aloes sang the line, "Ah want to find Sasha to find out who was rocking Reshmi Ship."

National Calypso Monarch finalist, Stinger, from the Kaiso Karavan opened the show with "Mystic Revelations" for which he received an encore.

Also performing from the Karavan were Alpha who sang "Whey Dem", Young Creole who had people laughing throughout his rendition of "Shave Meh" and DeFosto who sang "Sing, Louis, Sing" to an audience that seemed to give him the cold shoulder.

Although he has been doing very well in the Revue with "No Love For Culture", Ninja did not have such a good night at the clash. The song is about the former culture minister, Marlene McDonald who Ninja sang used to tell anyone from the culture fraternity approaching her for funding that they should "keep a barbecue". Patrons in the Grand Stand sat stoic when Ninja sang lines that have had the tent audiences laughing nonstop. He also received no encores.

Also performing were Marvelous Marva, Alpha, Karene Asche, Chalkdust, Skatie, Crazy, Dee Diamond, Derek Seales, Devon Seale, Tigress, Brown Boy and Cassi.

More details >>

Brian London goes for record win

CALYPSO Monarch finalist, Brian London will tonight attempt to break a personal record.

Should he retain the San Fernando Calypso Monarch title, his victory will give him a fourth consecutive win after scoring two hat-tricks previously in the competition.

London, a member of the cast of Kaiso House tent in Port of Spain, copped the title in 2004, 2005 and 2006. He stayed away in 2007 but returned in 2008 to win the title and took it again in 2009 and last year. Last year he also retained the title of Extempo Monarch of San Fernando, which he first won in 2009. That title is also being defended at Skinner Park, San Fernando, tonight.

London, an employee of the Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Commission (T&TEC), placed second in last year's National Calypso Monarch competition singing "A Calypsonian". This year his composition is titled "Ah Fed Up".

One competitor sure to pose a threat to London's title tonight is Marsha "Lady Adana" Charles.

Charles, singing out of the South-based Kaiso Showcase tent, gave quite a commendable performance at last Saturday's Calypso Fiesta at Skinner Park, but failed to make the final. She will sing "Ready For The Truth" tonight.

Reigning Miss Best Village Queen, Victoria Cooper, is among the seven finalists hoping to dethrone London.

The others include Victor "Brother Mac" McDonald, Michael "Protector" Legerton, Mellisa Williams, Joann Foster and Randolph "Count Robin" Hillaire. Steve "Ras Kommanda" Pascall is the reserve contestant.

Coming up against London in the extempo category are Rawle Chase, Kevin "Slicky" Andrews and Hezekiah Joseph.

The competition, labelled "Night of South Monarchs", will also feature masqueraders vying for the San Fernando King and Queen of the Bands title.

National Queen of Carnival, Rosemarie Kuru Jagessar, who also placed first in the San Fernando competition, returns this year in the hope of doubling up.

Reigning San Fernando King, Aaron Kalicharan, is not competing this year.

Showtime is 7 p.m.

More details >>

From fancy Indians to butterflies

The National Carnival Bands Association (NCBA) on Sunday held the preliminaries of its Junior King, Queen and Individuals competitions at Siegert Square, Woodbrook. More than 200 children paraded in their costumes before the judges. The various categories of competition included Creative Topical, Original, Fantasy, Historical and Creative. The stage was partitioned along its length, with the judges for the Kings on the western side while the queens were judged from the eastern face of the stage. Brief light showers and drizzling rain made for an overcast, but cool day making things easier on the little ones who jumped up to songs such as, Machel Montano's "Advantage", Benjai's groovy soca hit, "Trini" and Fay-Ann Lyons’ "Consider It Done”.

More details >>

Anthony's 'Carnival Wikipedia'

Who won Panorama in 1979? Trick question. There was no Panorama in 1979 because of a dispute between PanTrinbago and the government. Did you know that the Songsters Competition was later changed to the Calypso Kings contest but again had to be changed to the Calypso Monarch competition when in 1978 Calypso Rose won the title? The Carnivals of Trinidad and Tobago, the latest literary gem from author Michael Anthony, is packed with information such as the above bits of trivia. At the recent launch of the book held at NALIS, Anthony was praised for once again providing the country and the world with an invaluable publication. Edghill Messiah, Vice President, Human Resources and Administration, Telecommunication Services of Trinidad and Tobago said he grew up with the works of author Michael Anthony, as did most people his age. "After more than 40 years of writing he has been one of the prime artists responsible for putting Trinidad and Tobago on the world's literary landscape crafting more than 20 books comprising of [fiction] and non fiction works. As a historian his research has brought us detailed exploration into the past of our nation." Messiah said that in this new book the true meaning of the words like 'kaiso' and 'lavway' are unlocked. He added: "The history of the canboulay riots are explained in exquisite detail. The story of the steel band and its emerging role in the early Carnival is recounted together with Carnival's long and victorious struggle against Colonialism and elitist forces as they tried to crush what was the Carnival. It is truly an exciting book." He said the book would invigorate not just teachers and students but foreign visitors as well. A sincere wish was expressed that the book become part of the school's book list so that young people could read and understand the history of this great festival. "It is important for all our youth in society to truly understand what [Carnival] involves and where it came from." Brining greetings from publisher Lonsdale Saatchi and Saatchi, Editorial Manager Gail Massy called Anthony one of this country's most prolific authors with now 29 books to his name. She noted, however, that the publication of his latest work proved to be a great challenge. "The first part of the book is a reworking of Parade of the Carnivals of Trinidad 1839-1989 which has gone out of print." Massy said she later found the book on ebay.com being sold for US$152.56 . "Out of print meant that we had to find the original and edit the scans. Then, of course, the author wanted to make amendments and then add sections on the evolution of calypso and steelpan which were not included in the original edition. Then it had to be updated." She said the book, which took eight months to be finally published, came up to 792 pages and could not be bound at the printery. The pages needed to be sewn together and the covers glued. A limited number of two-volume publications was then produced for the launch. A single book will be available later in the year. Professor Bridget Brereton, in a critique of the publication said Anthony has been getting books published since 1963 and called him a living national treasure. She described the book as the definitive encyclopedia of Carnival history in this country. "It's a kind of Carnival Wikipedia but in print rather than on-line." She saw it being used mainly as a reference book. "The great virtue of the book," she explained, "is an absolutely comprehensive coverage of Carnival in the twentieth century." She added: "These chapters cover absolutely everything that went on in each Port of Spain Carnival each year; J'ouvert, Carnival queen shows, Monday and Tuesday mas, Panorama and other steelband activities, calypso contests, Dimanche Gras, Kiddies' Carnival... everything." She said that material in the book was not limited to what happened in Port of Spain. There are also eight appendices which list the winners of every type of Carnival competition.

More details >>

Duncan retains Junior Calypso Monarch title

Aaron Duncan turned back strong challenges from 15 rivals to repeat as National Junior Calypso Monarch, at the Queen's Park Savannah, in Port of Spain, on Monday (February 28).

Duncan, who won last year at the age of six, had to contend with a hugely talented field this time around, including Garve Sandy of Bishop's High School, Tobago, and Rosary Boys' RC’s Timel Rivas. But it was seven-year-old Duncan, with his rendition of "Kaiso Alive", who won the judges’ approval. Sandy ("T&T Is A Better Place") and Rivas ("When You See A Camera") finished second and third, respectively.

2011 Junior Calypso Monarch results

1. Aaron Duncan (Newtown Boy's RC) - Kaiso Alive

2. Garve Sandy (Bishop's High School, Tobago) - T&T Is A Better Place

3. Timel Rivas (Rosary Boys' RC) - When You See A Camera

4. Rae Ann Guerra (San Juan South Secondary) - Our Mothers' Cry

5. Ezekiel Yorke (St. Mary's College) - We Legacy

6. Shervonne Rodney (El Dorado West Secondary) - One Family

7. Kerice Pascall (Rio Claro East Secondary) - Imitation Of Life

8. Marq Pierre (North Eastern College) - Remembrance

9. Gabrielle Isaac (UTT) - It Can't Be So

10. Celine Isaac (Holy Name Convent P.O.S) - Mr. Gun Man

11. Aliiyah Alleng (Mucurapo West Secondary) - Shine Ah Light

12. Mandela Patrick (Naparima College) - Hypocrites

13. Ferdinand Smith (Swaha Hindu College) - Cherish Freedom

14. Cavel Gordon (Bishop's Tobago) - Through The Eyes Of A Child

15. Nailah Blackman Khalibi (Rio Claro East Secondary) - Make Time

16. Kerise Marie Rawlins (Holy Faith Convent, Penal) - Pay Pan Men More Money

More details >>

Busta Rhymes delivers thrilling performance

United States hip-hop icon Trevor "Busta Rhymes" Smith thrilled fans assembled at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on Saturday night for Tri-Star Promotions' "Temperature IV" concert event.

Taking the stage around 2 a.m., Smith delivered an energetic 45-minute set that kept all eyes riveted to the stage throughout his performance.

Mixing humorous dialogue with Jamaican and Trinbagonian parlance, Smith and his Trinidadian hype-man, William "Spliff Star" Lewis, engaged the audience and performed his many hits, including: "Give It To Me", "Dangerous", "Woo Hah Got You All In Check" and "Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See", among others.

Temperature IV did not attract as large an audience as previous editions of the franchise, but nonetheless included celebrities like soca superstar Machel Montano.

Interviewed afterward by overtimett.com, which streamed the concert live on the internet, Montano said he was "very impressed with Busta's performance" and looked forward to working with him again soon.

He said: "I'm very tired and my voice is a bit hoarse from rehearsing all day, but I had to come out and support my boy Busta and take in his show. I love the way he mixed the humour and the music together and kept the crowd involved every step of the way while still keeping the timing and the momentum of his set going.

"He's a great performer and you know it's not that easy to entertain an entertainer so he was really very good. We did one song together so far and I just spoke with him backstage and he said we need to do another one soon, so I'm looking forward to that whenever it happens. Busta is a legend and an icon in the industry, so I'm glad he was able to touch our soil and share his energy with the people."

Earlier that night, Kes the Band electrified the crowd with an awesome performance, after acts like the Makamillion Family, Cassi, Lil Rick, TC and others opened up the live action around 10 p.m. Bunji Garlin, Fay Ann Lyons-Alvarez and Asylum received a warm reception, with special guests, 3Suns and Jamaican dancehall star Busy Signal as they took the stage following Busta Rhymes' set and closed the show around 4 a.m.

Promoter Roy Maharaj said he was happy that the show went off successfully, after he overcame "numerous attempts by various entities to sabotage the production" and thanked all the performers and suppliers for being "patient and understanding during the challenging period leading up to the event".

More details >>

Kanye West's 'ex' coming for Carnival

United States model Amber Rose is looking forward to experiencing Trinidad Carnival for the first time next week.

The former girlfriend of rap star Kayne West told the Express on Sunday she is "so excited to be in Trinidad for Carnival" and revealed that close friend, Trinidad-born hip-hop star Nicki Minaj has told her all about the festival.

Rose starred in Minaj's first music video, Massive Attack, early last year.

In an exclusive phone interview, Rose said she was en route from London to Sunday night's prestigious Academy Awards in Los Angeles, but could not wait to be in Trinidad.

Among other things, Rose said she is "looking forward to sampling a Trini roti".

Rose is being flown in for Carnival by Antilia Inc, a New York-based special-events, travel and concierge service company.

Last year, the agency hosted international supermodel, Tyson Beckford, NAACP image-award winning actor Malik Yoba and renowned celebrity photographer Jonathan Mannion for their "Antilia Carnival Experience" at The Carlton Savannah Hotel and also welcomed R&B superstar Mya and NFL stars Edgerrin James and Clinton Portis at a private event held in the WOW Suite of the hotel on Ash Wednesday.

Headed by CEO Simon Khan, Antilia Inc is dedicated to promoting Caribbean music, culture and tourism to the world and selected Rose to host "an intimate, private event in Trinidad on Ash Wednesday".

Details on this event have not yet been revealed, but Rose and the rest of Antilia's VIP guests will play mas on Carnival Tuesday in popular band Bliss.

More details >>

Gypsy wants 2nd Carnival in Tobago

Two committees are to be set up to examine the feasibility of having a second carnival in Tobago.

This was agreed to yesterday by Minister of Arts and Multiculturalism , Winston 'Gypsy' Peters, and Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Chief Secretary Orville London following a two hour meeting in Tobago.

Peters made it clear yesterday that he meant no disrespect to London, following weeks of verbal exchanges on the matter between both men.

Tobago will have Carnival as usual on Carnival Monday and Tuesday.

"I told him during the meeting; I think he misunderstood—I did not mean to disrespect him or the THA in any way. We needed to go forward in something. I decided to do that. I spoke about it, and expressed how I felt about it," Peters said.

Two committees will be set up, one from the Ministry of Arts and Multiculturalism, and one from the Tobago Festivals Commission. Both committees are to meet in April, present their findings and a way forward will be explored.

Peters however, is still hoping Tobago will have another carnival this year to bring revenue to the island.

"I am looking at this year. We still looking at trying to fast forward. I would hope that we can say yes," Peters said.

London said if the decision is made later to have a replacement or additional carnival in Tobago, the question that remains is when should it be held. The committees, he said, will be looking at the advantages and disadvantages.

"Question number one is whether there should be a second carnival in Tobago. Question number two is whether that second carnival should be a replacement carnival or whether it should in fact be an additional carnival," London said.

More details >>

De Fosto left out Calypso Monarch final

The National Calypso Monarch semi-final at Skinner Park, San Fernando ended with the traditional toilet paper waving on Saturday.

This time, the Calypso Fiesta toilet paper was reserved for Winston "De Fosto" Scarborough.

De Fosto was the final performer in a field of 40 calypsonians trying to get closer to the $2 million first prize of the Dimanche Gras competition at the Queen's Park Savannah on Carnival Sunday.

Some in the crowd apparently remembered De Fosto's support of the People's Partnership campaign last May when he sang on the election platform.

Eleven calypsonians were chosen and will come up against reigning Calypso Monarch Kurt Allen, and a chance to win the $2 million first prize funded by the State. They will each have to perform two songs at the finals.

De Fosto's selection, "Sing Louis, Sing" earned him a sea of waving white toilet paper ripples across the park where thousands attended.

The song focused on the recent exploits of Port of Spain Mayor Louis Lee Sing.

De Fosto, who failed to make it into the finals came on stage shortly after Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar was booed by the crowd.

Unlike the Chutney Soca Monarch finals at the same venue a week ago, where Persad-Bissessar and several of her ministers converged on stage and addressed the crowd, Persad-Bissessar stayed clear of the stage this time.

Persad-Bissessar, her husband Dr Gregory Bissessar, Minister of Arts and Multiculturalism Winston "Gypsy" Peters, Police Commissioner Dwayne Gibbs and San Fernando Mayor Marlene Coudray, under tight security, sat through the rest of the show in the mayor's booth until the results was announced.

Some members of the crowd booed when co-host Sheldon John announced that Persad-Bissessar was present at the competition.

Subsequent to the arrival of the Prime Minister and her entourage, calypsonian Karen Eccles who sang "Will We Rise" questioned in song the government's promise and plans during the May election campaign trail to the people of Trinidad and Tobago.

In an interview yesterday, Eccles said: "It might have been unfortunate for me; how they booed the PM and why I was not selected for the finals. But, I sing by what I see. And that song was written even before the election. My song is basically about the people. I sing how things are happening in our country. And "Will We Rise" was taken by all the promises the PM made during the campaign trail and what I saw in a vision. I am a humble person and I stand by principle."

Eccles said her rendition was merely to inform and enlighten people and not to cause any grievance to anyone.

Meanwhile, De Fosto said: "This was definitely my first time (toilet paper waving). But the funny thing is, they were waving and singing along. There was still a connection. But what it is, they didn't like when I sing, "Cyah Vote for That" on the People's Partnership platform. It was a perceived condition, the judges were not transparent in judging. I am the one who advocated that $2 million and they leave me out. How they want me to survive? I have no more money to make. On Carnival Sunday night, the PNM has prevailed."

De Fosto also praised Benjai's (Rodney Le Blanc), "Trini" as a true nation building song and labelled it, "The greatest calypso in 2011."

He said: "In calypso we should see country first, but no one see the country, everyone see party."

Among the calypsonians whose performance was met with applause were Benjai, Michael Osouna (Sugar Aloes), Kizzy Ruiz, Brian London, Dexter Seale and Weston Rawlins (Cro Cro).

More details >>

Smooth run for Junior mas

staying true to its word, the National Carnival Bands Association (NCBA) yesterday ensured there was no alcohol anywhere near the preliminaries of its Junior King, Queen and Individuals competitions at Siegert Square, Woodbrook.

The NCBA announced at the launch of the Junior Parade of the Bands, which will take place on Carnival Saturday, that anyone found consuming alcohol along the route will be removed.

More than 200 children paraded before the judges, each hoping to make it to the next level of the respective competitions.

The various categories included Creative Topical, Original, Fantasy, Historical and Creative. The stage was partitioned along its length, with the judges for the Kings and Queens sitting on either side, making for a smooth run of the show.

Scheduled to begin at 9 a.m., the event did not begin until after 10 a.m., partly because of inclement weather. Brief showers also disrupted the show during the competition.

The overcast conditions, however, made it easier for the young masqueraders, especially the toddlers, who jumped up happily in the coolness of the day.

The most popular songs of the day were Machel Montano's "Advantage", Benjai's (Rodney LeBlanc) hit, "Trini" and Fay-Ann Lyons-Alvarez's "Mash Up".

More details >>

St Margaret's tops again

YOUNG talent was at its best during the finals of the Junior Panorama competition which took place at the Queen's Park Savannah, in Port of Spain yesterday.

Though the competition got off to a late start, after more than nine hours of music, it would be the youngsters from St Margaret's Boys' Anglican School—last year's champs— who would again walk away with the title in the primary school category and bragging rights for the next 12 months.

St Margaret's drew screams and cheers of approval from the crowd during their performance of "Pan Army" which was composed by Len "Boogsie" Sharpe.

They managed to secure a total of 262 points, 20 points more than their closest rival— Malabar RC School Steel Orchestra—which placed second with their rendition of Austin "SuperBlue" Lyons' "Ethel". Placing third was Mafeking Government Primary School with 238 points.

Also sharing first-prize glory was St Francois Girls' College with their performance of "How We Coming" in the secondary schools category followed by El Dorado East with "Big Show-down" and Bishop Anstey High School East and Trinity College East (BATCE) with their rendition of Destra Garcia's "Calling Meh".

With 32 sides competing in three different categories, Primary, Secondary and Under-21, the judges had the task of tallying the points based on general performance, arrangement, rhythm and tone.

Eight Under-21 orchestras orchestras also performed at the "Big Yard" as the competition went under lights last night.

The results for that category announced last night were:

•1st - Success Stars Pan

Sounds (281)

•2nd - bp Renegades (278)

•3rd - St Augustine Secondary

(275)

More details >>

Single pan semis get underway

National Lotteries Control Board San Juan East Side Symphony topped the judges' score sheets at the Single Pan Bands Panorama semi-finals on Saturday night at Victoria Square, Port of Spain—a position they secured from the preliminary round.

Performing in position 14 before an appreciative audience, the band's rendition of Duvonne Stewart's arrangement of "Magician" was near perfect but their overall points slipped by three and half after the judges' final tally.

Playing in the cellar position (33), and led by Chief of Defence Staff Roland Maunday, The Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force Steel Orchestra also gave a fantastic performance.

They played a Robert Tobit's arrangement of "Battle Zone" improving on their preliminary round score by five points.

Trinidad and Tobago Fire Services Steel Orchestra earned a 13 point increase from their preliminary score.

Appearing in position 31, in the early hours of Sunday morning, Fire Services thrilled the audience with their performance of BJ Marcelle's arrangement of "I Don't Mind".

La Horquetta Pan Groove's performance of "Dead or Alive" kept them in the running but they too lost points (9) from their preliminary round.

Also giving a good performance in the wee hours was Hope Pan Groovers from Tobago. They gave a very energetic performance of "It's Showtime".

Saturday night's competition was keen and the judges could not separate several steel orchestras. Several bands tied for the same position.

Five bands tied for position eight, two for position 15 with several other ties in the lower positions.

Sixteen bands will go forward to the finals on March 3, at the Larry Gomes Stadium carpark in Arima.

They will be joined by the Small Conventional Bands in their final at the same venue.

More details >>

Carnival make-up tips and tricks

When you play mas, does your make-up streak when you start to sweat? Do your applied gems fall off when you start to jump? Does your lipstick rub off on the edge of your disposable cup? There are solutions to all of these problems and a lot of the other make-up challenges you may run into during the season. Fabulust make-up artist Camille Charlerie honed her skills doing make-up for band launches and for masqueraders and she's been keeping track of what works best for the road.

"Bold and bright eye makeup colours are always the rave for Carnival. What I've found works best to make your brights look their brightest, always use an eyeshadow primer and base," she shared.

Love the dramatic look? Charlerie said: "Gems and lashes create all the Carnival drama you would need to finish your costume. But, my advice on this is—please use spirit gum to apply your gems but not to stick your lashes. This is a mistake a lot of people make but there are specific glues for lashes."

"If you're a do-it-yourself person, use either the Ardell brand or a good option is the M.A.C Duo. But when it comes to lashes, I always recommend getting them professionally done as they would probably last longer and it will be less frustrating for you. Also, if you choose to do your own lashes, strips are easier to apply than Individual lashes," she added.

Still on the topic of lashes, Charlerie said coloured lashes are popular during the season and can really add to your overall look.

"If you want just a hint of colour on your lashes or you are not as brave to wear full coloured lashes, a good idea is to layer it with a strip of regular black lashes beneath. And to keep lashes on longer, refrain from using pencil eyeliners around the eyes as the wax from the pencil will loosen the glue on the lashes, gel liner or liquid liner are the best options."

It's not uncommon to see strange tan spots where applied beads were on a masquerader's face on Ash Wednesday morning. To avoid this splotchy look, Charlerie said: "Always use a face primer or foundation with SPF to help protect your skin against the sun. This would help to prevent the tan circles you may see when you remove your gems."

Now on to the main tips, how do you keep a fresh look all day? Charlerie gave this advice: "Caking on foundation will not look right. Instead use a layering technique with your powder and some fix-it spray to keep your look fresh all day long."

And how do you keep your lipstick on your lips all day? "For lips that can stand against your drinking on the road, make sure to line lips and fill in lips with liner as well, use more matte textured liners and lipsticks as these stay in place longer. Also, keep gloss on top of this minimal as the oils from the gloss will help break down the product on your lips and you would lose your lip colour faster."

For Charlerie, 24, the move to Carnival make-up artistry was an easy one. After years of playing around with her own make-up, she decided to follow her passion and get certified as a make-up artist. "When I would go out, the most exciting part of it for me would be in applying my make-up and people would always ask me who did my make-up for me.

As a result, I found myself being hired to do make-up for graduations and other special occasions because people just liked the way I did my own make-up… My mom always said since I was 3 years old I used to steal all her make-up and go into a corner and decorate my face, so I think it was my destiny to become a make-up artist.

For Carnival Make-up Consultations or for more information on Charlerie, please call 462-3913 or email @fabulust17@hotmail.com.

More details >>

Benjai makes it to the "Big Yard"

Rodney "Benjai" Le Blanc's bumper season continued when he was named among the 11 finalists for this year's Calypso Monarch competition.

Benjai performed his extremely popular "Trini" at Saturday's Calypso Fiesta semifinals at Skinner, Park, San Fernando.

His soca hit has already earned him the 2011 Young Kings Calypso Monarch title as well as a place in the Groovy Soca Monarch final.

All finalists will perform two songs when they come up against defending champion Kurt Allen at the "Big Yard", Queen's Park Savannah, on Carnival Sunday.

Here is a full list of the Calypso Monarch finalists:

1. Brian London - We Fed Up

2. Devon Seales - Ah Need Me Carnival

3. Dexter 'Stinger" Parsons - Mystic Revelations

4. Dr Hollis "Chalkdust" Liverpool - Wounded Pride

5. Joanne "Tigress" Rowley - Woman To Woman

6. Karene Asche - Uncle Jack

7. Kizzy Ruiz - De Engine Stall

8. Michael "Sugar Aloes" Osouna - Not One Word

9. Rodney "Benjai" Le Blanc - Trini

10. Tameika Darius - Ungrateful

11. Weston "Cro Cro" Rawlins - Compare and Contrast

More details >>

Kamla braves jeers at Calypso Fiesta

Prime Minister Kamal Persad-Bissessar braved a jeering Skinner Park in San Fernando yesterday to take in the sounds and sights of Calypso Fiesta, with Minster of the Arts and Multiculturalism Winston "Gypsy" Peters.

The announcement of Persad-Bissessar's presence at Skinner Park by co-host Sheldon John and the subsequent boos were followed by the immediate performance by Karen Eccles of her song "Will We Rise", a calypso that is pro-Persad-Bissessar and the People's Partnership.

Among a field of 40 calypsonians yesterday, performing before the traditionally unyielding Skinner Park crowd, calyp- so/soca artiste Rodney "Benjai" LeBlanc scored high points, being called back onstage a second time, and the crowd having to be reminded the event does not entertain encores.

Benjai performed his 2011 hit, "Trini", at the semi-final round of the competition.

Sending political messages as usual, veteran calypsonians Winston "Cro Cro" Rawlins, Michael "Sugar Aloes" Osuna and Eric "Pink Panther" Taylor lived up to expectations, earning resounding applause from the crowd.

But, for most, calypsonians who performed social commentary dominated the competition.

Other strong contenders and favourites with the large crowd were Kizzy Ruiz, Brian London, Marsha Charles, Tameika Darius, Devon Seale, Sean Daniel, Karene Asche and Joanne "Tigress" Rowley.

Also in the audience were Police Commissioner Dwayne Gibbs and San Fernando Mayor Marlene Coudray.

More details >>

'Story Teller' wins

The 55th annual Red Cross Children's Carnival was no exception as hundreds of the nation's youngsters took to the Savannah stage for their part in the Greatest Show on Earth.

There was ole mas, pretty mas and mas that commented on the environment, pop culture and costumes that celebrated nature.

There were dragons, fairies, sailors, creatures of nature and of lore and good ole local jumbies.

The First Prize in the Large Bands category was eventually taken by Rosalind Gabriel's The Story Teller.

With some results still to come, there was also a winner in the Boys' 3-5 years of age category, which was taken by Kerwyn Roberts's "Royal Court".

There were no major hiccups, as the show started shortly after 8 a.m. and progressed fairly smoothly, with over 350 bands and individuals making it a day of colour and culture.

The morning was cool but by mid-morning, the heat did prove too much for a few youngsters, who had to be taken back to their parents to watch the show from the stands.

Three songs seemed to dominate the day and were definite favourites among the kids, Benjai's "Trini", Machel Montano's "Advantage" and Fay Ann Lyons-Alvarez's "Consider it Done".

It was good clean fun and though some children seem to have learned how to wine from an early age and were eager to show off their skills, there was no vulgarity to speak on the stage.

More details >>

Mas launched in PoS

MOKO JUMBIES, Blue Devils, Midnight Robbers, Fancy Indians and Sailors yesterday ushered in the launch of downtown Port of Spain Carnival 2K11, which was officially opened by Mayor Louis Lee Sing.

The original characters made their way down Frederick Street having started at Memorial Park, accompanied by music trucks and rhythm sections and a few revellers. Their journey ended at the Brian Lara Promenade, where they continued the partying.

One spectator cried for help from a police woman after a Blue Devil refused to stop licking her until he was paid. Another woman, who was seated in the enclosed area adjacent to the stage, ran after a Blue Devil climbed the fence and pointed at her and screamed.

Following the entertainment by the characters, Lee Sing, in his maiden speech as chairman of the Downtown Carnival Committee, called on corporate Trinidad and Tobago to lend greater support for downtown Carnival.

"We understand the focus and allocation of resources for the rebuilding of the much needed Carnival centre ... but it is unacceptable when not a green cent is allocated to the City Corporation towards the management and hosting of Carnival events ... but we are charged with effecting the cleaning of the entire city," Lee Sing told the crowd, adding that the city will be cleaned both Monday and Tuesday nights.

He also told the crowd that no major State corporation made serious donations for the hosting of downtown Carnival, except for a "very small sum" for the placement of banners in Woodford Square by B Mobile for the weeklong lunch time concert Soca in B Square.

He said he has raised the issue with the National Carnival Commission (NCC), whose chairman, Kenny De Silva, earlier in the day said he wants to make "The Greens" at Piccadilly Street, East Dry River, a mandatory judging point for the Carnival competitions.

The Mayor, who was heckled at one point for talking too long, said Kiddies Carnival will begin at 8 a.m. on March 5, while Junior Carnival will begin at 1 p.m. the following day.

Minister of Arts and Multiculturalism, Winston "Gypsy" Peters, who delivered the feature address, reiterated that costume designing should be done locally, as this will increase the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

More details >>

It's not the music, it's the alcohol

It's the final week before Carnival. As the last weekend before Carnival Monday and Tuesday draws near, the nation prepares to witness even more jostling on stage as the crème de la crème of this year's soca and calypso artistes vie for the all-tempting $2 million prize at the finals of their respective competitions.

In the meantime, even as we shake our heads or exclaim in disappointment at the war of words that has already unfolded among the contending artistes and their fans, we continue to grapple with other issues that are closer to home — the same issues that we face each year at Carnival — an increase in irresponsible and unsafe sexual behaviour.

There have been campaigns. In the midst of the Carnival season, the Family Planning Association of Trinidad and Tobago (FPATT) in conjunction with Population Services International/ Caribbean launched a line of condoms called Cool Condoms urging safe sexual behaviours.

While this is a laudable initiative that is expected to reduce the level of irresponsible sexual behaviour at Carnival time, there are still those who would squeeze through the cracks. Once the dust under our feet clears, we can expect a spike in unwanted pregnancies, abortions and sexually transmitted diseases in the months to follow.

But what causes this raw abandon at Carnival time that encourages so many otherwise responsible people to throw all caution to the wind?

Some Express Woman readers believe that the increase in alcohol consumption has a direct impact on unsafe sexual practices.

"A lot of people, particularly young people, would tell you that they had sex when they were drunk," said one woman. "They lost control and they gave in. When they are drinking they are not thinking responsibly, so the thought of abstinence or using condoms would be the furthest things from their heads."

"If they drink and get in their cars and drive when there is a law against that, what is preventing them from drinking and having sex as consenting adults?" another woman asked. "Every drinker feels that he or she can handle the liquor and that nothing would happen until something actually does happen."

Some readers blamed the music.

"Sex and alcohol is all the artistes sing about now," one woman complained. "You get all kinds of double messages coming out in the songs. Young people are not stupid, they understand it as clearly as we do."

Another woman nodded.

"Music influences behaviour and that is a scientific fact," she said. "When you have artistes singing all kinds of lewd lyrics about the things they did with a tongue ring, what you expect to get at Carnival time?"

"Some people are so caught up in the beat that they don't understand the lyrics that are being pumped into their heads all the time," a third woman said. "You cannot tell me music does not influence behaviour when as soon as the artiste says to shake like you going bad or to wine, roll and bounce on the ground, you are doing just that. What is stopping some people from taking it one step further?"

One young woman, just out of her teens, said sex at Carnival time was just another expression of freedom.

"Ah wotless!" she chanted and laughed. "It is Carnival time and people are feeling free. One way people express freedom is through sex."

Whatever your conclusion, if you are partying this season, remember there is life after Carnival, so as you enjoy the last few days before we take our revelry to the streets, be cautious, be safe.

More details >>

Newcomers take school soca titles

Both winners of the Flavorite Supreme Ice Cream National School Soca Monarch titles are newcomers to the calypso arena.

Sergio Camejo, a Standard Five pupil of the Sacred Heart Boys' Primary School, is the new Soca Monarch in the Primary School category; while Marq Pierre, a Form Three pupil of North Eastern College, Sangre Grande, walked away with the Secondary School title.

Dressed as an army general, Camejo graced the stage in front of the Grand Stand, Queen's Park Savannah, Port of Spain in the presence of several little dancers, also dressed in military costumes and belting out his composition, "Come Infront".

From the word go he had his peers eating out of the palm of his hand, as he instructed them to wave their flags—"Up and down, left, right." So it was no surprise when he was announced as the winner in his category.

Pierre wooed the Savannah crowd, and the judges too, with his song, "One Way to the Top".

Confident and in command, Pierre, who admitted it was his first time in the competition, walked on stage outfitted all in white and gave an outstanding performance that had even the judges moving in their seats.

His message to his peers: education is the only way to the top, not excessive hours on the popular social network Facebook, partying or liming.

Little Aaron Duncan, of Newton Boys' RC School, who was rolled onto the stage in a stroller, gave a commanding performance with his rendition of "The Baby of Soca", mimicking Machel Montano of years gone by. He walked away in second place, beating the 2009 Junior Monarch Timel Rivas of Rosary Boys' RC School, who sang "We Time Again" into third place.

Second place in the Secondary School category went to Anthony Batson, of Couva West Secondary School, with "Show Love", while third place went to Karmel Gordon, of Bishop's High School, Tobago, with her tribute to Calypso Rose, "Red Hot".

More details >>

Benjai: Make room for youths, future of calypso

Soca artiste Benjai (Rodney LeBlanc), who is riding high with his music but low with his legal issues, will compete today at Calypso Fiesta, Skinner Park, San Fernando.

Benjai is up against 39 others vying for the $2 million first prize sponsored by the State.

On Monday, he won the National Calypso Young Kings title, with his popular "Trini", at the National Academy for the Performing Arts (NAPA) in Port of Spain, beating 21 competitors. His prize was $100,000.

The final of Calypso Fiesta will be held at the Queen's Park Savannah, Port of Spain, on Carnival Sunday night—March 6.

Benjai said of today's competition: "A lot of senior people (calypsonians) in the business should be showing love, (but their) mind only on money. They showing hate.

"They saying that my song is not a calypso and that is not the art form. But what is the art form? It can't be the same as back in 1960 calypso. They have to understand that they getting older and to make room for the youths and stop trying to block their way."

Benjai, who will be singing in position number 31, and is up against veterans like Cro Cro and Sugar Aloes, added that "every year, they (artistes) argue about the Government, but I have no time to blast a minister or to go to a tent and listen to that. I am branded as the future of calypso and I intend to pull back calypso into soca".

Full list of Calypso Fiesta contestants and the

order of appearance

More details >>

3Canal and the Little Carib ReEvolution

In the newly restored Little Carib Theatre in Woodbrook rapso group 3Canal on Wednesday night premiered its 2011 edition of The 3Canal Show. The title of this year's production is ReEvolution Time and was the first event to take place at the Little Carib since its reopening after being closed for restoration over three years ago.

The venue was the home of legendary dancer Beryl McBurnie who, during the 1940s, created a performance space there for the nation's budding talents. Although the restoration was quite extensive the original layout and intimacy of the space was maintained. Upgrades include the latest in lighting and sound technology.

ReEvolution Time is the 3Canal Show's return to its original home and during the production the group dedicated "Trodding On" to McBurnie and the theatre. The show opened with the dancers taking the stage to oratory on the spirit of a warrior delivered by Wendell Manwarren over the music of "Reevolution Time".

3Canal-Manwarren, Roger Roberts and Stanton Kewley then took the stage to the cheering audience, those seated in the balcony and the one that chose to gather at stage level and dance to the music under the strobe lights employed in the production. There was also live animation on a screen to the right of the stage orchestrated by recent graduates of the University of Trinidad and Tobago.

The rapso watchdogs of politicians did comment on the political landscape several times during their production, for instance when they sang "Thin Cow". Manwarren drew reference to news reports that the People's Partnership Government was looking to institute the property tax, which they objected to when the PNM sought to do so last year. Manwarren said, "We did not vote for that. We voted for change. We are not asleep. The war is not over," to which the audience cheered.

Later on while performing "Power To The People", Manwarren spoke of the waves of revolution moving across the Middle East. Citing the latest protests in Libya, Manwarren shouted, "Gadaffi needs to understand he's got to go. We celebrate Egypt, Tunisia, Libya." He then reminded the audience that it is the people who decide who governs, shouting, "I am the government," as the band struck up the music of "Running Away".

Among the guest artistes performing was the band, Gyazette which performed a political commentary titled "Who Is the Captain Of This Ship," done in alternative music style blending blues, rock, kaiso and other local genres.

Also performimg was Kin Sibling Rivalry, which is fronted by 3Canal guitarist, Kiwan Landreth-Smith. They too performed music with elements of rock, kaiso and other local rhythms exploring the Jouvert experience. Colis Duranty had the audience in grip when he performed a love groove "Bring Back My Love" followed by "I Can Hardly Wait".

More details >>

'Why no $2m prize for masmen?'

"Bandleaders need to put their heads together and raise the bar," Legacy bandleader Mike "Big Mike" Antoine said on Thursday night, after his individual presentation tied for first place at the National Carnival Commission's preliminary round of the Senior Kings and Queens competition at the Queen's Park Savannah, Port of Spain.

Antoine's creation, "Pacific Tsunami", tied with crowd favourite "In the Beginning Good and Evil" by mas designer Brian MacFarlane.

Although Antoine heaped praise on his masquerader, Wade Madray, for taking the large costume across the stage, he said the competition was suffering because of the financial hardship associated with producing a king and queen.

The size of the new Savannah stage dwarfed some of the smaller costumes. However, MacFarlane's presentation, a gnarled tree with a serpent, an apple and four scrolls with angels and devils standing more 20 feet high, and Antoine's costume, a massive blue cresting wave creation, were able to make use of the space.

"It can cost more than $80,000 to produce a king alone and after all of that work, that money is lost if you don't place," Antoine said.

He said mas designers and bandleaders deserved a piece of the $2 million prize money being given to the pan, chutney and calypso competitions.

"Who is seeking our best interests?" he asked.

Antoine said fellow bandleaders like MacFarlane understood the financial constraints of producing a band, but they both lacked the proper voice to take the plight to the relevant authorities.

"It is almost like the people who are in the forefront have their own agenda and not recognising what the bandleaders and mas is going through," he said.

He said the lack of proper financial payouts deter would-be mas designers from producing a costume.

"Its a hefty investment," he said.

MacFarlane too was full of praise for his king, Gerard Weekes, and queen Sevell Nicholls, who placed third in the queen competition.

"I would like to congratulate Wade Madray, but I am extremely proud of my king and queen.They did a tremendous job," MacFarlane said.

"They had those two costumes mounted on them, there were no wheels, the costumes were totally carried by them. It is not easy to do that," he said.

MacFarlane said he was now gearing up for the semi-final round of the competition, which takes place on Tuesday, adding he was "looking forward to see what that night would bring".

More details >>

Stop the soca, chutney invaders

As judges in the Power Soca and Groovy Soca contests we are clear in our minds what we are looking for. Nothing that is calypso or remotely resembles that genre gets past us. I am not a chutney soca judge but I can guess that they too have clear guidelines. No calypso gets past the preliminary round of these two competitions.

The rules for a calypso competition state that a calypso must be no more than four verses and no fewer than three verses and a chorus.

It appears that calypso judges have abandoned their guidelines and are prepared to embrace any popular musical form to the detriment of genuine calypsoes.

So a soca artiste, singing a hugely popular soca piece, a one verse/ one chorus/one bridge item, enters a calypso competition, where judging is said to be done by people in the audience, has the entire building rocking, and wins Young King Calypso Monarch contest.

What a disservice to the real calypsonians. Then he makes it to the Calypso Monarch Semi-Finals. Expect next year to see Kees, Shal, Swappi et al in calypso competitions with their soca pieces.

If soca artistes want to be in a calypso competition do as Mr Chucky, Meagan Waldron, Teri Lyons and others—find a calypso and come. But to take a soca piece and "eat ah food" from the soca and calypso pots when restrictions are placed on calypsonians in the soca and chutney soca yards is grossly unfair and unjust. If promoters want soca acts in their calypso shows to boost ticket sales, let them appear as guest artistes!

There is "food" for the soca folks through air play from Christmas until way past Ash Wednesday. If the calypsonian hears his song for three weeks on radio during the season, that is a miracle.

Do not be surprised when calypsonians begin boycotting their competitions if soca songs are competing. This unfairness must stop. But then again, with calypsonians struggling to "eat ah food", boycotting a competition may not be an option.

Laurence Percival

Curepe

More details >>

The Art of Carnaval

A golden masquerader in all her glory, the silver steel of a tenor pan, the deep blue of a jab in full flight; the vibrancy of the works shown at On Location Art Galleries Limited was all a stark contrast to the cold, rainy night outside the De Verteuil Street space.

The 56-piece exhibition, entitled Carnaval, celebrates the different aspects of the annual festival by bringing together different artists who express themselves in ways as varied as the mas itself. The pieces range from contemporary to abstract with a few traditional pieces thrown into the mix.

Peter Kwang, owner of the gallery said some of the works on display were old, such as those from artiists Christopher Cozier and the late Leo Glasgow. These paintings are now collectors pieces. The new and emerging artists have done work specifically for the show which was planned since last year.

He said: "This is an encouragement to get other people involved especially our not necessarily younger but emerging artists. There are quite a few who have not come onto the scene as yet but we have things in the pipeline later on in the year planned for them."

Other artists whose works are included in the exhibitionn are Ryan Williams, Medeiro, Glen Roopchand, Carlisle Harris, Jason Jarvis, Daniela Fifi, Tara Bhajan, Liz Gardner and Bascombe.

Kwang, who has over 40 years experience in framing, said pieces have been viewed by students and teachers and therefore have provided an educational role as well, giving viewers a glimpse into past and present aspects of Carnival.

The exhibition, which started on February 22, runs until two weeks after Carnival to allow visitors to see what is going on in Trinidad

Kwang's son Jason, who recently returned from Canada said the exhibition also kept visitors to the show mindful that there was a lot more to Carnival to what is popularly seen and heard.

"For the Carnival season sometimes there is too much of a focus on the fetes or what you might call the new Carnival. It's good to remember that it's not always about the revelry and the jumping and wining but robbers and Dame Lorraine and the folklore that we need to keep in our memory."

He added that the spelling of the exhibition's title was also deliberate.

"Carnaval is all encompassing. The Portugese, French and the Spanish all use it. In line with what our message and aim was for the exhibition to get more people involved and have it all encompassing and celebrate all facets of the exhibition. The name captures that and we have both established and emerging artists."

Please call 622-3403 or 633-3404 for further information about the exhibition.

More details >>

The new Soca Star

The Cocorite community was in celebration until the wee hours of Friday morning as home-grown "hustler-turned-entertainer", Kamaul "Ras Star" Franklin brought home the Synergy Soca Star Season 3+3 Title with his song, "Soca Fire" on Thursday night. Residents of the area turned out in their numbers to support their comrade, who welcomed them onstage to celebrate with him after receiving the keys to the grand-prize Daihatsu Terios.

Calm and collected, Franklin displayed poise beyond his twenty-two years and said he was proud to shine a positive light in his community. He said:

"I must thank the Most High, Selassie I for blessing me with the talent, my parents and my community for supporting me. I'm proud to represent Cocorite—or Coco-Sweet as we say—because you know we have this stereotype that people from the ghetto can't do anything or be anything productive in life, so I'm glad to represent something positive in my community. As for the car, I fed up seeing my mother walk, so I won that for her to drive."

Franklin revealed that he had never performed before the contest, but that his early exposure to pan and being a DJ had given him a love for music and entertainment. He said:

"This competition was actually the first time I've ever sang or performed in life and it's been a great experience. My parents, even from my grandmother come down always used to be playing pan—they're big pan lovers—and yuh know every Carnival we in tune with soca, so it wasn't so hard for me to get involved in the music. I must big up the Black Heart Family because I was a DJ before this too and that gave me some experience with being on stage and in front of crowds and understanding what the people like and what they want."

Six finalists were chosen from hundreds of entrants and on this night the hopefuls were thrilled to perform alongside their favourite mainstream entertainers, before they presented their original offerings. Runners up were the acrobatic, Christopher "Chris Star" Hinkson and the ever-persistent, Kibwee Prescott, with the other finalists being Summer Fraser, Akeem "Preddy" Chance and Osei "Noble Vox" James.

The Jean-Pierre Complex was not as packed for this year's final as in previous instalments, likely due to the fact that this edition was shown live on the popular entertainment channel.

The first-half appearances by mega-popular acts such as Kees Dieffenthaler, Bunji Garlin, Fay-Ann Lyons, Machel Montano, Lil Rick and Iwer George made for a lacklustre second half, but all that changed when Franklin took the stage around 9 p.m. First, the youngster "magically appeared" inside a cage onstage and then, dressed in an all-red ensemble created by designer Salem Samuel, he proceeded to "give them the fire they wanted". The crowd response for "Ras Star" was tremendous and long-lasting, unlike the other finalists who only received shorts bursts of enthusiasm from the audience.

Franklin added that he would not confine his music to soca only and thanked "all the children in the world" for supporting and inspiring him to be a positive role model. He said:

"I'm not just a soca artiste alone: I'm an entertainer, so reggae, soca, even chutney you might hear from Ras Star. I had a CD launch for the kids in my community last weekend because they are my biggest fans right now. Big up all the children in the world – not just Trinidad and Tobago. I wrote the song for them and added the E-e-e-e slang just offal vibes, but right now, we saying E-e-e-e for education because without that they will be lost in the world!"

Synergy TV's creative director, Peter C Lewis thanked all the corporate partners who made the show and the event possible and revealed that next season's edition would be "roving around the country" and utilise "international producers to ensure a higher level of production". He said:

"We must thank Advance Dynamics, Toyota and bmobile especially, as well as all the artistes who came through and supported this project –especially Lil Rick who came from Barbados to attend. Next year, we intend to have a Synergy Soca Star Caravan which will travel all around the country to find the best talent and we'll have some producers from England to ensure a great television production. Synergy TV is dedicated to showcasing the talent of our young people and creating stars, so they can then shine their lights around the country, the region and the globe."

More details >>

Carrera's calypso competition a big hit

HARD hitting lyrics and a few well rehearsed skits characterised the Carrera Island Prison annual calypso competition yesterday.

The competition showed that despite their isolation the 400 inmates who call the island their home seem to be a very well informed group of people.

With renditions such as, "Parents' responsibility", and "Solution is not hanging", it appeared that the inmates who are serving long sentences are well aware of society's happenings.

Yesterday's competition was the 24th and it was an inmate named Marlon "Teacher" Malcolm who copped the first prize with his rendition, "Growing Up".

He spoke of the ills of not having his "daddy" around and even used a little person tugging on his pants leg to portray a boy seeking his father's approval.

It was well received by all gathered with even the toughest looking prison officers doubling over in laughter.

Curtis "D Fighter" Greene with his calypso, "D News", took second place while Joseph "Sweetie" Dorset with his rendition of "Trini Warrior", took third place.

The competition had built a selection of loyal sponsors over the years such as Petrotrin, Nestle, National Flour Mills and Master Baker.

–Gyasi Gonzales

More details >>

Carnival village returns to Sando

THE city of San Fernando will have for the first time in eight years a Carnival Village.

The village will be located at the corner of the Rienzi-Kirton Highway and Cipero Street and will be opened on March 3, by Mayor Marlene Coudray.

Carnival plans were announced at a press conference held at City Hall Auditorium in San Fernando yesterday.

Organiser Paula Atherly said "The Carnival Village is something that we have tried to put together to allow San Fernando to have a venue where they can go throughout the evening period and enjoy all aspects of culture.

"This also allows for mas bands, for calypsonians for steel-bands who have fallen out of the finals of the competition to have an area and a space where they can still be heard, where they can perform, tourists that may be visiting can come in safe place."

The village will be open from 6 p.m. to midnight.

Atherly said two Carnival villages were held before at Harris Promenade and they were successful.

She said tents will be erected at the venue and persons can pay "pay a minimal fee".

Food and drinks will be on sale and there will be live entertainment every night.

A tassarama will take place on the closing night.

Also announced yesterday was the route for masqueraders.

For the first time, masqueraders can purchase tissues, pins and "any other thing that you might need". There will be at least three washroom facilities, Atherly said.

All bands will begin at the Oilfields Workers' Trade Union (OWTU) building at Circular Road, proceed their different routes. The main judging point will be at Lady Hailes Avenue.

Masqueraders will not be allowed at Harris Promenade.

"Committed to our culture," will be the theme of this year's San Fernando Carnival.

More details >>

Carnival Village opens

The first $2 million presented to 2011 Chutney Soca Monarch winner Samraj "Rikki Jai" Jaimungal should send a strong message to all that the Government is serious and committed to supporting and developing the culture in Trinidad and Tobago.

This was stated by Minister of Arts and Multiculturalism Winston "Gypsy" Peters at the opening of the Carnival Village at the Queen's Park Savannah, Port of Spain, yesterday.

He said, "This year at the Village you will have the opportunity to learn tassa drumming, wire-bending, costume making as well as the history of our Carnival through the years."

Developed by the National Carnival Commission (NCC) to house local merchants, the Carnival Village will carry a wide variety of entertainment and hands-on cultural workshops as well as numerous food and beverage stalls.

Tourism Development Company (TDC) events coordinator Jude-Anne Spencer said, "We will be here from now until March 15, providing the public with information on who we are and what we do.

"Booklets about Trinidad and Tobago and some of the key sites and attractions will also be given out. Every day we will have information sessions that will touch on different aspects of tourism."

At the opening, the crowd was treated to a number of performances from Chris Garcia, Yohan Chuckerry, Trinidad and Tobago Sweet Tassa Group and Tobago Minstrels .

More details >>

Women fight for Machel's sweaty shirt

TWO women jostled each other for over 30 minutes yesterday, hoping for the coveted prize of soca star Machel Montano's sweat- soaked T-shirt.

The women each held on to the white T-shirt after Montano rang some of the his sweat out of the jersey on his adoring fans and threw it into the crowd at the end of his performance at bmobile's Soca in B Square in Woodford Square, Port of Spain. The T-shirt had the word "Advantage" printed in green on the front.

At the start of the jostle, which started off in front of the stage, three women were involved, but one, a plump dark-skinned woman with a Rastafarian hairstyle, was eventually ousted by the other two.

One of the women, only identified as "Stacy", then held the T-shirt while her competitor, who wore a green armless business suit with a white shirt underneath, also held on as they made their way backstage in hope of getting another T-shirt from Montano.

As they made their way backstage people took pictures with their mobile phones and digital cameras, while others urged the women to go the biblical route and cut the jersey in half.

The woman identified as Stacy later refused $40 from the other woman for the Tshirt. After waiting for a few minutes, the well-dressed woman, having received advice from another woman about self-respect, gave up and walked away while Stacy rejoiced with her new prized possession.

"It smelling good. I going home and wash it and wear it for Soca Monarch," Stacy said as she posed for pictures with her trophy before smoking a cigarette.

More details >>

Benjai crowned Young King with 'Trini'

Soca artiste Benjai (Rodney LeBlanc) is the 2011 National Calypso Young King.

Benjai won the title on Monday night, when he competed against 21 opponents in the final at the National Academy for the Performing Arts (NAPA) in Port of Spain.

Performing "Trini" in position 19, Benjai, accompanied by dancers wearing costumes bearing the national colours, had patrons dancing in their seats and singing along as he performed.

Although the National Action Cultural Committee's (NACC) Young Kings is defined as a national competition, and in its 27 years has become one of the major calypso competitions during the Carnival season, it is not among those earning the Government-sponsored $2 million first prize.

Benjai went home with the first prize of $100,000 for his efforts. He does, however, have a crack at winning $2 million, as he is among the semifinalists in this weekend's National Calypso Monarch competition. Benjai is also a finalist in the Groovy Soca Monarch competition on Carnival Friday. That competition offers a first prize of $600,000.

There was a tie for second place between Sekon Alves, who performed a social commentary titled "How Long", and Olatunji Yearwood, of the band Roy Cape All Stars, who performed a festival song titled "Drum Spirits". Another Roy Cape vocalist, Blaxx, also competed with the calypso, "We Not Racial", but he did not place.

Ninja, who sang the night's most humorous calypso and delivered one of the most appreciated performances, placed fourth, with "No Respect For Culture". Another very popular song with the patrons was "Eyes On The Hill", by National Calypso Monarch semifinalist Dee Diamond, who placed seventh.

Before the competition got on the way, producer NACC paid tribute to veteran steelpan arrangers Ray Holman and Curtis Pierre for their respective contributions to the steelband movement.

Former Young King Sheldon Reid also performed his calypso, "Under Repairs", in keeping with the tradition that a previous monarch performs before the start of the competition.

The results:

1st Benjai, "Trini";

2nd Sekon Alves, "How Long";

2nd Olatunji, "Drum Spirits";

4th Ninja, "No Respect for Culture";

5th Stephen Marcelle, "Melody of Hope";

6th Duane O'Connor, "Join Dem";

7th Dee Diamond, "Eyes On The Hill";

8th Sheldon Nugget, "Then We Shall Rise";

9th Mr King, "Not My Johnny";

10th Tobago Chalkie, "Follow Dem Prints";

10th Chucky, "The Letter".

More details >>

Lingo, London, Lady Africaamong Extempo finalists

Former Extempo Monarch Lingo cruised into the final of this year's competition when he came up against 22 others in the preliminary round at Kaiso House Tent at the Queen's Park Savannah, Port of Spain, on Monday night.

In his first round, Lingo's topic was "Panorama Winners" and without hesitation he jumped into the history of Panorama, singing about 1963 and Pan AM North Stars and Guinness Cavaliers.

He then sang about Solo Harmonites in 1968 and Starlift in 1978, and even touched on the Panorama boycott in 1979.

Lingo ended by heaping praises on arranger Len "Boogsie" Sharpe, saying he was a prophet since 1988 when he predicted that "Woman is Boss"—and we now have a woman for Prime Minister.

Other singers performing on the night included Fireball, King Soul, Abebele, Omari Ashby, Dion Diaz, Nester Boxhill and David Brown, a very good mix of youth and experience.

The 12 contestants chosen from the 23 for the semifinals were then divided into in six pairs to square off against each other.

First up were Sheldon John and Brian London, with the topic "Ah Cyah Take Horn". Both men delivered their four verses smoothly.

Up next was Black Sage and Lingo, with their topic, "$2 Million First Prize". Again both sang about the Calypso Monarch getting the $2 million, but Extempo getting only $100,000.

Lingo felt Culture Minister and reigning Extempo champion Winston "Gypsy" Peters was "ungrateful and forgot where he came from", again to the delight of the audience. Black Sage sang, "If I win the $2 million, I would buy Lingo a pair of eyes."

The third pair consisted of Shortpants and Contender, with the topic "Foreign Commissioner of Police". Both men seemed to struggle a bit early, but found composure as they went on.

Up next was Hezekiah Joseph and Wendell Ettiene, with the topic "Carnival Back at the Savannah". Comedian Ettiene delivered with a calm that seemed to throw off Joseph, who strayed from the topic and had to settle for second best.

Another comedian, Errol Fabien, came up against Lady Africa, with a topic about the controversial former head of the Strategic Services Agency, "Reshmi Ramnarine". Lady Africa batted for the embattled Reshmi, while Fabien went against, but in the end Lady Africa overpowered Fabien.

The final pair was Zano and Francois Ottley, with another hot topic—this time Benjai's top song, "Wine to the Side". Ottley approached the topic almost like he had it planned, moving from one verse into the other, building momentum for the kill at the end. When he was finished the audience roared its approval.

The eight finalists for

the Extempo Monarch:

Lingo, Black Sage, Lady Africa, Brian London, Hezekiah Joseph, Sheldon John, Francois Ottley and Wendell Ettiene.

Defending monarch Gypsy, Minister of Arts and Multiculturalism, will not defend his title.

More details >>

3Canal begins 2K11 season

3canal has much to celebrate.

This year marks the trio's 15th anniversary as a rapso group and their 18th as a Jouvert band. Member Wendell Manwarren says in many ways this is what the eighth edition of the 3Canal show, ReEvolution Time commemorates. But the big celebration this time around is the fact that the show is returning to the Little Carib Theatre where it all started in 2004.

The show runs from today to March 5.

"It started as an idea, a very rough and tumble thing until it grew and grew," he said.

When the theatre was closed for repairs 3Canal decided to "take the big step to Queen's Hall" which offered a much bigger space leading to the offering of a different show. It has been the show's home for the last four years.

"It has done well at Queen's Hall but one of the things we've always felt at the Queen's Hall was the need to liberate the space a bit more and make people get up and dance. Queen's Hall forced it to be more of a sit-down spectacle. Once we heard that Carib was available we jumped on the idea."

He said there was also a different "vibration" to the show this year as if it wanted to be more dynamic in terms of movement and people being able to "free up and dance."

He admitted that it was a smaller, much more intimate space but that is what the group hopes to trade on this time around–the intimacy and the power of the vibration up close.

"There is a definite downside to that, yes, just from an economic point of view it is almost a crazy decision but in this instance the artistic calling triumphed over the economic side of things. We used to concentrate everything in one week in Queen's Hall. In this instance we have to spread it out in two weeks."

3Canal's Roger Roberts said the show starts earlier this year and stressed that people should buy tickets early and not wait until the last week of the event.

Explaining the name of the show, Manwarren said: "Evolution, that dynamic and impulse for change to develop and improve. That is what we are talking about, celebrating change. Change is very much the topic of now. We had a recent change in the public scenario. Change is something you have to come to terms with."

He added: "In the music business the soca djs are singing soca songs. The passing of giants like Keith Smith makes you realise that it's a changed landscape now. We also recognise that within ourselves as well."

Roberts said they keep changing up the format of the show so one did not become too comfortable, to keep it vibrant and always changing.

This time around the show's emphasis would be more on the live musical vibration. One of the subtitles of the show is 'Here Comes the MLF' (Music Liberation Front). It is a commentary on the need for quotas, a cry that 3Canal has taken up and will continue to adhere to.

Manwarren said: "We think that quotas will be symbolic of a big shift in how we regard ourselves and our culture and how we are able to reward ourselves as creative people, not just musicians but across the board so that people may see themselves and in seeing themselves know themselves and in knowing themselves are able to make proper decisions and choices for themselves."

The group has released nine new songs which will be performed at the show together with older favourites which the group feels is more pertinent to what is happening now.

Roberts said: "We've written songs that we have found over time could apply year after year. We don't feel badly about doing the song again because we feel it is still relevant and we don't feel that music dies. We may just need to present it in a different way or mix."

Manwarren said the challenge now was to make the music tell the story much more than any other show and stressed that there will not be any acting in this show.

Roberts said: "There is no 3Canal show you will come to and say it was like the last one. We have to keep changing it all the time because we can't get stale or settle. We have to keep moving like a river and not like dregs."

Manwarren revealed that a group of young animators who recently graduated from UTT will be included in this show.

Lecturer/Programme Coordinator of Animation Studies at UTT, Camille Selvon-Abrahams and lecturer Mario Lewis also of UTT were instrumental in bringing the entities together. The group, known as Lab206 has been working with 3Canal in the last few months and Manwarren is pleased with what he has seen so far.

"I am excited at the prospect of what they are going to bring to the table this time around."

For further information visit www.3canal.com or call 623-7411.

More details >>

Now promoters cancel Ravi B Children's Show

The fallout from Ravi "Ravi B" Bissambhar's decision to incite fans to violence at the end of last weekend's Chutney Soca Monarch final continued yesterday, with organisers of the Ravi B Children's Show cancelling the event.

The show, originally carded for Guaracara Park, Pointe-a-Pierre, this weekend, was cancelled by the sponsor and promoter over fears there could be violence at the event should it go on.

Yaseen Rahaman, executive director of 103 FM, which sponsored the show, and Tropix Entertainment fete promoter Cliff Harris said the cancellation was inevitable after Ravi B's behaviour on Sunday morning at Skinner Park, San Fernando.

Rahaman said Ravi B's actions, where he called on the crowd to throw something on stage if they were unhappy with the result which placed Samraj Rikki Jai Jaimungal above him, "could have caused a riot".

Ravi B, who won last year's competition, was dethroned by "Rikki Jai", who took the $2 million first prize with his rendition of "White Oak and Water".

"This kind of behaviour is questionable and it is against our philosophy. It (cancelling Saturday's show) was the responsible thing for us to do. How can parents feel sending their child to a show with the same artiste who only a few days ago instructed violence?" Rahaman said yesterday.

"No amount of apology could help the situation. And I think it was somewhat premeditated. He came out and congratulated Rikki Jai on stage, but that was just an act. Artistes have to set standards and principles, he got carried away with so-called fame."

Contacted yesterday, Ravi B's manager, Rennie Mohammed, said there was nothing more the singer wanted to say about the incident.

Harris, who is also responsible for other high-profile productions, said it was obvious the Ravi B show would have to be cancelled. He said tickets went on sale last Friday (February 18) and there would be refunds for all who purchased tickets, which sold at $100 for adults and $60 for children.

Harris said: "That is the power of the dollars. But as a promoter, it is in the best interest of all to cancel the show for various concerns. And this is obviously as a result of what happened at Skinner Park (on Sunday morning)."

Harris said a lot of artistes get carried away at times.

"Ravi B is such a nice guy. It is unfortunate that this happened to him. He got emotional. Of course I will work with him in the future, but we had to cancel the show now," Harris said.

More details >>

Silver Stars, Phase II top pan semis

Defending Panorama champion PCS Silvers Stars and Petrotrin Phase II Pan Groove have tied for first place in Sunday's National Panorama semi-finals with 270 points each.

They were followed by Trinidad All Stars with 269 points and Sagicor Exodus with 264 points. Sunday's competition saw arrangers and players placing their musical life on the line at the new Carnival arena with competitions in three categories—small, medium and large.

After a fantastic medium band category competition in which Katzenjammers mesmerised the savannah audience with its performance of Edwin Pouchet's arrangement of "Wake Up", for which it received a standing ovation and a just as equal performance by NLCB Buccooneers with Seion Gomez's arrangement of "Calling Meh", just one point separated these two bands from Tobago at the top.

This set the tone for the large bands. And the bands that performed with the "Spirit of Carnival" in their songs came out on top.

Playing in position three, Neal and Massy Trinidad All Stars came on stage with fireworks in the background. Their rendition of Leon "Smooth" Edwards' arrangement of "It's Showtime" caught the audience from the start.

At 9 p.m. the first wave of humanity came across the massive Queen's Park Savannah stage; there was a roar of voices at the announcement that Phase II was up next. Playing in position six, and hungry for a win, the former champion, Petrotrin Phase II Pan Groove, executed Len "Boogsie" Sharpe's arrangement of "Do Something for Pan" with zest.

With Boogsie conducting in front and jumping up and down, the rumbling bass pans kept haunting patrons. After eight minutes and twelve seconds the savannah roared its approval of Phase II's performance.

One hour later, the second wave of humanity came across the savannah stage as Desperadoes' pan racks came into view. This time around the police officers were out in full force preventing people from going to the eastern end of the stage.

As the DJ started Desperadoes' tune of choice, the savannah turned upside down, Benjai's voice singing "Trini" was hardly audible as both the North and Grand Stands were singing at the top of their voices. People were dancing on the forecourt of the Grand Stand like it was a fete.

Desperadoes' performance of Beverly Griffith/Eddie Quarless and A Robley's arrangement was interesting and very melodic.

The fete continued as Petrotrin Siparia Deltones came on stage to play the same song like Desperadoes. Their version of Carlton Alexander's arrangement of "Trini" was also very interesting, the middle pans held the melody while the front and background did their thing. The arranger then changed with the bass holding the melody while the middle played the tune. This arranger made "Trini" into a Panorama song.

Defending champion PCS Silver Stars came on stage at about 11.30 p.m. and from the count they started off with a fire, the players exuded energy as if it was early in the day and kept up the momentum to the end all seven minutes and 52 seconds of it.

At about 12.20 a.m. Sagicor Exodus started Pelham Goddard's arrangement of "Calling Meh".

Also putting in a very good performance was NLCB Fonclaire with Ken "Professor" Philmore's arrangement of De Fosto's "A Raging Storm".

The national semi-final ran smoothly and Pan Trinbago's president Keith Diaz said he was very pleased with the manner in which the event flowed."I want to thank the people of Trinidad and Tobago for supporting the pan movement by coming out to support Panorama. The crowd participation in this new modern facility was greatly appreciated," he said.

Ten bands from each category will move forward to the various finals carded for next week.

More details >>

Baby Syri 'mashes up' the stage

SYRI ALVAREZ, the baby daughter of soca couple, Ian "Bunji Garlin" Alvarez and Fay-Ann Lyons-Alvarez, performed at Bmobile's Soca in B Square lunchtime concert at Woodford Square, Port of Spain, yesterday.

Baby Syri, who will celebrate her second birthday at the end of this month, joined her parents onstage during their performance at "Mash up Monday".

Baby Syri was still in her mother's belly the last time the free concert series hosted by Bmobile was held. The five-day concert series, which features artistes sponsored by the mobile service provider, was not held last year, for the first time since 2007.

Patrons gathered in Woodford Square from as early as 11 a.m. yesterday, but at 12.13 p.m. the crowd got what they were waiting for. Lyons-Alvarez ran on the stage singing "Consider it Done", her entry for this year's Soca Monarch competition. The crowd greeted Lyons-Alvarez by waving lime green flags and bang sticks which were distributed to them earlier.

At the end of delivering her soca monarch contender, Lyons-Alvarez was joined on stage by her husband, who ran on stage singing "Hold a Burn", his entry for this year's Soca Monarch competition. He received a welcome response from the crowd.

However, the biggest crowd response came when baby Syri graced the stage.

"Let me introduce you to the granddaughter of Mr Austin Lyons Super Blue," Lyons-Alvarez said as baby Syri walked on stage.

The crowd screamed.

Baby Syri grabbed her mother's hand and pulled her closer to the front of the stage. She then stretched out her right hand and took her mother's microphone. Lyons-Alvarez then started to sing "Meet Super Blue", which won her the Soca Monarch and Road March titles in 2009.

During her winning Soca Monarch performance in 2009 when she was still pregnant, Lyons-Alvarez placed a microphone to her belly and a digitally created voice of a baby was heard chanting. Baby Syri did not chant yesterday, but she stamped her feet, danced and waved a rag on stage, to the delight of the crowd. She was dubbed the "youngest soca artiste on the island" by her mother.

Alvarez and his wife sang several of their hits, both past and present, and not even a midday shower could dampen the crowd's spirit. The duo also had a freestyle battle yesterday, which included political picong and threats of a Soca Monarch beating.

Today is deemed "Trouble Tuesday" where Roy Cape All Stars, featuring Dexter "Blaxx" Stewart, as well as Denise Belfon, Shivonne "Lil' Bitts" Churche and Dominic "Buhwamoder" Elias will perform.

More details >>

40 semifinalists for Calypso Fiesta

THANKS to the $2 million first prize for the major Carnival competitions, judges were in for a hard time this year when they visited tents to select the artistes for the semifinal of the National Calypso Monarch competition, chairman of the Adjudicating Committee, Malcolm Holdip, said yesterday.

Holdip, who is also a High Court Judge, said this year's calypso competition drew 450 entrants. He added that up to yesterday afternoon, 50 calypsonians were heard by judges before the final 40 were selected to participate in the semifinals at Skinner Park on Saturday.

Following is a list of the semi-finalists for the Calypso Fiesta and the finalists in the category competitions.

Semifinalists in alphabetic order:

Artiste Sobriquet Calypso

Alex Gift Tobago Chalkie "Walk In Dem Footprints"

Anthony Emrold Phillip Bro. Valentino "The Glory Days"

Asten Isaac Guidance "Living In the And"

Brian London "We Fed Up"

Cathrine Williams "Me And My Drums"

Deneison Moses Dee Diamond "Eyes On the Hill"

Devon Seale "Ah Need Meh Carnival"

Dexter Parsons Stinger "Mystic Revelations"

Dexter Stewart Blaxx "Good Time"

Dillon Thomas Dilly Suede "Guide Them"

Eric Taylor Pink Panther "Chalkie Say"

Errol Ballantyne Bally "Carnival Country"

Francine Edwards Singing Francine "Nothing But the Truth"

Heather Mc Intosh "Keep It"IT

Hollis Liverpool Chalkdust "Wounded Pride"

Joanne Rowley Tigress "Woman To Woman"

Karen Eccles-Thomas "We Will Rise"

Karene Asche "Uncle Jack"

Kizzy Ruiz "The Anti Corruption Cure"

Knolly Brown Brown Boy "Toy Of The Year"

Lesley Ann Ellis "In Denial"

Marsha Charles Lady Adana "Ready For The Truth"

Marva Joseph Marvellous Marva "Salvation"

Michael Legerton Protector "Ah Rising"

Michael Osouna Sugar Aloes "Not One Word"

Moses Munro eXposer "Thing's You'll Never See"

Neville Brown Bunny B "Big M Small M"

Nicole Thomas "Spirit Of Truth"

Phillip Murray Black Sage "Thank God For T & T"

Rodney Le Blanc Benjai "Trini"

Sean Daniel "Laptop"

Selvon Noel Mr Shak "The Real Magicians"

Shamika Denoon "A Prayer For Our Nation"

Sheldon Bullen Sheldon Nugget "Then We Will Rise"

Tameika Darius "Ungrateful"

Victor Mc Donald Mr Mack "Crooks Family"

Weston Rawlins Cro Cro "Compare And Contrast"

Wilfred Barker Young Creole "Shave Meh Barberman"

Winston Noel Daz "Fork In Napkin"

Winston Scarborough De Fosto "Sing Louis Sing"

Finalists for Social Commentary

Devon Seale "Ah need meh carnival"

Carlos James Skatie "Obeah man advice"

Phillip Murray Black Sage "Thank God for T & T"

Humorous

Victor Mc Donald Mr Mack "Crooks Family"

Winston Noel Daz "Fork in napkin"

Wilfred Barker Young Creole "Shave meh barberman"

Political

Karene Asche "Uncle Jack"

Hollis Liverpool Chalkdust "Minningitis"

Eric Taylor Pink Panther "Chalkie Say"

More details >>

Savannah hosts first show for season

FANS welcomed the North Stand back into the Carnival psyche yesterday, with the first show held at the Queen's Park Savannah for this season – the National Panorama semi-finals.

A total of 44 bands played their hearts out in an attempt to move one step closer to a first prize of $2 million before 18 judges, six per category – small, medium and large bands.

The judges looked for four things from each band – arrangement, general performance, tone and rhythm. The first two categories were worth 40 points while the remaining two had a 10-point maximum.

In the small band category, the top three bands were Arima Golden Symphony, who won with a total of 263 points, and second place bands "Tornadoes" and "Merrytones", who both had 261 points.

Golden Symphony played with vigour "In She Rainorama" sung by Winston "De Fosto" Scarborough, while the second place bands played "It's Showtime" by Anslem Douglas and "Ruction" by Olatunji Yearwood respectively.

However, it was only during the medium band category, when Tobago's "Katzenjammers" played Denyse Plummer's "Wake Up", that the Grand Stand, which comprised of pan lovers who chose to sit and eat their Sunday lunches, resembled anything like its sister the North Stand. The grand Stand crowd at that stage rose from their seats and cheered, clapped and whistled at the sound of every note played by the band.

While anyone could have easily manoeuvred through the aisle of the Grand Stand, the rules were broken outright in the North Stand throughout the day, with patrons leaning up against the post where the signs "Please Keep the Aisle Clear" hung some feet above their heads. The only sitting in the North Stand was done on top of coolers and, for the desperate, the very walkway.

Men, who wore pants just as tight as the women, with a few inches longer for differentiation, also looked on in awe as the women of the North Stands gyrated, some while walking, to the various rhythm sections available.

One group, "The Panadigm Crew", took the rhythm section norm to the future as they had four electronic pans (Percussive Harmonic Instrument) with their regular tenor pans and drum set.

As the place got darker the crowd grew larger and the alcohol and food was consumed at the same pace in both stands, with the Grand Stand being a bit more concealing in the distribution of the sprits.

Outside the Savannah, vendors sold anything edible and everything possible. Vendors who had no food, drink or other paraphernalia had gambling games for those who wanted to take a chance at earning cash for another drink.

More details >>

Crowd divided over Chutney Soca results

Not all who went to fete at the 2011 Chutney Soca Monarch finals agreed with the results announced at 3 a.m. yesterday.

When Samraj "Rikki Jai" Jaimungal's name was announced, there was booing and shouting "nooo" from some sections of the massive crowd who packed into the Skinner Park, San Fernando ground.

Jaimungal, whose piece was titled "White Oak and Water", won the $2 million first prize days after suggesting that the State-sponsored money should have been split equally among the 15 finalists. It was his sixth Chutney Soca Monarch victory.

The second place went to last year's winner Ravi "Ravi B" Bissambhar, who won the $100,000 second prize for his rendition of "Kyah Come/Wey yuh Dey". Last week, Ravi B said he had spent $300,000 on his production for the final.

The prize was presented to Rikki Jai by an exuberant Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, but the booing began after the PM said: "Don't we have great singers in this land?"

Rikki Jai also seemed to have fainted after collecting his prize cheque and several men had to run to his assistance. He was given water to revive himself.

Speaking afterwards, he said the competition was hard but he was glad to be the one to win the "big money".

"This was no easy battle. This whole texting thing is not what people make it out to be, but at the end of it I am happy to be the champion," he said.

"The joy is unbelievable. This one is special. I feel good to be the first person to win this $2 million dollars. I can't say yet what I plan to do with the money right now. If people know me, I ain't going to waste this $2 million. I am a conscious kind of guy, but it will be put in the right place, right time for the right people.

"I don't make promises if I win something. When I win you will not even know what I do. In my village I am a Hindu and even in other religions charity should not be something of glory, if you want to do, you do it and take the blessing from the Lord."

Rikki Jai said this would be the last time he would be entering the competition and his next mission would be to compete in the Calypso Monarch competition.

The winners were chosen by fans in a text voting system through part sponsor bmobile.

Rikki Jai won a total of 18285 votes to Ravi B's 11181 votes.

Vishal "KI" Persad took third place with 10451 votes, while Rick Ramoutar and Lalchan "Hunter" Babwah got 4572 and 3318 votes for the fourth and fifth positions respectively.

The competition saw 15 artistes vying for the title with the first competitor hitting the stage at 9.45 p.m.

Arts and Multiculturalism Minister, Winston "Gypsy" Peters, described the artistes in the competition as "creative energies at work".

He said: "This is the kind of event we have to use when oil and gas runs out in our country. We will have to ensure that the only entity that will help to sustain us in this country would be our culture."

The show's promoter, Southex CEO George Singh, thanked Persad-Bissessar for the first prize, which generated an unprecedented level of interest in the final, with some singers even taking out full page advertisement in the newspapers and spots on radio and television.

This was the first national competition which benefitted from the PM's promised $2 million prize for the winner. The other three competitions to benefit from this incentive will be the National Calypso Monarch, Soca Monarch and National Panorama final.

More details >>

Ravi B apologises for behaviour

Dethroned Chutney Soca Monarch, Ravi Bissambhar, has apologised to fans, patrons and Southex Ltd, promoters of the annual Chutney Soca Monarch competition, after inciting irresponsible behaviour from the fans at the end of his guest performance at the show on Saturday night.

Following the announcement of five-time winner, Rikki Jai, as the 2011 monarch, the remaining 3000-plus audience at the Skinner Park, San Fernando venue had shouted a resounding "nooooo" and began chanting Ravi B's name.

Overwhelmed by the controversial results and subsequent crowd response, Bissambhar and his band, Karma, later performed an emotional 40-minute set of popular cover songs and their original songs for the gathering during the after-competition fete. Before beginning his set, Ravi B asked the audience if they were happy with the results.

After performing a few songs, he instructed his sister Nisha B and other band members to leave the stage.

"Nisha B, Gregory, fellahs, I want allyuh to walk off the stage," Ravi B said.

He continued, "All those who say the title was between Ravi B and KI?"

The crowd shouted their approval.

Ravi B then walked to the right corner of the stage and said all those who were unhappy with the results to pelt something.

Immediately, a shower of bottles and other projectiles, including footwear, cans and cups, rained down on the stage, forcing band members and stagehands to scamper to safety. The police then brought an abrupt end to the event. Thankfully, no one was hurt during the incident.

Obviously displeased and disappointed with Bissambhar's actions, promoter George Singh then spoke privately with the young singer and his family in their dressing room for several minutes.

Afterwards, Bissambhar apologised to the officers on duty, his family and band mates.

He later told the Express: "I'm very sorry for doing that. It was irresponsible of me and people could have been hurt because of the silly suggestion that I gave the people. I got caught up in the emotions of the night and didn't think before I opened my mouth. I sincerely apologise to the fans, Mr Singh and his whole staff for my actions."

However, Bissambhar said he felt he had delivered a great performance and believed the audience did not agree with the results.

"It was heartbreaking to have put out all that energy and to have worked so hard and still lose this way. I have the utmost respect and admiration for Rikki, as someone who has paved the way for Chutney music and for me to exist today and I must congratulate him on his victory. I hope he flies the chutney flag and by extension the flag of T&T very high this year."

Yesterday, however, Riki Jai expressed his shock at Ravi B's response to the loss, saying it was distasteful how Ravi B incited the crowd to violence.

He said: "That was the ranting of a sore loser. One minute he was in front trying to create an impression for the world to see and the next minute inciting violence with the crowd."

Saying he had once been called a mentor by Ravi B, Rikki Jai added, "If that is how you treat your mentor, I don't want to see how he would treat his enemy. It is a sad day for chutney. And as a former monarch that behaviour was very immature.

"He even tried to bring KI into it, but KI came backstage soon after it happened and apologised to me for what had happened. He said 'uncle Rikki I had no part in what happen.'"

The six-time monarch said last year when he finished second in the competition he did not have any grouse with the results. He said, however, that Ravi B's comments yesterday morning were not going to distract him.

"I left the venue with the people who came with me and celebrated. That wasn't the time to deal with that kind of thing," Rikki Jai said.

–With reporting by Anna Ramdass

More details >>

Arima Golden Symphony tops Small Bands semis

The Arima Golden Symphony Steel Orchestra topped the Small Bands category in yesterday's semifinal of the 2011 National Panorama competition. Playing "In She Rainorama" arranged by Terrence "BJ" Marcelle, Golden Symphony scored 263 points, just edging out Merry Tones and Tornadoes (261).

In spite of the noise emanating from the Greens, the day's competition moved along smoothly with the Medium Bands category getting on the way by 2.20 p.m. and the first Large Band, Renegades, being ready to face the judges at 7 p.m.

Small Bands results:

1: Arima Golden Symphony - 263

2: Merry Tones - 261

2: Tornadoes - 261

4: Golden Hands - 259

5: St Margaret's Superstars - 256

6: Southern Marines - 253

7: Longdenville Claytones - 252

8: Old Tech - 250

9: Tamana Pioneers - 249

10: Panosonic Connection - 248

10: Codrington Family - 248

12: Tipica - 245

13: San City - 244

14: Fascinators Pan Symphony - 243

More details >>

Pan lovers see red over Greens

Pan lovers and Pan Trinbago officials were yesterday upset over the lack of respect shown to the National instrument by patrons liming on the Greens at the Queen's Park Savannah, Port of Spain, during the National Panorama semi-finals.

On several occasions yesterday, the house announcer had to plead with the DJ sound systems and rhythm sections to stop playing when the steel orchestras were performing before the judges. These calls for the music to stop were, for the most part, ignored and the DJ music could be heard in the Grand Stand.

It was an alarming sight on the Greens, with a couple thousand people packed into the area, which also housed tents, bar-b-que pits, buffet tables and large bars. There were also sound systems, stages with rhythm sections, steel ensembles and even a small brass band. In effect, there were several mini fetes taking place on the Greens.

Pan Trinbago Vice President, Byron Serette, was clearly upset over the situation, but told the Express the people on the Greens had purchased tickets to attend the event just as everyone else. He said Pan Trinbago did have stipulations on use of the Greens, but everything just seemed to be "thrown out the window" yesterday.

"Never again," Serette said.

Shortly after Serette said this, however, things got worse when the DJs refused to stop their music when the Renegades Steel Orchestra was about to play. Although the police was asked by the announcer to deal with the situation, it took several minutes for the music to cease. During this time the band refused to play, with their decision being supported by the cheering patrons in the Grand and North stands.

Renegades were on stage from 7 p.m. and did not actually begin playing until 7.16 p.m.

More details >>

Savannah pan party today

Expectations are high for today's Pan Sunday when the National Panorama semifinals take place before the biggest audience on the biggest stage since the previous administration closed the Queen's Park Savannah to Carnival back in 2008.

The first band touching the brand spanking new Big Stage is the San City Steel Orchestra, which performs at position one in the Small Band category kicking off at 9 a.m. There are 14 bands each in the Small and Medium conventional band categories, while all 16 Large Conventional Bands will face the judges each hoping to among the ten making it to the finals on Carnival Saturday, March 5.

Among the Large Bands that will be battling their way towards the final is defending champion Silver Stars Steel Orchestra, which faces the judges in position 12 playing "It's Showtime," arranged by Edwin Pouchet who composed the song alongside Alvin Daniell. In Panorama being the defending band does not mean an automatic place in the final and the previous year's winner has to begin from scratch like all other competitors.

"It's Showtime" will be played seven times today—the Tamana Pioneers and Tornadoes are playing it in the Small Band category, while Power Stars and Carib Dixieland are playing it in the Medium Category. At the preliminary round last week the Trinidad All Stars delivered a performance of "It's Showtime" that people said was like a final night showdown. One is left wondering just what arranger, Leon "Smooth" Edwards has to add to the song today.

Len "Boogsie" Sharpe and his Phase II Pan Groove have signalled they will not be defeated this year. The band is playing, "Do Something For Pan," the subject matter of which is quite controversial and has left the Pan Trinbago executive somewhat flustered.

The Desperadoes Steel Orchestra had to leave the Hill of Laventille to prepare for the Panorama because of crime. Away from their home and out of their comfort zone, the band is seeking to claim their 11th title, which may provide the inspiration for change in their community. Despers will play the Benjai song titled, "Trini" arranged for them by the team of Beverly Griffith, Eddie Quarless and Andre Robley.

Renegades is the first Large Band taking the stage today and they will play a Kenneth Guppy arrangement of "Here We Come." The band has a lot of youth in it and they have been creating great excitement with their very energetic performance of the song. The talk in the East is that the Exodus Steel Orchestra will hit them hard today with "Calling Meh," arranged by Pelham Goddard. The band bringing the curtain down is Birdsong from Tunapuna, which is playing "Do Something For Pan," arranged by Raphael Robertson.

More details >>

Sold out

Despite the overall world economic slowdown, Trinidad hotels are reporting sold-out rooms for the Carnival season. And while big bands, Tribe, their spin-off band Bliss and the debutant, Young Upwardly Mobile Adults (YUMA) are sold out, the Catholic Band is struggling to to get players for its costumes.

Hotel bookings and reservations are up to 100 per cent for several hotels and guests houses contacted by the Sunday Express yesterday, while others are just short of maximum occupancy.

At the Carlton Savannah in Cascade, a front desk attendant reported a ten per cent increase in occupancy for this Carnival period as compared to the same period last year.

The 157-room, and 50-odd suite hotel only has five rooms left to be booked over the March 4-8 period.

"We are doing really very well and we expect the hotel to be fully booked when we open for business Monday (tomorrow)," the desk clerk said. Carlton Savannah's clientele hails mainly from the US and UK, he added.

A representative for the Crowne Plaza on Wrightson Road, Port of Spain, said the 243-room hotel was fully booked for the March 2-10 period, keeping in line with a trend for that Carnival period over the last few years. The majority of the hotel's clients, the representative said, are Trini nationals living in New York and New Jersey who are coming home for Carnival.

At the 428-room Hyatt Regency Trinidad, rooms are fully sold out from tomorrow until Wednesday and the hotel is fully reserved for the March 5-7 period.

At the 68-room Cascadia Hotel and Conference Centre, general manager Barry Bidesi said although bookings started slowly, they have steadied over the last few days and he anticipates a 100 per cent occupancy for the March 5-9 period, with a predominance of visitors from the US.

"They are coming along very well now, " he said," This is very much in line with our efforts to promote the hotel. This is a very exciting time for us as it signals a new kind of client, different from our regular business customers."

At the 94-room Kapok Hotel in St Clair, foreigners have booked all the rooms from March 5-9.

"Well, it is the same as last year, fully-occupied and we're pretty pleased," said the hotel's representative. And at the 419-room Hilton Trinidad and Conference Centre, front desk clerk Ayanna said the hotel was completely sold out for the period February 28 to March 10.

"Well this year we sold out later because Carnival is pushed back, but the additional upside is that visitors are staying on a little longer," she said.

At the Normandie Hotel in St Ann's, the 70-room hotel is short of maximum bookings by four rooms for the period March 4-10. Manager Fred Chin Lee said the hotel was expecting to be up 30 per cent from 70 per cent occupancy from last year

"It was slow, generally speaking. We are usually booked out two months before Carnival but we didn't do too well last year. This year we feel very good to get up to 100 per cent which we will do by the end of this week," he said.

Like the hotels, some mas bands are doing good business.

The popular Tribe, which will number approximately 3,800 this year, is sold out while the spin-off band, Bliss, is also fully subscribed and will cater to 1,500 masqueraders, according to sources who said both bands had reached their maximum levels within a week of registration last August.

New band YUMA has also been sold out since October last year and and is set to accommodate 2,500 masqueraders.

However, the Catholic Band, Genesis 1Creation, is currently struggling to make up a projected 1,200 members, said bandleader Derek Walcott.

"The sale (of costumes) was not going as quickly as we would have liked but we expect a big thrust in the next two weeks from our parish."

More details >>

'I cheated death to be onstage'

Calypso queen of the world McArtha Linda Sandy-Lewis, aka Calypso Rose, was honoured at last Friday night's Ladies Night Out concert, held at the Jean Pierre Complex in Port of Spain.

After a fantastic performance during which Calypso Rose gave the audience a mini-biography of her career, she was presented with an award by promoters of the show, Randy Glasglow Productions, for her contribution to the culture of Trinidad and Tobago.

Calypso Rose told the thousands of fans she cheated death on two occasions, beating cancer, to be onstage that night with her voice intact.

"I thank the Lord for sustaining me so I can be on this stage tonight to tell you I feel like dancing," she said.

Rose continued: "I have been to Dublin, Ireland; Venice, Italy; and France—boy, they love me in France. People all over the world tell me they love the music of Trinidad and Tobago, but it is too fast and they can't dance to it. That is why I brought it down (slower) and recorded "Feel Like Dancing".

"I will be 71 years in April, so I no longer perform with high-heeled shoes. The NCC (National Carnival Commission) told me I won Road March on four occasions—and not two—so I am asking for my prize money, with interest!" She then performed "Fire Fire", one of her Road March songs.

Before she sang her other Road March winner, "Tempo", she told her audience when she was studying in New York, USA, everyday as she travelled on the E train, the noise made her homesick for Carnival.

"I was studying Criminology, Bombs and Bomb Scare and Narcotics, and one day in 1977, I decided to write a song during one of my classes. That's how 'Tempo' was born."

Rose said she will not be in Trinidad for Carnival as she leaves on March 4 for Australia and New Zealand.

More details >>

'Big Yard' gets ready for pan

CABINET MINISTERS took advantage of the opportunity to tour the "big stage" yesterday, as they inspected the newly-constructed Carnival facilities at the Queen's Park Savannah. The first big show of the season is scheduled for this Sunday with the staging of Pan Trinbago's 2011 National Panorama semi-finals.

Minister of Arts and Multiculturalism, Winston "Gypsy" Peters, guided his Cabinet colleagues across the stage as the first stop of yesterday's tour of the $50 million facility. One could not help thinking of the words of Machel Montano's "Advantage"... "the stage is in front of us, time to get advantageous..."

Health Minister Therese Baptiste-Cornelis jokingly did a little chip to the side along with NCC official Don Sylvester during the tour.

For some of the Ministers yesterday's crossing of the Savannah stage was a trial run of what is to come on Carnival Monday and Tuesday.

Sport Minister Anil Roberts, Public Administration Minister, Rudrawatee Nan Ramgoolam, Minister in the Ministry of Works and Transport, Stacy Roopnarine, and Couva North member of Parliament, Ramona Ramdial, are all signed up to play with Carnival band Tribe, a source has said.

All, with the exception of Ramdial, were present for yesterday's christening of the stage.

Works and Transport Minister Jack Warner said he will participate in the People's Band.

Expect a "bigger and better" Carnival this year, Chairman of the National Carnival Commission (NCC) , Kenny De Silva, said yesterday.

"The level of enthusiasm we have seen for Carnival in 2011 with it being back in the Savannah, and the drag and the stage and so on. We think we are going to see one of the biggest Carnivals that we have seen for many years," DeSilva said.

The stage will be 60 feet longer, De Silva said as he expressed confidence that it is structurally safe.

"That (construction of the stage) was done on a scientific basis by the Works Department. They identified engineers to sign off on the structure in terms of what weight it can carry per square foot, and that is 400 pounds per square foot," De Silva said.

"We are confident of the integrity of the stage. It is longer than previous stages about 60 feet longer and we are happy. It is going to be easy to take down and put up," he said.

"This is the largest stage we have had in my lifetime," De Silva said.

Finishing touches were being put on the Carnival facility yesterday in time for Sunday's Panorama semi-finals, De Silva said.

The facility can seat 20,000 people, including 12,000 in the Grand Stand and 8,000 at the North Stand, he said.

"If you have a longer stage you can get more sections on stage at the same time so therefore theoretically you should get more masqueraders off the stage in a speedier manner. That is what we are hoping for," De Silva said.

De Silva, however, pleaded with masqueraders and Carnival Bands to adhere to the stipulated times allotted for crossing the stage to ensure a smooth flow of activity.

Marshals will also be located stage side, De Silva said. Some 30,000 masqueraders are expected this year, he said.

"The way the stands are angled you can get proper viewing of the stage," he said.

There are corporate booths included in the Grand Stand, Peters said. And a Carnival Village located a stone's throw away from the Grand Stand has been constructed and will showcase this country's culture, Peters said.

Finance Minister, Winston Dookeran, Minister of Tobago Development, Vernella Alleyne-Toppin, Tourism Minister Rupert Griffith, Planning Minister, Mary King, and Justice Minister, Herbert Volney, were also present at yesterday's tour.

More details >>

Heather takes NWAC title

The 27th edition of the National Women’s Action Committee (NWAC) Calypso Queen competition took place on Monday night at the National Academy for the Performing Arts (NAPA). Heather McIntosh won the competition in an evening that saw many of this country's top female performers give their all. Here are some photos of the winner and the some of the other performers. —Photos: JERMAINE CRUICKSHANK

More details >>

All eyes on Chutney Soca $2m

With all the excitement surrounding the two million dollars up for grabs at the sixteenth annual Chutney Soca Monarch competition this weekend, it’s easy to forget that this year’s winner will not be chosen by a stereotypical panel of judges. Instead, the 2011 Chutney Soca Monarch will be selected totally by the will of the people and the fans of the genre. Official telecommunications provider of the 2011 Chutney Soca Monarch contest, Blink/Bmobile has worked with Southex President, George Singh to streamline the voting process. This technologically-advanced mechanism has placed the power to choose the winner squarely in the hands of the viewing public. “Bmobile has sponsored this event for the past six years,” explained TSTT’s Marketing Analyst, Michael Christopher, “because we believe that the genre has great potential to penetrate new markets beyond the Caribbean Diaspora and over the last three years in particular, we have seen where the exponents of the artform have done just that. Two years ago, Mr Singh of Southex approached us to revolutionize the voting process because there was an uneasy feeling about having a typical judging panel choosing the winner, so we brought in the technology and made the competition completely fair and impartial to all finalists.” Between the last two contests in 2009 and 2010, almost 200,000 text votes were received from fans here and abroad resulting in two brand new Monarchs in the form of the oldest and youngest monarchs to date, Kenneth Salick and Ravi Bissambhar respectively. This year, an additional voting component has been introduced in the form of online voting via the official website: www.chutneysocamonarch.com. “Blink Broadband is providing the platform and the speed necessary to stream this event live on the website,” said Christopher, “in addition to regulating the online voting. Now we have capped the voting from all three sources to ensure that no spamming or unfair advantage can be given to any of the competitors. Only a maximum of ten votes can be sent and received from any one handset, whether local and international and only one vote can be cast per ISP address, so it is really up to the contestants to get as many fans as possible involved in the process and sway them into voting for them in order to win.” Voting for the 2011 Chutney Soca Monarch opens at 7 pm on Saturday night and will close at 2 am on Sunday morning. BMobile customers must text the code for their favourite artistes to 7622, International subscribers in North America and Canada must text the code to 78247 and anyone can vote at least once from their computers from anywhere in the world via www.chutneysocamonarch.com. The grand-prize is scheduled to be presented to the winner at 2.30 am, so the independent voting aggregation agency, imedia Caribbean Ltd will have roughly twenty-four minutes to compile the results and declare the winner. “There will still be a commentary panel on hand as part of the event,” Christopher advised, “but we want the people to be aware that they are directly responsible for whoever wins this competition. Bmobile, Blink Broadband, imedia Caribbean and of course, Southex Ltd have placed the power in your hands.” The 2011 Chutney Soca Monarch Finals takes place this Saturday night at Skinner Park in San Fernando and will be shown live on CTV, as well on www.chutneysocamonarch.com. With a grand first prize of two million dollars at stake, Blink Broadband is also giving away $10,000 to the biggest crew to attend the event in orange—their official colour. Fifteen artistes have qualified for the grand finals and each has been given a special code specific to them. Fans and supporters must text this code to SOCA, in order to help their favourite artistes win the grand prize.

More details >>

Chutney Soca finalists vex

More Chutney Soca Monarch bacchanal is brewing as finalists for tomorrow's competition are fuming over the difference between the $2 million first prize sponsored by the State and the rest of the placings. The venue for the competition is Skinner Park, San Fernando

Promoter George Singh announced yesterday that the second place prize would be $100,000, the third place $60,000, and the others placing fourth to 15th would get $30,000.

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar is expected to attend the competition.

Singh said the $520,000 prize money was funded "through other sources" and would be paid by Southex Promotions at a date to be announced.

Reigning Chutney Soca Monarch, Ravi B, received a first prize of $200,000 in last year's competition. The show has been described as one of the largest and most expensive productions for Carnival 2011.

Ravi B who will perform his hit "Cyar Come" and his presentation this weekend would cost more than $300,000.

"But for me it is not really about the money. It is about the title. I want to prove that I can do it one more time," he said.

Rikki Jai, five-time Chutney Soca Monarch, said he was disappointed with the prizes.

"It is disheartening for the entertainers in this competition. The drop from $2 million to $100,000 is disappointing. I think not much thought has gone into the prizes," he said. Jai, who would be performing his hit song "White Oak and Water", suggested the $2 million prize money be distributed among the 15 contestants fairly.

"I would have given a $1 million first prize, $400,000 second prize, $200,000 third prize and then give the others about $50,000 each. Everyone would have left Skinner Park satisfied," he said.

Kenneth Supersad is also disappointed with the prizes. He will perform "D Mako" at the finals and his presentation has exceeded $20,000.

"I really don't think that is a good breakdown. I would have given a first prize of $1 million and shared the rest accordingly among the others. I know the Prime Minister promised the $2 million on the campaign trail, but not everyone agrees with that," he said.

Simone St Clair, manager for finalist Drupatee Ramgoonai, said artistes were investing large sums of money for the finals.

"It is disappointing because if they don't make it to the first place the artistes will lose. But we know a commitment was made for the $2 million first prize."

Drupatee has always had a budget of $20,000 to $40,000 for competitions. "But I am happy that chutney is getting the same recognition as soca music," she said.

Several calls to Singh's cellphone yesterday were unanswered. Employees at his Independence Avenue, San Fernando, office said he was unavailable.

More details >>

The chutney queen returns

Twenty-three years after she almost snatched the Road March title with her chutney soca hit “Mr Bissessar (Roll up de Tassa)”, Drupatie Ramgoonai is back in the competition. This year, she sings about the dholak and dantaal (musical instruments) and has made her way to the final of the Chutney Soca Monarch competition, scheduled for Skinner Park, San Fernando, this weekend. A temple singer from Penal, Ramgoonai recorded her first crossover tune in 1987, entitled “Chutney Soca”, and placed second a year later in the national Carnival Road March title. “A lot of people have asked me to get back into the competitions and I am really excited,” she said. She said she wanted to keep her work original and encourage others to do the same. “The local composition is a reflection of the people and provokes the rhythm from the soul,” she said, adding that there was a lot more to sing about than rum. Ramgoonai secured a place in the local music industry in 1983, when she won the Local Song category of the Indian Cultural Pageant segment of Mastana Bahar. She retained the title once again in 1984 and has a number of hit songs to her credit, including, “Pepper”, “Hotter than a Chulha”, “Careless Driver”, “Motilal”, “Tassawalley” and “Manzalina”. More recent contributions include “Mohana bina Gowna”, “Doh Beat Yuh Wife”, “Parosin Maco-ing”, “D Wedding Song”, “Chutney Soca Wine” and “Violin”. She is among 15 finalists in the race for the $2 million top prize this year. Her song was recorded at the Pungalunks Factory in Couva by Zaheer “Big Rich” Khan, who recorded nine out of the 15 songs, including defending champion Ravi B’s “Cyar Come”. Khan said he began recording for this year’s competition last October and completed the recordings of songs delivered by Ramgoonai, Rikki Jai, Ravi B, Hunter, Anil Bheem, Rick Ramoutar, Neeshan “Hitman” Prabhoo, Terry Gajraj and Soca Elvis. Of the 41 semi-finalists’ contributions, 13 songs were recorded by the factory. Another top female singer, Sally Sagram, who leads the band Xtreme, made it to the final with a Lisa Samaroo composition titled “Go So Nah”. Sagram, of El Dorado, Tunapuna, hails from a musical background and has been singing like Ramgoonai at the village temple since an early age. She said, “I want a woman to take the title this year. Let it be a chutney soca queen for once.” The competition, organised by Southex Promotions, enters its 16th year and so far has had only male winners. A third female singer, Artie Butkoon of Sangre Grande, also made it to the final. Supplying the industry with top chutney soca compositions, songwriter Kelvin Kissoon, a plant attendant at Industrial Plants Services of Pt Lisas, said he wrote 19 songs this year for the Chutney Soca Monarch competition. He said efforts were made to stay away from rum songs, with compositions such as Ravi B’s “Cyar Come”, Soca Elvis’s “Love You More Than Rum” and Hitman’s “Rum is Not Meh Lover”. Gajraj’s “Sumatee” is a straight love song, he said, with admiration for Kenneth Salick’s “The Sky is Blue”, which did not make it to the final. The 33-year-old of Piarco wrote three top songs last year and said he was able to earn a lot more this year, as singers requested songs long in advance and he was able to sell 19 of his compositions. Ramgoonai took the stage in white at the semi-finals at Rienzi Complex and helped to elevate the standards of the contest, which this year attracted more prominent singers such as Bheem; Adesh Samaroo, a former National Chutney Foundation monarch; and Guyana’s leading recording star Gajraj. “I don’t really care if I win or not. I just want to take a more active role in local compositions, especially chutney soca,” she said. The top prize moved from $200,000 last year to a whopping $2 million, matching the Calypso Monarch first prize.

More details >>

Pan passion in PoS

With no police escort, the Panorama judges of the Large Conventional Steel Orchestras of Pan Trinbago's Northern Region got stuck in traffic making their way from one band to another and also had to wrestle their way into packed panyards as they moved around Port of Spain to adjudicate the bands on Tuesday.

Since the panyard judging for the preliminaries began several years ago the judges, Pan Trinbago officials and media have always been escorted by police for the purpose of safety and to ensure a smooth passage to and from the panyards.

An executive member of the Pan Trinbago Northern Region told the Express on Tuesday that when they approached the police to make arrangements for the night's judging they were told that there was a shortage of officers on duty and therefore no escort could be provided. In spite of the challenge this posed, however, the judges managed to get to every band on the night and complete their rounds before 1 a.m.

The first band facing the adjudicators was Starlift Steel Orchestra off Mucurapo Road. Under the direction of arranger, Liam Teague, Starlift performed "In She Rainorama," a composition of DeFosto.

The convoy then headed to Phase II Pan Groove where Len "Boogsie" Sharpe and his musicians treated the crowd to a slowed down run of their tune, "Do Something For Pan," composed by Sharpe himself with Gregory Ballentyne doing lyrics sung by Sache Alexander.

By the time the judges and followers arrived at the Queen's Park Oval where the Invaders Steel Orchestra faced the judges, the convoy had grown to several dozen vehicles. Add this to the Invaders supporters already gathered at the Oval and you had several hundreds listening to the band's rendition of "Doh Do Dat," arranged by Arddin Herbert.

Defending champions Silver Stars Steel Orchestra from Tragarete Road were heard on the pavement. The already small panyard was packed to capacity and people who attempted to find a way in had to turn around and stand on the sidewalk opposite when they realised there was just no room inside. Silver Stars played, "It's Showtime" composed by Edwin Pouchet and Alvin Daniell. As difficult as it was to hear the band out on the road, people still commented that Silver Stars "Mash up the place."

The convoy went next to Desperadoes located at Cadiz Road, Queen's Park East. The band had organised a lime to coincide with their performance for the judges and the car park turned panyard was filled to capacity. Despers played Benjai's "Trini" as arranged by the team of Beverly Griffith, Eddie Quarless and Andre Robley.

The atmosphere at Renegades Pan Theatre on Charlotte Street, Port of Spain was electric with the young pannists of the band clearly showing how eager they were to play for the judges their rendition of "How We Coming" arranged by Brian "Bean" Griffith."

The night's final stop was Hell Yard, the Duke Street home of the Trinidad All Stars, who played "Showtime" arranged by Leon "Smooth" Edwards.

The Steelband Panorama semifinals take place Sunday at the Queen's Park Savannah from 9.a.m.

More details >>

Renegades plays first

BP TT Renegades will be the first large band to face the judges on Sunday at the 2011 National Panorama semi-finals. However the first to cross the stage in the Small band category will be San City Steel Orchestra. The draw for positions took place yesterday.

There are 14 bands each in the Small and Medium category, while 16 Large bands will compete for a place in the finals on Carnival Saturday where the winning Large Band will receive $2 million. Defending champions, Silver Stars Steel Orchestra is slated to perform "It's Showtime" in position 12.

St. Margaret's Superstars and Katzenjammers Steel Orchestras scored the most points in their respective categories in the National Panorama Small and Medium Conventional Bands Preliminaries. The Junior Panorama winner 2009, St. Margaret's Superstars, appearing at position 11 played "Calling Meh" arranged by Shenelle Abraham, amassing 271 points.

In the Medium Band category, Katzenjammers of Tobago placed first with a total of 252 points. Their tune of choice was Edwin Pouchet's arrangement of "Wake Up." The qualifying round, which was held over a period of four days in Tobago, North, South Central and East saw a total of 87 steel bands vying for places in the semi final round. The 16 Large Bands were not judged, but still played for the judges mainly for the purpose of undergoing a band count to ensure they had no more than 100 players.

The bands will play in the following order:

BAND--------------SELECTION---------ARRANGER

1. Bp Renegades - How We Coming - Kenneth Guppy

2. T&TEC Tropical Angel Harps -How We Coming -Clarence Morris

3. Neal & Massy Tdad All Stars- It’s Showtime -Leon Smooth Edwards

4. Redemption Soundsetters - Showtime - Winston Gordon

5. Solo Harmonites - Momentum - Yohan Popwell

6. Phase 11 Pan Groove- Do Something For Pan-Len Boogsie Sharpe

7 Our Boys - TKO - Amritt Samaroo

8. Caribbean Airlines Invaders - Doh Do Dat - Arddin Herbert

9. Desperadoes -Beverly Griffith/EddieQuarless/ARobley

10. Petrotrin Siparia Deltones - Trini - Carlton Alexander

11. NLCB Fonclaire - Raging Storm - Ken Philmore

12. PCS Silver Stars - It’s Showtime - Edwin Pouchet

13. TCL Group Skiffle Bunch - The Hill - Keith Salcedo

14. Sagicor Exodus - Calling Meh - Pelham Goddard

15. Starlift - In She Rainorama - Liam Teague

16. Birdsong - Do Something For Pan - Raphael Robertson

MEDIUM BANDS

1. Arima Angel Harps - TKO - Shelton Besson

2. Sangre Grande Cordettes - Calling Meh - Andes Kappel

3. Pamberi - TKO - Brian Villafana

4. Katzenjammers - Wake Up - Edwin Pouchet

5. Curepe Scherzando - How We Coming - Yohan Popwell

6. Steel Xplosion - Wake Up - Carlton Alexander

7. Courts Sound Specialists - Calling Meh - Ken Philmore

8. Power Stars - It’s Showtime - Arddin Herbert

9. NLCB Buccooneers - Calling Meh - Seion Gomez

10. Belmont Fifth Dimension - A Raging Storm - Noel Skair

11. Carib Dixieland - It’s Showtime - Len Boogsie Sharpe

12. Valley Harps - Do Something For Pan - Michelle Huggins-Watts

13. Melodians - Showdown - Amritt Samaroo

14. Pan Elders - A Raging Storm - Alvin Gittens

SMALL BANDS

1. San City Steel Orchestra - Do Something For Pan -Arrindell/ D. St.Clair

2. Fascinators Pan Symphony - My Band - Nigel Diaz/Daryl Reid

3. Southern Marine S/band Foundation - No No No Not Me - Akino Sennon/Malomo

4. Panosonic Connection - In She Rainorama - Darren Sheppard

5. Tamana Pioneers - It’s Showtime - Paul Campbell

6. Golden Hands - Endless Vibrations - Vanessa A. Headley

7. Merrytones - Ruction - Seion Gomez

8. Codrington Pan Family - Jam in de Rama - Cary Codrington

9. St. Margaret’s Superstars - Calling Meh - Shennelle Abraham

10. Tornadoes - It’s Showtime - Shervon Edwards

11. Arima Golden Symphony - In She Rainorama - Terrence BJ Marcelle

12. TIPICA - Pan Palam - H&K Headley

13.Longdenville Claytones - Calling Meh - Alvin Gittens

14. Old Tech Steel Orchestra - Calling Meh - Sean Ramsey

Tickets are priced at $300 -North Stand and $260 -Grand Stand. The outlets are NCC Ticket Booth, Queen’s Park Savannah, Skinner Park, San Fernando and Pan Trinbago Head Office, Park Street, Port of Spain.

More details >>

'Foxy' wins prison kaiso crown

THE inmates at the Women's Prison in Arouca yesterday exhibited their talent and love for the local art form when they took part in the annual Carnival competition.

The 12 women lyrically waged war against each other in the hope of coping the first prize of $1,000, a trophy and a hamper.

At the end of the competition it was last year's second place winner, Diana "Foxy" Pasqual, who stood tall with her rendition of "A Woman's Plea", a song about domestic violence. Pasqual, who cried when she received her prize, later told the media her rendition was based on her own life experiences.

Second and third place went to Andrea "Diamondz" Cashe and Angela "Angie" Ramdeen for their well received pieces "Soca Energy" and "Restoration" respectively.

Cashe also won the "Most Promising" category, while Ramdeen earned the "Most Humorous Calypso" title.

Road march winner Natasha "Lady Angel" De Leon had the crowd, comprised mostly of prisons officials and specially invited guests, laughing and clapping as she sang "Carnival Madness". Lystra "Sexy Dumplin" Ravello thrilled her fellow inmates with her song about being enticed in prison by another inmate, titled "Jail Confession". She took the "Best Prison Song" title.

More details >>

Guyanese star to open Chutney Soca Monarch

Guyana's top recording star Terry Gajraj will begin the battle for this year's NLCB Chutney Soca Monarch on Saturday night at Skinner Park, San Fernando. He chose the opening spot during a live television draw yesterday.

Fifteen finalists will compete for the top prize of $2 million in the Southex Promotions event. The theme this year is "Evolution" and concert performances by Machel Montano, Karma and 3 Veni will also be featured.

The finalists will perform in the following order —Terry Gajraj, Ravi B (defending champion), Sally Sagram, Artie Butkoon, O'Neil Bhajman, Drupatie Ramgoonai-Persad, Soca Elvis, Rikki Jai, Anil Bheem, Adesh Samaroo, Neeshan "Hitman" Prabhu, KI Persad, Kenneth Supersad, Rick Ramoutar and Hunter.

More details >>

US Embassy takes a beating

The US Embassy and its visa policy in T&T took a beating during the annual National Calypso Queen Competition organised by the National Women's Action Committee (NWAC) at the National Academy for the Performing Arts (NAPA) on Monday night.

The 27th edition of the competition saw veteran performer Heather McIntosh winning easily with her rendition of "Keep It". McIntosh's song is about the horrors Trinibagonians go through to get a visitor's visa from the embassy. The calypso also questions why Trinidadians need to go to the USA when there are nice places right here in Trinidad and Tobago. McIntosh extolled the virtues of Trinidad and Tobago's food, fauna and culture.

Before McIntosh began her song she apologised to the audience for changing the programme. She was billed to sing "Not Ah Call" but changed at the last minute, she said, because she wanted to show patriotism to her country.

The music started with a few bars from the US national anthem and the audience roared its approval.

Before McIntosh, Natasha Nurse, aka Sexy Suzie, also hit the US Embassy's approach to giving locals visas. Her song "Not Enough Ties" drew laughter from the audience as she was outfitted with ties all over her body.

Sexy Suzie's song tells of a visa applicant who took all the necessary documents to the embassy but still the official doing the interview uttered only two words… "Insufficient ties".

The competition finally got under way after an hour of speeches by Minister of Arts and Multiculturalism Winston "Gypsy" Peters, the Suriname Ambassador Fidelia Graand Galon, Sister Karomma Daaga and several presentations to chutney singer Drupatie Ramgoonai-Persad and Dr Anne Marie Osborne for their contribution to local culture,

Eighteen performers faced the judges but they struggled to be heard as the music from the band was louder than the vocals. Some very good calypsoes were lost as the situation continued throughout the night.

Coming in from Tobago, and dressed like a homeless person, Leslie Ann Ellis thrilled the audience with "In Denial", a song about the severity and level of crime in Trinidad and Tobago. In her song she expressed the opinion that these crimes are committed by aliens and people think she is mad.

Another good performance came from Joy C with "Cry of the Grands", a song about grandparents caring for children whose parents live abroad.

Singing Sonia's "Cruise Liner T&T" (Get on Board) is about the new political dispensation in the country and begs people to get on board and make T&T country a better place.

Denise Belfon caused a stir with her African dancers as she performed "Dance and Dingolay".

Ambassador Fidelia Graand Galon, who was impressed with the quality of calypsoes, commented: "Music is very powerful, the songs bring out the stories telling us what's happening in our land. This is education and education is sustainable development and I thank the women who chose to put their thoughts on paper and sing for us. They show us how to balance our lives."

Here are the results:

1st Heather McIntosh Keep It

2nd Leslie Ann Ellis In Denial

3rd Joy C Cry of the Grands

4th Natasha Nurse Not Enough Ties

5th Singing Sonia Cruise Liner T&T

6th Denise Belfon Dance and Dingolay

7th Eunice Peters Footprints in the Sand

8th Megan Waldron I Believe

9th Candice Robinson Justice On Time

10th Cindy Alleyne Build The Caribbean Dream

Also performing were Marion Paponette, Joanne Foster, Buffy, Lady Tallish, Victoria Cooper, Sista Ava, Alicia Massy and Lady Gypsy.

More details >>

The Mighty Striker takes his final count

Little more than a week after a tragic accident took the life of venerated calypsonian Conqueror, the calypso world has lost another celebrated stalwart, the two-time monarch, Mighty Striker, who came into this world in April of 1930 as Percival Oblington. A bout with prostate cancer took him down for the final count this past Saturday. He was 80 years old.

It is a major blow to all of us who cherish the traditions of the artform. Striker was a throwback to another time, when calypso was still king.

The former boxing champion and strongman laid claim as the first back-to-back winner of the modern Dimanche Gras competition, garnering the crown in 1958 and again in 1959. In due candour, he felt he had been robbed of a hat-trick in 1960, when he fell to third behind Sparrow and Melody. "The fix was in that season," he once told me, noting bitterly that he had never collected his third-place earnings. He soured on the competition afterwards.

Striker had one of the most beautiful voices in calypso, along with a terrific wit, and he was widely regarded during his youth as one of the great talents of his generation. Handsome and muscular, he was a popular fixture in the tents during the colourful era of the 1950s and 1960s, rubbing shoulders with the legends of an earlier era while challenging his contemporaries in the post-war generation. He was as comfortable performing a bawdy double-entendre as he was singing a piercing political calypso.

"He was a very talented calypsonian," said Lord Superior, his longtime colleague with whom he was once arrested for performing calypsoes in the 1950s. "He was versatile—he played guitar, wrote his own music—unlike many others. I learned a great deal from him. But he never quite got his due."

By the late 1970s, Striker was cast away from the tents and forced to earn his living as a taxi driver. "Other than boxing and singing and shucking coconuts," he once told me solemnly, "I had had no other talents to earn a living."

Four decades after he first earned his crowns, he executed a comeback, of sorts, starring in the award-winning documentary film Calypso Dreams, in which he performed a delightful version of his hit "Grandfather's Clock":

Trouble, me grandfather clock, will you hear me.

It stopped, it wouldn't work.

At the stroke of twelve o'clock, the two hand wouldn't stand up.

He spend every night, trying to get it fixed

But as me grandfather wind it twice, strictly half past six…

He also served as a member of Superior's Vintage Kaiso Brigade Tent and performed annually at the Viey la Cou festivities in St Ann's and in Kaiso Karavan. "He was the ultimate calypsonian," said Superior.

On a rainy afternoon in January of 2002, our Calypso Dreams production crew made a long drive out to Reid Lane in D'abadie to film Striker in his home. He was in his 70s at the time, and his was a joyous presence both during our production and in the final version of the film. He was always very accommodating and willing to fill in gaps in calypso's history. He would later write—and record—a sweet calypso about the film.

During the course of the next several years, I took detailed notes about Striker's life and his remarkable 65-year career in calypso.

First coming to the tents in Port of Spain in 1949, Striker was a disciple of Lord Cypher, who first mentored the teen-age Striker in the fledgling world of professional calypso. Born in D'abadie, where his father worked as a blacksmith, young Percy earned his way in his youth working as a coconut husker near Arouca, alongside calypso legends Cypher, Lord Eisenhower (his cousin), and Lord Montgomery. He began singing in local tents in Arouca and D'abadie at the age of 15.

It was Cypher who gave him the sobriquet of Striker, because of his boxing ability.

In 1957, Striker finished third in the Dimanche Gras competition behind two legends, Pretender and the Mighty Spoiler. The following year, he claimed the crown with "Don't Blame the PNM" and "No Job Suit Striker." In 1959, he triumphed again, this time with "Ban the Hoola Hoop" and "Comparison".

In addition to being the first back-to-back winner, Striker was also the first monarch to win the title with the two-song requirement.

Last July, Striker was honored as a featured performer at NAPA FEST, a production of the Ministry of Arts and Multiculturalism, in a landmark performance entitled "Trinidad and Tobago History Through The Eyes of Calypso". It was a milestone event in Striker's life. He told me he felt he had finally gotten the respect he deserved.

Sadly, it was to be his last performance.

"He was truly a calypsonian to the end," said calypso historian George Maharaj, author of the two-volume Roots of Calypso. "He was always neatly dressed and always composing and singing. He loved the pan and was an accomplished saxophonist as well. This is a great loss to calypso and I hope he is honoured properly by the powers that be."

Shortly after Kitchener's death a decade ago, Striker mourned the loss of the Grandmaster. "He was a giant in calypso, and he received his just due," Striker acknowledged. "But what of the others? I say it's time for all the giants of calypso to receive their due from this point on."

It was a theme that Striker returned to time after time. His point is well taken. They say that death comes in threes, and with the news that my friend Keith Smith has also died of cancer last week, Carnival 2011 has already given up its trinity to the calypso gods this season. Let us give all of them their proper due.

Geoffrey Dunn is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker in the United States and the co-producer / director of Calypso Dreams.

More details >>

Destra makes two finals

Destra Garcia will face the judges twice at the finals of the International Power Soca Monarch and Groovy Soca Monarch on Carnival Friday, February 4, at the Hasely Crawford Stadium. The Groovy category offers a first prize of $600,000 while the Power category promises a whopping $2 million compliments the People's Partnership Government.

The soca diva, who this year returned to the competition after an absence of several years, made it through in both categories after her performances of "Cool It Down" and "Anything Goes" in the Groovy and Power categories respectively at the semifinals that took place at the Arima Velodrome on Sunday.

Also making it into the finals of both competitions are Patrice Roberts of the HD Family who will compete in the Power category as a duo alongside Nadia Batson from Kes The Band singing "We Not Leaving." Roberts will perform "Mas And Wining" in the Groovy category, which takes place before the Power category on the night.

As was expected by followers of the competition, Machel Montano, Bunji Garlin, Fay Ann Lyons, Destra and Iwer George will all square off against one another and defending Power Champions, JW and Blaze in the final of the Power category.

The battle for the title and $2 million first prize was already very heated before the semifinal and after statements made by the artistes from on stage on Sunday, it is expected that the fetes between now and Carnival Friday will see the rivalry getting even more intense.

Benjai will attempt to dethrone Defending Groovy Soca Monarch, Shurwayne Winchester, having made it to the final with his performance of "Trini" at the semifinal. While he did not make it to the final of the Power category, Blaxx from the Roy Cape All Stars is in the Groovy final with his "Tanti Woi."

Kees Dieffenthaller has also secured a place in the Groovy category singing "Wotless." One of the interesting developments in the competition is veteran calypsonian, All Rounder making it into the finals of the Groovy category.

Following are the finalists of the 2011 International Power Soca Monarch and Groovy Soca Monarch competitions:

GROOVY CATEGORY

Defending Monarch: Shurwayne Winchester

Denise "Saucy Wow" Belfon

Kees Dieffenthaller

Kerwin Du Bois

Destra

Chucky

Yankee Boy & Patch

All Rounder

Benjai

Jahmoun

Patrice Roberts

Blaxx

Cassi

Megan Waldron

POWER CATEGORY

Defending Monarch: JW & Blaze

Bunji Garlin

Anderson "Blood" Armstrong

Nadia Batson / Patrice Roberts

Ravi B

Tallpree

Skinny Fabulous

Destra

Iwer George

Fay Ann Lyons

Shal Marshall

Machel Montano HD

Tian

Michelle Xavier

More details >>

Machel children's show off

Fans of soca superstar Machel Montano reacted with anger and disappointment yesterday, as news spread that he had cancelled his much-anticipated children's show, which was scheduled to take place on Sunday at the Jean Pierre Complex in Port of Spain.

In a release yesterday, Montano's new business manager, James Walton, said the show had been cancelled "due to logistical problems".

The release stated: "We have chosen to cancel the children's show carded for the Jean Pierre Complex on Sunday, February 20, because of several logistics problems that we are unable to overcome in time. There are the additional challenges arising out of the multiple bookings at the venue that severely limits set-up time."

Walton apologised on Montano's behalf.

"We understand the disappointment and inconvenience that may be caused and for this we apologise. We will do a show for the children at a time when we can best represent the standard that we have set for ourselves."

Soon after the release was sent, fans began calling afternoon radio programmes to express their disappointment, even knocking Montano for "getting the children excited and then cancelling the show".

The release said all tickets-holders will be reimbursed in full at the exact outlet from which tickets were purchased. However, the deadline to secure the refund is February 21.

More details >>

Soca war heats up

IT was all-out war at Sunday's semifinal of the 2011 International Power Soca Monarch competition, which took place at the Arima Velodrome.

Destra Garcia proved the bitterest act of the night when she declared, "The b.tch is back" during her performance of "Anything Goes" adding that comments made by fellow competitor, Machel Montano at Saturday's Licensing Fete had driven her to anger.

"Machel say this is war and it eh have no soca friend in this ring. They wanted bacchanal, well the b.tch is back and is bacchanal they will get. I have a cut ass for he," Garcia said before asking the crowd who were they backing for the Soca Monarch. Garcia asked, "Is it Machel? Is It Bunji?" And the crowd began to chant, "Fay-Ann, fire. Fay-Ann, fire." As Garcia continued to speak to the patrons, they continued chanting.

Fay-Ann Lyons had possibly the night's most dynamic performance in which she sang lines of "Consider It Done" then stopped singing, allowing the audience to sing the rest. From the moment Lyons took the stage, the crowd was in a frenzy with those standing near the stage actually lifting the scaffolding of the fence separating them from the front of the stage.

Lyons then took things a notch higher climbing one of the speaker racks from where, with only hand signals, she commanded the crowd to sing for her as she crouched down on the boxes and listened to them. In his heyday leaping to the top of the speakers was a trademark move of her father, SuperBlue who was there, watching his daughter perform.

At one point Lyons told the audience, "Some of them jump into the competition just so. If any of them feel they could come and take the $2 million just so, they lie. I come from the greatest soca monarch ever." For minutes after Lyons exited the stage, patrons were chanting her name, while some were singing, "Consider it done".

Bunji Garlin performed before his wife, Lyons, and he too had the audience going wild with his performance of "Hold A Burn". After the first verse and chorus of the song, Garlin told the audience he was upset that on the night of the Soca Monarch semifinals, the official television station of the competition, CNC 3, had chosen to broadcast the American Grammy Awards instead of the soca monarch, which he saw as disrespectful to the art form.

The four-time Power Soca Monarch also said the competition this year had gotten nasty and competitors were using dirty tactics to frustrate each other. Bunji said that a certain competitor had solicited people to call in to a radio station and make comments that his daughter was deaf. "My daughter is healthy, beautiful and very intelligent and whatever they are trying will never succeed," Garlin said before getting back into the song.

Machel Montano too expressed his disappointment over the failure to broadcast the competition's semifinal saying, "They say we not on TV. We bigger than that. We live on the internet." Poking fun at Bunji, Lyons and Destra, Montano told the audience he was, "Very lyrical also and I doh stick. Dis year Machel come back home and I'm going to take the Soca Monarch throne. Somebody like they vex with me because I come back in the competition," Montano said to the crowd that was so wild they nearly pushed down the fence between them and the stage.

Iwer "The Boss" George chose to focus on his song rather than send any picong the way of his opponents. Delivering one of the of the night's most impacting performances, George went right into the audience singing his infectious, "Come To Me" as the bearers of the big flags danced around him.

Sunday's semifinal attracted possibly the largest audience to have attended the semifinal of the competition in Arima. Due to continuing industrial action there was little police presence, but there were no fights as has happened in the past, especially within the area closest to the stage. The show also ran much more smoothly that previous editions ending before 2 a.m. as compared to last year's 5 a.m. finish.

In the Groovy Soca Monarch Category, which began shortly after 6 p.m., Benjai had the crowd screaming with the announcement of his name and some people were singing "I's a Trini, a Trini," before the band, Vincent Rivers and the Soca Unit started his music.

Kees Dieffenthaller also created a stir with his rendition of "Wotless," in which he was accompanied by members of his band as well as his dancers. Leaving the stage to stand on the fence, Dieffenthaller found himself having to do the best he could to maintain balance as the women began to grab at him, nearly pulling him down. Still he delivered an excellent groovy soca performance.

More details >>

Panorama caravan on the move

All eyes and ears will be trained on the sixteen large conventional steel orchestras as they play their 2011 Panorama selection.

With automatic inclusion into the semifinal round, the bands will be subjected to a count by Pan Trinbago officials and adjudicators this evening.

This is accordance with Panorama 2011 Rules and Regulations which states "no band in this category (large) shall be permitted to participate in the preliminary round with more than 100 players." To this end one judge and Pan Trinbago officials will visit the various pan yards from 7 p.m.

However in the semi final and final steelbands are permitted to perform with 120 players.

The caravan will visit the large bands by regions simultaneously:

North

Starlift Steel Orchestra, Petrotrin Phase 11 Pan Groove, CAL Invaders, PCS Silver Stars, Desperadoes, bp Renegades and Trinidad All Stars.

East

Birdsong, Sagicor Exodus and Solo Harmonites

South/Central

Petrotrin Siparia Deltones, TCL Group Skiffle Bunch, Fonclaire and T&TEC Tropical Angel Harps.

Tobago

Our Boys and RBC/RBTT Sound Setters.

More details >>

Two for one at Kalypso Revue

Kalypso Revue lovers are invited to enjoy a Valentine's Day treat as the tent will tonight allow two patrons on one ticket.

A spokesman for the tent, which is owned by calypsonian Michael "Sugar Aloes" Osuna, said yesterday it is hoped the move will renew interest in the nightly shows.

The spokesman said the tents, located at the Seamen and Waterfront Workers Trade Union (SWWTU) building on Wrightson Road, Port of Spain has so far seen a "bad season".

The drop in patronage started with road works being done outside the venue last week by the Ministry of Works and Transport, during which scores of patrons were denied access to the premises and the tent was forced to cancel its weekend shows.

The management of the tent said at the time it had not been previously notified of the ministry's intentions to conduct significant works on its doorstep.

Tonight's Valentine's Day special will feature the tent's regular line-up, which includes Sugar Aloes, Chalkdust, Crazy, Baron, Bally, Ninja, Skatie, Tigress and Bodyguard.

More details >>

'Shut down fetes'

Promoter Roy Maraj is appealing to Prime Minister, Kamla Persad-Bissessar and Police Commissioner Dwayne Gibbs to find a quick resolution to the issues raised by the Social and Welfare Association of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service, which resulted in a sick-out last week.

This, after members of the Guard and Emergency Branch (GEB) were absent from the annual Licensing Fete held on Saturday night at the Licensing Compound on Wrightson Road, Port of Spain.

Maraj said the GEB "refused to come out to work" at the event resulting in "a lacklustre security presence" and several incidents of criminal mischief.

He said: "This was a very strange year for Licensing Fete in that we noticed our ticket sales dropped considerably as soon as this police sick-out business was reported in the media. This is one of the biggest events on the Carnival calendar and is normally well-attended by all sectors of society, but if the people do not feel that they will be safe, they will not come."

Maraj said he employed over 70 regular police officers for this event, in addition to over 70 private security personnel, 14 dogs and 14 scanners, but lamented that the absence of the GEB force "left the security of patrons in jeopardy".

He said: "When I got to the venue I was told that the GEB would not be coming this year and even though we had about 75 police officers on duty, the GEB branch usually provides an intimidating force that is well-trained in tactical matters and experienced in dealing with these big crowds of people. So the security presence was weak on the night and that put a lot of people's lives at risk. As a promoter, I'm very concerned about the implications this impasse may have on the rest of the Carnival season and our tourism overall, which is why I'm pleading with the authorities to resolve this matter as soon as possible."

Thousands attended the event which featured top soca acts, Destra Garcia, Machel Montano HD, Bunji Garlin, Fay-Ann Lyons and Asylum, KMC with Red, White and Black and controversial dancehall star, Adija "Vybz Kartel" Palmer among others.

Intermittent showers fuelled the large crowd from just after 1 a.m., even as Montano delivered a captivating performance at prime-time which seemed to suck the energy out of the audience and resulted in an anti-climactic ending for the closing acts.

Several incidents of pickpocketing and a few robberies were reported, with one eyewitness claiming that shots had been fired by police in the crowd around 4 a.m. in order to disperse a gang of thieves.

When contacted, a few other promoters expressed general concerns about security, but all hoped to have the issue at hand resolved as soon as possible.

Randy Glasgow of Randy Glasgow Productions Ltd said: "Fortunately, the type of events we produce are more adult-oriented like the Chutney Brass and the Comedy Festival and these events do not go too late, so I'm not worried about law and order being kept. I think the matter will be resolved long before Carnival Monday and Tuesday."

Cliff Harris of Tropix Entertainment said that he has had no problems with police thus far and does not anticipate any.

He said: "I had a wonderful show in south on Friday night in tribute to Calypso Rose and had no problem with the police. My next show is the annual Army Fete, which is considered to be the safest fete in Carnival and we will have security handled jointly by the Army and the police, so I don't foresee any problems there."

More details >>

Sparrow cuts Sando show

Calypso King of the World Slinger Francisco, the Mighty Sparrow, skipped off the stage during his stint at the She Is Carnival event at Skinner Park, San Fernando, on Friday evening, held the left side of his back, complaining of pains in his legs.

The veteran calypsonian had appeared on stage around 1 a.m. with one of his many classic songs, "Saltfish". It was his first performance for the season and, despite his ailments, he still managed to command a standing ovation from adoring women. But his usual sprightly antics were scaled down to almost a casual stroll on stage during songs like "Congo Man" and "That is All" before he skipped off stage.

She Is Carnival honoured Calypso Rose, who was presented with flowers and a plaque by former senator Joan Yuille-Williams.

Also performing at the event were several of T&T's female calypso, soca and chutney entertainers.

Soca diva Destra Garcia removed her six-inch boots before jumping into the VIP section, where she caused quite a stir with her 2011 rendition, "Anything Goes". Patrice Roberts, the new lead of the HD Family, delivered a riveting performance in a turquoise body-fitting outfit.

Denise "Saucy Wow" Belfon was also a hit, as were Lil' Bitts, Nadia Batson, Singing Sandra, Drupatee Ramgoonai-Persad and the singing couple of Fay-Ann Lyons-Alvarez and Bunji Garlin, Megan Walrond, Denyse Plummer and Sugar Jay from Grenada.

The line-up of artistes paved the way for the lady of the moment, Calypso Rose, who was summoned to the stage in song by calypsonian Twiggy.

Calypso Rose, known for her infectious smile, squeals and body movements, got patrons to their feet as she performed "Queen of the Road", "Senior Citizen Day" and "Feel Like Dancing". See Page 17

More details >>

Gypsy: More statues, tributes for culture icons

Minister of the Arts and Multiculturalism Winston "Gypsy" Peters has given his assurance that more calypsonians and cultural icons will soon be honoured in a similar manner as the late Lord Kitchener.

Speaking at the renaming ceremony of the public auditorium of the National Academy for the Performing Arts (NAPA) in Port of Spain yesterday, Peters said the tribute to Lord Kitchener, which was announced in June last year, was just the beginning for local icons.

"Where I stand, I will ensure that feats like this continue. As a matter of fact, I want to take it one step further; I am in search of a place where we will have statues of not only Kitchener, but all the persons from the artistic fraternity."

The NAPA auditorium was officially renamed the "Lord Kitchener (Aldwyn Roberts) Auditorium".

Peters said when the Government establishes the Carnival Centre and the Culture Museum, this is where they will put statues and other memorabilia honouring cultural icons.

He told those present it was symbolic the rich legacy of Lord Kitchener, a ten-time Road March holder, was being celebrated on the 11th anniversary of his passing on the 11th day of February, 2011.

He added the Lord Kitchener Auditorium was not an achievement just for the family of the late calypsonian, but one for the entire calypso fraternity.

"We are indebted to you, and this is our small way of saying thank you," he said.

Kernel and Quweina Roberts— the son and daughter of Lord Kitchener—who spoke at the event, both thanked the Government for the tribute paid to their father for his contribution to local culture.

Quweina Roberts urged the Government to continue to recognise the contribution of other local artists while they are still alive.

More details >>

Anti-Manning kaiso gets toilet paper, boos

"San Fernando is a tough crowd," Arts and Multiculturalism Minister Winston "Gypsy Peters" said at the opening of Kaiso Showkase at Palms Club on Thursday night.

His quip came after witnessing the traditional toilet paper response from the crowd to a song from Randolph "Count Robin" Hillaire, whose lyrics were critical of former prime minister Patrick Manning.

Indeed, some members of the audience left their seats and rushed to the front of the stage to wave sheets of toilet paper and roar their disapproval as Count Robin gave his rendition of "Manning kill the PNM".

Hillaire was jeered and booed, but continued to perform and even performed an encore after being called back on stage by MCs Damian Melville and Jillian Smith.

Speaking afterwards, Peters said, "The San Fernando crowd is a tough crowd to please. Calypsonians must be free to sing what they like.

"He (Hillaire) is singing against the PNM (People's National Movement) and the PNM people will act. They act like that all the time. They acted like that to me, but the song is a popular song. It is a good song; it has a good balance."

Peters was himself a victim of toilet paper and oranges tossed at him at Skinner Park, San Fernando, several years ago.

Further poking fun with the song, MC Smith chattered the lines, "Pena kill the PNM".

Count Robin was the 14th of 24 artistes at the show, which started just after 8 p.m.

Others who were highly appreciated by the patrons were Protector, "Ah Rising/ Doption"; Mr Mack, "Crooks Family"; Joanne Foster, "Sacred"; Hezekiah Joseph, "One Happy Family"; Lady Adanna, "What Yuh Rather"; Ras Kommanda, "Go To Work"; and Patrice Valentine, "Meh Pardner Ship".

Also sitting in the audience were former culture minister Joan Yuille-Williams and San Fernando Mayor Marlene Coudray.

More details >>

Scanty launch in Point

There was a poor turnout at the Point Fortin Carnival launch on Thursday.

The event was organised by the Point Fortin Carnival Committee, but even the borough's mayor, Clyde Paul, was absent.

The 4 p.m. launch time never happened, and the fete only began at around 7 p.m. And it appeared many took the committee's slogan, "Stay Home and Stay Safe", literally.

Point Fortin's parade consisted of two pan sides, a few bands, one moko jumbie and a few individual masqueraders who moved from Coronation Park to Victor Chin Kit Park.

When the rains came, the party came to life.

Celebrants frolicked to the music of entertainers Daddy Brentie, TC and Neil "Iwer" George.

Chairman of the Point Fortin Carnival Committee and Councillor Sherwin St Hillaire said there would be a series of events this season featuring the return of the Point Fortin Monarch Competition and the Parade of Bands.

More details >>

KIDDIES MAS CLEAN-UP

Any adult, including band officials and parents, found consuming alcohol in any band during the Junior Parade of the Bands scheduled to come off on Carnival Saturday, will be ejected from the band and have to leave the parade route.

This new measure, said Chairman of the National Carnival Bands Association (NCBA) Parade of the Bands Committee Samuel Lewis, is to show children the right way to live and have a good time.

Lewis was speaking at the media launch yesterday of the 2011 Junior Parade of the bands, which took place at the Republic Bank head offices, Park Street, Port of Spain.

NCBA president, David Lopez, later emphasised the statement made by Lewis, adding that he is calling on the police and legal authorities to ensure that no bar licences allowing the sale of alcohol be issued to vendors along the parade route on the day of the parade.

Lopez also said he was aware that there were laws preventing the sale of alcohol by anyone along the route during the parade and he is asking the police to act on them.

As for the permanent bars that are located along the route, Lopez said those bars have a different type of licence than the temporary bars and they will remain open during the parade.

Lopez said in the past, once there was any event involving children, the police would restrict the use of alcohol in the area being used, but things changed. Lopez said all the NCBA can do is instruct parents and people involved in the bands that if they do purchase alcohol at these bars, then stay out of the bands.

"We need to show the children you can have a good time without alcohol. I am calling on the police and legal authorities to execute the laws on alcohol being available during the Junior Parade of the Bands. Don't profit by destroying the future of the young. It's the parents that drink alcohol in the bands on the day set aside for the children. It's the parents that encourage the kids to gyrate in certain ways," said Lopez.

Lopez also said the NCBA is going to prepare a "Don't play list," which they will establish at an upcoming meeting with the DJs — to ensure that certain songs not be played.

Lopez said there were 25 DJs on trucks contracted to the NCBA and some of the bands have their own DJ trucks.

The NCBA will provide guidelines to the respective bands for their DJs. Any DJ failing to adhere to the rules will not be contracted by the NCBA in the future, Lopez said.

This is the third year that Republic Bank is the title sponsor of the Junior Parade of the Bands and the financial institution has provided $500,000 per year to the NCBA with $350,000 going towards the Junior Parade and $150,000 to the Mas Academy.

This year, in an effort to ensure a smooth flow and that the parade ends on time to allow Pan Trinbago enough time to get the Queen's Park Savannah ready for the National Panorama finals, Republic Bank is giving $500 each to the first ten bands leaving the starting point on the Brian Lara Promenade at 7.30 a.m.

The junior masqueraders will parade from Brian Lara Promenade and St Vincent Street then down on to South Quay, turning up Broadway and going up Frederick Street right up to the Queen's Park Savannah.

More details >>

Machel draws 21 for Soca Monarch semis

The draw for positions in the semi-final round of competition in the 2011 International Power Soca Monarch and Groovy Soca Monarch competitions took place yesterday.

The semi-final comes off at the Arima Velodrome on Sunday from 6 p.m. Machel Montano is scheduled to sing in position 21 in the Power category while Bunji Garlin performs in position eight, and his wife, Fay-Ann Lyons-Alvarez, in position 16.

Montano is expected to perform either "Illegal" or "Advantage" in his bid to make it to the finals on Carnival Friday, March 4, when he will compete against defending champions JW and Blaze and nine other finalists for the $2 million first prize.

Bunji will most likely perform "Hold A Burn" and his wife, "Consider It Done".

In the Groovy category, Benjai competes in position eight, and fans are still to know whether he will perform "Wine to the Side" or "Trini", both songs being major hits.

Kees Dieffenthaller will sing "Wotless" in position 23 while Cassi performs "Tong Ting" in position 21, and Farmer Nappy sings "Flirt" at number 16.

More details >>

3Canal goes to Little Carib

The 2011 edition of the 3Canal Show will be the first production at the newly restored Little Carib Theatre, Woodbrook, which was closed over two years ago for extensive renovations. The show is this year titled, ReEvolution Time and Wendell Manwarren of 3Canal told the Express having the show back at the Little Carib represents that re-evolution they are exploring through the show, the group’s recordings for 2011 Carnival and their Jouvert band.

 “We are excited over returning to the Little Carib this year. The last time we did the 3Canal Show there was in 2006, before it was closed for the renovations. We thought that since the 3Canal Show was the last big production there, it should be the first big show after the restoration,” Manwarren said.

There are several innovations being introduced for this year’s show the major one being the inclusion of live animation. This will be done by recent graduates of the Animation Class at the University of Trinidad and Tobago.

Manwarren said when UTT’s Programme Coordinator of Animation Studies, Camile Selvon-Abrahams invited him to host the class’s graduation ceremony, he told her he would as long as 3Canal can get to work with them. The group of animators has come together under the name, Lab 206 and will create animation sequences during the production.

Along with the performance of 3Canal there will be several guest acts including fellow rapso artistes Ataklan and Mr Shak. Emphasis will also be placed on the local alternative music scene with performances by Colis Duranty as well as Gazette and Kin Sibling Rivalry.

The three components of 3Canal’s Carnival productions were launched on February 4 at Murray Street, Woodbrook where theatre practitioner, Godfrey Sealy lived. Nikki Crosby commented when she arrived at the launch that being in that space brought back some good memories. “Boy, we all started right here in this yard,” Crosby said.

Manwarren underscored Crosby’s statement saying that Sealy opened up his home to the theatre fraternity back in the early days. Manwarren said that yard served as the place where many actors and actresses got their start. He said it was the place where he first met the late Mairoon Ali and where Raymond Choo Kong used to prepare for his plays. Manwarren said the yard was also used for other events, but remains a special place in the hearts of the members of the theatre fraternity.

As for the other components of 3Canal’s Carnival 2011 the group on February 4 also launched their nine-track CD, ReEvolution Time that features the songs, “We Coming Again,” “I Am,” “After The Battle,” “Do The Right Thing,” “Power To The People,” “Running Away,” “Over Me” and “Trodding On.”

A music video for “I Am” / “Run The Riddem” was also launched on the night. 3Canal also unveiled its 2011 Jouvert presentation, I AM the Re Evolution - Power to the People. The 3Canal Show opens on February 21. There will be a Children’s show on February 20.

More details >>

Promoter defends Chutney Soca finalists

PRODUCER of the National Lotteries Control Board (NLCB) 2011 Chutney Soca Monarch competition George Singh described as false the perception that most of the songs making it into the final round are ones which glorify alcohol.

In a telephone interview with the Express yesterday, Singh responded to criticisms levelled against him and his organisation, following the announcement of the 15 finalists moving ahead to compete for the $2 million mega first prize.

The finals is scheduled to take place at Skinner Park, San Fernando, on February 19.

Some callers to various radio talk shows and writers on internet blogs have expressed outrage at the omission of some of their favourite artistes from the finals.

"This is something that is very normal," Singh said.

"I mean, every year, you have people who are upset that they have not made the finals. I can't take 41 people to the final. The judges had a responsibility to choose 14 people, and one person was chosen via phone texts and online votes.

"The impression that most of the songs are glorifying rum is a false one. There is a perception that chutney is all about rum. That is not true. There are three songs in the competition that mention rum."

Singh said two of the songs are anti-rum songs.

"One song, which is Rikki Jai's song, "White Oak and Water", is the only song that is an outright rum song, if you want to call it that. It really talks about him meeting a girl whose father is unable to pay a dowry, and the father invited him to take a drink to discuss marriage with his daughter."

Singh said he believes chutney music has come a long way and continues to evolve, and there are people who would always be discontented.

"They are writing things saying there are no chutney soca songs in the competition. What are these people singing? Soca?

"One particular artiste said there isn't even a chutney soca artiste in the competition. They went on radio and said that."

Singh said he intends to request recordings of the radio shows with a view to seeking legal advice.

"I am going to take them to task because they are calling my name all over the place. I really am a little fed up of this now. So who is Rikki Jai? Is he a calypsonian?"

Singh said he was very satisfied with the level of performances from all the artistes in the semi-final round at Rienzi Complex, Couva, on Saturday night.

"It was the best semi-final ever had in the history of the competition. So I am not putting down any of these artistes who went and blasphemed my name all over the place.

"I understand how they feel, and I am not saying that they are not deserving of a place in the finals. But there were 14 people who were better than them in the judges' eyes."

More details >>

Govt to give KitchenerNAPA honour

The public auditorium of the National Academy for the Performing Arts (NAPA) will be renamed in honour of the late calypsonian Lord Kitchener.

The renaming ceremony, which will take place today at NAPA, was approved by the Government as a tribute to the late Aldwyn "Lord Kitchener" Roberts, a release from the Ministry of the Arts and Multiculturalism said yesterday.

Arts and Multiculturalism Minister Winston "Gypsy" Peters said, "Renaming the auditorium in honour of Lord Kitchener is a fitting tribute to a great calypsonian and entertainer, who was instrumental in putting calypso on the world map when he migrated to the United Kingdom, and who created some of the best-known and loved music for the pan in the country."

Kitchener died at the age of 78 and had a career in the calypso arena that spanned more than six decades, during which he founded the Revue Calypso Tent.

More details >>

Sandy vows: No more attacks on panmen

The National Security Minister has given the assurance to pan players that the recent violent attacks at the Uni-Stars Panyard which left one panman dead and others injured will never happen again.

Sandy spoke with several pan players and leaders of their band during a tour to several panyards within Morvant, Laventille and Port of Spain districts on Wednesday night.

"...It is sad. It is sad. I'm hoping that things like that don't ever happen again because it is senseless you know, just driving and shooting at random and killing innocent people, you know I'm a father, and I would not want to send my child to play in a band when this is happening.

"As a result of that we have instituted army and police patrols in and around the panyards because we can't allow that to continue," Sandy said.

At the Uni-Stars Panyard, Sandy signed a tenor pan in remembrance of Henry Cyrus' death.

The National Security Minister was accompanied by Chief of Defence Staff Brigadier General Roland Maundy, Col Kenrick Maharaj and Commissioner of Police Dwayne Gibbs.

Maundy said the Defence Force will also be doing their part to make sure pannists and all other citizens are safe.

Two pan players have been murdered during the Carnival seasion. Cyrus, 55, a founding member of Uni-Stars, was killed during a drive-by shooting on February 4, which also left three other people nursing gunshot injuries.

Wendell Joseph, 23, a pan player with Courts Sound Specialists, was killed when he went to drop off a fellow pan player at her Barataria home on January 30, shortly after pan practice.

More details >>

The Rose of Carnival

Trinidad and Tobago's Carnival in 2011 could possibly be dubbed the Carnival of women.

For starters, the island's female entertainers have produced some of the best songs heard in recent years.

Nadia Batson, Destra Garcia, Patrice Roberts, Fay-Ann Lyons and Lil Bitts have all infiltrated the soca market in a strong way this season and there's no denying they will have a lot to say as the Carnival energy penetrates.

Second to that, these very artistes, along with a number of other big female entertainers, will on February 11, hit the Southland in a showcase that simply cannot be compared.

"I'm so excited to perform with my soca and calypso sisters on stage at Skinner Park for 'She Is Carnival'," said 'Caribbean Girl', Nadia Batson. Her hits are many and her style, vibe and energy, powerful. Nadia Batson is the epitome of a strong Caribbean woman. Eagerly, the singer who has offered over four hit singles this season, one of which is done alongside, Patrice Roberts, has over the years been an inspiration for many young women across the region.

"This is a great event," she hinted, urging the women of the south to come out in their numbers to be counted as one of many women of power and beauty. "Like many of us who stand on stage night after night, there are women among us who do so much to make people around them smile, each day. This show is about making them smile together on one night," she mused.

She is Carnival is being held at Skinner Park in San Fernando and with tribute carded to be paid to the iconic, Calypso Rose, Nadia spoke of Rose's influence on the industry. "Calypso Rose is beautiful in every way. We are so lucky to have her as one of our own and I think it's wonderful that Tropix Entertainment has chosen to honour her. This woman, this mother of our music—guided us women. She stood for something and stills stands for it—that something is Trinidad and Tobago's culture—we're so blessed to have her with us in 2011."

With tickets said to be in high demand at outlets across the country, organisers say, this one will compare to nothing else of this calibre in the southland. " It will truly be a spectacular showcase of the women who have, and continue to lead the industry—the women whose music has lifted spirits and brought messages of inspiration to many—women like Singing Sandra, Denyse Plummer and Calypso Rose," said a representative of Tropix Entertainment.

She is Carnival was born out of the promotional outfit's desire to give the people of south Trinidad something to hold on to, in Carnival that would still keep them close to home. " We want southerners to know that Carnival isn't only about the northern end of the island. Carnival belongs to them too," said the Tropix rep.

OOn February 11, patrons will pay just $150 General and $200 Special Reserved to see ten of the biggest females in the Caribbean's music industry- among them Nisha B, Drupatee and Denise "Saucy Wow" Belfon.

Promoters say this one will be the best southern experience for the 2011 Carnival season.

For more on this event, check

out Facebook—keyword: She is Carnival

More details >>

To have your event posted, please e-mail us the information at digitalmedia@trinidadexpress.com