Sunday, February 25, 2018

Bandleaders threaten to sue NCBA

Claiming they were disqualified because of ‘bad blood’...


Mark Fraser

Several bandleaders are consid­e­r­­ing taking legal action after being disqualified in the National Carnival Bands Association’s (NCBA) Band of the Year competition.

President of the Trinidad and Tobago Carnival Bands Association (TTCBA) Gerard Weekes said yesterday about ten bandleaders have complained to him.

Weekes said the bandleaders were not against Neal and Massy Trinidad All Stars Steel Orchestra winning but were merely seeking clarification on the results from NCBA president David Lopez.

All Stars placed first with its pre­sentation, Sailors On Shore Leave At A Tropical Fiesta, with 2,365 points. Weekes also said consensus among the bandleaders was it was not a case of “sour grapes”. 

Via a telephone interview yesterday, Weekes said: “We have had complaints from more than ten band-

­leaders. The concerns range from disqualification to loss of points. I guess they are all seeking some answers. Bandleaders like Rosalind Gabriel, Ronnie and Caro, D Krewe with Roland St George, Trini Revellers with David Cameron are seeking legal action. These are just a few.”

Weekes added: “All Stars is not the problem. The bandleaders have lost points. They simply want to know where they were disqualified. Some of them want to know why they were not placed in the top three. It is both the Medium and Large Band category who are querying their scores and their points. I will be talking with them over the weekend. It will be on a one-and-one basis.” 

Asked if the bandleaders will be suing the NCBA, he said: “I don’t have an official answer. They have all intentions to sue. Meanwhile, they have been attempting to retain their scores.”

Weekes said the “controversy” stemmed from the implementation of “draconian rules”. 

He added: “I predicted All Stars will win Band of the Year because they were the only band that stayed with the rules and regulations. The rules and regulations were tailored to suit All Stars.”

Asked if he attempted to contact Lopez, he said: “No. I have not attempted to contact them. Lopez knows what he is doing. So he does not want to talk to anybody at this time.”

Asked if he had contacted National Carnival Commission (NCC) chairman Allison Demas, he said: “It is the same thing with her. She will say talk to NCBA.”

Weekes however cast the blame for the post-Carnival fiasco at the feet of Minister of the Arts and Multiculturalism Dr Lincoln Douglas. 

“Douglas has to be held responsible for all the issues and problems. He and Lopez are two peas in a pod,” said Weekes. 

Via a telephone interview yesterday, bandleader Rosalind Gabriel said: “It’s discrimination.”

Her adult band, Festival of Colours, failed to place in the Small Band category. 

Gabriel said: “I am writing to NCBA to request my scoresheet. I want to see why I have not been placed anywhere from one to five in the Small Band category. In 2003, there was real bacchanal. But 2014 is even worse. This is victimisation. Lopez is supposed to be the union leader for mas. He is supposed to be our champion. He is persecuting us.”

She said it was a case of “bad blood”.

Gabriel added: “In 2012, we left NCBA and we formed TTCBA (Ge­rard Weekes), and this is the persecution that came from it. We have been victimised.”

Based on discussions with her colleagues, Gabriel said: “For those bandleaders whom I talk to, they all feel the same way. The steelband (All Stars) won because others were disqualified.” 

She said she will be requesting the scoresheet for the Juniors’ presentation of Colour My Culture.

Gabriel said: “Those of us who went downtown were disqualified. Something has gone on.”

Asked if she had contacted Lo­pez, she said: “No. I hired a lawyer to act on my behalf. I think the NCBA will be buried in lawsuits.”

 Efforts to contact Douglas, De­mas and Lopez yesterday proved futile.