Saturday, January 20, 2018

Very late start to Dimanche Gras unforgivable

If the Dimanche Gras show was supposed to portray to the world the best of Trinidad & Tobago, what a sorry sight we must have seemed! One thing we did was confirm our legendary reputation for lateness. It seems that things have just got worse since Lord Kitchener sang "Anytime is Trinidad time" around 1971.

As I read on, "Sometimes it feels like it was a line that was removed from the National Anthem." Now, we're not talking five minutes, or ten

minutes, or half an hour or even an hour late. We're talking about a mind-boggling 95 minutes late!

Can you imagine the Grammy Awards or the Miss Universe

pageant starting even two or three minutes late? That would be a catastrophe. They advertise weeks in advance and, as the clock strikes the hour, the show begins. But we think nothing of starting over an hour and a half late with not even a token


When asked about the extremely late start and other negative aspects of the show, the NCC Chairman said they had only five weeks to plan the show. Am I to assume that if she had five weeks and 95 minutes to plan, the show would have started on time?

 Others have commented about the lacklustre performances of the artistes so I won't go into

detail here. Most of them looked jaded, as if they had rushed over from performing somewhere else, and were just going through the motions. Even sentimental favourite SuperBlue could not make some not-so-high notes. Many looked sloppy and performed to match, as if they were down at the local pub, not in front of an international audience.

The only world-class performance was that delivered by pannists Johann Chuckaree and Dane Gulston. Anyone watching could not have helped being enthralled by their skill and dexterity even if the viewers were not familiar with "Pan In A Minor". But even this was a bit overdone. It might have been better to shorten the "shoot-out" and play another piece with which an international audience could identify.

Same goes for the steelbands. While they played brilliantly, Panorama style, all the average person out there would have heard is "noise".

If we really want to impress the world with what a good steelband sounds like, we cannot

restrict our renditions to Panorama tunes only. We must also choose tunes that resonate with the intended audience. Disclaimer: I could not subject myself to the entire show (partly because the TV commentators

believed we preferred to hear them rather than what was taking place on stage) so I may have missed something.

I've heard it said that TT$3m was spent on Dimanche Gras 2013 (why anyone would want to write this as 2K13 is beyond me!). As one of the taxpayers who funded this disaster, I kindly request a

detailed statement on how this money was spent. You know, who was paid how much and for what.

I think the idea of what the show was supposed to be is a good one. (I, for one, am glad not to have to put up with that boring charade that passes for a calypso contest. Imagine, most of these singers don't have one good song and we ask them to sing two!) One

suggestion. Package Dimanche Gras as a three-hour show starting promptly at 8 p.m. Starting even two minutes late should be treated as a calamity.

Now that the NCC has a lot more than five weeks to plan for the next show, hopefully it will be something that will make us proud, proud Trinis.

 Noel Kalicharan