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High-tech security measures for Tobago Jazz

By Michelle Loubon

As the Tobago Jazz Experience gets under way in the fishing village of Speyside today with Tarrus Riley at Speyside Recreation Grounds from 5 p.m., mobile ticket scanners and “iris scanners” specially designed to beef up backstage security have been introduced for the three signature events scheduled for  Pigeon Point Heritage Park. They include  World Music Night — Friday, and Youthopia and Beach Jazz Fiesta on Saturday. 

Event coordinator John Arnold said the two new security interventions will only be used for those three special  events at which patrons are asked to pay.  The Tobago Jazz Experience is costing the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) $11 million. American superstar John Legend is among the headline acts.   

 In a telephone interview, Arnold explained: “The ticket scanners will be used at the three paid events like World Music Night and Beach Jazz Fiesta. It is the  first time we are using mobile ticket scanners. We have used a measure before where we collect them and scan them in to determine data like when people arrived. The  mention of scanners had to do with scanners for tickets. People must get tickets from authorised dealers.”   

Zeroing on the “iris scanners,” Arnold said: “For the first time, we are using the  ‘iris scanners’. The question only arises in the backstage where we see the need to have increased security measures. It has nothing to do with the patrons coming into the main events. That was part of the process to deal with backstage for three paid events. The other events are open to the public.” 

Coupled with the security issues, Arnold also spoke about the legendary Legend’s visit. 

He said: “We are fortunate to have John Legend. He is having his best year.

“He is the one driving the truck. We are turning another corner from when we started with Plymouth Jazz and the Jazz Experience in 2009. We are delivering serious headline artistes and working with the tourism stakeholders to develop the product.”   On the domestic tourism scene, Arnold said the spotlight will be on community tourism projects and exposure for artistes and musicians.

 Arnold said: “We would like to have more than a destination event that draws people. It is  much more than music. We are working in tandem with stakeholders like tourism and community councils to showcase a number of tourism events. They are working alongside the jazz brand.”

Tourists will get a chance to visit Castara, birthplace of the late former president and prime minister Arthur NR Robinson, participate in seine fishing, bathe in waterfalls, and enjoy the people and the scenery. 

 Sharing his sentiments on the wealth of local talent, Arnold said: “A second objective is to raise the capacity in terms of the local musicians  from a developmental perspective.”

For the 2014 experience, Arnold said they have introduced Youthopia: Celebration of Youth. There will be a slew of  young performers, including soca artistes Olatunji Yearwood and Erphaan Alves. 


Community Events 

 Sunday: Signal Hill Hillside Jazz; featuring a number of people who came to live auditions  

Monday: Mt Pleasant Village Council Sports and Family Day features goat racing 

Tuesday: Buccoo Community  Event 

Wednesday: New Orleans trip (Scarborough Esplanade) featuring solos, duets, unplugged scenes, spoken word and traditional jazz 

Thursday: Castara community events, includes a big copper with fish broth prepared by fishermen. 

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