Minister of Road Machel Montano ought to be the happiest man alive. He’s now won six Road March titles.
But yesterday, he said he has no political aspirations.
“I’ll not say never, but politics has no interest to me. I don’t envy (politicians); they have it hard,” Montano told reporters at a media conference on the Queen’s Park Savannah stage, Port of Spain, yesterday.
Montano had a great season this year, winning the Power Soca Monarch title with “Ministry of Road” (MOR). He took second place in the Groovy Soca Monarch competition with “Happiest Man Alive”, and another of his 2014 hits was titled “Epic”.
Montano’s “Ministry of Road” was a runaway winner in this year’s Road March, played a total of 374 times, miles ahead of the 59 its runner-up, “Big People Party” by Farmer Nappy (Darryl Henry). Rounding off the top three with 39 was Benjai’s (Rodney Le Blanc) “Come Out To Play”.
“Ministry of Road”—the tune that helped Montano retain his Power Soca and Road March titles—was however a political statement, he said.
“It is a political statement representing the voice of the people. I was one of the people trapped (by the Port of Spain General Hospital) last year with the mas band Fantasy...and it was frustrating,” he said.
He was also passionate about the need to adapt as Carnival evolves and make it relevant to spectators and not just masqueraders.
“People are talking about the Socadrome—now, it comes just like Adam Smith Square—just another stop. Truly, it didn’t have much people (at the Savannah) either watching mas, period. Everywhere was slow; it didn’t have people watching mas, period. If we are minding our business, we will find a way to make people watch mas, make mas run on time, disciplined. I could be a minister if I wanted to, I could be Minister of the Road if I wanted to, but I already do that from my entertainment perspective. I do my best to make things better through my statements.
“I didn’t have to wait by the hospital this year, we flew across the stage; I was impressed by that and I think we have to give time to these changes, but we have to focus on it now, Ash Wednesday, and after.... If we don’t discipline our festival, don’t try to raise the standard of it, we are going to lose it slowly,” he said.
He also said the Power Soca genre was going through an ebb in its cycle, and it was becoming harder and harder to come up with original songs.
“I feel very fortunate this year. We worked hard and it was a tough year for power soca and road march ideas, even in our own camp, to come up with the formula. We looked at it early from two or three weeks out, and we didn’t see any competition.”
It is very difficult to write power soca, he said, and the people writing songs are running out of ideas to say the same things.
“Power soca is not that easy to construct—there are only so many ways to say ‘jump and wave’. Groovy is more palatable, has more potential for the international market because more people can relate to it. Power is more us and what we do,” he said.
The form may be dying, he said, but his team will continue giving masqueraders what they want to “fly” across the stage.
“The day we know they don’t want to fly and they want to drop on the ground and roll, or chip, we will know months coming in because this is our job and we do it well,” he said.
Coming in second in the Road March race was Farmer Nappy, Montano’s close performing friend.
“He is in our camp. I’ve always told him if I am first, you should be second,” he said, adding he had called him to take part in the media conference, but he was still sleeping off the season.