Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Ronnie and Caro calling for answers

After ‘band of year’ disqualification...


Want scores, Explanation: Bandleader Ronnie McIntosh and his wife, Caroline, during yesterday’s news conference at their Woodbrook mas camp.

Mark Fraser

Woodbrook bandleaders Ronnie and Caroline McIntosh are asking the National Carnival Bandleaders’ Association (NCBA) to furnish them with their scores and provide valid reasons for their disqualification in the band of the year competition. 

Speaking at a news conference at their Woodbrook mas camp yesterday, McIntosh (R) said a multitude of masqueraders have taken to social media, including Facebook, to express their concerns about the band’s placement. 

A formal request to appease their masqueraders’ queries was made by attorney/masquerader Denyse Gouveia, he said.

Ronnie and Caro won the Downtown Band of the Year title with its portrayal of De River Come Down.

Trinidad All Stars Steel Orchestra, of Duke Street, Port of Spain, however won its first ever Carnival Band of the Year title with the traditional mas characters portrayal, Sailors On Shore Leave At A Tropical Fiesta, in the NCBA competition. President of the National Carnival Bandleaders’ Association (NCBA) Gerard Weekes said on Thursday there was a strong possibility All Stars’ victory was not based on merit, but stemmed from penalties which had been applied to other bandleaders. 

During Carnival, NCBA president David Lopez, an administrator with 30 years’ experience, said NCBA rules had to be adhered to, and knocked “flip-flop police” and politicians for interfering in Carnival 2014’s operations. 

McIntosh said yesterday: “We want to congratulate All Stars on their victory and all the other winners in pan and mas. It is not we didn’t win. Our focus is and has always been making our masqueraders happy. We cherish our masqueraders, service them and we appreciate them.

“We want to know where we placed. Whether we came 19th out of 20. And what is the penalty for the disqualification? The rules we signed with the NCBA did not say anything about ‘off route’. We went ‘off route’ Monday, but stayed on route on Tuesday. We sent a letter (NCBA) from our lawyers. And by 3 p.m., we want to get the first set of answers.”

McIntosh said Global Positioning System (GPS) technology was implemented to track the band’s movements. “Whatever you do on Monday, it will not affect Tuesday. Caro said they said we weren’t in costume in Monday. They attached a GPS system to track the bands for security reasons,” he said. 

Sharing his sentiments on the masqueraders’ demands for answers, McIntosh said: “We are taking it forward on the request of the masqueraders. We decided we would pursue it. Many of them called Caro and I. They wanted to know if we were disqualified without a proper reason.”

Asked if he had contacted Lopez, he said: “No. I called him yesterday (Thursday). I did not get him. So I went down to the office. I met with Lopez. He told me we were disqualified. He mentioned the GPS route report which said: ‘Went off route Monday: Stayed on route Tuesday.” The disqualification was something based on the GPS report. All I am requesting is the information.”

McIntosh said Carnival discussions should take place weeks before Carnival. 

“We should start Carnival planning by April. There should be a whole structural approach. Carnival is not a fruit. Businessmen are investing their time. The state should do the same. “

Asked to share his views on Carnival 2014, he said: “It was fantastic. The flow was nice. Masqueraders were happy. We had masqueraders from Japan and Australia. Although we had hiccups, our masqueraders said they had a great time.” 

Asked about the clockwise/anti-clockwise route debate for Carnival, McIntosh said: “We have to have consultation. There are people who can tell you about the wind and how many knots. I cannot. I am not that scientific. We have to absorb it. And get back to them. We have to support it.”

Commenting on concerns expressed about the blatant vulgarity displayed by women, McIntosh said, “Pasties? At the end of the day, size matters.”

There was laughter from those present, and McIntosh added: “A number of the people who behave like that are from outside. They are not from here. They are working in a bank, insurance or in a store. Everybody knows everybody in Trinidad. They have to go back to work. A lot of them are not based here.” 

Up till 5 p.m. yesterday, McIntosh said he had not received a response from the NCBA. 

“We will wait until my attorneys contact us before we can determine the way forward,” said McIntosh. After the news conference, the Express team attempted to get an interview with Lopez at the NCBA headquarters at Picton Street, Woodbrook. Initially, the team was told to wait. After about half an hour, a gentleman said Lopez was in a meeting and he would not be speaking about the bandleaders’ concerns yesterday.

Efforts to contact Lopez on his mobile phone were unsuccessful.