Florida was jumping for the recent Orlando Carnival, traditionally held over the Memorial Day holiday weekend. As usual, the Island Boys outfit really hit the spot with its annual fete with some good Trini food and entertainment, and excellent ambience.
This year’s party saw even more nationals making the trip for a good time, and among those seen were former AG Bridgette Annisette-George, Gail Clarence, Dawn Solom and Denyse Largen. Turning the house inside out with some scintillating performances were former Charlie’s Roots vocalist Roger George and past Atlantik singer Eddie Charles.
Just as enjoyable and larger on the weekend were the performances by reigning International Power Soca Monarch/Road March champion Machel Montano HD, his sidekicks Farmer Nappy and 1st Klase, 2011 National Chutney Soca Monarch Ravi B and Karma; 2011 International Groovy Soca Monarch Kees Dieffenthaller; and, Shurwayne Winchester & You. Kees performed to a huge crowd on the Friday night at the Kissimmee Civic Centre in Florida, while Machel and his band performed on the Saturday night before Carnival day at Soiree, held at the Events & Conference Centre in Orlando. On the Carnival Sunday, it was the turn of Karma, Ravi B, and Shurwayne & You to woo the mammoth turnout after the parade of bands at Festival Field.
The third edition of the 2012 series of Pan in D Countryside travels to the sister island in July. Produced by Pan Trinbago (PT), the event will feature steelbands of all categories from both islands performing in scenic Speyside. The June edition of Pan in D Countryside, held last Sunday at the Manzanilla Beach Facility, was truly a day made in heaven, with hundreds of pan fans in attendance, enjoying the beautiful sounds of six popular bands in perfect weather conditions. Bands making the trip included two-time National Panorama champion PCS Nitrogen Silver Stars, Curepe Scherzando, Junior Sammy Group of Companies Skiffle, Sangre Grande Cordettes, La Famille United and Pan Jammers. With most of PT’s executive in attendance, the pan officials did a sterling job producing a smooth-flowing and enticing programme. PT secretary Richard Forteau was absent so emcee chores were shared by PT trustee Allan “Pablo” Augustus and PRO Trevor Reid. Female staffers also sold out all PT memorabilia on display, including jerseys, DVDs and CDs. One thing though, participating bands are neglecting a great opportunity to also have their merchandise, especially recorded music, on sale.
As Pulse basked in the ambience on the day, it dawned on me that with all the ole talk by politicians about strengthening indigenous art and culture in this country, Pan Trinbago is virtually producing this series with very little, if any at all, assistance from both government and private sector. Pan in D Countryside is literally crying out for assistance from both entities as I think it is a perfect vehicle for branding and for promoting and developing our national instrument. I sat on the beach in Manzanilla watching the sea breeze make PT pennants flutter and thought, “how much more beautiful this sight would be with banners of various corporate sponsors.” I think that corporate sponsors, especially those that sponsor participating bands, are missing out (big time) on an excellent opportunity. Not unlike last month’s “8 of Hearts” concert, staged by the Laventille Steelband Foundation, most participants augmented their performances with vocalists. Particularly impressive was Panjammers of Santa Cruz whose female vocalist masterfully rendered a Whitney Houston classic. So, next month, it’s on to Tobago for what is expected to be another delightful treat of excellent steelband music.
Stinging calypso at the camp
Producers of calypso shows can learn a thing or two about staging an excellent production from calypsonian Dexter “Stinger” Parsons. The Sangre Grande artiste and his Excellent Sting Promotions held an outstanding show last week Wednesday at De Nu Pub in Woodbrook. Billed as Humour at its Best—A Tribute to Clevin “Surpriser” Romero, and emceed by Godfrey Pierre, the programme was thoroughly entertaining, with performances by 2012 Humourous Calypso Monarch Myron B, veteran Young Creole, Brown Boy, Brother Alpha, Hamidullah, Kid Callaloo and “man of the moment” 81-year-old Surpriser. Musical accompaniment for the night was supplied by Cummings & D Wailers. Pierre kept the programme almost seamless and every performer succeeded in having a packed house in stitches throughout. Tangible tribute was paid to Surpriser, originally from Lagoon Village, Mayaro. He received cheques and plaques from Stinger’s organisation and Trinbago Unified Calypsonians Organisation (Tuco). Once a bus conductor, the veteran bard fell in love with calypso in 1960 when he sang two songs—School Children and Tobago Cannot be the Capital Site. Surpriser has performed with almost every popular calypso tent in T&T and today, and is one of only two calypsonians alive who sang in the Tobago tent in 1961. The other is Calypso Rose.
Ten years later, Surpriser won the San Fernando Calypso Monarch title. Since 2007 he has been a cast member of the Kaiso Karavan, run by the Tuco East Zone.
Digicel girls galore
When Digicel launched its revolutionary 4G mobile phone system a fortnight ago at Hyatt Regency Trinidad in Port-of-Spain, the talk of the evening was the Digicel ambassadors in their snazzy red outfits.
For more of the girls this month, attend the June 16 Pure party at The Anchorage, and Reggae on the Bay, featuring Steel Pulse and Barrington Levy at Mobs, also in Chaguaramas, the following evening.