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Monday, December 11, 2006

D Day update...

Time in Trinidad is 3:03PM and so far no news of any official announcement on the Carnival parade route.

I have spoken to the persons at the NCBA and NCC and they have not heard any word as yet either. My attempts to contact the Director of Culture has proven futile as he is on vacation and no word at all from any other Ministry officials.

I will update this post as news comes in.

3:29 PM. Just spoke to an official from the Ministry of Culture who said that the Guardian report got it wrong. I was informed that the Minister of Culture did not state that today will be the day that she will reveal all Carnival plans.

What was supposedly said was that UDECOTT will make an announcement concerning plans for the construction of the Carnival Entertainment Centre which will be followed by another announcement by the N.C.C. which will out line the schedule for Carnival 2007.

In addition, it was clearly stated that there will be nothing new to be revealed, as we have been hearing over the weeks Carnival 2007 will be a parade on the streets.

Trinidad to get pan chroming factory....

I don’t know what to make of the Government’s claims that they will be establishing a steelpan chroming factory in Trinidad and Tobago sometime in the near future as reported in today's Guardian newspaper. Not wanting to be a cynic, the first thought that comes to my head is that this is a long overdue necessity and one that I will believe when I see it. On my way to Trincity I see the abandoned building, still sitting incomplete which is/was to be the headquarters for Pan Trinbago; if the Government is yet to complete the housing for Pan Trinbgao, what makes them believable when they say a steel pan chroming factory is “coming soon”?

For those who are unaware, this proposed local steelpan chroming factory is many years behind the other factories in Japan and the United States which have been manufacturing not only our steel pans, but also providing tuning services, sheet music and other accessories to complement the steel pan. It is with much embarrassment, on our part, that I read a history like this about one of the manufacturers of steel pan in Japan called Steel Pan Lab Curepe, and you can find the rest of the following article on the official website here:

“In 1993, Susumu Muraji came back to Japan from Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. He built a band named "Domestic Steel Pan Combo", played with the Steel pan (Steel drum) in front line, to let them know how nice instrument the pan is. They played many famous cover tunes from any kind of music at mainly in Kobe, Japan. Two album tapes and one sample tape was published in two years. He also played in other style, Duo or Trio in the restaurant, and other places as a professional. He preside steel pan school in Ashiya (next city of Kobe), and in Tennouji (big town in Osaka). ……

In 1997, Muraji went to the Trinidad again, and he played in the carnival "Panorama" as a member of the steel band "Moods" from Curepe, Trinidad. He got plenty pans for his students and for himself, then he went to United States to watch what's going on around the pan in U.S., then back to Japan. After that, he went to U.S. again, and got the technique of tuning of the pans. He opened a shop that customers could 'choose' 'good' pans with 'stabilization of prices', named "Curepe" in Nishinomiya ……..
In1998, 1999 and 2000, he kept going to Trinidad and Tobago to play in Carnival, He got plenty Trinidadian friend again. Steel Pan Shop Curepe sold plenty pans, also to Kyoto College of art. Curepe gets customer's trusts from them good after care. Curepe also advised making mini-pans to Takarazuka, Nishitani-junior school, and Asahi news paper. Curepe started make Middle-sized-pan, Bass pan. Nov.2000, Steel Pan Shop Curepe changed the name to Steel Pan Lab Curepe.”

So, for eight years this Japanese man has been visiting Trinidad, perfecting his skill in all aspects of the steelpan, takes his knowledge back to Japan opening a store that sells steelpans which is ironically called “Curepe!” .And during this time our Government does nothing to rival other countries who are basically slapping us in the face with a much improved version of our own invention. Yet , as is reported in today’s Guardian, we are not even getting a factory that manufacturers the steel pan, but only one that chromes the pans after they are made:

“The Government has outlined a package of products which it believes will create and sustain a viable steelband industry in T&T, says Culture Minister Joan Yuille-Williams.

Speaking during the PCS Nitrogen Starlift’s golden jubilee celebration and awards ceremony at its headquarters on Mucurapo Road, St James, on Friday night, Yuille-Williams told steelbandsmen that educating, training and employing this category of entertainers was high on the government’s list of priorities.
And to start things, Pan Trinbago would get its long-awaited chrome factory. The minister said:

“When steelpan instruments are made and tuned, they have to be chromed. Once again, the Government is prepared to come forward, this time with the establishment of a chrome factory.
“A building to house the factory has already been identified and a budget allocation to get the project off the ground has been approved by Cabinet.”

So while the focus is shifting after all these years to the fact that the steelpan is a viable business that should be supported by our Government, I think they are still lacking the vision of a real factory, much like Panyard Inc, an American company that calls themselves "World Leaders in Pan Innovation and Technology". Reading the history of that company yet again, I feel ashamed that the best the Minister of Culture can throw our pan men is just a Chrome factory.

Someone needs to tell Mrs. Yuille Williams that we are still lagging behind, a chrome factory alone will not cut it. What we need, Mnister of Culture, is a factory to rival those in North America and Japan. Maybe I am the only one who sees something wrong with this news, it appears to me that the powers that be are only trying to appease the pan men over the fact that there will be no Savannah for next year's Panorama. The funny thing is that even in doing so, they are still being short changed; too little, too late.

Japanese infusion.........

For those who went to Machel Monatno’s Alternative Concept 4, you might remember a diminutive Japanese singer by the name of Minmi who came onstage to perform her hit “Summertime”, a mix of soca and Japanese pop, though admittedly the crowd at Alternative Concept could not understand one word that came out of her mouth except for “summertime”. But, I think it just goes to show how yet again the Japanese have taken Caribbean culture and put their stamp on it. We have Junko contorting her body in all sorts of acrobatic positions to take the title of Dancehall Queen and now we have Minmi spreading what sounds like soca globally.

Well, I guess it was only a matter of time before one of our soca artistes decided to collaborate with Minmi and the man who first brought a Japanese flavour to Carnival in 2004 with Junko is doing it again; in 2006 Machel Montano is collaborating on a soca song with Minmi. Need I say how much I am looking forward to what comes from this collaboration. Call me biased, but I think Machel teaming up with other artistes always produces a hit!

For more information on Minmi you can visit her official website and to see a video of Summertime click the photo of Minmi which will take you to Synergy TV's website:

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