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Friday, June 20, 2008

More Bands.... More Problems?

Interesting article in today's Trinidad Express, Meg Cheekes of Pulse 8 talks about their Carnival 2008 presentation "Hot, Hot, Hot" and laments on the number of new bands entering the Carnival arena for 2009:

Cheekes believes that there are too many mas bands springing up and that this will only add to the already terrible congestion on the streets of Port of Spain on Carnival Monday and Tuesday and therefore multiply the frustrations experienced by masqueraders who sometimes have to stand in place for hours to get across some judging points.

"I think that we have too many bands coming on the market and these are going to cause ten more problems to what we have already. For the last two years we did not make it to all the competition points. Why? Because there is too much congestion and I'm not going to sacrifice the safety of my masqueraders at no point in time because they have to get to a competition point. So once it gets dark we are out of it, we head back up the road to enjoy ourselves, I am not competing under those conditions."

"You look back two years when we had the normal route and we did not make it to competition, you now have next year with five new bands on the horizon, where are we gonna go? There're (sic) no roads. We're going to have more trucks, we're gonna have everything else, but to me there is nobody in the Carnival sector or Tourism sector who will come forward and say there needs to be a criteria for how many bands you can accommodate on the road or whether we're going to open the Foreshore, Wrightson Road, which are all blocked off. So where are we going to be judged? Where are we going to jump? We are all frustrating masqueraders," Cheekes said.........

Cheekes said that being a mas band leader is more than making and distributing some costumes to people and getting a music truck for them to jump behind on Monday and Tuesday.

"You can't wake up tomorrow morning and say you want to bring a band and that's what everybody's doing. What craziness is that? What are the criteria? Have you got any experience, where you came from? The authorities have to look at how many bands there are and see whatever quota we have in the Large category (for example). Ok, we have reached our quota and you'll have to wait until two have exited and then you can replace that. We must have a certain amount of bands that you can accommodate on the road for Carnival," Cheekes said.

The full article can be found here.

Hmm, two years ago Pulse 8 was a new band t0o right? From my laymans view I believe most of the new bands have had some involvement in mas at one point or the other. For instance Evolution is from Curtis Eustace who has played and won King of Carnival in Trinidad for several years, he is also part of the Toronto based Caribana band Carnival Nationz. Ronnie and Caro split from Legacy, Spice has Rocky who used to bring a section in the now defunct Poison as well as Kaotic with Ricardo Gomez and Elements has Douglas John and Charlene Lum Wai who were with TRIBE.

Now I understand Meg saying that not everyone can run a successful band and that more bands will indeed cause more logistical problems in getting to the Savannah but I am amused that she is pointing out these issues when Poison, of which she was part of, was the biggest band in Trinidad at the height of it's popularity and was responsible for many a "band jam" in getting to the Savannah. And I think that all the new bands combined cannot match the total number of masqueraders in Poison (remember when they had to split into two large bands? ) with the seemingly endless sections and over 10,000 masqueraders!!!

Anyway, I am looking forward to seeing the sections from Pulse 8; Timbouctou, Caliente, Spicy Wasabi, Sexy Samba, Pepperpot, Bush Fire, Flaming Sambuca and Explosive Ember.. I wonder which one is designed by Peter Elias?

SOURCE: Trinidad Express

Question and Answer with the Band Leader

The Band Leader has responded to your comments:

Dear Saucy,
Before I move on to the other questions I'd like to reply to the comments made about the no downtown issue.

Dear all
Thanks for your comments. And after reading them you have changed my mind. I guess having the downtown venue kept as an alternative but not compulsive competition seems harmless. Now remember my suggested route was based on the logistics of moving large numbers of people as easily as possible, with safety and the minimization of congestion my main issue. I am still of the opinion that carnival has outgrown downtown, and maybe it should be left to the individual band leaders to make there decision based on the consensus of their masqueraders.

I am proud of our carnival history, and over the years I have seen first hand the changes in carnival . As I got older I found it harder to accept these changes, but whether I liked it or not change came. You see Carnival is a living spectacle, and like all living things it will grow, move and change. It is good to remember our history, to tell the stories of carnival years gone by, and try our best to hold on to it. But this must be done via incentive (ie: better prize money for vintage mas and performances) we can not force people to play mas the way we want.

Downtown, like I said before is a logistical problem, and no amount of tradition, nor good sentiment will solve it. Unless the government is willing to widen downtown streets, or allow bands to access the highway(both of which are highly unlikely) our downtown venue so steeped in history, will someday soon, be marginalized.

I am sorry that some of you think that I have not answered the question of left over costumes appropriately. I think I may need further explanation of what exactly what the issue is. It is not my intention to avoid any topic, and as soon as one of you good people explain it, I'll be more than glad to answer again.

The answers to the rest of your questions are coming soon, I just wanted to let you guys read this response before posting the rest!
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