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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Spice Scotch Bonnet

Someone got hold of a camera and sneaked some pics!!! Not the best quality and you can barely make out the details, but message to the person who took these shots, when you "snag" some pics do not send out a mass email on facebook as they will end up here:

Scotch Bonnet

Scotch Bonnet

Question and Answer With Band Leader

1.Do bands:
A) Sell unsold costumes to carnivals overseas

Yes it happens from time to time.

B) Agree to make more than needed to supply their Trini band and the overseas band

Sometimes, yes this is also done.

If the answer is A: why do you have leftover costumes? Shouldn't they be made to order by masqueraders?

The reason for left over costumes is, you cannot wait for a section to sell out before you order the material needed to make it. In fact these materials are mostly ordered before a costume is sold. Carnival goods need to be ordered early so hopefully your stock will be here in Trinidad no later than October to start producing, Most importantly avoid the back log of Christmas cargo that always slows down the clearing of goods And here is one of the main reasons that investing in carnival is risky. Most times you make costumes based on past knowledge of what your`clients like, and what average sizes they order.So if you misjudge, you end up with extra costumes.

If the answer is B: is this compromise worth it? Is the money it brings in worth annoying Trini masqueraders? How can designers justify it artistically when their costume is sold with a different section name and theme? Isn't it against the whole spirit and tradition of mas?

Most times foreign band owners who may buy costumes from certain local carnival bands may request a section used that same year in Trinidad.. Also it is not always the same people that own the local bands, own the foreign ones, but it maybe a franchise. In any event I agree that on the surface, it seems unfair, but as any manufacture will tell you, it cost less per unit to produce any item the more you make all at once. In other words if I made 200 costumes each would cost less, than if I made only 25. Foreign Carnival bands are small and most times struggling to survive. There just are not that many numbers to make it really profitable. So sometimes we make extra costumes, or sell extra ones during our carnival season, so as to promote our brand in another country. Remember a lot of these people who live and play abroad ,will come to Trinidad to also play mas.. Do not be confused you are not paying for, or aiding financially in anyway, foreign costumes. Costumes are priced and paid for on a per unit basis, (labor & material) and it would not make any business sense having one pay for the other . Each must stand on it's own profit.

2.why is it so difficult for new masqueraders to register with a band when costumes are already sold out to people who have already played with the band in previous years?

I think you sort of answered your own question .There are only so many costumes that can be produced in the time frame of carnival.Therefore it is only logical that you reward your loyal masqueraders who have been with you for years with first choice. This does not work out so hot for first timers.But there are lots of bands out there to try, and would welcome the first timer with open arms.

3.As costumes continue to get skimpier, why does the cost continue to go up?

Actually bathing suit costumes are expensive because they are quite labor intensive.Costumes with lost of cloth are for the most part done in sewing factories. while lets say with bra tops, each cup is covered and braided individually. In addition, every year the cost of materials, labor ,duties and shipping jump tremendously, these cost are always passed on to the consumer.But for quick reference here are some prices on average that items cost. grade 1 36' pheasant tails $100 USD for one, Ostrich Plumes $48 USD, bugle beads and assorted braids can cost $30 USD per yard on average. then add shipping , duties and VAT. Government gives no concessions to carnival bands.THATS SUPPORTING YOUR CULTURE!!!!!

4.Does the bandleader or some sort of music committee have any say as to what type of music is played on the road by the DJ? I thought the idea was to keep the masquerader hyped and excited on the road, but at times it seems that the same songs are being played over and over creating a very boring experience (not referring to crossing the stage). There are so many soca artists as well as soca songs and it frustrates me to no end to have to jump to the same tunes over and over. It's also very frustrating to hear a classic being played only to have it abruptly interrupted and another song start playing.

I know exactly what you mean. I suggest you complain to the bandleaders as well as the D.J.'s . As a band leader I hire a dj for their expertise, and don't like micro managing everything. But I have also expressed to the dls complaints from masqueraders, I must's sometimes hard to please everyone. But a dj is on a truck, and should be able form that vantage point, to see the crowd response, and use that to measure how well he is doing.. You should recommend a dj to the band leaders. I know I would certainly entertain your suggestions. Maybe Saucy should let you all vote for your favorite dj and say why you like them.

5.A few disgruntled committee members of a particular big band who is about to celebrate their 5th anniversary next year told me that they were asked to sign contracts stating that they must promote their tribe only (hint) and nothing else. These committee members from this existing big band are very unhappy especially since the band does not pay them a salary and has no rights to restrict them. Some of these committee members have now left the band and the word is that much more are to follow. This comes to my question: Should a band have the right to RESTRICT their committee members from selling tickets for other parties even though there are no conflicting dates. Keep in mind that these committee members are also committee members for other promotional groups.

I don't have a problem with committee members supporting other parties, but not rival carnival bands or band launchings. This would defeat the purpose of having a committee in the first place. That being said, the Carnival band must compensate their members adequately to reward their loyalty. So in the end you have to decide what is fair for you, remember in business there will always be compromise. Look for the compromise you can live with.

p.s. the question re: bringing a band from the "small islander" was answered directly by the band leader via email.

Keep the questions coming, next Monday!
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