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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Mas Jumbies Jouvert 2010 Review

I signed up to play in Brian Won Wong's Mas Jumbies Jouvert Band.

Registration was as easy as breathing. Once I registered and pay-pal'ed my funds, I immediately got a confirmation email from Annette and a warm welcome to the band.

Once I reached Trinidad, and went to pick up my costume, I was warmly greeted by Lisa the contact person, Brian the owner of the band, and another artist friend who was there liming. They were very kind and welcoming. A lady who I assume to be Brian's mother was making accra in the kitchen. While Lisa went over the details of the band, and sorted out my costume and goodie bag, I munched on some delicious hot out of the oil accra. They even offered drinks! Belly full, I left happy and ready for jouvert.

Jouvert Morning.

The band was suppose to meet at 3am at Victoria Square, and move off at 4am. At 3:30am, my party arrived to a very quiet Victoria Square. Hearing no music, we thought the band has left us. But this was not the case. The music truck had apparently been tampered with by bandits and had been moved. The police were trying to locate our truck.

No worries. One of the committee members had their car parked there.

Music played from the car while we got slathered down in white paint and glitter and enjoyed bujol and bake, and coffee. It also gave us some time to see and chat with some old friends who were also in the band, and make a few new friends as well. The vibes were good, and no one was complaining.

Twenty minutes later, the word came. Our truck had been located, and we were going to walk from Victoria Square to Phillip Street to meet the truck. Even this part was fun. We were a band of colorful old time characters painted in white moving through town on a music truck finding mission. For me, it was all part of the jouvert adventure.

It took us about a five minute walk to meet our truck, and then it was on like boil corn!! We were on the move!!

When we first moved off, there was no drink truck, no security, or anything... just us, some good music, and great vibes... which I would have been quite content with. It seems as if the music truck escapade had thrown things off, but only for a little while, because once we were almost downtown near south quay, the security guys and the drinks truck found us, and they got organized. Things were falling into place, and an already good vibe had just gotten better.

I loved the costumes, and the feeling of old time market women, stick fighting men  really held the theme.

The band was small, but large enough for us to get on bad, and it had a good "family" vibe to it. I would feel absolutely confident in letting my children play jouvert with me in this band.

We even went downtown behind the bridge! I know some people would say that this was unsafe and the neighborhood is "bad", yadda, yadda, yadda.... But I felt in light of the theme we were portraying, Echoes from the Past,..... that nothing else could have been more appropriate than going to the place where the very spirit of carnival was born, and where the original market women and stick fighting men emanated from. That march behind the bridge took on a whole new spiritual feeling for me.. and what a great feeling it was.

Throughout the course of the morning, Brian, his family members, and friends, randomly walked through the band to ask if everyone was ok, and if we were having a good time. I assured him I was having a great time!

I am big fan of promoting Trinidad culture to non Trinidadians, and some members of Mas jumbies are worth a mention here.

There were three young ladies in the band that someone said were from Australia.

 From the time we located the music truck at 4am until I left the band at 9am, these young women jumped up, wined, jooked, and put a whole new spin on the song... " I winin on anything!".

 LOL. It was downright entertaining just watching them have a good time on their first trip to Trinidad carnival. They were grand, and I hope to see them back next year!

The size of the band of was perfect. We had a few stormers, but not overwhelmingly so, and I felt totally safe. The music was good, and the drinks truck ample. Customer service was top notch from beginning to end.

All I have to say is see you again next year Mas Jumbies!

Spice 2010 Review (7)

My Spice Experience.

Well, well, this was my first time with Spice, and I must say it was not an entirely rewarding experience!!!

Costume Pick-Up --- Horrible! Why oh why, on Carnival Friday, when everybody trying to pick up their costumes with "d quickness" to get home to get ready to go and "party hard", you are instead spending hours waiting to pick your costume? You had three cashiers (if that is what you want to call them) and only two taking cash, the other one only taking links and MC (not sure why they weren't taking VISA). How many foreigners you know have links? So most people came with cash, so why not make all the terminal take both cash and credit cards? That way you can move thru the payment part of your transaction quickly and smoothly. Now, unto the actual collecting of the costume. There was enough room to have the costumes organized by section and in alphabetical order, with 2 or 3 customer reps for each section, with the understanding that they "pitch-in" if other sections are busy when they are slow!!

My next issue- with the average cost of a costume costing US$600, couldn't you invest in one or two designated "SNACK trucks", instead of having someone (I think it was Anya's mother ) walk thru the band with a box of aloe pies? This distribution (as far as I know, it happened only on Monday) began at the front of the band, so I am not sure if the people in the last section even knew there were snack sharing!

Next, Spice is not a huge band (which is why I played with you), so explain to me, when the last DJ truck, which was DJ Enforcers, was constantly playing "catch up" to the rest of the band, which then means the masqueraders were forever running down the truck. Trust me, that was not fun.

Finally - How in heaven's name, you could take me downtown on Carnival Tuesday, after 6:00 pm (outside start getting dark), watch as we "Palance" over the stage, rush up to Independence Square, make a right on Ambercromby Street, and right in front of the Red House, tell me "thanks for playing with Spice", cut the music and dismiss security. Are you crazy???! You know how many unaccompanied, scantily dressed women were in your band, and you choose the heart of town as the place to end you band??? Not smart. Next year, you need to have a designated "end point" , which should be posted in your little handbook you distributed with the costumes. And speaking of end point, we need a parking spot for Spice bandmembers.

Bear in mind, that we are going through a GLOBAL recession, which has forced all normal thinking person to use good judgment when spending their money. Which for me translates to --- value for my hard earned money.

Spice 2010 Review (6)

I'm sending you this email as I have finally decided to voice my opinions on SPICE.I am a diehard carnival person and I have played in every large band in Trinidad to date I started in HARTS, THEN TO POISON THEN TO TRIBE THEN TO believe me when I say I know what service is and what a packaged deal and costuming entails.

Beautiful costume designs...unique at that and the registration/signing up process was a breeze. Music was great, nice people and a fun time. Warm smiles, great service inviting you to play ensuring to you that you will not regret playing with the band and that they are indeed the missing ingredient.

I went to collect my costume with my girlfriend and 2 of her friends the costume collection was pretty fast, we were then told to proceed to the table with a pretty girl with gold locks gave us information on where to proceed. We proceeded towards the collection table where a very pleasant young lady assisted. My girlfriends’ costume couldn’t be located and had to be made from scratch as there was no box with her name on it. We waited patiently as the young lady I believe her name was Whitney found sizes ensured everything was suitable for my girlfriend. My question to spice is why should your staff have to be looking for costume sizes when we registered with the band the first week when registration opened?? The second problem girlfriend ordered a 34A AND THE BRA GIVEN LOOKED LIKE A 34DD!!! This was rectified after waiting for your staff to do some serious hunting. Why were sizes so off? The same time we waited to collect another young lady was very upset to be told that the XS bikini bottom she ordered was not available and she would have to go with a MEDIUM and she would have to hang on to see if an XS became available!!! WHY SHOULD SOMEONE HAVE TO WAIT FOR SOMETHING WHEN THEY PAID FOR ONE PACKAGE IN THE FIRST INSTANCE? We proceeded to the alterations table where I witnessed the nasty Trini side of females.

I’m not sure how your staff are trained but they should be informed to KEEP PERSONAL MATTERS TO THEMSELVES. My girlfriend was having her belt altered by a young lady by the name of Rebecca who hastily tried to cut and glue costumes with the aid of a glue gun and I’m quiet sure she is not a trained costume maker. She hastily glued stones and velcro to belts while gossiping with another young lady from another station. This I realized as she wasn’t paying attention to what my girlfriend was saying to her regarding the belt but rather gossiping and whispering about another young lady behind us with the young lady at another station. My girlfriend became highly annoyed and had to ask her if she was listening which she didn't reply because she was too engrossed in conversation about the young lady standing behind us. I asked one of the girls behind the desk the names of the 2 young ladies and I was told REBECCA AND NIA.

Are these 2 young ladies owners of the band? Spice, do you to a customer service session with your staff? Are your staff allowed to blatantly ignore paying customers? Is this your level of professionalism at which your staff is hired? After waiting 45 minutes at the alterations my girlfriend got fed up and said she will get her stuff altered by someone else. Why was the advertised jewelry and accessories not available? This is what was promised and yet all your staff could say was sorry it didn't arrive and serve BS WITH A SMILE? No refund was awarded nor a better substitute given!

The band was to meet at 9am on carnival Monday! That time is wayyyyyy tooo early to meet on Monday! My friends arrived at 930am to meet not a single note of music not security people at the meeting point. The band moved off the vibes was nice. Getting to the rest point at QRC was brutal. It felt as though the masqueraders were cattle being herded into a fence! WHY HAVE ONE SMALL BOTTLE NECK TO CHECK ID BANDS OF HUNDREDS OF PPL? Getting to the food tent to get a choice was another ordeal. 3 or 4 tents serving meals was not practical when you have 2500 plus hungry masqueraders! To my surprise there were no drinks available at the tents; I asked the band leader to be told the drinks are outside I told her the security told us we can’t go outside HER RESPONSE A SHRUG OF THE SHOULDERS SORRY!

In sweltering heat you have your PAYING MASQUERADERS SUFFERING AS THERE IS NOTHING TO WASH DOWN THE DRY TASTELESS FOOD??? Later I discovered a bin with water only to be told by others that the water is hot!! Now tell me SPICE WHY WASNT THIS THOUGHT ABOUT? Why not have several bins or BETTER YET 2 TENTS DESIGNATED FOR DRINKS? The band is not the size or magnitude as TRIBE OR IP that you couldn’t put personal touches for your masqueraders in mind! Maybe you should put that note in mind for next year!

Asking the bandleader's mom for assistance when forks ran out was a waste she looked at me as though I was asking for my $2800 plus my girl friend's $6000 refund a look of disgust her response...IT DOH HAVE ANY RIGHT NOW YOU HAVE TO WAIT AND STORMED OFF!

Tuesday the band looked beautiful, again some consideration should be made for frontline masqueraders imagine asking someone on the truck if they can hold my girlfriend’s headpiece to be told sorry sir we were informed that we cannot hold anything for anyone! In all the yrs playing mas I have never seen that done!! I asked and official who told me to go talk to the driver and he may be able to assist!

Spice, I think this year you bit off more than you can chew! Money was clearly on your mind and not the promised package to your loyal masqueraders!

TRIBE Carnival 2010 Magazine

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