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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Island People 2010 Review (4)

Hi Saucy

I chose to play with Island People for the second time this year for two reasons: I loved their costumes because they were a departure from the standard feathers and beads designs that almost everybody's doing, and secondly they were willing to kiss people's ass after last year. I've learned that the best time to catch a man is when's he's down or up and coming: to win you back he'll kiss your ass and still ask if that's enough. Usually things go in your favor. Twisted, but true. The result: I HAVE NO REGRETS.
Let me review, with a point system starting at 100 fun points and deduct from there.

Carnival Monday
I met the band on Ariapita Ave and things were just mellow. Security was up and alert. I was wondering who the celebrity du jour was. Hold up. There was none yet, the masqueraders were priority. Brilliant. I got a drink and pizza slices and checked out my fellow masqueraders in all kind of designs and saris with the cloth we got for Monday wear. Macfarlane for the sexy with some hoochy touches dahrling. Then some were just too cute like homegirl below.

I dub her D Kutchela fairy: awwww isn't she cute?

I observed that the look of the band changed from last year, as in lots more grown and sexy people playing. No teeny boppers a.k.a "lil chirren" (that's "little children" for the non-Trinis/West Indians) to run amok. There were mid to late 20-somethings, but mostly the 30 and over set. Grown folks having fun and it was beautiful. And trust me that changed a whole heap about the band's vibe and flow in addition to the band actually being more organized. There were signs on every music truck stating what sections should be where. This little detail did make a difference since no such thing existed last year and that resulted in a chaotic band.

Music truck with sign

Shurwayne Winchester up front singing, Hindu temple float and bridal hut float (I think) to the front. Kutchela in dey tail!

However, I have to take away some points for the absence of Hennessy. What??!!!! How the devil was I to drink my Red Bull? Nah man, I’m deducting 20 fun points for that. But then again, Mr. Johnny Walker Black was most present all day for both days. He flowed like water, no, he flowed more than water. Y'know what, I'll give back 5 fun points. I wasn't left thirsty at all on Monday. Nice. Music was on point all day. Double nice. Nearing the Savannah “stage” to Busy Signal on truck 7 as he “hot it, ‘ot it, ‘ot it” on the mike. Whatever dude. Vibes nice.

Lunch was at the Oval, no eating and running foolishness that the “lil chirren” called for in the past. We sat in the stands, we ate, we chilled. Lunch this year was indeed better. It’s not international gourmet but it definitely tasted better than that 'lau and low mein mush of '09. So for lack of fine style, I'll deduct just 5 fun points. I'm not a huge eater on carnival so I'm a little lenient on this.

Carnival Tuesday
Wow, is it possible to complain about a band being too organized? I got to Ariapita at around 7:35am and we heard that IP was long gone. Eh? IP did not play with the time. Jah!

I forgot all about breakfast at the Stadium. My friend and my carnival-thirsty behind decided to just meet the band on the road thinking they weren’t far, somewhere on the Avenue. Riiiiiight. They were already on Park Street nearing Charlotte Street. My crazy ass should have eaten the breakfast at the Stadium and then take the shuttle. And I heard later on from another friend that there was a spread of sada roti, tomato and pumpkin chocka, bake and salt-fish and a few other dishes I can’t remember. What an idiot I am. So I got mini-rotis as breakfast from the snack truck. Bummer. Later on a man was walking through the band sharing out single-serving plates of pholourie and mango chutney. Later on there was khurma and peanuts snacks. Theme boy! I would have like another snack truck to be located more up front for the other masqueraders up there, so minus 5 fun points.

I was loving the fact that people stayed in their section for the most part, until after the Savannah (then it was a mix up but that happens all the time anyway). And still get on with the jamishness. I was able to move through the band, return to my section and not be confused due to the signs on the trucks. Oh yeah, people actually stayed in their sections. Grown and sexy masqueraders were the business. Big people mas allyuh. Plus less people played in IP, and the band was better for it. Enough room to palance, parlay, and breakaway.

The costumes looked hot like the weather. They translated well in person. The frontline divas were werrrking their cage bras and nekkidness. Even Raja Aur Rani female costumes which I thought were hideous looked ok. Just ok. But the males were on point. Points for the guys. But I have to note that my Jaipur backline was a disaster for stockings. I absolutely loved my costume but that bling on the belt caused major damage. Bling + tights = ladders from hell. My tights were a shredded, I-was-in-a-catfight-with-Shenene mess, so much so that I HAD to take it off and go bare legged for the first time ever. Yikes!!!!
*note to self: must lose 100lbs by next year to forego tights. Current weight is 153 lbs. Goal weight minus100 is 53lbs. Surefire skinniness, y’all!!!!*

It felt weird being without my beloved tights but I got a lot more compliments without them so hey. We gonna party hard, hard. Whoop whoop, whoop whoop!

So to my calculations, IP lost 25 fun points. They earned 75 out of 100 from me.
This year was my BEST carnival in years. I had maximum fun. This should say it best : “Island People in d air, Island People in d air, Island People in d air, Island… I…I….I…”

Congrats to the other Lewis brother (the more organized one, not sure of his name) and Co. for taking the bull by the horns, reigning in the foolishness and making Island People the band it had the potential to be - organized and fun. I haven’t had this much fun since my Poison days. Yes I’ve had a string of bad to mediocre to ok carnivals since 2006. This year was totally worth it.

As long as this new IP management stays, I’m there God’s willing for 2011. Now let's aim for 100 points now. That means bring back Hennessey, more strategically placed snack trucks, and upgrade the lunch some more. I say this for the kind of price you're charging now, c'mon. So Mr.Lewis, I hope you're reading this blog eh. Don't let your brother run things again. Ever. Thanks.


Mas Jumbies Jouvert 2010 Review (2)

This year as I did since they started, played J'ouvert with Brian Won Wong's Mas Jumbies. I was delighted to see that my review which I thought was going to be the first one, was actually trumped by a newbie to the Mas Jumbies family - welcome newbie. My review will be brief because having background knowledge on what it takes to actually BRING a band in the United States I will not want to sound in any way biased or try to have the validity of my review questioned or even mistakened for allegiance to said bandleader even if it is after all only J'ouvert.

My J'ouvert experience from start (collection) to end (drenced in paint and drunk) was an exceptional one! I arrived into Trinidad in the throws of distribution I believe and had both ordered costumes hand delivered to my door by none other than Mr Mas Jumbie himself! How is that for customer service, and I didnt even have to pay a service delivery fee (which if offered I would have taken) - hint Brian. Again, after looking at the costume which was neatly packaged in an eco-friendly labeled bag and contained all of the essentials for J'ouvert (which to some may be nothing lol - LIKE my colleague who has to be forced to wear anything lol) I was pleased to see that for the third year - the leap from traditional J'Ouvert costumes (read crocus bags and oil paint) has now landed on haute couture costuming fit for a 3am stroll in Port of Spain. This had me excited and I made a quick trip to Jimmy Aboud to get yet more stuff to add to this costume just cause I wanted to PALANCE in style!

I left to meet the band at 4am (even though the form said 3am meeting point) I carefully read the route and as planned met them at the end of Chacon Street preparing to head to South Quay. This was perfect timing since (from reading the previous post) I now understand that there was some difficulty with the truck set up etc etc. After that the road experience was perfect, drinks were flowing and the vibe was awesome.

What Brian has achieved which is no small feat within Mas Jumbies is secured a place that people - whether local or visiting - can enjoy this ritual of early morning mas in a secured, comfortable, MOVING environment. His clientele is mostly foreign based and as such the need for clusters, pulling, tugging, pushing from here to there and the ever uncomfortable feeling of someone wanting to violate you is LOST once you meet with this band and begin your journey on J'ouvert morning. Now, I do understand that to some - without the pushing and pulling and everything else - they dont think J'ouvert is J'ouvert which would explain the number of people that no longer participate but c'est la vie.

The band is SMALL, the band is WHITE (I meant the paint used!) but what the band is - IS FUN! And once you are a fun person who is open minded, appreciative of the culture and have an understanding of what this artform means to Carnival and what Brian (as an artist) has transformed this medium to be, would be the best $55 - $60 US you would spend in your life. How is that for a charitable donation! He has made the artform much more acceptable at least to me! Many people think J'ouvert is about wearing anything you want and come out to have fun. But there were the days of Rabs Immortelle, Burrokeets and many others that traditional costume WAS A MUST! - I am glad that this is not lost!

Each year I thoroghly enjoy Mas Jumbies and this year was no exception. I would be remissed had I not say that financially I know this could possibly be a hardship for the management of a J'ouvert band irregardless of the size, so the need to want MORE PEOPLE TO JOIN would be something of a priority for the management of Mas Jumbies. I though would love to see the band stay the size that it is, but I am also one that likes when good things are SHARED - So I encourage all readers who feel so compelled, to join Mas Jumbies' facebook page, keep up with the good work that Brian has done with this band and come take a part of the J'ouvert experience. It is a lot of fun!!!
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