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Don’t stop this party

Friday, February 7, 2014
Carnival 2014
Dexter “Blaxx” Stewart gets the crowd at UWI going during Roy Cape and the All Stars performance at the UWI All-Inclusive fete on Sunday. PHOTO: ANDRE ALEXANDER

I thought last weekend would have been one of the most hectic and demanding of the year, until I began this one which actually began on Wednesday when I continued my rounds of the calypso tents in Port-of-Spain. 


Last week Friday, I did the premiere of Klassic Ruso at the Port-of-Spain City Hall Auditorium. On Saturday, it was the 18th edition of Old Hilarians all-inclusive party, followed by the UWI Development and Endowment Fund Brasil party, at the grounds of the principal’s residence at UWI, St Augustine. 


Because of my engagements I missed out on quite a lot, including the annual Crazy Hats’ Fairytale & Folklore, at the Hyatt Regency Trinidad on Friday night; Amnesia; the opening of the Kalypso Revue at SWWTU Hall on Saturday; Victoria’s and The Goodmen Crew’s Safari Party at The Mas Camp; Pan Trinbago holding the Northern Region National Single Pan preliminaries, at The Paddock, Queen’s Park Savannah; the Kaiso Karavan premiere, at Eric Williams Auditorium, La Joya Complex, St Joseph; and, Machel Montano’s performance in the Triniposse Stand at the Nagico Super50 T&T vs Barbados match. 


However, come Sunday, providing live entertainment in the Triniposse Stand would be our very own 5 Star Akil, of Slam 100.5FM, and Grenada Soca Monarch, Mr Killa of Rolly polly fame.


To actually witness Black Stalin introduce David Rudder on stage was worth attending the UWI fete on Sunday. They proved true the old adage “old brooms know all the corners.” These two former national monarchs mastered the stage and their audience, causing patrons to sing along to their every selection.


Rudder and Stalin were fierce rivals at one of the most vitriolic National Calypso Monarch finals ever contested, in 1987. Rudder, the ’86 monarch was beaten by Stalin, singing Bun Dem and Mr Panmaker while Rudder sang Dedication and Calypso Music.


The fetes are in full swing and the bands are in good nick. Roy Cape All Stars has gotten into stride and it’s a joy to hear the band perform Farmer Nappy’s Big People Party. For me, the horns of the All Stars hold the advantage over other fete bands. Maybe it’s because my ears have been attuned to horns from a child, especially through the era of Brassorama when big bands like Mano Marcellin, Ray Sylvester Orch and Gemini Brass ruled the roost at this time of year. 


On Saturday night, Dil-e-Nadan gave Old Hilarians the perfect start to its fund-raiser. Frontliners Raymond Ramnarine, Derrick Seales and Esther Dyer put the party in the right mood with their energetic performances. Consistency and preparedness are the main ingredients of this band. The aggregation always sounds well-rehearsed and on top of its game.


Speaking of being on top of the game, DJ Duchess (Alicia Skair), “the queen of the beats,” was flawless at Bishops and at UWI. She has remained one of the best fete DJs in the land.


I heard Machel Montano and his crew and dancers at 1 Fete, at the Queen’s Park Oval, and I am looking forward to hearing them again at St Mary’s College’s Fete with the Saints tomorrow. Montano’s act is the complete package when it comes to being well-rehearsed and flawless in delivery on stage. Sound and lighting are perfect, adding to the visual and audio experience of witnessing “the boy wonder” on stage.


Also definitely top-drawer material are Bunji Garlin, Fay-Ann Lyons and Asylum Vikings Band. Garlin, the Soul Train awardee, offers a somewhat different vibe to fetes. His freestyling is untouchable, making me wonder why he doesn’t participate in extempore-type singing and, in true Viking style, he commands a stage and his audience. At his side, and sometimes in front of him, Lyons continues to be one of the most dynamic female performers I have seen in the Caribbean. She and Garlin complement each other beautifully.


Which brings me to Destra and her new band Bakanal. This very talented songwriter is a sight for sore eyes. Her sheer black outfit at Bishops brought out all the vivaciousness of this performer. This year, Destra continues to show her prowess at composing, a gift which is matched by her vocal ability and performing skills. Olatunji is also a plus to Destra’s aggregation.


In terms of being blessed with a good voice I am reminded of Malaika Ballantyne, one of the vocalists with Imij & Co. The daughter of calypso composer/calypsonian Gregory “GB” Ballantyne, Malaika seemed to gel well with her colleagues when the band held the fort on the western stage of UWI while opening proceedings. Bandleader Joey Ng Wai must be complimented for keeping this unit together, especially after enduring many trials in 2013.


Definitely holding a unit together is former Chutney Soca Monarch KI, fronting for JMC 2Veni. In Imij’s wake they occupied UWI’s western stage presenting a well-balanced mix of music of several genres. KI, singing Runaway, ought to be a force to be reckoned with at this year’s Chutney Soca Monarch final, scheduled for February 15, at Skinner Park, San Fernando.


I am yet to hear Ravi B and Karma, Kes the Band, Nadia Batson & SASS, Shurwayne Winchester & YOU, Shandileer or Oscar B & Vibes in a full-blown Carnival fete environment so I am unable to appraise them. 


And so, we are into another frenzied weekend, with less than a month before Carnival Monday. The weekend offers a mix of events, inclusive of pan, calypso and soca. Tonight, Kaiso Showkase, featuring Ras Kommanda, Protector, New York’s Count Robin and more, premieres its season at Palms Club, San Fernando, at 8 pm. 


Defending National Calypso Monarch Pink Panther headlines tonight’s Vintage Fuh So, staged by Holy Name Convent Past Pupils Association, at Queen’s Hall, St Ann’s. 


Also premiering tonight is the 2014 Carnival Comedy Fest, scheduled for National Academy for the Performing Arts (Napa), Port-of-Spain, and starring Denise Belfon, Kenneth Seepersad, Learie Joseph, Wendel Etienne, Cyclops, Dr Choonky Ting, Knuts Landing and others. 


Red Light District, starring Bunji Garlin, Fay Ann Lyons & The Asylum Vikings Band, Ravi B & Karma, Kerwin Dubois, Cassi, Blaxx, Lyrikal, Swappi, Jaiga, Olatunji, and Problem Child, also takes place tonight, at O2 Park, Chaguaramas. 


Pan Trinbago is staging the Tobago Region National National Conventional preliminaries, at Dwight Yorke Stadium, Tobago, tonight.


The National Panorama competition continues tomorrow at 2 pm, at The Paddock, Queen’s Park Savannah, Port-of-Spain, with the staging of the Northern Region small and medium conventional preliminaries. 


Panorama judges for large conventional bands will begin their visits to panyards on Monday evening, by visiting the yard of TBTT Sound Redemption in Tobago. These visits continue on Tuesday, with the judges visiting Northern Region bands, followed on the two ensuing evenings to bands of the East and South/Central regions, respectively.


Wall-to-wall music is expected to fill the courtyard of St Mary’s College tomorrow when the St Mary’s College Past Students’ Union holds Fete With The Saints. This is when powerhouses Machel Montano & The HD Band shares the same space with Roy Cape All Stars. It would interesting to see and hear Montano perform his newest single, Junction.


The organising committee of Fete With The Saints says it is leaving no stone unturned to ensure that the fete lives up to its billing as “The Happiest Party in Town”.


The committee, headed by Roberto Ramirez, boasted that it is paying attention to every detail as they strive to make the fete one of the most pleasurable for the 2014 Carnival season.


Roy Cape Kaiso All Stars featuring Blaxx, Machel Montano and the HD Band with Patrice Roberts and Farmer Nappy, Kerwin Du Bois, Iwer George and DJs Tweez and Scoobie will provide the entertainment. 


As is now customary, Fete With The Saints will end with a chip on the road for patrons. This year, Carib Woodbrook Playboyz has the honour of leading the CIC fete crowd on to the street around the block. 


Tomorrow, at 7.30 pm, Spektakula will stage Battle of the Sexes 14 at Jean Pierre Complex, Headlining the cast of “divas and vikings” are Bunji Garlin, Iwer George, Lyrikal, Fay-Ann, Denise Belfon, Nadia Batson, Patrice Roberts and Destra.


The ultimate musical experience is billed for Sunday at Arima Velodrome, from 4 pm. That’s when Caribbean Prestige Foundation (CPF) will stage the much-anticipated semi-finals of the 2014 Play Whe International Power Soca and Digicel International Groovy Soca Monarch competitions.


The four “big” fetes on Sunday are Presentation College San Fernando Past Students’ PREStige Eu4oria, at the school in San Fernando; the Mini Veni all-inclusive party, at Under the Trees, The Normandie, St Ann’s; Fuad Khan & Friends’ Nights on Broadway, at O2 Park, Chaguaramas; and Yorke Inc’s Rio Fiesta, at Trinity College East, Trincity.


Part proceeds from Sunday’s Fuad Khan & Friends party will benefit the development of an Autism House for north and south Trinidad. This party has been held for the past six years at Pier 1, Chaguaramas. However, this year, its venue has been changed to O2 Park, in Chaguaramas. The party has become known for its themed events and the atmosphere created for its patrons is one where they can come and experience a delectable dish, entertainment from popular soca artistes, sample cocktails and other premium drinks that are offered all in a secure enjoyable setting. Some new additions will also be added, like the live carving stations of a variety of meats. 


The weekend’s fete diary also includes Santa Cruz Touring Team’s Ambiance all-inclusive, featuring Roy Cape All Stars, Blaxx, Oscar B & Vibes, DJs Richard Simply Smooth and Jimmy Fingers, at 50 Homestead Gardens, Santa Cruz, on Saturday; and, Trincity Secrets all-inclusive fete, hosted by Roach & Friends, Fatima & Friends Fete Match Side and Kronus Geological Services, at 2nd Street, West DeLamarre Avenue, Trincity, on Sunday. 


Mas is also in the fray this weekend with BOSS launching its Sailors of D Galaxy on Sunday evening, at Belmont Community Centre, Jerningham Avenue, Belmont., 


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