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An oasis of culture

Friday, August 8, 2014
These auxiliary percussionists were seen throughout the night lending added vibrations to the performances of the cast at Sunday’s Laventille Steelband Street Parade.

I found an oasis last Saturday and it is right here, in Trinidad. I made my first visit to the Clifton Hill Beach Resort, Point Fortin, for Pan Trinbago’s Pan by the Seaside, held in collaboration with Mayor Clyde Paul. The resort, though without rooms as yet, was far beyond my imagination or expectation.

Designed by Trevor Lynch, the facility is equipped with a swimming pool and terrace and an ultra-modern, fine dining restaurant and conference centre that seats 250 people. 

The restaurant also has a huge stage, and it is an ideal and adequate venue for social events, including weddings, graduations and seminars. 

Outdoors, there is a well-appointed, double-decked lounging terrace with a view of the ocean, as well as a gazebo and covered party area. 

Currently under construction, beachfront apartments are near completion.

Also housing a Junior Sailing Club, last year the Beach Resort staged a successful sailing camp that attracted 71 young children. 

As well, the success of this year’s Point Fortin Borough Day sailing and dragon boat events have encouraged Lynch to plan similar events to be staged before the year ends.

Lynch was very forthcoming as he spoke about the newest tourism jewel and his future vision. 

Plans include construction of a marina, an outdoor food court, sports bar and restaurant, a 100-room beach hotel and water park. Almost completed is a concert-size, outdoor stage. The massive facility is to be named the Clifton Hill Beach Park. 

“Once a month we will have an event to showcase some aspect of indigenous T&T culture. What we are creating is new space for social transformation in this nation while at the same time bringing ‘new money’ into Point Fortin,” Lynch said. 

“We are creating employment, especially in the hospitality industry, enhancing trade and tourism, and generating foreign exchange and revenue.” 

One of the prime investors behind Clifton Hill Beach Park is TL Investment Co, which also operates Queen’s Beach Resort and Frontin Villas in Mayaro.

Saturday’s music feast featured Tornadoes, La Brea Nightingales, NLCB Fonclaire, bpTT Renegades, Witco Desperadoes and CAL Invaders steel orchestras. 

Seen enjoying the music were T&T ambassador to Nigeria Nyahuma Obika, La Brea MP Fitzgerald Jeffrey, Mayor Paul, Port-of-Spain deputy mayor Kerron Valentine, Point Fortin deputy mayor Janelle St Hillaire and former police CoP James Philbert.

At the start of this week I needed another weekend to recover from the many activities and hectic pace of the one passed. 

Last Friday morning was ushered in by the sounds of drums and chanting and the visual treat of colour and dance as the Emancipation Day parade attracted thousands to the capital. 

The parade was huge so much so that at 11.30 am, when the celebrants in the front of the procession were moving along Frederick Street, outside St Mary’s College, the back of it was still on Piccadilly Street in the vicinity of Besson Street. 

From all corners of T&T they came to converge at the Lidj Yasu Omowale Emancipation Village in the Queen’s Park Savannah; moko jumbies from Cocorite and San Fernando; Muslim adherents from the masjid at Prince Street; drummers and dancers from Point Fortin; members of the United Nuwaupian Nation of Moors; the Original Egyptian Masonic Order; and the Ethiopian Orthodox Church of Arouca. Much excitement was created along the route by performances by Ella Andall, Network Riddim Band, Sir Charles’ music truck and Carib Woodbrook Playboyz.

In between the weekend’s pan action, Band of the Year (Medium) winner Jus’ Friends launched its 2015 presentation—De Universe—on Friday night at the St James Amphitheatre. A large turnout, including former King of Carnival Peter Samuel, was present to view the 20 sections presented by emcee Tony Alleng, himself a past King of Carnival. 

Designed by Janelle Greaves and Devon Jerome, De Universe is divided into eight regions—Africa, Asia, Caribbean, Central America, Europe, North America, Oceania, South America—subdivided into South Africa, Ghana, Turks & Cacos, Curacao, T&T, Honduras, Italy, France, Switzerland, Hawaii, New Zealand, Colombia and Ecuador.

What impressed me most about costumes was their wearability, designed to cater to all ages and shapes, and the easy-to-follow story line of the portrayal. 

Jus’ Friends co-director Annmarie Placide told Pulse: “De Universe was inspired by the national costume segment of the Miss Universe Pageant, where the contestants wear a costume that in some way relates to the culture of their country.”

There was more live pan entertainment on Sunday when the Laventille Steelband Festival Foundation held its annual parade along Eastern Main Road in Success Village.

Young people literally took over Laventille on Sunday during the 16th street parade. 

Noticeably visible in the 30 participating steelbands were young musicians. Drawing much applause from the audience in the VIP stand at the corner of Dorata Street was five-year-old Dion Bobb, playing at the front of the Sea Lots One Love steel orchestra. 

Seen in the VIP area were former president George Maxwell Richards and his wife Dr Jean Ramjohn Richards; Ministry of Community Development director Suzanne Corbett; Emancipation Support Committee directors Khafra Kambon, his wife Asha and Eintou Pearl Springer; Panorama judges Merle Albino De Coteau and Jocelyn Pierre; and, Orisa priest Baba Erin Folami. 

Also showcasing talented young musicians was Witco Desperadoes, its aggregation comprising entirely of members of the band’s August vacation pan camp. Desperadoes’ youth players maintained the distinctive Desperadoes sound playing Denise Belfon’s Chuku Chuku.

Making a strong, dramatic presentation in the parade was Laventille Rhythm Section, its contingent actually having a “ship” with an admiral on board, as well as costumed dancers.

Other steelbands to impress were Massy Trinidad All Stars, bp Renegades, CAL Invaders, Pan Elders, Solo Harmonites and Harlem Syncopators. With the first steelband performing around five o’clock the parade ran smoothly and incident-free, seamlessly until midnight.


Pan in chutney soca

The South/Central Region of Pan Trinbago is staging the country’s first ever Pan Chutney Soca Competition—PanChutCa—on August 30 at Guaracara Park, Pointe-a-Pierre, at 7 pm. 

The event is being held under the patronage of Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar as a 52nd anniversary Independence gift to pan, chutney and soca lovers. 

This multi-cultural activity also celebrates super fusion artistes and cultural icons the late Sundar Popo and Ras Shorty I. 

Fourteen exciting top conventional South/Central steel orchestras, which were meritoriously selected from Panorama Edition 2014 results, will endeavour to impress three specially selected talented adjudicators to capture a $75,000 first prize, the massive challenge trophy and bragging rights. 

Roy Cape singer wins title

Ricardo Drue of Roy Cape All Stars is the 2014 Antigua and Barbuda Jumpy Soca Monarch. 

The Antigua-born vocalist, christened Ricardo Barriteau, has been partnering Blaxx (Dexter Stewart) in the Cape frontline. The Lime Groovy and Party Monarch competitions were held at the Antigua Recreation Grounds last Saturday night and Drue sang Hide & Seek. 

Tian Winter repeated as Groovy Soca Monarch making it three consecutive years he has captured the title, but Drue dethroned last year’s Jumpy Monarch Ezzy Rattigan. Drue, singing Vagabond, placed third in the Groovy category.

On Tuesday, an elated Roy Cape, who returned home from Caribana festivities in Canada Monday evening, said: “We are very proud of Ricardo as he is a very disciplined young man with much talent. 

“He has been with the band for three years but when he has duty in Antigua he goes there to perform. He will be back with the band from October, until Carnival 2015.”



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