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Water, water everywhere

Friday, February 26, 2016
Bill Trotman, Julia Edwards and Marilyn Alfonso

A number of popular Trini beliefs continue to exist, with no empirical proof of truth. 

One is “God is a Trini,” another is: “It have a panman and calypsonian on every street corner,” not to mention,“Trinidad is the land of pan, calypso and limbo.” But outside of the annual Carnival, it’s a challenge to prove any of these notions. For instance, when Carnival has ended, one can hardly hear a calypso or steelband music on most of our 30-plus radio frequencies. It’s even more difficult to find live pan music or calypso, or see a limbo dance. 

The powers that be boast annually of our national festival attracting tens of thousands of foreign visitors and generating millions of dollars in revenue. But what happens the remainder of the year when the Merry Monarch ends his reign at Las Lap on Carnival Tuesday night?

It’s the dry season and we are in the midst of the cruise ship season, meaning that there are thousands of tourists coming to T&T. But the big question is: how do we entertain them, beside taking them to Maracas for a Richard’s bake and shark?

Successive governments are yet to be on point in establishing a cohesive, comprehensive, sustainable and thriving tourism model for T&T. However, this is not deterring people involved in the tourism industry, like tour guides and agents Gunda Harewood and Lorraine Pouchet, from finding ways of stimulating the industry by offering events when the cruise ship season is upon us. The latest people to try and provide something for tourists to do when they touch our shores are the Ward brothers of De Nu Pub (The Mas Camp) in Woodbrook.

I recall many years ago when cruise ships, like the Carla C, docked at Port-of-Spain harbour on a Wednesday. Long before there was the present Waterfront and Hyatt Regency, the late Roma Kim Sabeeney and her brothers Choy and Kim would host shows at their Penthouse establishment atop Salvatori Building (and subsequently on Independence Square), upstairs Habib’s Gents Store.

Tourists were entertained by artistes like the late Ras Shorty I, Bill Trotman, Errol Asche, Carol Addison, Brigo, Explainer, Earl Rodney & Tropical Harmony Steelband, Julia Edwards Dance Company and Samaroo Kids.

Calypsonian Brigo also tried a similar initiative at the now defunct Miramar Club, housed on South Quay, Port-of-Spain.

Four years ago, I was embarrassed when a group of young people from Finland and Denmark were asked to contact me to find out where they could go in Port-of-Spain on a Friday evening to hear live pan music. The visitors said they play pan in Europe and, having come to Trinidad, they thought there would be pan music on every block of the nation’s capital.

“Aren’t you ‘the land of the steelband’?” asked Henrietta. I was stumped for an answer, as I had no tangible proof to support that boast and widely touted claim. In an attempt to appease the visitors, I phoned Pan Trinbago’s office and, speaking to an official, was told: “Nah, it have no place where pan is played on a Friday evening, or on a weekend. But if they (Fins) still here on Sunday, they could go to the Laventille Steelband Parade.”

I also called an official of bp Renegades, knowing that the Charlotte Street band recently hosted a vibrant Friday-evening show, who also said there was no live pan action in the pan theatre, but there would be some guys playing All Fours. I also called around to no fewer than half dozen panyards....same live pan music.

Roughly 25 years ago, I was invited to Barbados, along with Joycelyne Sealy, by the Barbados Tourist Board (BTA) and National Cultural Foundation (NCF) to judge Pang-a-Lang, the country’s first Panorama competition in Crop Over. Not only was I surprised to see a panman playing his instrument on Broad Street, Bridgetown but learning that live pan music and limbo were on the nightly entertainment menu at the hotel where I was housed.

After more than 25 years of presenting live calypso shows every Wednesday night, De Nu Pub (The Mas Camp), along with Malick Folk Performers, have embarked on a series of daytime shows for cruise ship passengers visiting out shores. Branded A Taste of TnT, the shows are scheduled for every Wednesday, beginning at 10 am.


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