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A decision by the National Carnival Bands Association’s (NCBA) judges to deduct points from a reported 25 large bands for failing to start at their first judging point in Woodbrook, is threatening to cast a shadow over Neal and Massy Trinidad All Stars’ Band of the Year victory. In fact, the decision may have to be rescinded, as several affected bands yesterday signalled their intention to take the matter to court if the NCBA does not provide them with their scoresheets, nullify the decision and recount the scores. Trinidad All Stars was yesterday named the NCBA’s Band of the Year winner for its presentation of Sailors on Shore Leave at a Tropical Fiesta. The band, which lost this year’s National Panorama final by one point to Phase II Pan Groove, scored 2,365 points, beating Paparrazi Carnival’s Centerstage (2,048) and Legacy’s Nature’s Touch (1,976) into second and third respectively. The result also marked the first time in decades a traditional steelband had won the large band mas category.
However, Trini Revellers bandleader Dave Cameron was among the first to query the results after learning their portrayal of The Sultan’s Palace (1,585) had placed fourth. While congratulating Trinidad All Stars on the win, Cameron said he sent a letter to the chief judge asking for his scoresheet, as he believed there were discrepancies in the judging, and would decided his next move thereafter. “I can’t understand how the conventional bands could be so far back, especially when Trinidad All Stars Steel Orchestra have been coming out with the same thing every year. But I can’t do anything but congratulate All Stars because they won,” Cameron said. “I in this business long time. I believed I may have lost some marks, but the NCBA don’t come out and tell you anything. They just say, ‘Take that,’ and I am not taking that.” However, the T&T Guardian subsequently learned that several bands had been deducted as much as 50 points for not starting at Adam Smith Square, Woodbrook, which the NCBA designated as the first judging point along a new route this year.
25 bands affected
Contacted yesterday, bandleader Rosalind Gabriel confirmed her band was among 25 which started in downtown PoS. She said Dune Ali’s Carnival Players Stephen Derick’s D’ Midas T&T and Vanessa Forde’s Classix Productions were also deducted points for starting downtown. She said she would have a clearer idea today of the exact number of bands affected. Gabriel admitted she did not follow the NCBA’s designated route, which started in Woodbrook and ended at the Queen’s Park Savannah. Instead, she opted to use the route prescribed by Port-of-Spain mayor Raymond Tim Kee, which started downtown and ended at the Savannah. “If you disobey the route you lose 50 points. I am not in the results anywhere from one to five or even one to six. Every year I win a title, so for me not placing at all is impossible. I am not the only one who suffered this fate,” Gabriel said. She said her decision to start downtown was based on a number of issues, including masqueraders having to travel to Woodbrook upon reaching Port-of-Spain.
“We have bands coming from as far as Mayaro and it is unfair for them when they reach City Gate to leave downtown to travel with their costumes and what have you to Woodbrook. “The wind factor was another issue, traffic congestion and Woodbrook residents having to undergo another day of Carnival,” Gabriel added. She said she retained attorney Michael Quamina and intends to obtain a copy of her scoresheet before considering her options. Also contacted last evening, president of the T&T Carnival Bands Association Gerard Weekes confirmed several of his members were affected by the decision. He said while his band was not affected, as he followed the prescribed route, it should not matter how bands like Gabriel’s got to the Savannah once they passed all the judging points.
“It doesn’t matter whether she (Gabriel) started in downtown or at Woodbrook. Once she got to the savannah she should have been equally judged and she has a right to request her scoresheet,” Weekes said. “For Trini Revellers it’s a different case. They are requesting their scoresheet to determine where they lost points and why.” He added, “Someone needs to say who are the judges and what criteria they used. ...The NCBA must be held accountable.” He said while he had nothing against All Stars winning, he wondered how they could emerge on top in the creativity category. “What they did certainly was by no means creative. Buying a sailor hat and putting two apples in it is not creative. That says a lot, especially to us who have spent many tireless hours producing,” Weekes said.