Desperadoes Steel Orchestra celebrated 50 years of achievement on Friday night at a gala reception, held at the House of Angostura in Laventille.
Hosted by veteran radio personality Phill Simmons, the event was attended by several special guests, veteran pan players and current members of the iconic Laventille steel orchestra including Works and Transport Minister Fitzgerald Hinds, attorney Martin Daly SC, Witco chairman Anthony Phillip, Jean Reid, Danielle Chow, Pan Trinbago presdient Keith Diaz, secretary Richard Forteau and Massy Trinidad All Stars' Dane Gulston.
As guests arrived at the venue they were welcomed by a prelude of music by the Desperadoes Youth Orchestra led by captain Hakeem O'Brien. In his welcome address, Desperadoes manager Curtis Edwards reminded the gathering that, "Laventille is Desperadoes; Desperadoes is Laventille and Laventille is the rock on which we stand. Together we have had 50 years of achievement."
Awards were presented in 11 categories with special attention paid to the band's elders and pioneers, including Winston Archer, Ralph Guildford, Gregory Perrotte, Clyde Thomas and Theresa "May May" Steadman. Eight supporters were also presented with tokens of appreciation, including former national calypso monarchs Bomber (Clifton Ryan) and Karene Ache, footballer George Flemming and Hollis Barker.
The Support Circle Award was presented to Allison Hennessy (posthumous), Roy Cape, Gerald "Slam" Charles, Thomas "Thunderbolt" Williams and five other recipients. The Meritorious Service Award was posthumously bestowed on the late Clive Bradley, Dr Pat Bishop, Frank "Crawl" Findlay, Bertie Marshall and Ralph Mac Donald.
Though formed in the 1940s, Desperadoes won its first National Panorama title in 1966 and giving a comprehensive account of the band's achievements was insurance executive Victor Copeland. "Desperadoes and the people of Laventille were designed by God for achievement," said Copeland.
The evening's programme also included performances by brother and sister pan-playing twins DeJean and Deja Cain, and Desperadoes.
Pots o' Gold
I have attended and judged many culinary competitions for more than 30 years but very few have come close to last Saturday's Pots o' Gold staged at the Queen's Park Oval. Held open air on the football field, the event attracted about 300 patrons who enjoyed some really delicious dishes.
What began as a friendly cookout at the end of the club's annual eight-a-side football tournament has mushroomed into a very successful fund-raiser with proceeds going to the Queen's Park Benevolent Fund.
Doing yeoman service to ensure the success of this year's event were the organising committee, including George Wilcox (chairman), David Soverall, Richard Commission, Willard Rezende, Roger Walcott, Amelia Walcott and Marie Mouttet, bolstered by new Queen's Park managing manager Tiffany Campbell-Joseph.
At the end of the sumptuous meal and live entertainment–beginning with QPCC Oval Teens Steel Orchestra and including Christopher Aird and Marsha Caballero, Yohan Chuckaree and Wendell Constantine–the judges chose Kurt Mc Ivor's Suck ah Duck as the Best Dish and Best Named Dish on the evening.
In total, 36 meat dishes were presented on the menu, mostly by members of the club, but there were also "donated dishes" from food havens like T&T Hotel School, The Market Place, Rasam Restaurant of Grand Bazaar, MST Caterers, All Out, Trotters and El Pecos. Carl Leung also donated a dish.
Back to the future in mas
It seems that next year's Carnival will see a quantum leap backwards to traditional mas as a number of bands are not only paying homage to portrayals of old but also to iconic designers of yesteryear. Maybe the inspiration is coming from Massy Trinidad All Stars' successive Band of the Year wins with a sailor band? Sections in Trini Revellers' Woodbrook: Then and Now include portrayals of the late George Bailey's Tears of the Indies and traditional sailors.
With several bandleaders urging Carnival designers Peter Minshall and Brian Mac Farlane to return to mas, at least one veteran masman is returning to the mas arena next year. Former Barbarossa leader Richard Affong has announced that his new band Frenz N Dem will hit the streets of Port-of-Spain in 2016 with We Like It So, which is actually a "truck mas." Ironically when the T&T Guardian began Carnival's Parade of the Bands in 1918, mas was actually played on trucks.
Besides Affong, the band's committee includes Toey du Coudray and George Joseph, and it is hoping to attract at least 200 masqueraders. The committee explained that the concept and presentation will allow each masquerader "to truly experience the joy, safety and comfort on the road while having the option to play mas both on and off the truck." The truck will be a 40-foot Low Boy Trailer.
We Like It So will be launched tomorrow, at Las Lap Restaurant, at ONE Woodbrook Place, from 8 pm.Another band launching its 2016 Carnival presentation is Wee International. Led by Ricky Davidson, the launch will be held on Sunday at ONE Woodbrook Place.
Also remaining in the traditional mas mould is Belmont Exotic Stylish Sailors (Bess) which will be launching its 2016 mas presentation, A Touch of Nature, on Saturday, November 14 at the Police Second Division Mess, Long Circular Road, St James from 5 pm to midnight. This launch was originally planned for this Sunday at the Harvard Club. Music will be supplied by road DJ Cutting Crew, and admission is free as a gift next year to its loyal masqueraders and supporters.
Next year, Bess will be presenting at least seven sections including Butterflies, Stinging Wasps, Scorpions and Bees. Formed in April 2013, Bess will be producing a king, and at least 12 individuals. It will again vie for Band of the Year (Small) honours and will participate in all competitions. Over the past two years Bess has placed second in this category in the Queen's Park Savannah.
Between July 1-5, 2013 the Bess band paid tribute to late "master sailor" Jason Griffith by displaying many of his mas pictures for bands produced between 1980 and 2000 at Nalis, Port-of-Spain; further expositions are planned for 2016. Earlier this year, a symposium on the Fancy Sailor mas was held courtesy the National Archives of T&T, the focus being on Griffith who played sailor mas from 1946 to 2000, producing many memorable mas presentations. Bess continues to keep the tradition of the Fancy Sailor alive.
The Bess mas camp is situated at the corner of Jerningham Avenue and Archer Street, Belmont.