Monday, February 20, 2012

2012 Junior Calypso King Now The 2012 Calypso Monarch Winner

Few Predicted This 2012 Calypso Monarch Results
As a junior calypso performer he was a look-alike.  He looked like Ian Alleyne, the popular Television crime fighter.  The Calypso that won him the Junior Calypso Crown also contributed to his new win.  The calypso was both witty and creative.  Today he stands tall, and he is, as the 2012 Calypso Monarch Winner. 

With the same rendition, The Hunt Is On” (words made popular by Ian Alleyne), this relatively unknown calypsonians came in and upset the 2012 Calypso Monarch Crown cart.  

 His name is Duane O’Conner who also sung “Long Live Calypso” to take away the grand prize of 1 million dollars. He beat 11 other professional, veteran and previous Monarch winners to walk away with the Crown. Here is his rendition of "The Hunt is On"

The Winner

The Biggest Loser

Also, we must mention the veteran Calypsoian, "Cro Cro" who's performance was also very witty and creative but focused on the inadequacies of Afro-Trinidadians in the government.  His Calypso "Say Something" really hit them with the reality of life in the new administration.  Maybe because of his hard hitting satire he won the least coveted position of all the finalist.  The losing Calypso by "Cro Cro"

The results were as follows:

Calypso Monarch
1. Duane O’Connor (The Hunt is On, Long Live Calypso)
2. Kurt Allen (Long Live Calypso, When Will It End)
3. Karene Asche (Against All Odds, You Will Win The Battle But)
4. Devon Seale (One Is One, Snapshots)
5. Heather Mac Intosh (The Adjective, One Gone)
6. Dr. Hollis “Chalkdust” Liverpool (Shame Mr Shak, How’s Dat)
7. Michael “Sugar Aloes” Osouna (Doh Force Meh Hand, Chinese Kidnapping)
8. Dexter “Stinger” Parsons (My Reason For Being Here, Advice In Song)
9. Brian London (Not Brian, Doh Complain - Come Plain)
10. Sandra “Singing Sandra” Des Vignes-Millington (On Turning 50, Why I Sing)
11. Lesley Ann Ellis (Street Justice, Mothers and Others)
12. Weston “Cro Cro” Rawlins (Say Something, Release Them)

The Carnival King and Queen were also chosen as outlined below.

King of Carnival
1. Roland St George - Ralliez-Vous A Mon Panache Blanc
2. Gerard Weekes - Malak Yahweh, The Praying Mantis
3. Curtis Eustace - The Midnight Messenger, The Mask Of
4. Adrian Young - The Crow
5. Earl Thompson - Icarus Ascending
6. Brian Chin - Prince Siegfried, the story of Swan Lake, tribute to Wayne Berkeley
7. Zainool Mohammed - Kwak Waka Wakin, the Sacred Totem
8. Wade Madray - Flight of Conscience
9. Jhawhan Thomas - Alpha
10. Shane Philip - Tree of Life

Queen of Carnival

1. Chariss Bovell - Mother of Humanity-The Weeping Madonna
2. Roxanne Omalo - Last Dance of the Enchanted Witches
3. Rose Marie Kuru Jagessar - Wachiw-I Dream of a Bustle Dancer
4. Shari Derek - D’Woman and D’Butterflies
5. Kay Mason - Amethyst Rising
6. Lanie Lezama - Harmony
7. Cherry-Ann Patrice Valere - The Limbo Dancer
8. Laura Rampersad - Princess of the Mardi Gras
9. Patricia Bailey - Exotic Sunset on the Horizon
10. Avernell Johnson - Princess Odette, Queen of the Swans

Saturday, February 18, 2012

ONE Winner - 2012 Power & Groovy Soca Monarch

Machel Wins It All - Power and Groovy Soca Monarchs 2012

Thousands turned up the 2012 Power and Groovy Soca Monarch Competition.  It went till early in the morning and with the stipulation that the artists could not leave before the winners were announced a number of fetes were without a headliner.  

 The absolute winner of both competitions was;  Machel Montano with the results as following:

1. Machel Montano (Pump Yuh Flag)
2. Iwer George (No Pain)
3. Destra
4. Prophet Benjamin (Throw Wine) & Blaxx

1. Machel Montano (Mr Fete)
2. Kerwin Du Bois (Bacchanalist)
3. Benjai (People's Champion)
4. Nadia Batson
5. Kees Diffenthaller (Stress Away)

Power Soca Monarch Winning Selection  "PUMP YUH FLAG"


Groovey Soca Monarch Winning Selection "MR. FETE"

Stay tuned more to come. 


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Is Trinidad and Tobago’s Machel Montano Guilty?

Trial In The Court of Public Opinion

The answer to that question is still blowing in the wind.  The raw truth is that rude boy Machel Montano influences the youths of the Caribbean.  Like Michael Jackson, Machel Montano finds himself having to defend actions in his private life in the Courts of Law and Public Opinion.  For the Trinidad and Tobago youths and even for the not so young, Machel Montano is an entertainment icon.  

This is an icon that is facing criminal charges for battery and assault.   Guilty or not, his fans has compartmentalize this from his celebrity status and continue to crave his very presence.   This is Machel Montano the reigning Soca and Road March King, and we might add very well off with the millions he is raking in for appearances on shows and national cash prize awards.   He has been photographed on stage holding hands and being congratulated by the Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister in 2012 Carnival shows.   But this is a stale issue, everyone his fans should know about. 

So why bring this up now, we certainly cannot ascribe any relevance to the fact that this case has been in the court for almost 5 years; that’s a norm with the Trinidad and Tobago’s justice system.  Well the reason is that for the Carnival season Machel Montano is front and center on the national stage.  This provides a different perspective of Trinidad and Tobago’s national celebrity. 

The Case
On April 26, 2011 Machel Montano appeared before Magistrate Maureen Baboolal-Gafoor.   

The fact of the case is that Machel, along with entertainers Joel “Zan” Fezeck, Kernel Roberts, songwriter/producer and son of the late calypsoian Lord Kitchener and Rodney “Benjai” Le Blanc are all charged with assaulting Russell Pollonals.  In addition, Montano, Fezeck and Roberts are charged with assaulting Brandis Brown.  Montano faces further allegations of assaulting Jenelle Le Chee and Gerard Bowrin and using obscene language. 

Let’s Not Judge 
Machel Montano based on sworn allegations in the case; we will let the Court do its job.  As you know, there are always two sides to every story but in Court there are usually a third.  There is the prosecutor's, the defendant's and the Court’s version.  All the stories seem “sorta” plausible.  Let’s assume that we knew nothing about what actually happened.  Let’s review what we do know.   This is a public opinion that is usually not articulated for public consumption but is ever present in the collective consciousness of the citizenry. 

What We Do Know

We know that Mr. Montano is a celebrated entertainment personality with numerous local awards for the super energized live performance of Soca music over a 20 to 30 year period.   Machel Montano is regarded as the Michael Jackson of the Caribbean.  Most youths and many old folks grew up with him.  His style of entertainment is loved, as evidenced by his local and international ticket sales.  
We also know that he is not humble.  It is alleged that he uses obscene language in front of his mother, who. BTW, she is his manager.  That, and a lot of other “normal” personality dysfunctions can be chalked up to what’s called “the burden of celebrity status”; if there is such a thing.   Like M J, he started in the entertainment business at a very early age.  Yet, if we take his Facebook fans, over 45,000, as a measure of celebrity popularity he can be considered on the low end for entertainers.  The now deceased Michael Jackson’s Facebook fans Page has 45 million fans. Granted most of Machel Montano’s real fans are not be on Facebook but even so it will be a long time before he will ever get there.   

Now here is the big question and how you answer it indicates the type of person you are.  If you met such a huge celebrity in your favorite night club; what would you do?  Ask for his autograph?  Figure out some ruse to get next to him? Try to dance with him?  Or, pick a fight?  

If you answered “pick a fight” you are exactly the kind of person that Montano has to get the court to believe.   He is going to tell everyone exactly how he ended up bathed in a cold drink. You be the judge.
The outcome of the case is immaterial; what’s more important is the general reflection of what is happening to the society.  There is no doubt that he will be found not guilty, the state prosecutors are working for the State.  The outcome is evident.   Guilty or not, he will not lose fans, the support of the government or money from his engagements.  

Truth is that this whole incident could have been easily avoided if Mr. Montano was of a different temperament.   In my humble opinion, which may be the only one in the Caribbean, Mr. Montano is a great performer but very short on people skills.  Nothing wrong with dat.    

If you are in Trinidad, enjoy the Carnival and Machel Montano’s soca hits.  He stands a good chance of defending his hard earned Soca Monarch Crown  this year because he is a BACANNALIST.    

Monday, February 13, 2012

Who Will Be T&T's 2012 Calypso King?

2012 Calypso King Semi Finals Are Over.

Last Saturday, February 11 2012 a total of 18 females and 24 males competed for the 2012 Calypso King semi finals in Skinner Park, San Fernando.  Many of their renditions focused on political and social issues.    

The new People’s Partnership Government got a heavy tongue lashing for political maneuvers especially on the State of Emergency.  On the social side, songs focused on the Afro Trinidadians, advising and ridiculing pointing out their weaknesses. 
Winston Scarborough, “D Original De fosto Himself” and Edwin Ayoung, “Crazy” were the only two competitors to get the traditional “shit” awards when the crowd pelted them with toilet paper rolls.  All the other contenders were warmly received.  

Although the Prime Minister, Kamla Persad Bissessar, attended the show she understandably kept a low profile especially with the political mood of the crowd.  The eleven finalists selected to appear at the Dimanche Gras Show on Carnival Sunday night are in no particular order, they are as follows:

1.       Brian London
2.       Damian Seales
3.       Dexter “Stinger” Parsons
4.       Hollis “Chalkdust” Liverpool
5.       Duane O’Connor
6.       Heather McIntosh
7.       Kurt Allen
8.       Lesley Ann Ellis
9.       Michael “Sugar Aloes” Osuna
10.   Sandra “Singing Sandra” Des Vignes
11.   Weston “Cro Cro” Rawlins

They are all going after the reigning 2011 National CalypsoMonarch, Karen Asche who will be defending her title.   Although, the Caribbean Blogger is not privy to the working of the calypso minds in T&T we are predicting that Karen will have a lot of trouble retaining her crown for another year.   

Word on the street is that her victory last year was a fluke.  She came in from no-where and cop the title from under the noses of some veteran Calypsonians and five previous crown winners like the Mighty Chalkdust and Kurt Allen.  

Like everyone else we will all know on February 19, 2012, at the Dimanche Gras show. 

Keep informed. 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

220,000 Carnival Visitors To Land In T&T

One Band In Port Of Spain
Numbers Never Lie, People Do
Online research on the number of visitors to Trinidad and Tobago for the carnival season bought some interesting realities.   

As natives, we call it “plenty people” “people like peas” not ever taking time to figure out exactly how many people are really attracted to the Carnival celebrations.   

But when a daily newspaper reports that a government Minister, Min Gypsy Peters made a grand proclamation the number of "confirmed" visitors seemed astronomical.  According to the Newsday article:

“Some 220,000 Carnival visitors will be brought to TT by Caribbean Airlines Limited (CAL) said Arts and Multi-Culturalism Minister Winston “Gypsy” Peters, at yesterday’s post-Cabinet news briefing at the Diplomatic Centre. He alluded beyond the CAL figure given to last week’s meeting of Cabinet’s Finance and General Purposes (F&GP) Committee, further visitors would be brought to TT by other airlines. Peters later confirmed the 220,000 CAL visitors hold confirmed bookings.”  Read the article here

Now read this posted by and you decide for yourself who you should believe:
For the millennium celebrations from February 17 to March 6, 2000, 42,646 visitors came to enjoy Carnival. However, the trend of fluctuating arrivals continued, when in 2001 there were 35,221 visitors. There was another decline in arrivals in 2002, when 33,487 visitors arrived. Visitor arrivals in Trinidad and Tobago for 2003 increased by 15.08 percent to 38,537 visitors. However, this year surpassed the last eight years with a record 45,492 visitors. Last weekend, Tourism Minister Howard Chin Lee expressed optimism that visitor arrivals would continue to increase since Government had plans in place to boost the tourism industry.  Read the rest of the story here

Are we to believe that since 2006 when the last article was published Trinidad and Tobago Carnival celebrations have grown approximately over 400%.  If true, the infrastructure to accommodate that many people would have also grown significantly with the highest recorded 45,492 visitors in 2006.  Stop for a moment and think hotel rooms, food and emergency services all will be increased significantly.  

The numbers just don’t add up.   The 64 million dollar question in one word; why?  

Is it political?  The success of Caribbean Airlines corporate advertising?  The  Ministry of Tourism superb job? There must have been a reason for such a significant increase in visitors.

Only time will tell.

If you are visiting Trinidad and Tobago you may be interested in this local driver service.  Trinidad and Tobago Concierge Driver Services.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

8 Anti-Crime Tips For Trinidad & Tobago Carnival Visitors

Don't Let Bandits Take The Fun Out of Your Carnival Vacation

This is an advisory if you intend to visit Trinidad and Tobago for the local Carnival celebrations.  Be assured that although Trinidad and Tobago is ranked next to Jamaica as one of the murder capitals of Caribbean most dangerous islands it is still a very safe place to visit.  

There are a few things that you should know if you intend to visit Trinidad for the Carnival celebrations.  This goes especially for visitors who have no friends and family in Trinidad.  More so if you have never visited during the Carnival.   Here are a few tips that the CIA Report or travel brochures would not mention. 

             Let’s get this straight; “bandits” (the name given to robbery perpetrators in Trinidad and Tobago) can and will rob anyone at anytime.  These tips are intended to make you aware of some behaviors that can make you less susceptible to becoming a victim on your vacation.   This is no joke. 

Locally “bandits” have been known to rob everyone traveling in a maxi taxi (that’s the local mode of public transportation that seats 12 or 25 passengers).   The police service is not as efficient as the law abiding natives would wish.  They are notorious for a low crime detection rate; currently less than 10 percent.  Of course as a visitor you will get more attention but that does not amount to a hill-a-beans if you are hurt or lose your valuables.   Here’s what you need to know…

1.      Blend In:  Visitors are more vulnerable because they have a tendency to stand out in a crowd.  Natives can easily identify a tourist by the way they are dressed, their accents and what they are carrying in their hand.  Unfortunately, if you are Caucasian, you stand out even more.  Although there are a small percentage of Caucasians who made Trinidad and Tobago their home a long time ago even some of the natives are targeted.  Regardless of your race do not do the following:

2.      Dress:  It is hot in Trinidad and most visitors tend to dress a lot lighter than they did in the cold climates.  The warning is for women, do not wear skimpy alluring clothing be sensible you do not want to be marked out for an unforgivable sin.  Everyone, men and women should not be adorned with jewels.  Leave it in your hotel room or at home.  And while we are on that one, also leave your passport and travel documents in a safe place.  

3.      Private Transportation: Do not rent a car and drive aimlessly around Port of Spain or some other areas in Trinidad which were labeled hot spots during the recent State of Emergency.  In fact, if you can avoid renting a vehicle, do so because if you came to enjoy the carnival you cannot use a vehicle in the places with most of the action.  If you must rent a vehicle make sure and have a native who can direct you as to where not to go.   

4.      Public Transportation:  You are safest in the government run buses that you can board in Port of Spain.  These buses run throughout the country but they are not always very reliable.  It may require some wait but if you get the schedule and be patient that is the safest way to make a trip say from Port of Spain to Arima.   Believe it or not the next best and safest mode of transport are the maxi taxis that were mention earlier.  Yes there have been a number of robberies on these vehicles but generally they are a safe and quick way to travel.  They are on a fast route from Port of Spain to Arima on what is called the “Priority Bus Route”.   

5.      PH Transportation: You can also use the regular passenger sedan taxi which all start with the letter “H”.   Privately owned vehicles start with the letter “P” but they are also used as taxis.  Locally they are known as “PH” taxis and there is no recognizable difference between a “PH” for hire and a privately owned vehicle except for the actions of the driver.  They may see you standing on the side of the road and blow their horns or use hand signals to let you know that they are for hire.  This mode of transportation as you would imagine is the most dangerous way to travel.  There are a lot more stories of either the driver being attacked or a passenger (s) and driver robbing, sometimes raping another passenger.  

6.      Carnival Events: To experience the real spirit of Carnival you will want to attend a few selected events. For the music lovers, pan is the order of the day although on Carnival day you will see many large trucks with DJs playing a variety of local and foreign music.   However, at the cultural show expect to hear calypso, soca and chutney.  Attending these events can be tricky if you are a tourist and know very little about the island.  You may be able to get transportation to the event but it is the return trip that can be scary.  Avoid it if you can.  This is where your only option may be the “PH” vehicles.  That late at night it is unwise to rely on that mode of transport even for the natives.  Always arrange how you will get back to your place before you venture out to a late night event. You should not attend a fete because it sounds like fun on the radio or television.  

7.      Drugs:  If you do drugs and you are caught even with as little as one marijuana cigarette you will be arrested.  Do not attempt to purchase drugs from strangers. There are marijuana and cocaine dealers in every city in Trinidad but unless you know someone, and you would not because you are a visitor, it would be plain stupid to attempt to purchase drugs.  And by the way, if you are thinking about bringing in your own that too would land you in jail.  Possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia is a serious offense in Trinidad and Tobago. 

8.      Drinking:  Be aware that if you drive in Trinidad and Tobago that recently passed breathalyzer legislation was recently passed and you could be arrested if you are field tested as be inebriated.  If you are not driving, public drinking is allowed as you will note that the locals are not shy about drinking in public.  

We hope that what you read here puts things in perspective for you.  This was not written to scare you off or to ruin your Carnival vacation.  This is an advisory and you can enjoy our tropical paradise with its beautiful sights and sounds. You will leave with a lifetime of Kodak moments to share with your family and friends.  Have a great time in Trinidad and Tobago.  

This article was written by  T&T Carnival Visitors Concierge Services,  find out how you can enjoy Trinidad and Tobago Carnival with the help of a native and get a free schedule of Carnival fetes.  Click here.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Can The Carnival Spirit Die?

Spirit Has It's Own Expressive Momentum Flowing and Morphing Into Other Forms

Yuh know what?  In the true sense of the word I have lost my Trininess. Facing the fact that many years overseas have dulled my senses to what is widely known as “catching d spirit”.  

 It is not like it's a stranger, at once upon a time I was one with that spirit.  An intrinsic part of my being.  But that was a long time ago before being away for a couple decades.  I lost touch, Carnival Monday and Tuesdays became normal work days.  Finding sound bites on Carnival on in the media was more painful than satisfying.  .  

Today, many Trinbagonians are busy getting ready for two days of frolicking in the streets of Trinidad and Tobago.  I must admit as a returning native I’m out of tune with the celebrations.  I may be a sense that there is nothing that I could add to Carnival it has been happening for so long all I can do is observe.  I'm satisfied to find myself in one of the Mas camps on Carnival Sunday.  It's like attending a fete, with the difference being that the street is the party venue.

The bands don’t matter except, no body covered chocolate or mud.  I tried a band with paint a couple of years ago and it did not wash off well, so no more paint for me.  Once I decide on a band I head home.  

At one time I had to be out in a fete on Carnival Sunday night.  No more, now I prefer to watch the Marche Gras Calypso show on the tube.  During or maybe some time after I would be sound asleep.  Next thing you know I’m up with the cocks early Monday morning.  The loud noise that makes the cocks afraid of crowing on Carnival Monday morning.  There is a constant boom boom sound in the air, the spirit is coming alive with a frenzy, a looseness fired by alcohol and the need to release, exhibit and show off.  

The years I did play Mas I would make my way to Port of Spain join up with the band of revelers all outfitted in the same costume ready to play Mas.   It’s strange how close you feel to people all dressed up like you and not really know anyone there.  It’s like Facebook where you can get instant “friends”.  

Food, drink and security surrounding the band are all I need to see to be comfortable, and I’m good.  It’s the only time of the year that it makes sense to drink that early in the morning.  Funny thing you can’t see Mas if you play Mas so might as well enjoy it.   

I know, real Trinis must be thinking; “Dah stupid”.  Many would rather go out to a fete on Sunday night and lime till Monday morning.   And they not waiting for last minute to find a band that is done at least a month in advance.  Maybe it's because of the gray hair I noticed on my chest, I don’t have the energy or spirit for an all nighter and expect to participate in the morning. I do enjoy the annual deviant behavior of drinking alcohol 6 AM and dancing in the streets just after having woke up at 4 AM.  Only happens in Trinidad. 

I never really considered playing Mas in Brooklyn Labor Days; it’s not the same as home.  Mas in the US, IMHO, felt like becoming a spectacle for strangers to gawk at with no understanding of the culture or traditions of Carnival.  In hindsight, I, myself did not have a real appreciation of the tradition.  At home, there are no strangers, everybody understands or at least accept the madness.   But it's not just the playing Mas, other aspects of Carnival, I still don’t  appreciate.  Pan music.   
Panorama, the traditional pan competition has always been and probably still is live on.  I remember as a boy I would not miss a Panorama Sunday Finals in the Savannah.  I enjoyed it but even then but, I confess, it was not about the pan.  Pan was the reason I was there not my purpose, my mind was only on hanging out with my boys and checking out the girls. 

As a Trinidadian, I offer no excuse for my lack of appreciation; I know I somehow allowed to slip by me a genuine cultural experience.  I believe that music is important in the development of man's social and cultural foundation it is a link that keeps us knitted together for our common good.  To miss out on the creativity of your own music leaves a perceptible void in one’s cultural awareness. I’m guilty as charged on this count.  

Unless you just knocking the pan with no rhythm it sounds good to me.  I could be classified as “pan deaf”.  In my head, to my ear, pan is pan. Some do sound much better they say it's in the arrangement and the sweetness of the tenor and guitar pan.   From where I sit, if anyone can cause a tune to emanate from a steel pan that’s notable because they know a lot more than I do about pan music.

Carnival spirits don't die they are merely get re channeled.   Religious retreats, week end or week trips to other islands are the escapes.  The very diversity in carnival allows us, as a democratic society to decide how we spend this time.  Leaving or become a passive spectator all celebrate and act on their particular spirit of Carnival.  For myself...

It’s an opportunity to learn and enjoy what is produce from a mix of cultural diversity representing global cultures.  Carnival can easily be perceived as deliberate organized madness.  Self expression harnessed only by the imagination where surreal thoughts find legs to walk the streets of Trinidad and Tobago to be seen and see.  Orderly chaos?  

I love the satirical picong of meaningful calypsos, and soca tunes that pluck at the rhythmic spirit stimulating involuntary body movements.  That’s a topic for another post.  I must mention that the Caribbean Blogger also gets a ton of visitors for carnival.  My editorial comments on the 2011 Calypso competition had this blog hopping literally all year long with first time search engine visitors.

That’s it for today.  All the best to anyone playing Mas on Monday and Tuesday.  Don’t know who I will be joining this year for Jourvert but I still have lots of time to decide.  Don’t I?

More commentary on pieces of Trinidad and Tobago Carnival coming soon, stay tuned.    

Till then   

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