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Developing Caribbean film culture

Wed, 05/17/2017 - 22:06

The UWI Film Programme, which currently offers the only stand-alone film degrees in Film Production and Film Studies, in the Eastern Caribbean, is readying for its second decade of production.

Inaugurated in 2006, the programme has been instrumental in developing Caribbean aesthetics, visual and media culture, and in nurturing a talented cohort of emerging regional filmmakers. At a time when the Humanities and Arts worldwide are fighting for survival and economic recession in T&T is restricting diversification, the Film Programme has proved itself a highly productive, adaptable flagship for innovative education, injecting energy into the region’s cultural industries.

The programme explained its structure in a recent press release to the Guardian. It said over the three-year degree, beyond core production courses like directing, editing, cinematography, screenwriting and sound producing, students are guided to develop interpretive and production skills. This involves an understanding of socio-cultural and historical dynamics, as well as the relationship between film and literary genres and other art forms, like music. Courses also include Film, Literature and Drama, which, with its focus on adaptation, has stimulated former and current students to engage with regional and local literature, bringing classic and contemporary texts to the screen.

The eagerly awaited feature film adaptation of Michael Anthony’s classic coming-of-age novel Green Days By the River, now nearing completion, is a prime example of the Film Programme’s potential and benefits. Directed and produced by former students Michael Mooleedhar and Christian James, Green Days highlights an integral aspect of the programme’s rationale: ensuring Caribbean realities and issues are represented in an increasingly globalized media dominated by Hollywood.

Of all the work by past students, perhaps the best known is Roger Alexis’ Santana, the charismatic Trini puppet with many followers worldwide. Also popular are Nick Attin (for his three features —Little Boy Blue, Escape From Babylon and Tomb) and scholarship winner Stephen Taylor for his Buck—The Man Spirit feature. Current student Amir Ali is a 2016 UN award winner in the documentary category and a TTFF 2016 short winner. Notable alumni include TV personality Francesca Hawkins and actor Michael Cherrie.

Since its inception, the Film Programme has produced many short and feature-length documentary and narrative films, consistently garnering awards locally, regionally and internationally. Student and alumni films have screened at The T&T Film Festival, the Belize International Film Festival and the Portobello Film Festival.

The programme’s diverse faculty comprises filmmakers, researchers and academics headed by Yao Ramesar, the Caribbean’s first laureate in Arts and Letters in the inaugural Anthony N Sabga Caribbean Awards for Excellence (2006).

The Programme’s purpose-built facility opened in 2014. Its cavernous studio is host venue for such film events as the T&T Film Festival, Green Screen Trinidad, Bocas CineLit, the Africa World Documentary Festival, Africa Film T&T festival and the Indian Cine Club—all typically free and open to the public.

A major milestone marking the tenth anniversary of the programme was its showcase event, the inaugural World Festival of Emerging Cinema. In May 2016, over four days, 192 films from 52 countries were screened at its custom-designed, state-of-the-art base in Carmody Street, St Augustine.

The programme also provides production services via its film unit, a source for professional exposure for the Programme’s students. Recent productions have included human rights commercials for the European Union and BBC / British Council Shakespeare in the Caribbean.

Ready for plenty more action in the coming decade, the UWI Film Programme continues to be guided by its mission, which is, to contribute to the growth of Caribbean film industries, to foster a distinct Caribbean film culture and develop awareness of the region.

More info

The UWI Film Programme

#12 Carmody Street

University of the West Indies

St Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago.

Tel: 1(868) 662-2002 Exts: 82727, 82725

Email: [email protected]

Facebook: UWI St. Augustine: Film Programme

Beenie Man, Bounty Killer perform for Fully Loaded music festival

Thu, 05/11/2017 - 01:30

Get ready this Saturday for the first Fully Loaded Music Festival, a new one-day dancehall, reggae and soca music festival. The event, this year, highlights the golden era of dancehall on the main stage, featuring Beenie Man & Bounty Killer who will perform on the same stage at the same time for the first time in Trinidad for a full-length concert performance. They will be joined by Wayne Wonder and Aidonia.

This new festival aims to create a platform for local artistes to share the stage with dancehall and reggae legends, and will have three stages for performers. The Hennessy Artiste Stage will showcase a wide range of local artistes who have been influenced by dancehall music to create their own style and genre. Featuring acts will include M1, S Carter, Pternsky, Orlando Octave, Prophet Benjamin, Mark Hardy, and Yung Rudd.

The Fully Loaded brand started in the early 2000s with DJs and sound systems, so there will also be performances by some of the region’s legendary djs/sound systems.

Award-winning T&T film The Cutlass heads to Cannes

Thu, 04/27/2017 - 01:38

The Cutlass played to sold out audiences at the T&T Film Festival last September, taking home the People’s Choice Award and Best Trinidad & Tobago Feature Film. Now, it is headed to the Marché du Film at the Cannes Film Festival in France in May, a rarity for Trinidadian cinema.

Inspired by true events, The Cutlass is a dramatic thriller set in the tropical wilderness of Trinidad, and tells the story of a young woman who falls into the grasp of a dangerous sociopath. Taken from her friends at gunpoint and dragged deep into the island rainforest, she must quickly learn to navigate this unforgiving landscape and the tangled mind of her abductor.

The film was directed by Darisha J Beresford, written by Teneille Newallo and stars German-born, Tobago-raised Lisa-bel Hirschmann, Trinidadian Arnold Goindhan and Hollywood actor Kirk Baltz.

A release said the film is one of three chosen by Film TT to receive both a grant and investment from the T&T government. Newly signed to Leomark Studios - a Los Angeles-based production and distribution company with more than 200 titles in release worldwide - The Cutlass will be making its international market premiere as part of Leomark’s new market line-up. The agency hopes to sell it to multiple territories around the globe, and has a track record of doing so.

The film has also signed to Wild Eye Releasing, a distribution company that bought its North American rights, with the exception of its theatrical release.

The producers of The Cutlass—Darisha J Beresford, Teneille Newallo and Drew Umland—have held onto the rights to all Caribbean distribution and to theatrical distribution in North America (which includes the US and Canada) and will self-distribute throughout these territories. The film connected with both Wild Eye and Leomark through Ben Yennie at Guerrilla Rep Media, who has been been advising on all aspects of distribution.

Self-distribution on such a massive scale seems a first for any T&T film and the producers hope it might break new ground as a distribution model for the English-speaking Caribbean and its diaspora. The Cutlass will be at Cannes from May 17 to 26, and is scheduled for a Caribbean theatrical release this August.

The T&T theatrical release is scheduled for August 2 and will subsequently be released in the Caribbean, US and Canada.

Kemet Festival to promote peace, love and harmony

Thu, 04/13/2017 - 05:24

It’s an experience, a good feeling and a vibration all rolled into one at this weekend’s inaugural Kemet Festival.

According to managing director Harande Elie, it is a two-day festival hosted over April 14-15 that celebrates food, yoga and dub to enrich body, mind and spirit.

The festival happening at the Belmont Community Centre, Jerningham Avenue, Belmont is said to be erected on the foundational principles of peace and harmony. Elie says with the many tears currently existing in the social fabric of this land, the festival aims at celebrating peace as its main endeavour.

“The overall objective is to promote peace and unity. We have all been seeing—and some of us have unfortunately been experiencing—the harsh effects of the turbulent society in which we currently dwell. These violent and crime-filled times did not happen overnight and are clearly a result of a lack of wholesome and positive values and vibrations in the country. In order to begin the process of turning this around, it is clear that we need to inject more positive, constructive and edifying thoughts, words and deeds into our communities, and the Kemet Festival is just one effort at providing the kind of positivity we need to sweep across the nation,” Elie explained.

He added, “The festival is centred on three essential components of life, which are nutrition, exercise and positive mental stimulation. The Kemet Festival aims to supply a relaxing and therapeutic environment that eases the mind and lifts the vibration of the soul using the three catalysts of food, yoga and reggae music.”

Apart from this, Elie noted the festival also provides a space for networking and launching new talents in the fields of music, craft and fashion.

Elie told the T&T Guardian that throughout the two-day programme, the festival will showcase Rastafarian culture through spoken word, cultural reasoning and its artisan market. He believes much can be learned through the Rastafari culture and it should be celebrated and recognised for its positive wider effects on integration, tolerance and love.

He said patrons will also enjoy first class music and live performances from internationally acclaimed acts, like Jah9 and the Dub Treatment Band, Jah Bouks, and local beloved, Prophet Benjamin.

“Jah9 is a powerful female artiste, poet, yoga instructor and all-round activist for the improvement of the human condition, who hails from Jamaica. She focuses her work on the African diaspora. Jah Bouks is also from Jamaica and scored a breakout hit in 2013 after years of performing live with various sound systems with his first-ever recording titled Call Angola,” said Elie.

On Friday, participants will experience Yoga on Dub led by Jah9 and Gicelle Maglorie Mayers. There will also be spoken word performances, cultural reasonings and a special guest appearance by T&T’s reggae sensation Isasha.

Saturday’s programme will include a live concert with Jah9, Jah Bouks and Prophet Benjamin, as well as Stephanie Joseph, Empress Goodness and Kuushite.

The atmosphere will be further thickened with positive vibes by established deejays scheduled to appear during the course of the festival. They include Nyahbinghi Roots and Culture, Black Chariot International, Nine Miles International, Zion Rose, New Chapter Sound, Suns of Dub, DJ Sweet V from New York, Corner Stone Sound from Miami and Fifty Kaliba Sound featuring Fiyah Y from Jamaica.

“It is going to be a blend of all things good. A big part of this festival is also paying respect to women who are really like the salt of this earth and this will be reflected in the performances you will see,” said Elie.

The event is put on by Full Moon Limited, a creative management organisation specialising in concept and design, artiste and event management, as well as personal and event security services.

Elie extended special thanks to Cost Cutters Supermarket for collaborating with the organisation to make Kemet Festival a reality.

More info

WHAT: Two-day Kemet Festival

WHEN: April 14-15

WHERE: Belmont Community Centre, Jerningham Avenue, Belmont, Port-of-Spain

TICKETS: Call 288-8026 or 310-3025, or email [email protected]

New comedy-kaiso venue

Thu, 04/13/2017 - 05:14

Behind every dark cloud there is a silver lining. Irvin “Blackie” Blackman aims to fill the void left by De Nu Pub’s fiery death on March 26 by launching a new weekly event—Kaiso and Comedy Wednesdays—at the Q’s Place club, beginning on Wednesday, April 19. Q’s Place is just above SWWTU Hall, along Wrightson Road, downtown Port–of- Spain.

“It’s a central location for people from any direction,” said Blackman, thanking Anthony John (Mr Q), a popular radio disc jockey, for giving calypso a new weekly space.

Under the Soca Parliament banner—a coordinated effort of like-minded people who are all part of Blackman’s social circle—the weekly comedy and kaiso showcase will kick off at 8:30 pm and end at midnight. Blackie assured that there is adequate parking on the club compound.

The entertainers will be backed by Vincent Rivers & The Soca Unit. Patrons will be treated to a slate of comical local calypsonians whom Blackie feels have long been denied a space to show off their talent.

“There are some really good humorous calypsonians out there—fellas like Alpha and Kid Calaloo and so many others. They will be showcased at Q’s Place every Wednesday starting on April 19,” said Blackie.

Blackie says he’s had the idea for quite a while, having approached Anthony John last August with a request for use of the facility.

Blackie says there is a need for this entertainment outlet, especially for mature kaiso music lovers.

“There really isn’t much available for people who enjoy kaiso music—and there definitely is a market. The Mas Camp was that home for kaiso, in the minds of many, so while I am personally saddened by the tragic situation that took place last month, this effort to bring Kaiso and Comedy Wednesdays to life is likely to encourage people to come out and enjoy the local music and entertainment again.”

This isn’t Blackie’s first promotional effort. He’s been a part of event promotions in the past, key among them the 2007 staging of the Caribbean Soca Fest event at the National Stadium. He says he will work hard to ensure that patrons get exactly what they want at the new weekly shows.

“When I did Caribbean Soca Fest, I went through every artiste’s repertoire and I told them exactly what I wanted them to perform. I’ll be doing the same thing this time around, so that the people get the hits they love,” he said.

Excited about future prospects, Blackman and his team anticipate the inclusion of Caribbean acts.

Goopi and Bagha film comes to Lange Park

Thu, 04/06/2017 - 05:28

The trinidad+tobago film festival’s Community Cinergy Series—a free outdoor cinema experience, sponsored by bpTT—continues this Saturday (April 8) at Lange Park Recreational Grounds, Chaguanas, from 7 pm, with the family-friendly animated film The Wonderful World of Goopi and Bagha.

Filled with vibrant colour and music, Shilpa Ranade’s film is a magical adaptation of a cherished Bengali children’s classic, and a remake of renowned Indian director Satyajit Ray’s beloved work.

Acclaimed as one of the great masters of world cinema, Satyajit Ray’s 1969 film was his most commercially successful, and was itself an adaptation of his grandfather Upendra Kishore Roychowdury’s storybook Goopy Bagha.

With an anti-war message at its heart, Ranade’s latter-day animated version, in Hindi with English subtitles, premiered to great acclaim at the Toronto Film Festival in 2013 and was shown at ttff/14.

The film follows the misadventures of Goopi and Bagha, two musicians banished from their respective villages for their tone-deaf music making. Left to wander the forests, their noisy cacophony, attracts the attention of a fearsome Ghost King who, enthralled by their sound, grants them three boons (blessings), plus a fourth to be saved for the future. They wish for tasty food to appear whenever they’re hungry, magic shoes that will transport them wherever they want to go, and the ability to enchant anyone who listens to their music.

Drawing on her skills as a book illustrator and animator, Shilpa Ranade’s version of this classic tale—her first feature film—is imaginative and textured, with 2D figures that recall marionettes, and the use of rich patterned cloth that creates a tactile feeling of depth.

The result is an exotic, busy canvas with lots of detail and a unique take on a heartwarming story full of humour, spirit, and kindness.

For more information about and this and other film screenings by the trinidad+tobago film festival, visit: ttfilmfestival.com

The trinidad+tobago film festival (ttff) celebrates films from and about the Caribbean and its diaspora, as well as from world cinema, through an annual festival and year-round screenings. In addition, the ttff seeks to facilitate the growth of Caribbean cinema by offering a wide-ranging industry programme and networking opportunities. The ttff is presented by Flow, given leading sponsorship by bpTT, and contributing sponsorship by RBC Royal Bank.

Calypso stars of Sangre Grande

Thu, 04/06/2017 - 05:07

Sangre Grande has produced several top calypsonians, whose names have become famous, not only here in T&T, but internationally as well.

These Sangre Grande bards will be featured in a special show on April 29, titled Calypso Icons of Grande, at North Eastern College, Sangre Grande and showtime is from 7.30 pm. A Spektakula Promotions production, it takes place under the auspices of Councillor Terry Rondon. This is a show not to be missed.

The icons to be featured are Scrunter ((Irwin Reyes Johnson); Johnny King (Johnson King); Poser (Sylvester Lockhart); and, Pink Panther, (Eric Taylor) Special guest at the show is an icon himself who is a friend and colleague of all the icons to be featured, none other than Baron (Timothy Watkins Jnr).

Scrunter is a much beloved name in the calypso world and has been performing for over 40 years. He won the national calypso crown in 1982 with the hits Lick-e-Ting and the classic The Will. Many will no doubt remember, that famous appearance on stage at the Dimanche Gras show, by the late Lord Kitchener (Aldwyn Roberts), when he handed him the will, as the song said “ah just get the will from Lord Kitchener.”

Scrunter’s hits are almost too numerous to mention and include the classic Woman on De Bass, Take De Number, Sing In She Party, Oil in De Coil, among others There is also his many hits in the parang soca genre.

Johnny King, though born in Tobago, has made his home in Sangre Grande for many years.

The now retired policeman, first entered the calypso arena in 1980. He is known for his insightful, thoughtful lyrics with classics like Nature’s Plan, Appreciation, Darling and the mega-hit Wet Meh Down. King has been a finalist many times in the national calypso monarch competition and is well known for his performances at home and abroad,

Veteran and icon Poser, was born in Sangre Grande, in the village of Matura. He won the Sangre Grande calypso monarch crown for five consecutive years before deciding to come into Port-of-Spain to try

​The result is, he became one of the greats himself with hits like Ah Tell She, which won him the 1979 Road March title, Town Man, Party Tonight and Bus Conductor. A true culture lover who also played pan in his youth, Poser is a seasoned performer, both at home and abroad.

Pink Panther, renowned for his well-tailored pink suits, after the cartoon character of the same name, has a funny story to tell about how he got his start at the Kalypso Revue tent where he has been a staple for many years.

He remembers that he was invited there to try out by his brother calypsonian Scrunter as they were both Grande boys, however, tent manager, now deceased Jazzy Pantin, did not like his song We Ketching We Tail and turned him down. It was the founder of the tent Lord Kitchener, who took him under his wing after chatting with him and realising he’d composed his song and beat Scrunter with it in the Grande competition.

Pink Panther says not only did Kitch become a mentor and friend, but also, so did Kitch’s lifelong friend, Pretender. He recalls many Sunday sessions, honing the craft of calypso at Kitch’s home, Rainorama, in Diego Martin. He also credits National Calypso Monarch Chalkdust (Hollis Liverpool), with being another of his mentors. Panther is known for his satirical social and political commentary Dey Laughing In De Ghetto and is always a favourite with the crowd in the calypso monarch competition.

Saturday, April 29 promises to be very special with the Calypso Icons of Grande. Contact Spektakula Promotions for more information at 628-8700. Also check them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.(Reporting by PRB)

The drums come alive

Thu, 04/06/2017 - 05:05

The Drummerville Rhythm Festival is a forum to showcase local and international drummers, percussionists and other musicians. It is also a positive networking opportunity to nurture the existing knowledge pool in T&T.

Drummerville is a concept created by Gerion Williams - currently the drummer for the Asylum Vikings. Williams has also performed with Shurwayne Winchester, Maxi Priest, Alternative Quartet and Caribbean Airlines Invaders.

The second edition of the Drummerville Rhythm Festival will be held on April 7.

A release said the Festival is aimed at drummers, percussionists, music students, pan players, musicians and music aficionados. The organisers have also made linkages with the music teachers of various schools to have their students attend the festival.

The first edition of the Drummerville Rhythm Festival was held in March 2016 at the Big Black Box, in Woodbrook and was a successful production bringing together performers and service providers who have worked together for many years.

Drummerville Rhythm Festival 2 will consist of two parts; a morning show for students and an evening show for general audiences. The cost of admission for the schools segment is $100 for students and $150 for general audiences.

DRUMMERVILLE FESTIVAL LINEUP

* Shaquille Noel on drumkit. He has played for Miami Dade College, Trinidad All Stars, Vizion The Band, Divine Echoes.

* Ernesto Garcia on Latin percussion. He has played with Machel Montano, Ernesto Garcia Latin Band, Los Alumnos de San Jose and Panazz.

* Alanna White on drumkit. She is the drummer for Nadi Batson and Sass.

* Shiva Manick on tabla. Manick played with Mikhail Salcedo and Marge Blackman & Jamoo.

* Elon “Tone” John on bass guitar. Plays with the A Team Band and is endorsed by MTD Bass Guitars.

* Earl Brooks Jr on drumkit. A graduate of Berkelee, he has played with Muziksteel Productions, Palmslap and Merry Rockers.

INFO

For more info on the Drummerville Rhythm Festival 2, contact Elliot: 781-3064, Gerion: 756-0086 or Brennan: 754-1937 Email: [email protected] or [email protected]

Let the Love Language speak

Thu, 03/30/2017 - 05:09

Trinidadian-born, Houston Texas-based soulful singer Natalia Roxanne is returning to T&T to perform live for the first time at Kaiso Blues Café in the concert event titled The Love Language.

Roxanne’s name and her songs may not be familiar to Trinidadians, but they have certainly been making the rounds in the US, where her single Black & White, released in 2016, and her 2017 song Complicated have been well received by the music industry there.

The Love Language concert is being put on by Kingdom Management, led by Timothee Maloney. Maloney met with Roxanne last year, and said her singing talent and songwriting ability immediately impressed him. Her interest in working with local artistes in the genres of gospel, inspirational and R&B music further impressed Maloney.

The T&T Guardian spoke via telephone with the former southland resident who was elated about the upcoming concert. She said she jumped at the opportunity just to share what she does and to reintroduce herself to her home country as Natalia the singer.

The mother of one majored in music and was educated at Florida Memorial University. She says when writing songs, she draws from real life issues, and writing a song is really about telling a story—a story that is relatable.

She is guided by the musical styles and creativity of artistes like India Arie, Jill Scott and Alicia Keyes.

“I love to sing about love,” she tells the T&T Guardian.

It’s been 14 years since she migrated to the US to pursue her dream of becoming a singer.

Though an independent artiste currently, Roxanne said the realisation that she did accomplish a big part of her goal only hit her when she could have seen and listened to her own original music on iTunes.

Roxanne is also currently working on another single with local gospel singer Nathanael Hamilton, titled Still In Love.

She is hoping for more collaboration with local singers as she believes there is power in collaborating.

When asked of her plan to have longevity in the music industry, the 31-year-old, who will celebrate her 32nd birthday on the same day of the concert, said two words: consistency and uniqueness.

“Singers are popping up from everywhere now. But what is your uniqueness? You cannot just be another R&B singer—everybody is. It’s your uniqueness, together with consistency, that will sustain you. And good management,” added Roxanne with laughter.

The spotlight on Saturday will also make way for accompanying artistes Mya Scott, Candice Caton, Nathanael Hamilton and gospel hip hop artiste Ancel Maloney, who is the brother of Timothee Maloney.

Timothee Maloney said he is hoping the concert will be the beginning of many to come. He explained to the T&T Guardian it was by observing his brother’s hard and good work as a singer/songwriter that the idea for the management company was born.

“It was really with Ancel’s first two recordings that Kingdom Management began. My older brother was always performing and writing and he loves hip hop, so he always did a lot of rapping in church. He got opportunities to sing at many formal and informal events, but it was after his participation as a contestant in the 2011 Making The Minister competition that I really saw his passion and was able to watch him grow. He did pretty well, I would say, having been the lone hip hop contestant,” said Timothee.

Producers Aaron Peters and Leon Ryan are responsible for the success of Ancel’s singles titled Following Him (featuring Candice Caton) and In the Morning, which received good rotation on the gospel radio frequencies.

Timothee, who works with operations manager Jemelia Pope, said the name Kingdom Management speaks to what they will give to their clients, and what the masses will receive through any work done by Kingdom Management. He said:

“The idea is whatever comes through Kingdom Management will be of international standard, bearing of course a foundation built on the word of our Lord.”

•For more information, find Kingdom Management on Instagram @Kingdom_mgmt_868

Send emails to kingdommanagement [email protected]

Tickets: Call 767-2882 or 283-9969

Raising Boys

Sun, 03/12/2017 - 23:56

I watched the TV docudrama, Suffragette, last week. It popularised a piece of social history I was never taught that the turn of the 20th century campaign in Britain to extend the vote to women involved terrorist tactics by women that included pelting rocks through store windows, blowing up postboxes, setting fires in churches, sabotaging telecommunications and public suicide. Women jailed would go on hunger strikes and were force fed to keep them alive.

My deepest acquaintance with the Suffragist movement before the film was through its depiction in the Disney comedy, Mary Poppins, which was a childhood rite for many Trinis of my generation. Early in the movie, the character Mrs Winifred Banks, the dizzy wife of the thoroughly British London household where Julie Andrews’s character floats in to be the magical nanny, joins her domestics in the kitchen, marching and singing, in cross-class solidarity, the anthem “Sister Suffragette.”

One phrase that remains etched in my childhood memory from the well-worn turns of the 33 RPM vinyl cast album my Aunt Cynthia brought as a gift on her visit home from the States is the last line in the song’s opening verse:

“Though we adore men individually, we agree that as a group they’re rather stupid.”

It didn’t rhyme. It was one of my earliest lessons in feminism.

Like so much of the Disney studios’ work—long, long before the new LeFou—the movie masks, beneath its musical entertainment, considerable social dialogue. About the contest in roles between men and women; and about how children ought to be raised. Like so many of those childhood moments that unconsciously imprint our ideas, the American-made film is also the root of much of my imagination of that romantic Edwardian era of British imperial mercantilism and prosperity.

It’s this second film that’s been on my mind more over International Women’s Day. Yes: the saccharine musical one about gender roles and childrearing methods with the mocking line about masculinity, which reminds me of how I described it in one of my earliest columns—really delicious, but not really very good.

The same idea I realise I was struggling with in a recent column purporting to be about dating, relationships and St Valentine’s Day, but that was really about the crisis of masculinity.

I’ve been chatting about the column with a few readers. One woman offered: “I wonder whether men feel guilty about treating people badly, or taking things—physical things, time, love, energy, etc—from people as much as women do. They take and take. And we let them. But even if we don’t, they take and take.”

And I want to campaign for us to take even more.

Feminism, let’s argue, is about women having equitable access to all the things that men do. Power. Leadership. Agency. Sexual safety. Choice. Pleasure. Income. To walk away from crying children and dirty wares.

I witness the powerful work some of my friends are doing fathering daughters to be bold and safe and playful. It’s more visible with those who are single; as men tend to let their partners parent. For so many other girls, however, incest, violence and daily lessons about their lack of worth are what they get. Reversing that is work all of us are called to do.

But more and more, I am concluding that girls are given a heap of things that boys aren’t. A commitment and art for caring for others and themselves. The capacity to feel. Grace in managing desire and pain and denial. Skills at conflict resolution. Discipline and balance. Tenderness and vulnerability. Dolls.

Boys chronically need all of those. As boys. As men. Making these things—often devalued as feminine—valuable not only increases our access to them. Making the things women beat us at important also increases women’s equity.

So I think I have found my “big idea” I keep talking about us needing to anchor our work at nation building. Threaded through everything I have had to say in this column about rape culture, crime, the violence everywhere, the dutty child fathers, the anti-evidence policymakers, even my own loneliness and heartbreak, is this big idea that we just haven’t raised boys better.

That we are really raising them to be rather stupid.

And as much as Women’s Day ought to be about women and girls, this thing about raising boys is sitting at the root of so many of the things women would want to march about. The wonderful nature of this past Saturday’s Life in Leggings women’s rights solidarity march is how we were encouraged to “Bring yuh message and come.”

How we raise boys is mine. And Keith Rowley’s now, too, I see.

Talk Tent brings smiles

Thu, 03/09/2017 - 01:12

The warm, mischievous smile and smooth crooning voice of David Bereaux delighted an appreciative audience last Friday on the opening night of Talk Tent, held at Queen’s Hall in Port-of-Spain for three nights only. Acting as singing MC, Bereaux wonderfully stitched the show into a seamless evening of clean comedy, storytelling and social commentary.

Eight lead performers (nine, including Bereaux) entertained a largely older audience with a variety of tales and songs, ranging from the jokes and word-play of Felix Edinborough as Pierrot Grenade to the beautiful, calming solace of Brian Carimbocas and Denise Smith who sang inspirational religious songs as well as some Andre Tanker music.

Paul Keens-Douglas dedicated the show to the memory of Hal Greaves, a community activist who worked tirelessly to help at-risk youth in “hotspot” areas like Laventille. Greaves died in October 2016. He had led Project Reason (which gave classes in literacy, life skills and civics) for youth, and was an actor who performed in plays and Talk Tent as well as at orphanages. “He gave us many thoughtful, glorious moments of happiness, and we miss him so,” said Keens-Douglas.

Performer Avion Crooks, the first act, played the part of a lively, gossipy street vendor. In her performance, she hawked balls of many kinds: tamarind, bene, sesame, chocolate, coconut, sweet balls and even sour balls. She drew laughter with her word-play and her raucous market vendor observations, speaking in proud Trini (rather than English) language, commenting archly on the habits of various street personalities.

Spoken word artiste Kleon McPherson from Tobago proved very entertaining, bringing a knowing, contemporary edge to the night’s “ole talk,” as he half-swaggered, half stumbled on stage with a rum bottle, acting the part of a drunken man at this year’s Carnival, in danger of being arrested by police. “De rum shop...could bun down...We jamming still...” he uttered to laughter, at the start of his first talk piece. His spoken word pieces were sardonic and sometimes witty, commenting on T&T foibles and flaws, including his own. From people’s hypocrisy and self-created problems to the agonies of tortured spandex worn by some very large women, his pieces provoked both thought and laughter.

Farida Chapman performed two very serious, passionate pieces about domestic violence (Rise Up, Woman) and AIDS, which left the audience silent in contemplation before they applauded her loudly, while Miguel Browne tempered the sombre, reflective mood in Chapman’s wake with some upbeat folktales and proverbs related to modern situations, to show the wisdom which we can still draw from our heritage.

Veteran storyteller, writer, performer and show producer Paul Keens-Douglas told a folk tale recalling Grenada and the Bishop Revolution, called Fedon’s Flute, which reminded people about the ancestral spirit of rebellion which can still be heard if you listen for it. His second piece poked fun and gave some very serious sociocultural criticism of the inordinately huge role of sponsors in shaping T&T culture today— “The sponsor is the most popular man in town”—too many times, he says, the culture seems to be led by sponsors’ warped values—though it is only a passive population which allows this to happen. He closed with a humorous favourite: the story of Tanti and De Renovation, in which he lampoons the agonies caused by amateur, conman builders.

Short Pants was the final performer of the night, reciting his calypsoes like poems or rhythmic stories. He recited Games (about an Olympic T&T gymnastic travesty), The Finger (about the need for prostate exams), and Ah Pushin (about passing on his calypso tradition to his children). His poised, well-timed delivery, clear articulation and effective use of body motions combined to give a memorable performance.

An antidote to all the noise and fury of Carnival controversy, this gentle, folksy show helped soothe spirits with its nostalgia, homespun lessons from folklore, spiritual songs, and comforting yet critical and entertaining stories.

Shandies feters lap up River Lime

Mon, 02/27/2017 - 23:30

Partygoers lapped up the excitement of a transported River Lime when Shandies Promotions staged its 13th Annual All-Inclusive Carnival Fete at Jerry’s Bar, Jerry Junction, Waterloo, Carapichaima, on February 19.

Acclaimed as one of the most enjoyable and affordable fetes in Central Trinidad, Shandies caters for a mature crowd which prefers a mix of oldies and new musical offerings.

Patrons got exactly that, and more, from the band First Impressions, led by Roland Alibocas, featuring frontline singer Kirland ‘Big B’ Jacob and newcomer Houston “Papa Steve” Villaroel, as well as the Carolina Rhythm Section and DJ Spoil Child International.

Cups made from bamboo and transplanted bamboo plants conveyed the ambience of a genuine river lime.

Feters were treated to a range of tasty food items, embellished with samplings from a suckling pig roasted on a spit during the lime. Mixologist Isidore Vincent was kept busy with his original concoctions.

“We have loyal followers since we always try to keep our price reasonable over the years.

In addition, we offer a unique package as we cater to a mature crowd during a hectic Carnival season,” said Andy Maurice, who runs Shandies Promotions with his wife, T’Shian Reyes-Maurice.

It’s back to the classics for UTT’s Ibis Ensemble

Thu, 02/16/2017 - 03:30

The Ibis Ensemble of UTT will perform a free concert of early calypsos by Roaring Lion, Growling Tiger, Houdini and Atilla the Hun as well as early instrumental pieces by Lionel Belasco and Lovey’s Band. This concert titled Capturing Calypso, takes place tomorrow at the UTT Campus Theatre 1, at Napa from 7 pm.

Capturing Calypso is part of the ongoing work of violinist Simon Browne who has spent the last few years creating string band arrangements of early Trinidad music that has not been performed live in many decades.

Browne has become obsessed with transcribing performing these early classics. “When I first came to Trinidad, I loved to listen to classic Calypso - lots of Kitch, Sparrow, Lord Melody and Lord Invader. But when Bear Family Records released Lovey’s Band’s recordings from 1912, I was struck by the use of violins, clarinet and flute, and the lively cuatro, mandolin and guitar strumming. So different from the jaunty jazz combos of the 50s and 60s,” he said.

“I sought out as much music from the intervening years as I could. Naturally, as a violinist, I was itching to play those fantastic melodies. Transcribing the music from the original recordings was a mix of artistic selfishness and a desire to find a new audience for this much-neglected music. Extending the scope to include the first Golden Age of Calypso in the 1930s - Lion, Atilla, Tiger, and others- seemed a natural progression.”

The musicians include Eleanor Ryan (violin), Yevgeny Dokshansky (clarinet), Katy Gainham (flute), Aidan Chamberlain (trombone), Caitlyn Kamminga (double bass), Theron Shaw (guitar), Michael Chapman (guitar), Desmond Waite (cuatro), and Josh Watkins (percussion). Their featured vocalist is baritone Krisson Joseph, who is the programme coordinator at UTT’s Academy of Performing Arts. Son of the late master calypsonian Seadley “Penguin” Joseph and has been involved in prior programs. The show will also feature Edric Connor’s Animal Party in a Cemetery previously featured at the Edric Connor tribute at last year’s T&T Film Festival.

“It’s great music,” Simon Browne notes, “as fun to play as it is to hear and a joy to get this music back to live performance. The Ibis Ensemble really loves to play them.”

This concert is not the end by any means. It will be just one of many ongoing such free events at UTT. “There are so many great calypsos from that era now available to hear on disc (or online). I never tire of them, and it will be a very long time before I run out of tunes to transcribe and perform.”

School fetes deliver

Thu, 02/09/2017 - 02:32

The days of massive Carnival fetes staged by the likes of Customs Boys, Winsure, Cosmos, Guardian, St John’s, Tears, Anyhowers and Choice of Colours are a thing of the past, replaced by fund-raising parties held by schools. This year, all the school fetes have been successes, including Trinity College’s Soka in Moka, Bishop Anstey’s Old Hilarians’ Cheers to 21, Presentation colleges in Chaguanas and San Fernando and last Saturday’s Fete with the Saints.

Fete with the Saints, staged by the St Mary’s College Past Students’ Union at the college’s St Clair grounds, was awesome and organisers succeeded in raising the bar as far as these fund-raisers are concerned. From the depths of recession, almost 4,000 fete-hungry folks assembled at the venue for a night to remember. The luscious, green football field was transformed into a fete arena by Ultimate Events, with prominent corporate branding and most firms offering gifts to patrons.

With live entertainment by Machel Montano and his band, Kes the Band, featuring Kernal Roberts and Nailah Blackman as guests, and MX Prime & Ultimate Rejects, Fete with the Saints was attended by several dignitaries. Among those seen were president Anthony Carmona, Sharon Rowley, AG Faris Al-Rawi, House Speaker Bridgette Annisette-George, ministers Anthony Garcia, Clarence Rambarath and Maxie Cuffie, Port-of-Spain Mayor Joel Martinez, Howard University president Dr Wayne Frederick and ESPN anchor Shaka Hislop.

Food and premium drink were in abundance with prime caterers Chaud Restaurant, Boomerang and Berment Caterers, Tandoori Hut (Rasam) and More Vino restaurants in the mix. Other culinary favourites on the night were Phillip Mendes with his special beef, chicken and lamb sliders, and Trini Melee with its caterers Debra Bath-Gift, Giselle George and Lisa Collins among others attracting several to their stall with their unique cuisine.

This weekend it is the turn of Queen’s Royal College Old Boys’ Association (QRC OBA), the QRC PTA and the management team of the college to impress as they host the fourth edition of Fete Royal on Saturday from 6 pm. Lovin’ Carnival is their theme for 2017, and the Fete Committee promises a great event with a wider array of food from their usual food providers, such as Tandoori Hut (Rasam), Rib House, Barrow’s Catering, Garden Kitchen, Passage to Asia, Food Starrs, and Atlantic Caterers, to name a few.

Always a culinary innovator at its fetes, this year the committee is introducing some new items such as Shrimp Avocado Cocktails; Turkey Wraps; Fish Chowder; a locally themed dumpling station, serving Crab stuffed dumplings; Buljol stuffed dumplings; and, Roasted Melongene dumplings to mention a few.

The bar options promise to be unique and creative in keeping with the fete’s theme, with premium brands being throughout the night, by main sponsor Massy Distribution. Two years ago, Fete Royal introduced Gentlemen Quarters and this year, it has teamed up with Havana Hut, where patrons can sit, relax and sip the finest whiskeys by Chivas Regal, Glenlivet Single Malt, Jameson and Royal Salute while enjoy a good Cuban cigar. In addition, there will be a professional barber to maintain that crisp, sharp handsome look, throughout the night. In addition they will be having Angostura, serving the 1919 and providing it’s Angostura Rum Cocktails serving the world renowned Angostura Swizzle! There will also be Carib Brewery serving all the offerings from the Carib Zone.

The décor will ensure that you feel the love of Valentine’s Day, and the Ladies lounge will be filled with a full bubbly bar serving Casine Prosseco and wines in a relaxed lounge, with lit mirrors, refreshing wipes, and hair styling compliments John Freida and in keeping with the love theme, Grab and Go pastries will also be served.

QRC OBA president Kenrick Harrinauth disclosed: “Our president’s platform will be beautifully decorated and branded by GM Mumm Champagne and serving other fine brands to pamper our special VIP guests. We will have our Absolut and Tequila cocktails and shots bars to ensure no one is left out of this Lovin’ Experience.”

QRC Fete Royal 2017 is said to be the only event where four of the best bands will be performing, starting off with KI the Band, Destra Garcia and Bakanal, Kes the Band and Roy Cape All Stars featuring Blaxx, Tizzy and Ricardo Drue. Also performing will be MX Prime and the Ultimate Rejects and while the live bands change over the patrons will be kept moving by Alicia D Duchess.

As usual, security will be top notch in and around the venue to ensure your personal safety, and that of your valued property. Secured parking will be available at Tatil Car Park on Maraval Road and around the venue. However, the planning committee is urging patrons to ensure that they park their vehicles in a responsible manner.

Harrinauth added: “Our patrons will also have the opportunity to win two airlines tickets to Miami courtesy Caribbean Airlines Limited and another patron will also receive a TSTT/bMobile Huawei P9 mobile handset.”

He continued: “As in the past all proceeds from the event go directly back to the institution, for the benefit of the students. Over the past six years, the QRC OBA has contributed over $700,000 to the wellbeing of our students, so they may enjoy the best possible educational experience at Queen’s Royal College.”

Harrinauth conveyed thanks to sponsors of this event for partnering to produce Lovin’ Carnival such as Massy Distribution, Angostura, NLCB, Carib, I95.5, Hott93.5, Courts and Blue Waters.

For more information call 472-4204, 387-2411 and 795-0050 or at [email protected]

Though not a school, but contributing to needy causes through its annual Carnival fete is Yorke Inc. The outfit held its Happy People all-inclusive fete on Sunday at the University Inn & Conference Centre, UWI Circular Road, St Augustine.

Attracting one of the largest turnouts to attend this annual event, music was provided by Kes the Band, Roy Cape All Stars, Dil-e-Nadan, Blaxx, Ricardo Drue, Raymond Ramnarine, MX Prime and Ultimate Rejects, Voice, KI, Tizzy, JW & Blaze and Point Fortin Engine Room.

The party was scheduled to end at midnight but went until 12.45 am on Monday. Among those seen enjoying themselves were Bridgette Annisette George, Labour Minister Jennifer Baptiste Primus, HDC chairman Neuman George, NUGFW President General James Lambert, NLCB executive director Ricardo Borde, Professor Clem Sankat, attorney Martin George and fashion designer Heather Jones.

With a fortnight left before the Carnival weekend a few schools also have their fund-raising parties planned in this period. Among them are Holy Cross College’s Soca on D Hill next Saturday; Arima Boys RC’s D Roll Call (February 17); Fatima College (February 18); St Anthony’s College’s Feting Tigers (February 19); St Crispin’s AC annual Tuesday evening reunion and lime (February 21); and, St James Secondary Alumni’s Backyard Cooler Lime, at How’zat Sports Lounge on Tragarete Road, Woodbrook (February 22).

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