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Etienne Charles returns to T&T for Emancipation show

Thu, 07/27/2017 - 00:37

Acclaimed Jazz trumpeter Etienne Charles will return to Trinidad and Tobago on June 29 for three Emancipation shows.

The shows will feature music inspired by the African experience in the new world, a release said.

There will original compositions as well as music from Fela Kuti, the Mighty Sparrow, Lord Kitchener and many others.

“Emancipation has been a running theme in my music since I started composing. I finally wanted to put it together to perform in T&T near Emancipation,” said Charles.

He plans to tour the island during his visit for an educational outreach.

Etienne Charles: Emancipation will be held at 2 pm, 6 pm and 9 pm at the Kaiso Blues Café on Woodford Street, Port-of-Spain.

Owned by the iconic duo Carl and Carol Jacobs, Kaiso Blues has established itself as a special space with unique energy and intimacy that has become a creative oasis for many artistes.

Charles, who last played there in 2016, said he has been itching to return to Kaiso Blues since. He will be accompanied by his New York City band comprising: Godwin Lewis (saxophone), Brett Williams (piano), Jonathan Mitchell (bass) and Charles Haynes (drums).

Charles last performed in T&T in January at a sold out world premiere of his work from his soon to be released album, Carnival, at the Queen’s Hall.

Carnival, Charles’ fifth large compositional work was made possible with a Creative Arts Fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. The world premiere followed the Caribbean premiere of his sixth composition the San Jose Suite before a sold out audience at Queen’s Hall in November 2016.

Charles, a 2015 Guggenheim fellow was awarded the Reubin O’D Askew award, the highest award bestowed upon an Alumnus of Florida State University under the age of 35 and the Jazz at Lincoln Centre Millennial Swing Award, spent much of 2016 performing at prestigious venues including the White House, Newport Jazz Festival, the Atlanta Jazz Festival, the Lincoln Centre and, most recently, the Jazz Standard in New York and SF Jazz Centre in San Francisco.

For 2017, Charles continued to tour all over the US and overseas including Japan and Jamaica.

More info 

Tickets are available at Kaiso Blues Café, 85 Woodford Street, Newtown, Port-of-Spain.

Hard to get foreign $ to pay international acts

Wed, 07/26/2017 - 01:27

Randy Glasgow Productions’ (RGP) chief cook and bottle washer believes that mega international summer concerts are a thing of the past. He said: “I would say yes, they are dead right now. The main problem facing promoters is obtaining foreign currency to pay international artistes. Plus, the current financial climate in our country doesn’t augur well for promoters. I don’t see this changing before the next four-five years.”

Glasgow’s advice on these challenges is: “What promoters need to do for survival is to become creative and use our local stars and whatever emerging talents we can unearth.”

Instead of seeking artistes from overseas to perform locally during the August-September period, Glasgow is staging “a first-time festival” which will be held outside of Port-of-Spain, branded The First Chutney & World Rhythms Festival.

“We are going to the middle of the country, to the National Cricket Centre in Couva,” said Glasgow.

“We will showcase the likes of Mungal Patassar & Pantar, Nigel Rojas & Orange Sky, as well as emerging star Nailah Blackman and her band and, on the chutney side, we will feature KI & The Band, Indar Kanhai, and Drupatee Ramgoonai and the ‘chutney king of the world’ Rakesh Yankaran.”

Glasgow expressed hope that the foreign currency issue would dissolve in the not-too-distant future.

He said: “Once foreign currency is available again, the foreign act I would like to bring to Trinidad is Earth, Wind & Fire for the secular music lovers. On the Indo side I would bring Shahrukh Khan. As far as comedy is concerned, I would go for Russell Peters from Canada.”

Stating that although he believes T&T is blessed with excellent performers, Glasgow added: “I don’t think that there’s any one local artiste who could sell out the stadium in a mega summer concert. It would have to be a combination of artistes and the event would have to have a good, unique concept.

“What is preventing us from staging such a show is that all our top artistes have dedicated themselves to shows in North America and Europe during this period and promoters definitely cannot get a booking with them.”

One of the oldest local promotions outfit in the country is Spektakula Promoters, founded by the late Claude Martineau and his brother Frank. Miami Sound Machine, held at the stadium in 1988, was the most successful international concert Spektakula Promotions has ever staged.

Frank said: “International acts have gotten too expensive for the pockets of the local market. The big name stars are living, but ‘eating a food’ elsewhere, and don’t seem to have T&T too high up on their menu. The logistics right now to stage a mega show in the stadium are way way too high.

“For instance, the police bill for the average event at the stadium is over a hundred grand, plus the fire personnel bill is also exorbitant. That particular issue is a serious one for all promoters.

“There have been incidents of promoters cancelling events because of the police bill.

“There is one time when a priest had to cancel a little fund-raising barbeque in St Ann’s because the police were charging way too much for the parish to make any money with their venture.”

Asked which international superstars he would have liked to bring to Trinidad, Frank said: “Bruno Mars, Drake and Ed Sheeran, without a doubt. They are really big.”

DYING TO SEE

What is the best international act you’ve seen in T&T?

And who would you pay “big” money to see perform today?

​ Charlene Clarke

(event coordinator):

“Maxi Priest. I would pay top dollar now to go see Mariah Carey.”

Joella Corneille

(property manager):

“It was a concert with Barrington Levy and Maxi Priest. The best international artiste I have seen perform is Beyonce. I would pay money to see Beyonce perform again.”

Nicole Albert (public servant):

“Sanchez is the best artiste I have seen perform. I was totally impressed by him as he really gave us our money’s worth. I would pay anything to see Alicia Keys or Bruno Mars perform.”

Mary Sosa (former Miss T&T):

“The two Steel Pulse concerts, in the Savannah and at Spektakula Forum. I really like the old school so I would pay money to see James Ingram.”

​This concludes the
Summer concerts story
(Part 1 was on Monday, July 24)

The lighter side of music

Thu, 06/22/2017 - 04:41

Nigel Ferreira began playing the guitar at age 14. In 1976, together with friends, he formed the very popular five-member group Colonel & Company, in which he was the lead singer and rhythm guitarist.

After the group disbanded, Ferreira wrote and produced jingles for the local advertising market. One of the jingles he sang by Mark Fojo and Simon Galt was nominated at the International CLIO Awards in 1979.

After all these years, Ferreira has been consistent and he continues to please and entertain his audiences. He has no intentions of stopping and has now released his latest production—The Lighter Side—a 14-song CD, unplugged and all acoustic.

Speaking about his CD, Ferreira said: “It’s an interesting album as it’s the first time I’ve done unplugged. The music is light, softer and more laid back, unlike my last album. There’s a 12-page booklet inside, inclusive of front and back, with all the lyrics to the songs. What makes this CD even more interesting is that I am featuring some amazing artistes, like the super talented Cathy Ella sharing her amazing vocals singing together with me on one of the songs.

“Also on the album are two of the most amazing and gifted young talents: Glenn Miller Ferreira with his original, and one of Mexico’s budding singer/songwriters, Vivi Leal Velazquez, also with her original. It feels so good supporting young artistes like them.

“My brother Barry also blows some real bad-ass harmonica/blues harp on one of the songs.”

In 1985, Ferreira joined the very popular rock band Touchdown as its lead singer and rocked the town to the next generation. Two years later he received an Appreciation Plaque from the National Association for Down Syndrome Children for his contribution So Lovely, So Beautiful, a song he wrote and performed on many occasions to help raise funds for the special children.

Ferreira continued to excel as a musical exemplar for young and aspiring musicians through the eighties and nineties. In 1987, he wrote and performed solo a song titled A Waste of Time for the National Walk Campaign against drugs. In 1994, he sang on the late Johnny Gonzales’ Christmas CD—My Christmas—a compilation of the top local artistes performing the traditional Christmas standards. Ferreira sang the only original song from Gonzales, on the album Christmas on the Hill, which is still the most requested Christmas song. The song was at the number one position for two consecutive years on the local charts. So what else has this gifted musician been up to? “I have freelanced extensively,” he said, “appearing as a guest artiste on various shows and with different acts.”

No stranger to the recording studio, Ferreira has been hired on many occasions as a lead vocalist on varied projects. In 1992, he worked along with Dr Kiran Akal, who at the time was the Commissioner in Trinidad for the Seville World Fair, and he assisted Dr Akal in the production and preparation of local music for the Seville World Fair. Ferreira, in his amazing career, has also twice entertained two of the country’s prime ministers for private functions.

As a new decade rolled over in 2000, Ferreira continued to keep himself busy. In 2001, he and his good friend and old bandmate Arthur Reid formed the duo Framework II with two guitars, backed by pre-recorded digital sound. “To the present day, Framework II has been playing the circuits,” said Ferreira, “appearing at the top night spots, clubs, hotels, private and corporate functions.”

In 2001, as well, Framework II released a 12-song Christmas CD, of which four tracks are Ferreira’s compositions. Again a huge hit on the local market, the CD received great reviews in the local media.

In 2010 Ferreira wrote and produced another solo album—The Darker Side Of Me. This 13-song rock album has received the best reviews for Ferreira thus far.

In closing, Ferreira added: “My only grouse through my musical career is that there’s absolutely no support for local artistes from the radio stations and, for the life of me, I cannot understand why the radio stations refuse to play local artistes.

“On a positive note, though, working side by side with me on my latest album is the amazingly, gifted, skilled and accomplished musician Peter Shim.”

Blaxx, Starr George: Beware devils in sheep’s clothing

Thu, 06/01/2017 - 01:37

A new soca song with a decidedly dub-influenced beat, the song Beware is a catchy, upbeat, urgent warning song aimed at young people in poor circumstances tempted to follow false leaders. It’s both a cautionary song and an appeal for conscious change, and it’s the latest offering from soca singers Blaxx (Dexter Stewart) and Starr George (Brandon George).

Written by George, the Millbeatz produced song encourages all citizens to get involved in preventing young people at risk from turning to a destructive life of crime and violence.

Beware is the second topical message in as many years from the two veteran performers. They combined voices last year on the road safety anthem Designate which urged people on the roads to always have a sober driver. The song was picked up by local road safety NGO Arrive Alive and featured prominently at their rallies.

“It’s always been my aim to deliver positive messages in my songs. Over the years, that has never changed. Blaxx has always been a dear friend of mine and when I extended the invitation to him, he responded willingly on both occasions,” George said of their most recent collaboration.

Blaxx said: “Our youth are in trouble and it’s our responsibility as artistes, as parents, as nationals of T&T, to help them and guide them along the correct path.”

More info 
​Call in to your favourite radio stations to request Starr George and Blaxx’s Beware or log on to their social media pages for a personalised experience and more information about how you could become a part of the Beware movement.

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.

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