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Updated: 1 hour 41 min ago

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).

Machel, Kes and MX clash on CIC Grounds

Thu, 02/02/2017 - 01:47

Fete With The Saints, the all-inclusive Carnival fete hosted annually by the St Mary’s College Past Students’ Union, is being hailed by many as the fete of choice for Carnival 2017. This accolade has not been lightly earned: the CIC guys have worked hard to achieve high standards since the fete’s venue moved to the CIC Grounds at Serpentine Road, St Clair, in 2015.

Fete profits help pay for operating and capital expenses at St Mary’s College. In recent years, the Past Students’ Union has upgraded and furnished a second computer lab and a foreign language lab, refurbished and air-conditioned the 53-year-old Centenary Hall, financed a transformer to augment the electricity supply to the college, and met some coaching fees and kit expenses for various team sports.

Currently, three science labs —physics, chemistry and biology—need repairs and equipment upgrades, say St Mary’s alumni. Profits from this year’s Fete With The Saints will help upgrade the chemistry lab, while school administrators hope other benefactors and the Ministry of Education will help with the physics lab. The school will improve its biology lab at a later date, say alumni.

Before 2015, the annual fete was held at the college’s compound on Frederick Street, and had earned a reputation for one of the better organised school fetes over the years. Since 2015, the fete has improved even more, to rank among the top tier of all T&T fetes—not just the school ones. As explained by Joe Hadad and Roberto Ramirez, the respective chairman and vice-chairman of the fete’s organising committee, it’s all in the details. They aim to provide an excellent experience.

This year’s Fete With The Saints happens on Saturday, February 4, with music by Machel and Kes. Also performing are MX Prime and the Ultimate Rejects. DJs Nuphoric and Private Ryan will spin music.

Welcome drinks, including sparkling wines from Caribbean Bottlers Ltd, will set the tone for the evening, with venue decor by Ultimate Events Limited, led by Dean Ackin of Tribe.

Excellent food and new gourmet dishes are all part of the experience, say the organisers. Meals will be provided by Chaud Restaurant, Boomerang Caterers, Berment Caterers, JM Grill, More Vino Restaurant and Rassam’s (authentic Indian dishes). Smaller nibbles include mini-rotis from Kanhai’s of St James; special beef, chicken and lamb sliders by Phillip Mende; corn soup, geera pork, doubles, jerk wings, Melo’s chicken rings, and Juici Jamaican patties and fajitas. Most food will be cooked on spot.

The fete promises some delightful desserts as well, whether you’re watching your figure or not, and these sweets include Haagen Dazs ice-cream, Rich’s cookies and assorted local sweets.

Premium drinks will be available at several bars, including a champagne and Proseco bar; a Johnny Walker bar (serving gold, green and black); a Yellow Tail Bubbles wine bar; a Belvedere vodka bar; a Stoli vodka cocktail bar; Angostura rum cocktails; Nestle cocktails; and a range of drinks, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, supplied by Carib and Angostura Special Events teams. A Sober Zone will be set up at the exit and will be stocked with appropriate drinks and snacks supplied by Beacon Insurance, Blue Waters and Coca Cola, plus coffee from Nestle and Juan Valdez.

Washroom facilities will be well-appointed, in air-conditioned trailers. Women can freshen their make-up in booths serviced by staff from Unilever’s (Tresemme products) and Bryden PI.

Secure parking will be available in nearby car parks, including: Tatil Building on Maraval Road; Queen’s Park Oval (entrance on Havelock Street), and the car park opposite the Elizabeth Street entrance; QRC (on the paved court-yard only); and the Digicel car park, opposite Trotters on Sweet Briar Road. Patrons who park on the streets are asked to observe all traffic regulations and not to block the driveways of residents. And there will be a free shuttle service to and from the car parks.

More info


North Trinidad—from the Past Students’ office (624-8468) and Enrico Rajah at Trini Revellers Mas Camp (745-4391)

South—from Lighthouse (653-3177) and Felix Montenegro (684-5839)

East—from Gregg Mannette (678-7555)

Central—from Louis Ramdhanie (371-9193 and 725-2854).

Giveaways & promotions:

There will be a door prize of a double-door fridge donated by Reliable Appliances Ltd, headed by CIC alumnus Brian Manswell. (Patrons are reminded to write their names and addresses on the reverse of their tickets.)

There will also be giveaways from Digicel and Massy Motors. New makes of cars sold by Massy Motors will also be on display.

Making the right Imij

Thu, 01/26/2017 - 01:01

Like every other conglomerate, there comes a time for change, and it is once again the time for change for Imij & Co. Leader Joey Ng Wai said this week: “This allows us to give way to new and better talent, thereby giving them an opportunity to join the university of music—the University of Imij & Co, as we are so often referred too—to showcase their talent as a part of Imij & Co.”

Vocalist Kevon Carter is no longer with the band and Ng Wai has wished him the very best in his future endeavours.

Second Imij, also known as Imij & Co, is celebrating its 28th year of existence and is being rebranded.

Ng Wai said: “With the changing climate of the music industry in T&T, management took a decision to make changes not only to its personnel, but to the approach of the music, keeping a less electronic sound and more of a live instrumentation feel.”

Ng Wai, the lead guitarist, remains the leader of the band and now bassist Miguel “Santana” Charles, the longest standing member, will be the band’s musical director.

The newlook Imij & Co frontline comprises Malaika Ballantyne, Rachelle Chedz, Phillip Carter and Asten Isaac.

The 2014 South Calypso Monarch, Ballantyne has also been a National Calypso Queen finalist for four years. She is the daughter of acclaimed composer Gregory “GB” Ballantyne.

About her, Ng Wai said: “Malaika’s energy on the stage is truly fascinating. She has grown in every aspect as a performer and entertainer.”

He continued: “Rochelle’s passion and love for music is truly inspiring and admirable. Her No Talking hit song has been on the radio from April 2016 to present and has been one of the most requested songs on the local pop scene. Writing music comes naturally for Rochelle, so much more to come from her.”

Describing Carter as a musician, teacher and performer, Ng Wai said nothing is too much for this young man.

Isaac has been writing music for more than 12 years. His contributions for 2017 are Count Me In, Meet Ya Family, Doh Hurt Ya Head, and the one that plays constantly on the airwaves is Rum Friend. Isaac intends also releasing a ditty for the Power Soca category of the International Soca Monarch competition. Besides his contributions, Isaac has written 15 songs for various artistes, including seven Blaxx’s album.

“Asten is a self-motivated, ambitious and musical breath of fresh air to Imij & Co,” said Ng Wai.

Other personnel of Imij & Co include Dion Nora (producer/keyboardist/arranger, and occasionally the chef of the band); Jonathan Hensley; Kamau Abe Skerritt (DJ); and Kevin Toussaint and Kerron Patrick (technical staff).

Rhys Thompson playing to his riddim

Thu, 01/26/2017 - 00:51

Rhys Thompson had a knack for getting in trouble in school. It wasn’t because he was mischievous, but he was always drumming on his desk. It couldn’t be helped. His father played with Andre Tanker and at home there was always music, particularly Hugh Masekela and Earth Wind and Fire around the time he was born in 1986.

“I would be watching Sesame Street and playing drums with two pencils,” Thompson laughed.

In Form 2, he got a drum set and the music bug kept on driving him—although, by then, his father had moved away from the music circuit and turned to Christ. All Thompson wanted to do was play, even as the spirit and the world collided. He appreciated that his father was adamant about music education.

Now, as a co-founder of the rock bank 5 Miles to Midnight with fellow St Anthony’s College alum Alex Burt Ou Young, Thompson is enjoying his musical path. Since the band performed at SXSW (South by South West) last year, the group—which also includes Liam King (lead vocals), Mark Wallace (bass), Shallun Sammy (lead guitar) and Dale E P Dolly (keyboard)—is in the process of recording a new album.

“The SXSW gave us momentum,” Thompson said.

Reflecting on the experience in Texas, Thompson said there was good coming out of a situation that had its sticky moments. Before leaving Trinidad, there was a problem with accessing funding for all the T&T performers to travel. But the band received major sponsorship from FLOW. Their performance was well received in Austin.

In April, they will be in New York to do a music showcase. The band is also in the process of signing a US manager. They already have a producer, Justin Zoltech of Toronto, whom they met at SXSW and who is working on their upcoming album. “We are bringing him to New York. We have to have a solid body of work,” Thompson said.

The musical path also included the band’s remake of the Christmas classic, Little Drummer Boy. With the help of strings and choir produced by Andrew McIntosh and mastering by Martin “Mice” Raymond, the song was well received by radio stations. Another is planned for this Christmas.

On his own, Thompson is receiving attention for his percussion skills with his drumming partner Modupe Onilu of Dayo Bejide Organic Music Movement. Thompson and Onilu’s fathers (Madupe’s was the late master drummer Ja Jah Oga Onilu) both played with Tanker, so the connection between the young men existed long before they decided to play under the name BoomboomRoom.

Their percussion union was initiated by DJ and entrepreneur Kwesi “Hoppy” Hopkinson and they were excited about the idea. Their first stint was on a boat ride in Barbados and then on the road with Xhousa for Crop Over. In a short space of time they were hired for other gigs. Among them was The Lost Tribe for Carnival 2016. Valmiki Maharaj, creative director of The Lost Tribe, approached them to play for the band on the road.

“The Tribe experience was phenomenal. That was the first time I played mas in Trinidad,” Thompson said. “Usually, I ran the catering service with my parents with Tribe. I would see a friend who played mas, but I would chill out.”

This year, the duo will return for Lost Tribe’s presentation Riddim, providing percussive sound. They also look forward to another round of performances in North America.

With these musical adventures under his belt, Thompson said he looks forward to more journeys. One of them may be a return to music education, a field of study which he began at SAM’s School of Accounting and Management soon after leaving St Anthony’s College. Learning to read music to drums carries value, he said.

But all he really wants to do is play until his arms drop off.

New dance stars step up

Thu, 11/24/2016 - 00:48

Many patrons who attended A Star is Born, the production recently staged by the Candice Clarke Academy of Dance (CCAD) at the Southern Academy for the Performing Arts, said the performance was “world class” and full of “plenty, plenty vibes.”

The show, which features the company’s junior dancers, ages four to 10, will be repeated on December 11 from 6.30 pm at The Little Carib Theatre, Woodbrook.

Candice Clarke has been running CCAD for the past 20 years. They are currently based in Chaguanas.

“We now own our own studio in Edinburgh Gardens. We have had tours to Jamaica and the Ailey City Group Theater in New York, owned by the Alvin Ailey Dance Company. We did three productions and workshops at the Little Theatre in Kingston and a masterclass at the Ailey Summer Camp.”

A former dancer with Astor Johnson Repertory Dance Theatre, Clarke also danced with the National Dance Company of T&T.

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