Pretty mas takes over Sando J’Ouvert

The content originally appeared on: News Americas Now

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

D’Image People presented A Krazy World for judges. – Marvin Hamilton

THOUSANDS of masqueraders descended on the streets of San Fernando in an array of colours and vigour for the return of Carnival after a two-year hiatus owing to covid19 restrictions.

They danced and pranced to what seems to be the only two 2023 Road March contenders – Bunji Garlin’s Hard Fete and Nialah Blackman and Skinny Fabulous’s Come Home.

These songs dominated, playing neck and neck, with a sprinkling in between of Olatunji’s Engine Room and Erphaan Alves’s Spirit.

However, Blackman mounted music trucks in three different bands, Ecstasy Of Colour; Limers presentation of The Big Bang, which brought out the water tanks and a water hose to cool down the heat; and Ultra Simmo and DJ Anna’s Lam, Jam, J’ouvert, to perform live.

Drunk on energy, good vibes and the Carnival spirit, masqueraders and spectators enjoyed the live performances, utilising the ample space on the Rienzi Kirton Highway, outside the Southern Academy for the Performing Arts (SAPA) single judging point to ‘dingolay’ and sing along with the Soca heiress.

This group from A&K Fashion Lab paraded in San Fernando on J’Ouvert morning. – Marvin Hamilton

Coolers were searched and glass bottles, which have been banned, were seized by police.

Water, mud and paint also formed part of the scenery, but modern mas dominated San Fernando J’Ouvert with traditional mas taking a back seat.

The only traditional old mas band in the competition was De Blue Boys J’Ouvert Band which has the record of winning this category for 37 of the 40 years they have entered.

As he announced the band’s entry, Ah Blue Because…, leader Valmiki “Val” Ramsingh informed the judges and audience the presentation was in honour of his late brother Dave, who died ten days ago.

Dave, a retired teacher of Naparima College, was known for penning stinging political satire and picong that made the band legendary. This year there were only eight entrants with mediocre commentary on social and political happenings in the country.

Ramsingh lamented that masqueraders were opting for modern mas.

This resonated with San Fernando mayor Junia Regrello who also observed that modern mas had taken over J’Ouvert.

“There is a dwindling presence of traditional mas. The persons who played that does not have the energy any more. The political sarcasm and political satire we expect is dying. We are really missing that. Young people are not holding on to the traditional mas, neither are they understanding it.

“People who look forward to that type of theatre are disappointed.”

A masquerader of D Blue Boys J’Ouvert band portrayed “Files” at the judging point outside the Southern Academy for the Performing Arts in San Fernando on Monday. – Marvin Hamilton

Nevertheless, Regrello said he was encouraged by the enormity of the bands participating on Monday, making it one of the biggest celebration in years.

While modern J’Ouvert is increasing and people are excited by that, Regrello also observed this is being done at the expense of the traditional “big bands” which parade on Monday afternoon and on Carnival Tuesday.

“What you are getting is an increase in J’Ouvert bands and a decline in the normal Carnival bands.’

He with the exception of Kalicharan’s Mas, Jagessar Costumes (formerly Lionel Jagessar’s Mas) and Fireworks Promotion, 50 per cent of the big bands have membership that is worth seeing. “You might find some bands straggling along, trying to make it.”

Some of the big bands also participated in J’Ouvert celebrations and Regrello said it was time for some out-of-the-box thinking to take the mas to another level.

In terms of the Road March contenders, Regrello said while it was still up in the air, he, too, was seeing only “two horses” in the race.

“It is not my choice of music but it is what it is and you have to accept that it has changed.

“While I would more go for the groovy type of music that is melodious and has musical content, this is a new generation (of mas players) and is pace, pace, pace, they looking for.”