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Updated: 2 hours 16 min ago

All that is We in Lopinot

Tue, 06/12/2018 - 01:00

The route to Lopinot Village takes you along winding roads bordered by towering bamboo arches and lush green mountain sides. This was the natural, undisturbed beauty and historical site for the Ministry of Community Development, Culture and the Arts’ Community Festival on June 3, dubbed “All that is We.” The event saw scores of families, neighbours, friends and children from the Lopinot and communities near and far come out to enjoy the day; and none would be disappointed. It was a day to bask in the sunshine, learn about the community’s rich history, tour the caves, enjoy the talent, taste the endless food, dance to the music and support our local craft artisans.

Exploring the grave site of Count Lopinot, the cocoa house and visiting the Lopinot Complex was part of the long list of things to do at the festival and historian Martin Gomez, provided rich details about the colourful history of the community and its cultural heritage. Simultaneously, while some patrons enjoyed the shade of the trees and others prepared their cook on their ring stove, the heat proved to be too much for some tiny mites who opted to refresh themselves in the cool Lopinot river water.

Students from the Community Education Skills (CES) training programme were on hand to showcase their handcrafted work, delicacies, cosmetology skills in make-up and skin care and the men were not to be outdone as they were on hand to demo their barbering skills. The youngest of the craft artisans being nine-year-old Kyra Solozano, who was very excited to display her handcrafted jewelry. At such an early age she has already developed a passion for jewelry making, a passion she got from her mother, herself a student of the Community Education Programme.

Gary Jupiter a former teacher was very elated to be part of the day’s festivities and commented, “we live in Arouca and there are some people who I have not seen in a long time but today, it was great to meet up with old neighbours and persons from the area to take in the festivities.” Community Festivals highlight the creativity, talent and cultural heritage of the communities across Trinidad and form part of the activities to commemorate Community Development Day, which is observed on July 5 every year. The Ministry of Community Development, Culture and the Arts encourages persons to be part of the merriments as you learn about the beauty of Trinidad and its rich diversity; it is a chance to really know and understand, All that is We.

Check cdca.gov.tt or the Ministry’s Facebook page for updates on upcoming festivals.

Categories: Entertainment News

The Willi Chen Story of T&T

Mon, 06/11/2018 - 03:10

Willi Chen is a businessman, playwright, poet, author, sculptor, inventor, painter and stage designer who once switched from running a café and bar to operating a bakery, before eventually going into the printing business.

Mr Chen, what on earth have you always wanted to do and have not had the chance to accomplish? “Make money.” Chuckles.

At 83, he does not always remember everything, but Chen’s wit is sharp, and his jokes appear out of the middle of nowhere, mid-sentence in an  interview or following a pause for a forgotten name or place or time.

Then there was the time he engineered a pile driver with a makeshift boom and concretefilled four-inch pipes powered  by a jeep to fill the land upon which now stands a two-storey Marabella building that now houses his printing business.

Downstairs, he occupies a small, busy office that appears to serve as a thoroughfare for staff fetching things. He endorses some cheques and offers one to the interviewer. Smiles and a follow-up offer of “Chinese fried bake” (meat pies) and wontons.

He has plans for a grand multi-media exhibition of all his work—books, scripts, paintings, prints, sculpture and a collection of line drawings. “Everything will be there,” the double national award holder says  is Chen’s opportunity to tell his own story.

The proposed exhibition is yet to be named, but it can well be “Willi Chen’s Story of Trinidad and Tobago” a tale that spans a lifetime of prolific artistic offerings from one of the country’s most remarkable talents. It is an occasion that has been long in the making and now Chen has his eyes set on a 2019 event. He hopes to use the facilities at the Central Bank in Port of Spain where his massive “My Solar Marinorama” steel mural is currently mounted.

In fact, the Central Bank has commissioned a refurbishment of the 30-year-old 64’ x 14’ mural and Chen has worked out a work schedule spanning weeks. Out of all the books, plays, stage sets, paintings and poems, he considers this work to be in the order of a magnum opus.

Back in 1988, the mural led a field of competing artists - including the celebrated Carlisle Chang (Chen’s artistic mentor) who placed second - to earn the right to have his art permanently displayed at the facility.

Since then, huge structures have been the name of his sculpturing game. The Triumphant Christ which adorns the front of the Christ the King Catholic Church in San Fernando and the now poorly-maintained Escriva Lighthouse Tower at the Point-a-Pierre roundabout are his work.

Yes, there have been books as well. Lots of them. Seven collections of short stories, three poetry anthologies, 11 plays and skits and two novels including the provocative Gosang—the Saga of a Trini-Chinaman, which explores race relations in 1930s Trinidad.

In Gosang, humour is an anodyne for the hurts of prejudice and conflict. More than one reviewer has hinted at an autobiographical undertone Chen has never openly denied.

Listening to the writer talk about his father’s “tempestuous” fortunes as a businessman, moving from rural village to rural village and town to town, there is little question that Gosang’s conflicted emotions are as intimate as they as artfully represented in the novel.

Today, Chen sits behind his cluttered, laptop-free desk the way Gosang stood behind his counter openly welcoming everyone “through the narrow door of his country shop.”

There are books on that desk.

Some for the interview, others filled with ledger sheets that keep financial score. Some with colourful labels and mock-ups.

Then there is a low-hanging, bright fluorescent light perhaps to examine artwork for print. When Chen leans forward to laugh or to stress a point, the lamp rests like a stretched crown on his reluctantly greying hair, two Virgin Mary statuettes perched atop the fitting.

There is a fading photograph of Chen and VS Naipaul on the wall overlooking the desk. Chen, in a dark suit and black hair slicked back, is standing and smiling for the camera. His more famous countryman looks shyly on, a medal held in place by a lanyard the colour of Chen’s red bowtie hanging over a grey woolen blazer. Sooner, rather than later, Chen is going to bring the story of his life’s work as creator extraordinaire to T&T and the world. The late Anson Gonzalez once described the tireless artist as “the benevolent Renaissance man of the Arts in Trinidad and Tobago.”

He, in turn, describes himself as someone who has never abandoned his dreams. “You have to work hard,” he tells the young photographer/ videographer. “Do what you think you want to do and keep along those lines. Don’t let people tell you this, that and the other. Put in the hours and stick with it.”

It’s a creed Chen clearly has lived by over a lifetime as a tireless all-rounder who, as a Jack of all trades, has attempted to master all.

Categories: Entertainment News

Stars above and beneath

Mon, 06/11/2018 - 03:05

Starry night and sweet songs contributed to an almost perfect night at the St James Amphitheatre for WeBeat St James Live18 production of Pan Jazz and Honoree’s Night, on Thursday evening. Performing to an almost filled, open-air facility, the show commencing promptly at its advertised 8 pm opening, was the National Steel Symphony Orchestra (NSSO).

Appropriate to the grandeur of the event, the NSSO musicians were satorially attired in our national colours of black and red, their perfectly tuned chrome and silver instruments radiant as if to symbolise the purity that is white on our flag. As sharp as they looked, theNSSO musicians sounded even sharper as they read music scores going through the repertoire as directed by Akua Leith.

NSSO was also joined by vocalist Kay Alleyne whose pore-raising rendition of Summertime awed the crowd to loud applause. Not to be outdone, smooth, seductive tones emanated as well from the saxophone of acclaimed Anthony Woodroofe, aka “Tony Paul”. Equally esteemed guitarist Dean Williams also performed a solo piece accompanied by NSSO.

One is left to wonder why more isn’t done by the powers that be to propel NSSO unto the frontburner of national and international recognition as a musical entity and cultural ambassador of our country. One can only hope that this group of musical literate musicians are not left to fall by the wayside in the manner Divine Echoes were discarded.

The Codrington Pan Family was next on the programme and delivered an enthralling performance with pieces such as Pan In Harmony, a percussional composition entitled Rhythm Vibes. Undoubtedly a family enterprise that has been expanding, Yvette Superville, a Codrington son’s mother-in-law, was also accompanied by the band when she delivered a vocal piece. The versatility of this family outfit, especially that of young, former Steelband Music Festival champion Keisha Codrington, is nothing short of amazing.

Southern sensation Moore’s Music Production, a band comprising of family members as well, inclusive of Candice, Diana, Eleanor, Spud and Vanessa Moore, also brought their unique flavour to the blend.

As if patrons didn’t get their money’s worth in the previous spectacular performances, reigning National Panorama (Small) champion Golden Hands Steel Orchestra culminated the programme.

Directed by Franka Headley, the band’s repertoire included a solo performance by assistant director and arranger, Vanessa Alexandra Headley. Golden Hands showed the pedigree of a true champion.

Thursday night’s programme also included a honour acknowledgement of St James’ Power Stars Steel Orchestra, formerly Blue Stars Steel Orchestra.

On hand to receive the awards presented by Port-of-Spain Mayor Alderman Joel Martinez and St James Improvement Committee chairman Cecil Tomkin were Power Stars’ executive members Gregory Lindsay and John Harris.

Apart from the fantastic music on stage and honoree segment, hand crafted items by indigenous culinary delights by Heaven Bliss and Diamond Vale artisan John Cooper were also on sale, as well as delicious corn soup by popular St James rastafarian vendor Jumbo.

Categories: Entertainment News

Indera supports grow, buy, eat local

Sun, 06/10/2018 - 03:13

Hers is the face you see and the voice you normally hear critiquing on politics and the economy.

But there is another side to Indera Sagewan-Alli—the ‘support-local’ activist, who’s speaking out candidly on the issue of growing, buying, and eating local, and its connection to sustainable diversification in T&T.

On her televised series, Diversification: Not Just Talk, which airs live every Wednesday on a Chaguanas-based television network, she gives an in-depth analysis on the topic and showcases entrepreneurs and businesses who have taken up the ‘total-local mantle,’ and are running with it.

Just type the hashtags #diversiftttnotjusttalk, #allahwebusiness,  #growcookeatlocal or #saveforex, in your Facebook, twitter, and instagram search bars and you will find videos, interviews and tips on kitchen gardening and buying local. Also found on Facebook are recipes and scrumptious total-local dishes by Sagewan-Alli and her mother, Chan, on their page, From Indera and Chan’s Kitchen.

She told the Sunday Guardian this initiative and several others are all flourishing and with a network of like-minded and newly converted people growing local at an accelerated pace, it is the hope through learning and sharing, mindsets will be changed and the population would begin to understand ‘people power.’

The economist, who has been blunt for years when it comes to economic diversification in T&T, reiterates there is life beyond oil and gas and she is frustrated with the redundancies of diversification becoming

vogue only when oil crashes and quickly returning invisible when gas flows again.

A passionate Sagewan-Alli argues, by the choices we make, by our silence when governments misuse our tax dollars, and by the acceptance of the neglect of agriculture, we are all guilty of failing the progress of sustainable diversification. “It is not big business using up scarce foreign exchange; rather it is about supporting businesses that maximise local content offering. The onus is on every individual when they choose foreign over quality local substitutes.”

She is adamant the “all-eggsin- one-basket” syndrome must end as T&T has to recognise the times are changing and it can no longer depend on one sector to drive the economy. Sagewan-Alli who underscores the plights of other support-local activists like agriculture economist Omardath Maharaj and Eat Local Challenge TT, said the policy makers were the biggest culprits as they continue to be backward in their thinking thus handicapping progress.

“Michael Porter, competitiveness guru, advises that economic clusters (groups of businesses producing basically the same or similar products) are a natural phenomenon, they exist because entrepreneurs know best where opportunities reside for investing, producing, selling, making money, and creating jobs,” she explains.

“The role of governments, universities, state enterprises, and institutions is to support the targeted growth and expansion of these clusters, which our policy makers don’t appear to understand.”

Sagewan-Alli said she spends a lot of time thinking about how economic diversification could generate sustainable high-paying jobs, revenues for the Government, and foreign exchange. While she admits there are no quick fixes, she believes there was too much stalling and ‘ole talk’ over the years keeping the topic of economic diversification in the future tense, when there is always ample opportunity for diversification to begin.

She speaks of the ‘bittersweet’ feeling she gets whenever she encounters ordinary people who understand the importance of sustainable diversification and are trying in their own way, building economic  clusterswith such passion and commitment despite the years of many road blocks, sometimes, even deliberately imposed on them.

“This is a national imperative and I am now convinced that unless we the people take responsibility for making it happen through the changing of mindsets, investment, and consumption patterns, we will never see economic diversification in T&T.”

Sagewan-Alli said diversification should also be the deliberate responsibility of businesses big and small, which made huge profits during the economic boom periods. She recommends it is time they move out of easy distribution and into real entrepreneurship, adding value to what T&T owns as nation building tools.

Through her activism, Sagewan-Alli said her end game was to create a people’s revolution of sorts that influences our actions and encourages consuming local as a first and best option.

“This is all ‘ah’ we business. There are so many untold success stories, we have plans to share these and to write the case studies that can replace the foreign cases used as teaching tools in our business schools,”

Sagewan-Alli says.

“We will call upon governments and other institutions to act and explain inaction, as there are things which they can only do to make diversification happen. We will do all of this transparently and under the glare of public scrutiny. Trinidad no longer has the luxury of time. We must diversify now!”

For more information on these initiatives, how to get involved or how you lend your support, send emails to: [email protected].

Categories: Entertainment News

Seeing Sound explores a fusion of the arts

Fri, 06/08/2018 - 00:13

Singer Danielle Williams’ upcoming concert, Seeing Sound, explores the fusion of digital art, music, film and dance in an interactive and immersive experience. The production will take place tomorrow and Sunday, at Grundlos Kollektiv, 11 Cipriani Boulevard, Port-of-Spain.

Williams said seeing sound, or cymatics, and hearing in colour, or chromesthesia, are two phenomena which she wishes to explore through this production. She explained: “Cymatics and chromesthesia have influenced everything from the song, projection and film selection, to lighting, sound design, and the art installations. What it would be like to see sound? And hear in colour? I don’t have chromesthesia but I do feel the mood of a piece of music in colour. For me it’s a question of energy. This program takes you on a journey through colour.”

Adding that the audience will be transported on a journey though light and sound, Williams said: “I hope that the audience will experience an intensely memorable, interesting and satisfying night out with friends or family.

“Seeing Sound is designed to allow the audience to explore, create, feel and be transported through a live show with breath-taking visuals and interactive art installations. The music spans many genres: pop, electronica, classical, popera and Caribbean sounds. We have integrated several art and science installations that allow the audience to create and explore seeing sound, so they are allowed to participate in the creation of the art and will in fact become part of the art itself. This will be an innovative one of a kind experience.”

She said she was inspired to create the exhibition after visiting the Wellcome Collection in Cental London. There she saw an exhibition on a mundane topic that left her awestruck. “What I saw was a work of genius,” said Williams. “An exhibit on Dirt!—of all things. They transformed such a banal subject into a transfixing discourse which used science, art, poetry, and philosophy to approximate to truth. I couldn’t ever look at anything ‘ordinary’ the same again.”

Williams said she wants to help create similar experiences here in Trinidad. She has been working towards the production for a year, but is only now ready to put it on following a catalysing event. Williams continued: “A visual artist that I was blessed enough to encounter passed away recently, and it really crystallised that tomorrow isn’t promised and that life is fragile. I may not be perfect, life certainly isn’t but we’re all here, alone together. I’d like to create and put out more art that’s congruent with who I am and can help inspire and encourage people. And the best time to do this is now.”

Williams said she chose to use underwater photography to advertise the event because of how closely it echoes the theme of the production. “When I think of the science of sound I think of waves, reflection and refraction. Working underwater allows us to capture some of that feeling. In fact, Swiss scientist Dr Hans Jenny coined the term Cymatics after the Greek κυματικά (kymatika) which means “matters pertaining to waves.

“In a metaphorical sense it also represents me ‘taking the plunge’ and launching my brand as a ‘singer scientist’ and my NGO the ‘ArtScience Foundation’.”

The event will feature the work of Clinical Media Group, Kats Imai, Kyle Richardson, Rodell Warner and Zayna McDonald.

The singer said she hopes the experience will inspire people to pause and reflect on their lives. “One of my favourite quotes is by Pablo Picasso which says, ‘Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life’.”

Tickets for Seeing Sound cost $200 and for more information, find Seeing Sound on Facebook, go to https://www.daniellekwilliams.com/tickets and call 785-9870, 685-8970, or 708-1849.

Categories: Entertainment News

ScoutsTT National Food Drive aims to alleviate hunger

Fri, 06/08/2018 - 00:05

The largest youth organisation in T&T, ScoutsTT, is once again Scouting for Food. Its third annual national food drive launched on United Way’s National Day of Caring on May 20, when members of the First Naparima College Sea Scout Group collected food at JTA Supermarket, C3 Centre before delivering the donations to The Hope Centre in San Fernando.

Scouting for Food is aligned to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number two: “End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.”

As SDGs are now a part of the Scout Programme internationally, and incorporated into our local programme, a major goal of the project is to get our young people to understand the problem and how they can be part of the solution.

The project started two years ago after recognising that more than 20 per cent of the country’s population lives below the poverty line and eight to 11 per cent are undernourished. Scouting for Food aims to educate the public of this issue among so many and engender a commitment to community, volunteerism and helping each other.

Donations of dry goods and toiletries can be made at the bins set up at JTA, Xtra Foods and Massy Stores supermarkets, where scouts in uniform will be present on weekends to promote the drive and assist with the collection of donations. The food collected will be distributed to families identified by scout groups in their districts across the country and to homes by the national office.

Corporate T&T is also urged to get involved with this initiative by setting up collection bins at their work places.

To learn more about Scouting for Food, including how to get involved, contact Scout Headquarters at 624-7271 or check the Facebook event page Scouting for Food 2018.

Categories: Entertainment News

Bedlam in Naughty Minister’s play

Fri, 06/08/2018 - 00:01

From the producers that brought you the hilarious The Boy Toy, Man Callaloo, What My Best Friend Did To Me and Hotel 21 now comes the world premiere of their latest production Naughty Minister’s.

RS/RR Productions premieres their latest exciting and hilarious production on Father’s Day weekend, June 16-17, two nights only at Queen’s Hall, St Ann’s.

Naughty Minister’s looks at the fictional story of a Minister who has won his seat on the sanctity of marriage and family life. His wife leaves to attend a weekend retreat with the Prime Minister’s wife. What happens when the wife is away leads to a night of complete chaos. Mix in an Independent Senator, the personal assistant to the Minister, a Venezuelan visitor and a country girl from an agency and bedlam breaks loose especially when the wife returns unexpectedly. This is a story of fiction…kind of.

Naughty Minister’s features a stellar cast that includes, Richard Ragoobarsingh, Penelope Spencer, Nikki Crosby, Debra Boucaud Mason, Ria Ali, Leslie Ann Lavine and Bradley Logan. It is directed by Richard Ragoobarsingh and Mason.

Box Office at Queen’s Hall opens from Monday, June 11, from 10 am to 6 pm daily, and of course tickets are available now at the usual outlets.

For booking or info call 624 -1284 (ext1) or 338-6024/744-7581.

Categories: Entertainment News

Young pan players show appreciation to parents

Fri, 06/08/2018 - 00:00

It was a most enjoyable evening last Saturday when fans and members of Shell Invaders gathered at the Tragarete Road, Woodbrook panyard to enjoy the band’s Parents’ Appreciation Concert, under brilliant sunshine.

The event was held to recognise those members who fall into that category and other parents. Michael Dinchong, Managing Director of Shell Invaders Steel Orchestra, explained: “With both Mothers’ Day and Fathers’ Day being so close, we decided to highlight both on this special day.” He continued that the band and it’s management, together with sponsor Shell T&T, enjoy promoting these types of activities to keep the members united.

Said Dinchong: “As a matter of fact, this event was produced by our youth band, Shell Invaders Youth Steel Orchestra. It is an opportunity for them to show their skills while being guided by the band’s committee, giving them a certain degree of empowerment.”

The youth band serenaded their audience in both pan and song during the first half, with member, Rachel Noriega performing a solo act. Following the short intermission there was a performances by the senior band.

(David Wears)

Categories: Entertainment News

Child cancer patients perform to cheers

Thu, 06/07/2018 - 02:48

The Just Because Foundation (JBF) hosted a fund-raising concert last Saturday at the Central Bank Auditorium, Port-of-Spain.

The evening’s performances included song, dance and skits by young cancer patients, cancer survivors and the relatives of children with cancer.

The nurses of the JBF Ward at the Wendy Fitzwilliam Paediatric Hospital also kept the crowd entertained with a funny skit titled, Fun E News. JBF co-founder Chevaughn Joseph performed a very moving interpretive dance piece with her troupe to bring the show to an end.

JBF is a non-profit, paediatric cancer support organisation which was founded by Noel and Chevaughn Joseph in 2007. The Josephs started the foundation after the loss of their five-year-old son Jabez to a rare form of childhood cancer.

The organisation provides free temporary accommodation for families who travel from remote locations throughout T&T and other Caribbean countries with their child for cancer treatment in Trinidad. They also provide free transport to and from these facilities.

Categories: Entertainment News

Alta students share experiences

Thu, 06/07/2018 - 02:45

In celebration of Alta’s 25th anniversary, Alta students around the country were asked to write about the impact the organisation has had on their lives. Since 1992, Alta has provided classes around the country for thousands of Trinidadians who struggle with reading and writing. Alta students enrol in the programme at many different levels of literacy and leave when they have accomplished their literacy goals.

While it is difficult to manage work and family life alongside Alta classes, students continue to persevere and in all cases see changes in their lives after attending Alta classes. In the coming weeks, Alta will share their experiences through this column. This week, two students from the Chaguanas Public Library venue share how Alta has impacted their lives.

Pamela

My name is Pam. I’m in level two. I came to Alta to better myself and my family. I expected to meet a lot of people willing to help each other. It was not the way I expected but it was better. Alta has changed things in my life because I am reading lots of books now and helping my kids with their homework. I do feel better about myself. I always wanted to spell big words.

When I was younger I didn’t have help. I thought I was managing well until reading got a little harder. I never liked the way I have to hide and make excuses when I had to read. When my children come home from school I can help them in their homework. I felt I could never take part in loud speaking or storytelling. I appreciate Alta class so much. Since I started the class I have improved a lot. As a parent I feel so proud of myself being able to help my children in their homework. I was surprised when I read my first book all by myself. I always felt that I couldn’t read but I surprised myself. At work I am being asked to write information from clients. Sometimes I can’t spell every word so attending Alta was the best thing I have ever done.

Kesha Sancho

When I was younger I always wanted to read an entire book. I would start but when I would get to the difficult words I would just give up. At school and also at meetings you would see persons taking notes. I always wish I was able to do that. Then one day I heard about Alta so I wanted to attend but was ashamed to. I wondered what people would say about this “big woman” and that she can’t read. That feeling made me sick. When someone would ask me to read I would get nervous even with little words like “where” and “there.” I was not able to pronounce them.

Now at the age of 31, I put all my fears behind me and started Alta. I am now in Level two and so proud of myself that I started. One thing I wish that I should have started years ago. In my class, there are four lovely patient and encouraging tutors who make this journey fun and simpler for me. My goal at the end of this journey is to read a book to its entirety also be able to write and pass CXC English.

• Volunteer, donate or sponsor-a-student. Call 621-5708 or email [email protected] for more info. Keep up to date with ALTA on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: ALTA

Categories: Entertainment News

Keishea brings glamour to Fiesta Plaza

Thu, 06/07/2018 - 02:43

A high calibre performance is the only way to describe the one-hour performance by Keishea “Ms Glamorous” Stewart, backed by her band Calibre, for guests at Saturday Nights Live, held at Fiesta Plaza, MovieTowne, Port-of-Spain, on Saturday evening.

Calibre is a cross-over of R&B Soul and Soca band and consists of some of the finest musicians in the land, including Joey Rivers (guitar); Oslin Pompee (bass); Godwin Bowen (keyboards), and drummer Andrew Augustine. These seasoned and accomplished musicians have played with successful musical aggregations like Xtatik and Atlantik, and at the Kaiso House calypso tent, just to name a few.

The band’s debut performance to a full courtyard of patrons was a resounding success. Patrons were entertained and fully engaged, dancing, singing, laughing and flag waving during performances from their repertoire which ranged from songs like Roaring Lion’s Papa Chunks, Nadia Lafond’s Wanna Make Love To You and Camila Cabello’s Havana, but with a cross-over soca twist.|

Aimed at entertaining all ages, Calibre is available for bookings at [email protected].

Categories: Entertainment News

Kaiso Komedy at WeBeat tomorrow

Thu, 06/07/2018 - 02:41

Wit, humour and double entendre are still vital elements of good calypso and Trinidadian humour.

The St James Community Improvement Committee (CIC) is offering patrons an opportunity to enjoy these elements when it stages Kaiso Komedy, as part of the WeBeat St James Live18 programme, at the St James Amphitheatre, Western Main Road tomorrow night, starting at 8 pm.

Headlining the cast is reigning Humourous Calypso Monarch Myron B (Myron Bruce). Other members are Trinidad Rio (Daniel Brown), Funny (Donric Williamson), Brown Boy (Knolly Brown), Kid Kalalloo (Julien Hunte), Oscar B (Oscar Benjamin), David Bereaux, and Spicy (Tammico Moore). Producer is Carl “Beaver” Henderson.

“Humour in Trinidad is a way of life. It is no joke,” said CIC committee member Angela Fox. “We are offering people a chance to ease the tension. Come out and free up a bit, even for a short while, from the stresses of daily life.”

Musical accompaniment will be provided by the aggregation Kelly Green & Harmony, while show host duty will be performed by Nikki Crosby.

Patrons are asked to walk with their drinks, as only chasers, non-alcoholic beverages, and finger foods will be on sale.

Admission is $150 per person, and tickets will be available at the door.

However, before tomorrow’s kaiso show, tonight, at eight, the CIC is hosting its PanJazz/Honoree’s Night, at the Amphitheatre. Tonight’s honoree is long-standing St James steel orchestra, T&TEC Power Stars. Patrons will also be treated to live performances from the National Steel Symphony Orchestra, The Codrington Pan Family, reigning National Panorama (Small) champion steelband Golden Hands Steel and Moore’s Music.

As is traditional, and welcome highlight of WeBeat St James Live, the week’s of activity will have its tumultuous climax on Saturday night with 4 am J’Ouvert celebrations and steelband and traditional mas parade in the evening, from 7 pm. (David Cuffy)

Categories: Entertainment News

Strong Branches grow from Trini pan roots

Thu, 06/07/2018 - 02:40

While the national instrument seems to be mired in controversy in its homeland, there are pan ambassadors worldwide bringing pride to the instrument.

One of these is Branches Steel Orchestra, founded in 1978 by a group of Trinidadians who migrated to Boston, Massachusetts.

Come Sunday, Branches will a host a gala to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the band and its introduction of pan to Boston.

Some of the earliest pioneers of Branches were Lawrence Liverpool, Roy Belfast, Winston Evelyn, Ansel Niles, Leonard Frank, Lester Ross, the Tillet family and Carl Smith.

Throughout the years Branches has prided itself as a unique non-profit community-based organisation that has been instrumental in giving back to the local community.

Said Smith this week: “Not only do we educate the youths on the history and uniqueness of this modern day musical invention but, for the past 40 years, we have also taught them the art of playing the steel drums.

“Our hard work and dedication is evident every year when the children, under the artistic guidance of Justin Petty, musical director and arranger, perform at various events around Massachusetts, most notably the ICA, Martin Luther King celebrations, Newton Memorial and Everett Day parades, Needham’s July 4 Parade and the Caribbean American Festival.”

Branches has gained a reputation for outstanding artistic excellence; its programme suited for beginners with little or no music experience to experienced musicians. Branches is a well known name within the Boston community commanding respect for its artistic achievements and values that it represents and instils in our students.

The Branches Steel Orchestra programme motivates and guides young people towards lifelong goals by challenging their minds and getting them involved in music and activities that require them to learn skills needed in life such as commitment, punctuality, patience, how to be a team player, and most of all respect for self and others.

Branches Steel Orchestra is located at Smith’s residence in Boston and today comprises of approximately 60 members ranging from age seven to adult.

Ninety per cent of its members are under the age of 18. These dedicated young musicians rehearse nine hours each week.

However, during the summer period members rehearse 18 or more hours weekly.

Eighty-five per cent of the youths in Branches have gone on to graduate with degrees, some got Phd’s, Masters etc.

So, while Pan Trinbago Inc and some of its member bands continue to try to sort out their affairs, in the US there are steelbands flying the flag of T&T with pride, placing our national instrument on the global pedestal it deserves to be on.

(Reporting by Peter Ray Blood — [email protected])

Categories: Entertainment News

DEZii is awesome

Thu, 06/07/2018 - 02:37

Leah “DEZii” Forrest’s concert, Life, Love and Liberty, on May 29 was an ode to determination and perseverance. It was heartening to witness the power of artistes coming together to help one of their own.

The concert was divided into three segments—Life, Love and Liberty—with the songs within a particular segment related to the theme. Her repertoire consisted of a mixture of genres including rap, hip-hop, soul and calypso.

All about Life The Life segment featured the voices of Spoken Word poet Zakiya Gill, Amrika “Amrika” Mutroo, John John Francis, Chinaka “Chinaka” Pierre and DEZii. Amrika’s song, Woman, was an acknowledgment of the stages of life of a woman. The strong vibrant performance was dedicated to DEZii and the steps she’d taken in her journey through life thus far.

The dramatic voice of John John Francis reminded the audience that it’s often the Small Tings which fracture a relationship.

Chinaka’s breathtaking voice let the audience know she wouldn’t let her voice whisper about the state of her relationship.

DEZii had the audience enthralled from the minute she took the stage, beginning with You’ll Never Know and I Stayed, about women in abusive relationships. The performances were powerful and passionate, evoking the pain of the characters. A Song for Mummy, accompanied by a dance piece by Marielle Dos Santos, explored her feelings about the loss of her mother. DEZii also wowed the audience with her covers of I Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing and Skyfall.

Making music for Love In the Love segment, Chinaka sang about her Ex’s Gift to her, followed by a duet with DEZii on Salt. Both songs spoke to the pain and the pleasure which can be experienced in relationships.

Yung Rudd’s song I Just Want to Ask a Question asked the woman he was interested in if it was OK to be with her. John John’s sultry sexy song, Let’s Make Music, elicited screams of excitement from the audience.

Liberty wins women empowerment The Liberty segment featured songs about women’s empowerment and liberation to do what they want, emotionally, physically and sexually. Keoné Osbourne’s Sza was about a woman willing to share a man with another woman and Come Thru encouraged men not to be shy about approaching a woman.

Marcus “Braveboy” Hardy sang Rude Boy Like Me, a modern day love story about warning a woman not to fall in love with an entertainer, and then collaborated with Yung Rudd on Sunday Lunch, complimenting the beauty of Trinidadian women. Rheon Elbourne sang his hit Pam Pam.

The final call DEZii’s final set included In Common, a duet with Elbourne asking him to Stay the night, the original song Set this Place on Fire, Uninvited and Power.

She had the audience singing and dancing along during her performance.

The performers were backed by the Wanderer’s band, an accomplished aggregation which at times threatened to steal the show from the artistes they were backing. They included Franklin Lambert (bass); Chris St Louis (drums and keyboards); Denzil Tidd (drums); Leigh Tang Wing (keyboards); Kwami Morrison (electric guitar); Darion Dennis (violin); Joshua Salcedo (drums and keyboards); and, Mikhail Salcedo (pan); with Louise Clarke and Jessica Arnold as background vocalists. The concert was part of DEZii’s

Wanderer fund-raiser series, in aid of travel expenses for her debut performance in Winnipeg, Canada as part of the Canadian- Caribbean Soul Exchange Forum and also to assist with the completion of her album, Wanderer.

DEZii continued wooing audiences when she performed last night at Fiesta Plaza’s Wednesday night concert at MovieTowne.

For further information on DEZii or bookings, call 799-7056, e-mail [email protected] and follow DEZii at dezii.world on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Categories: Entertainment News

Two new plays premiere tonight14

Wed, 06/06/2018 - 00:17

Playwrights Workshop Trinbago’s (PWT) Monthly Readers Theatre Series, featured the first Wednesday of every month, presents the reading of two new plays for the June 2018 instalment; The Pursuit of Happiness written by Stephan Dwarika and Cries of the Mind written by Treldon Layne. The reading takes place this evening, at the Trinidad Theatre Workshop, Newbold Street, St Clair, starting at 7 pm.

The Pursuit of Happiness follows the love relationships of four friends —Vanessa, Shelly, Ria and Sasha. In these relationships, some of the couples fight for love on their journey of life, whilst others have the “perfect relationship”.

Stephan Dwarika is a literature teacher with a passion for writing and has tried his hand at writing books, short stories, poems, stage and screenplays, songs and musicals. Sandy Untold and Katrina are two musicals he has written, which are currently being produced by Chandelier Productions. Additionally, he is expanding his writing through collaborating with local singer, Zachary de Lima.

Cries of the Mind attempts to enlighten Trinbagonians to the importance of understanding mental health. Playwright Treldon Layne says of the play that the characters in it are not unlike us...facing internal struggles, mental illness and discovering ways to cope and prevail. Layne has written two books of poetry entitled They Stole It, I Must Replace It and Rise Up and Bolt Forward.

This poet, songwriter and motivational speaker, was featured in the Bocas Lit Fest 2015 as an emerging writer, and is also the founder of Treldon Layne Foundation and Treldon’s Greetings, a unique greeting line that was created with the intention to inspire and motivate individuals.

The PWT, in partnership with the Trinidad Theatre Workshop and The T&T Performing Arts Network, is inviting actors, playwrights, directors, producers and the general public to the reading to provide the playwrights with feedback, to further develop their scripts.

Admission is free for tonight’s event but space is limited.

Categories: Entertainment News

Sunday’s Mango Melee moment

Wed, 06/06/2018 - 00:10

Under a merciless Tacarigua sun, the ladies from Mary’s Creations were last Sunday conducting brisk business selling, among other things, mango khurma.

“Mary” is Mary Bristol of Barataria. And yes, she offered mango khurma. Crunchy and sweet and with what appears to be a faint touch of cinnamon, or was it ginger? Not quite “the real thing” but good enough to go in the heat, chased by a cold coconut water.

Foregoing the khurma left the customer with a choice, under Mary’s tent, that ranged from mango sponge cake, mango-banana bread, mango-pumpkin bread and mango cassava-pone.

Mary indeed came out with a bang at The Mango Melee hosted by the T&T Natural Artisans, in collaboration with the Tunapuna- Piarco Regional Corporation at the Eddie Hart Ground—a location now growing in popularity as a result of a now thriving open-air food court.

No, there was no melee, things were relatively quiet and what made up for a shortage of stalls, including the near absence of fresh fruit, was a variety of innovative, high-quality by-products including Just D’s jams, preserves and sauces.

Just D’s has been on the mango circuit for quite some time with a spicy, tangy kuchela and red mango also on offer. Dilean Smith-Richards is the mastermind behind the business and says that up to 90 per cent of the inputs for her products are sourced locally.

Rodco Home Essentials, known for its wide range of natural, fruitbased beauty products came armed with a line of rubs, soaps and creams including mango-avocado and mango-banana soaps and a mango watermelon lip balm that came in handy for the weather.

The Eddie Hart grounds are home-turf for Rodco, headed by managing director, Colleen Malwah- Aqui. She is also no newcomer to the mango circuit and says she has her eyes on export markets for her products.

Annette Francis from Maracas, St Joseph was also there with her red mangoes and deadly hot amchar.

She has been in business for just over ten years and says she prefers her small, manageable operation and market. Her products are not sold in shops and stores.

With just over a dozen stalls, this was not among the larger mango festivals. There was, up to midday, just one fresh fruit seller with about three varieties of mangoes that went fast.

The Melee organisers had issued advance warning. “In addition to the usual ‘peel and enjoy’ practice,” one promotional message said, “there are many added value products that emerge from different parts of the mango tree and fruit. This is what we wish to showcase to our citizens.”

In fact, the open-air market regulars just outside the perimeter of the Mango Melee displayed a wider selection of mangoes in greater quantity.

The usual fruit juice, roti, pholourie and bark and shark entrepreneurs were also out—the roti shed proudly declaring no shortage of curry mango over chicken, shrimp or veggie fare.

A worthwhile quick stop on a sunny Sunday at the start of the rainy, mango season.

Categories: Entertainment News

Words can hurt more than sticks and stones

Wed, 06/06/2018 - 00:02

I’m known to have a sharp tongue. A hot-mouth is what they called me and so over the years I’ve laboured on maturing in that area and, well, I’m still enrolled.

I own books like Words That Hurt, Words That Heal by Carole Mayhall, Me and My Big Mouth by Joyce Meyer, When to Speak Up and When To Shut Up by Dr Michael Sedler, and many other titles in that genre of life-changing-through-tongue-taming literature for the filthy mouth.

Bible quotes such as James 3:8, “But the tongue can no man tame, it is an unruly evil full of deadly poison” have been my daily prompt. And in the Proverbs, I’ve found an instructive one that says, “When words are many sin is not absent.”

My bend to change has come from personal convictions about my sometimes ungraciousness, but the hurt placed on me by the mouths of others has provided impetus. Very early I learned that the idiom “Sticks and stones may break my bones (but words will never hurt me)” is a lie, a ploy to get children to deflect hurtful criticism/slander. Words have hurt me more than lashes in this life. As an eight-year-old I was told by a classmate that I was “as poor as a ‘sursh’ (church) rat” (sic)” and, while I had not as yet recognised the abject poverty in which I lived, she ensured I appreciated her malevolence, telling me in the presence of laughing schoolmates, “You have no fwigze (sic), you eh hah no TV and yuh does iron on a coal pot.”

That really hurt and I think I would have preferred to fight and lose than to be smacked down with such an insult.

It seemed not our fault for being without those appliances—we had no electricity until 1978—but in an effort to understand my hurt, I went home and asked my mother if I was poor.

In her calmest voice she enquired why I wanted to know and I repeated the incident. Hmm. Lawd. If you only knew my mother’s pride level, eh! Her black face seemed a bluish purple as she leaned into me, and with a voice belying the cool demeanour of one minute before, she bellowed, “Yuh have somewhere to sleep? Yuh have clothes? You eat food today?”

I doubt if she heard my answers, but having responded to each question, she then declared, “Well then, you not poor. Go back and tell her that you have beauty and brains and that is all you need to carry you through life.”

My mother shielded me with her wisdom. Her uncomplicated philosophy has buoyed my entire life. But I learned children could be brutal and words cut deep.

Now, with a recovering mouth, and smarting from the punishing I’ve had from the mouths of others, I’m circumspect about the power of words. Words hurt more than sticks and stones and do irreparable damage. Whether it’s under the ruse of picong, gossip, salvo, or exposè, all words that are damaging cause long-term injury.

Those uttered publicly and particularly in politics and open forums, which are then repeated ad infinitum, I know, contribute to the instability in societies.

And, this place is steeped with abuses, which seem bent to character assassination and as we continue to underestimate the destructive power of words, in nursery-rhyme conjecture, London Bridge is falling down—and right on top of us.

It seems that slander, provoking accusations, and all manner of cruelty are the chosen paths of expression here, where, in the words of former US President Barack Obama, we “treat name-calling as reasoned debate” and infuse “suspicion and fear of those who appear different to us” either by class, ethnicity or partisanship.

The wilfulness of our intent in using words as weapon is to break each other’s back. This is a most unfortunate juncture in our affairs. But, now, who is going to help us heal? Who will lead my headless nation into the reintegration of community spirit where we can regain living in neighbourly repose, where kindness is worn as our garment of tolerance?

As I consider the health of our nation, as I look at the death and mayhem each morning on the news, I remember the words uttered here, on more than one occasion also, by high office holders and contenders, that “blood will flow.” As I consider my own experience recently where I overheard someone describe me as “ mental”; as I estimate the pain that such ignorance and bigotry can cause, I can only appeal to us to learn to suspend judgment especially the judgment that pronounces with hurtful words.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is an edited version of a feature published as How do we recover from words that hurt? on Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Categories: Entertainment News

Cozy evening at home for jazz

Tue, 06/05/2018 - 00:53

On an otherwise socially busy Friday evening last week, the cozy Ethnic Jazz Club (EJC) studio in Woodbrook, home of jazz ensemble Moyenne, hosted a free “open session” for musicians before a small audience that mostly concluded it was the best place to be that evening.

EJC leader, keyboardist Chantal Esdelle, hopes for a better response from musicians next time around on July 6. However, there was no holding back from Moyenne regulars, bassist Douglas Redon and pannist Natasha Joseph who, along with Esdelle, fed a musically knowledgeable audience an eclectic menu of jazz standards and jazzy interpretations of calypso, Latin and pop hits.

Opening with Duke Ellington’s Caravan, at the request of Redon who wanted to start with a “bang,” the trio could not help but show off with energetic solos in delivering this timeless classic.

Then, following a largely faithful rendition of the melodic Besame Mucho, the trio dug into the calypso wonder-bag to find Lord Kitchener’s Sugar Bum Bum which restored the opening tempo on the evening.

The evening would not have been complete without an offering from the Clive Zanda playbook.

This time it was his Chip Down. The challenging task was left to Esdelle to lead the way on the keys. Zanda is himself an EJC regular.

There was some skillful improvisation on Tito Puente’s Oye Como Va and closure came with an inspired rendition of Autumn Leaves, the early French jazz standard popularised in the US in the 1950s by Nat King Cole.

The plan for these “open sessions” is to feature musicians who won’t mind rubbing shoulders with other accomplished colleagues on the first Friday of every month.

This will run for the rest of the year to help mark 20 years since the establishment of Moyenne as one of the country’s leading jazz bands.

The actual anniversary is June 25 and this will be specially marked by four shows on June 22 and 23—two sets per evening.

The other activity planned by EJC is to present Jazz Cuts comprising video “snippets” of past performances by Moyenne and other leading jazz artists on the Club’s Facebook page.

Last Friday, Esdelle related the story behind the modest facility at 51 Cornelio Street, Woodbrook, saying the proceeds from previous shows, along with contributions from supporters, had helped improve accommodations at the studio.

The EJC studio has come a long way since the cramped space was launched as a venue for first-class jazz offerings. It has hosted numerous sessions with leading local, regional and international jazz musicians.

“Join us as the newest configuration of Moyenne explores our classic originals with new sound and presents new originals with our classic sound,” Esdelle says of the upcoming sessions later this month.

She is also encouraging jazz lovers to join the group’s mailing list by contacting EJC at [email protected]

Categories: Entertainment News

Celebrating East Indian Arts after Arrival Day

Tue, 06/05/2018 - 00:52

The Indian Arrival Day holiday may have come and gone, but every day is a great day to celebrate a country’s cultural diversity and upbringing. The contribution of people of East Indian descent has greatly added to T&T’s identity as a nation, and what better way to continue commemorations, to keep the pages of our story turning, than with song and dance?

After a very successful 70th anniversary dance production last weekend, on Sunday, June 10, the Little Carib Theatre, Woodbrook will stage an intimate performance starring some of the country’s most prolific classical Indian dancers and choreographers, Susan Mohip and Mondira Balkaransingh and company.

Their rich backgrounds in the equally emotive and illustrative Kathak and Odissa dance styles respectively will serve to tell a story on the Woodbrook stage, continuing to fly the flag for age-old Indian traditions which have been embedded into T&T’s cultural fabric since 1845.

Dancing since the age of three, competing by age seven, “Baby Susan” Mohip has blossomed into her role as one of Trinidad’s leading creative and film dancers, as co-founder of the Sangeet Mahavidyalaya, director of the Susan Mohip Dance Company, and Classical Indian Dance instructor at the academy for the performing arts, University of T&T.

She has taken her passion for the poetic and rhythmically-rich movements of Kathak on extensive tours through the Caribbean, South America, Canada and India, even having performed for many foreign dignitaries including the Prime Minister of India, Prince of Wales and the President of Botswana.

The concert also honours the work of Nrityanjali Theatre’s Mondira Balkaransingh, who found her love for Odissa under the dedicated training of nationally awarded masters at India’s Bharatiya Kala Kendra in Odissi.

Odissa is a beautiful classical style steeped in Hindu mythology originating from the temples of the Eastern coastal state of Odisha in India, but finds its fit effortlessly on the stage in Trinidad under her masterful direction.

Given the title of a cultural icon by the T&T government in 1994, it’s no surprise that dance has taken her all over the world representing both the governments of T&T and India, and that her body of artistic work spans more than 40 productions and counting. Nrityanjali Theatre has a Humming Bird Medal (Gold) in part thanks to her, and Balkaransingh can even be credited for having written the Dance Curriculum for local secondary schools.

The concert is one of four productions the Little Carib will stage specially to celebrate 70 years as an institution in the city for Performing Arts, and completing the bill will be none other than internationally-renowned classical sitarist, Sharda Patasar, daughter to award-winning musician Mungal Patasar.

Showtime is 6 pm and tickets, costing $150 each, can be purchased at the venue. For bookings and further information, call 622 4644.

Categories: Entertainment News

Pandemonium apace at Pan Trinbago

Mon, 06/04/2018 - 02:21

Can there be pan without the demonium? Are there ‘demons’ ruling pan – roaming among the pan world hence the bacchanal and confusion from its embryo stage to adulthood, today?

This culture of destructive drama cannot continue to be marketed as integral to this angelic instrument called pan – “allyuh ent see anything with pan is confusion and bacchanal?” many assert.

The word pandemonium originated in the 17th century and comes from the Greek words “pan” meaning all, and “daemōn,” demons.

Prior to my introduction to playing the pan in 1974, the era when my uncle – the late George “Sonny” Goddard – was president of the then-called National Association of T&T Steelbandsmen Association (Natts) and prior to his tenure, every meeting (on pan) was embroiled in cuss-outs and ended with chair-flinging and walk-outs.

Cigarette-puffing, drink-in-hand, hot-tempered, boisterous individuals, had pan in the palm of their hands – their role: to ‘develop’ the fraternity, the art form, sweeten culture and promote the instrument.
Sad though, while the instrument was developed and is being further… meeting acceptance, awakening pleasure and gaining appreciation, globally, personal and key aspects of professional development – respect; confidentiality; professionalism; proper planning, organisational, communication and customer service skills; integrity, trustworthiness; and healthy team spirit – are still in the wings waiting to make its debut centre stage.

While one could boast of having gained relevant knowledge or training, the harsh reality is, the measurement that determines if these talents are effectual is not by simply stating they are our core values, we attended a course or got certified, but solely by the calibre to which self, others, tasks and the business itself are managed or lead – how many people in and out of the fold are satisfied; have we created/do we create ill-will or alienation…how many have fallen away; have we placed the establishment into disrepute; am I honest; what is the world saying; where are we on the success grid – the lyrical question: am I an asset or a liability?

In 2009, a man named Keith Diaz was appointed as President of the governing body for pan, Pan Trinbago Inc. He is admirably noted for having introduced and implemented a series of initiatives that would see movements shift laterally and vertically with a view, that the vertical lever would constantly spiral upward.

Almost 20 years in office nonetheless, the lever seems to have become rusted and falling apart, prompting vociferous calls internationally, for him and his Pan Trinbago band to demit office.

The raging, incessant confusion transpiring with financial accountability, the battle with the Ministry of Culture, the fall-outs with the overarching carnival body, NCC; the lack of receptiveness, objectivity and open-mindedness to advice for betterment, frustrated pan players, internal wrangling – mass turmoil – position the world to sit-up and take note that the “governing body for pan” in the ‘mecca of pan’ hasn’t gotten it right.

It’s not only, that “Everyone Listens” When Steel Talks according to the website, but everyone reacts.

‘Everyone’ isn’t only those currently-involved in pan, but too, those who are for the first time, seeking an investment in the art form.

Is this truly the modus operandi to continue?

For the mecca to make a bold and impressive statement, not only has it become necessary, but mandatory, to engage in a recovery, restructure and rescue program, ensuring those operating its business are self-aware, effectively knowledgeable, adept and able to execute, exemplarily.

Salvaging what good remains and rescuing the fraternity from whatever demons are plaguing, are now incumbent upon six Government Ministries – Culture, Tourism, Community Development, Trade and Industry, and Education – to offer guidelines and standards towards impressive brand and reputation.

There’s Pandemonium apace at Pan Trinbago.

In the May 29 Guardian column, “Three Pan chairmen want Diaz out,” in part it states “The trio are also ‘demanding’ that fresh elections be held….”

It should be strongly noted, to move forward and upward, the spirit of ‘rogue’ must be eliminated from the world of pan. Our national instrument is not (emphasise not) ‘gunta culture’.

The nation is already buckling under the effects of rogue and bullying elements, it need not continue to allow this type of conduct.

The Bible states: “Jesus was crucified. He died for our sins.”

In one of his statements, Diaz says, “he feels as though the nation is trying to crucify him.”

While it is unclear whose sins this crucifixion is going to represent, putting the contentious areas aside, there is still a moral compass of sorts that guides the nation, and it will be remiss of the people to not thank Pan Trinbago’s potential predecessors for the contributions they have made as they make their transition, and wish them well.

Categories: Entertainment News

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