Picong at NCBA
May 07, 2001
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MERCIFULLY, four entertainment segments sprinkled some sparkle into Saturday’s yawn-inducing awards ceremony, staged to salute champions of last Carnival’s masquerade component.
The National Carnival Bands Association (NCBA) production was held at the La Joya auditorium in St Joseph and attracted a near full attendance, although several winners present routinely declined opportunities to pick up their prizes in person, conscripting band members to the cause instead.
The manner of dress of some recipients became a murmured issue among those members of the audience who had responded to the invitation faithfully, by donning elegant casual clothing. To their credit, the well-dressed King and Queen of Carnival made every trip requested of them to collect their trophies.
Among the notable absentees was NCBA chairman Richard Afong who, we were told, was out of the country. No explanation was available for the absence of Culture Minister Ganga Singh, who was down to do the feature address and “part of the reason for the late start” was ascribed by organisers to waiting on Junior Culture Minister Winston “Gypsy” Peters.
When the show did get underway at 6.30 p.m., the evening simply pedaled on, trudging through a tiresome list of awardees in ultra-slow gear, as scores of trophies were handed over. Commensurate cash prizes had earlier been distributed at the NCBA’s Port of Spain offices.
Granted, the process was less tedious than in years previous, when just about every person who graced the Carnival stage was given some kind of token, even for coming in tenth in as many competitors. This time, only the top three performers in each category were invited to make the ascendancy.
But even so, the event’s producers apparently thought we should suffer through continuous trekking to and from the stage by even third placed winners in categories as nebulous as “the use of fiberglass on Carnival Monday costumes”. Happily, acceptance speeches were strictly prohibited.
The absence of video or still images to remind the audience of what each champion’s costume looked like didn’t help, particularly when a portrayal with a thoroughly exotic name won and the award went to a man dressed in nothing more indicative of its impact than a mouse-grey shirt-jac suit.
Special NCBA awards went to designer/master craftsman Stephen Derek, co-bandleader and four-time Queen of Carnival Anra Bobb, junior carnival chairman Kenneth Greaves, veteran minstrel Theresa Montano, champion designer/children’s bandleader Richard Bartholomew, designer Carlisle Chang and the band Showcase Associates.
In collaboration with the Trinbago Unified Calypsonians Organisation (TUCO) and Pan Trinbago, the NCBA also offered awards to former Queen of Carnival three-peater Joan Massiah, Peter Samuel jnr for his seven titles as King of Carnival, veteran bandleader Irwin Mc Williams and legendary masquerader Colin Edghill.
For all its attempts at pomp and ceremony, it was the ice-breakers that scored massively with the audience. The Andre Etienne Dance Company infused a relevant king sailor dance and David Bereaux’s “Santimanitay” medley was all too short.
Although calypsonian Black Prince was identified on the programme by both registered name and sobriquet, it was former extempo monarch Black Sage who actually entertained. Co-host Gemma Jordan, dressed in flowing gown of kinté cloth explained: “We may not have Black Prince, but we have Black Sage, because black is beautiful in any form.”
Sage, accompanied by guitar, cello-bass, flute, guitar and jimbe drum, took suggestions from the audience for his topics, but only after dedicating a couple of verses to Gypsy who, he said, ran out after speaking to avoid an extempo clash. To a burst of applause, he lamented the length of the programme.
But it was the ubiquitous midnight robber, Brian Honore, who had the house in stitches with his monologue on FIFA vice-president Austin Jack Warner. Doing a piece called “The Midnight Warner”, Honore attacked the controversial financier with some biting barbs, delivered with good taste.
It was not until 10 p.m. that guests were ushered poolside for cocktails and the music of DJ M1 and the Woodbrook Playboyz