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Army Band Goes Bajan
...parade spectators furious

By Terry Joseph
September 01, 2002

The army band raised quite a few eyebrows and invoked much comment at the end of yesterday's military parade at the Queen's Park Savannah, by choosing a Barbadian soca song for its march-off.

The band selected "Festival" by Rupee, a massively popular work based on the Kenny Rogers' mega-hit "Islands in the Stream", inspiring much discussion among spectators about its choice.

"Well, after 40 years we really reach," said an elderly man in a voice that rivaled the sound of the many marching bands accompanying military and para-military contingents as they began a route march through Port of Spain to the St James Police Training School, where the parade was dismissed.

A woman standing nearby surmised that the choice may have been an attempt at appeasement for a recent rift between local calypso queen Denyse Plummer and Barbadian counterpart Li'l Rick.

The lead band had established a tradition of selecting for the march-off each year's most popular calypso, transposing it to military-style and tempo for the start of the street-parade. Interestingly, this year's road march, sung by Naya George, is titled "Trinidad".

The Cadet band went for the traditional "Happy Birthday" song in respect of the nation's 40th anniversary, perhaps not knowing a similar sentiment has been musically expressed and in fine fashion by legendary homegrown composer Winsford "Joker" Devine.

The Prisons band was predictable and appropriate with Sparrow's "Royal Jail", as was the Fire Services orchestra for its version of Calypso Rose's "Fire, Fire". Other appropriate local selections played included "Fire Brigade Water the Road" and John "Buddy" Williams' "Saturday Night Blowout."

Up to the time the last marching band left the parade square at the savannah, the jury was still out on one band's choice of Destra's "Mash it Up", a local work, although one many considered dubiously, given what some saw as a level of recklessness embodied in its theme.

"Like they want more 'revo' (revolution)," opined a man who reflected on the country's achievement at building a society over the past 40 years. "After all that time they want somebody to 'Mash it Up?'" he asked of no one in particular.

Another woman, dressed in a combination of national colours that required a slight breeze to move the outer layers of red skirt to expose the full mix, brought our attention to the colour of Prime Minister Patrick Manning's lounge suit. "You talking about music," she chimed. "You don't see is not like long time when everybody used to wear the colours of the flag and look national on parade morning?"

Even the pertinence of Black Stalin's "We Can Make It If We Try", as played by the Police Service Orchestra, came under scrutiny from the impromptu patriot panel. "I thought we make it already if we make 40 years," mused one antagonist, only to be told of a deeper psychological perspective by a louder proponent.

"What they are doing is sending a message to these kidnappers," the man said. "They telling them if police really make an effort they could arrest a few. You get it? What they saying is 'we, the police, could make it if we try'," he explained.

Notwithstanding, the very complainers broke into a chip-along as the bands made their way out of the arena for the two-mile kilometre route-march to St James.

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