Dancehall vs Soca

There’s a conversation that takes place in Jamaica about Dancehall versus Soca very regularly. And that conversation gets very heated around Jamaica Carnival.

It’s a hard conversation for me to listen to, because having lived in Jamaica – I studied at UWI, Mona – I hear the xenophobia in the comments. Too often when Jamaican talk about soca, there’s shade and there’s the blatant attacks. The Jamaican who likes Soca isn’t in the majority. And this upsets me, because Trinidad plays Dancehall like if it’s we ting on radio. Local DJs love to talk in pseudo-Jamaican accents on the radio, but where the music we love is getting made, they scorning Soca. And why shoudn’t they, when we don’t love it enough ourselves.

I think it’s worthy of note that Jamaicans don’t seem to be as threatened by or condescending of Rap and Hip Hop, as they are of Soca.

Having said that, I think that it is funny that if you switch the accents and location, this is a very similar to the conversations we’ve had about Dancehall. Not as heated, but I am both amused and shocked to see Soca being spoken of as though it is a threat to Dancehall. And that has me wondering if something else is at play.

I want you to look at the current affairs show All Angles. Dionne Jackson-Miller hosted a panel that included Dr. Kai Baratt, Marlon Campbell and Dr. Donna Hope. At some point, while watching it, I started to realise that the way Soca was introduced to Jamaica was completely at odds with it’s origins. And that disconnect is jarring. I find Jamaica Carnival’s positioning as an elitist festival very disturbing. Always have. While Trinidad Carnival has created the all-inclusive model that contributes to it’s increasingly upper class tone, because it’s “we ting”, our lower classes feel entitled to it in ways lower class Jamaicans do not. So while there are attempts to make Carnival “all-inclusive” with the view to exclude; the Jamettes, the Saga boys and the Bwa Men who created de ting have the real ownership of the mas, and will find a space, always.

I think that Jamaica needs to re-visit it’s relationship with Carnival. They have to find a way to make it true to them, in a positive way. And that positive has to be more than benefits it may add to it’s tourism model.

That said, I’m way more interested in Trinidad Carnival and fixing what ails us. And for me, that’s such a difficult question to answer, I guess because it’s emotional.

 

Pretty Bitch Therapy

Local designer Ryan Chan has just released an adult colouring book. You know that I’m obsessed with them. Especially Caribbean colouring books. To the point where I had promised myself that I’m only allowed to buy Jade Gedeon’s Carnival Escape colouring book. I going to break that promise to include this gem.

Some pages from Pretty bitch therapy ! Get it tom ! 😊😂😂😂

A post shared by Ry Chan (@rychan_) on Feb 13, 2017 at 4:20pm PST

What? I’m supporting local! That’s allowed. Pretty Bitch Therapy: The Colouring Journal is available at The Little Black Dress in West Mall.

Stickfighting: Gi Dem Bwa!

My new favourite thing for Carnival isn’t new at all. It’s a traditional martial art, or fighting style, that was born in Trinidad to African and Indian parents and seems to be having a revival. It’s called Kalinda or Stickfighting.

I first went to Stickfighting last year, and had a blast. My favourite thing are the singers and the drums. The grio singing style, the drums and the patwa lyircs make for an infectious combination.

This is my story about the finals competition last year.

This year I made it to the preliminary competition which took place at St. Mary’s Basketball Court in Moruga.

maruga-stickfighting

I missed the semis in Arima on Friday because of Army Fete. But my camera man went so I wrote up the story.

Did you see those match ups? Kinda bummed that I missed the action live.

These competitions are being organised by the National Carnival Commission, and they’ve just released the results. These are the Gayelles you will see on Wednesday in Skinner’s Park:

  1. VALIANT BROTHERS                    Oniel Odle                                                     
  2. ST. MARY’S NO. 1                          Roger Sambury                                            
  3. RIO CLARO                                      Michael Hernandez                                
  1. BOIS ACADEMY                             Rondell Benjamin

Remember, if yuh cyah breaks, doh play!

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Culture Wrap for 2017.

I had a lot of fun this year covering all manner of things cultural and artsy. It was very inspiring to see people doing their thing in this country. It belies the rab that nothing good can come from here. I saw amazing art, and was party to enlightening conversations about design and history.
I can’t wait for 2017.

My favourite art exhibition was Josh Lu’s Paradise. It’s his cautionary tale for a country that doesn’t protect it’s heritage, built or otherwise. That has devolved into violence, and doesn’t seem to know it’s way out. That he quoted my brilliant friend Niama Sandy in his artist’s statement was icing on the cake. But I’ll keep looking out for Josh’s work.

He’s currently in London as one of the British Council’s 2017 TAARE artists.

Adele Todd’s Black Guard was also another favourite. I knew that she worked in embroidery, but I really didn’t expect it to have such an impact. The show took a hard look at our security services, and burgeoning surveillance state.
It was beyond cool that she got the Museum to paint the exhibition room red. You really should have seen it.

And then there was the Cazabon Exhibition at the Diplomatic Centre. I’ve written about that experience on this blog. I didn’t get to go back and see them, but I’m lucky to have seen them with Geoffery MacLean, so I consider myself fortunate.

I got to see Stickfight for the first time. I know, I know. I highly recommend it, it’s my intention to make this my new Carnival tradition.

Viewing tip. Look out for the paramedic who is thoroughly enjoying the match-ups. Bless him, he’s not letting his fun prevent him from doing his job. He made my night.

From Fete Fonts now Sign Books, to Fashion and Film Festivals galore. This year was an eye opening one for me, so I’m really looking forward to what 2017 has to offer.

VIDEO: CONVERSATIONS with C News – 28 October 2016 — iRADIO.tt Blog + Journal: Appraisal, Opinion, Information

Television journalist Soyini Grey of C Television sits with Nigel Campbell to discuss the 2016/2017 budget with reference to the creative industries in light of his recent blogpost which analyses the government’s diminishing response—both financial and conversational—to the idea a creative industry. Video courtesy CNMG Programme Air Date: Tuesday, 28 October, 2016 Programme Length: 0:25:28 © […]

via VIDEO: CONVERSATIONS with C News – 28 October 2016 — iRADIO.tt Blog + Journal: Appraisal, Opinion, Information

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Tribute to Mas Master Stephen Derek

I attended the Mastering by the Mentors Awards Ceremony on Monday. I posted during the event, you can read that entry here.

I was really touched by the tributes that came pouring out for Stephen Derek. You got the sense, that far above his talent, he was a kind and decent man, and the most loving father, whose children miss him terribly.

It was touching, and inspirational. May he rest in peace.

Where’s Culture in Trinidad’s Budget?

The conversation on my Facebook feed after the budget was read out, is that this Government, like it’s predecessors (regardless of party) doesn’t understand or value the creative sector.

Finance Minister Colm Imbert spoke of spending $25 million to re-install a state of the art audio system in the National Academy of the Performing Arts (NAPA). He also spoke of building 8 community centres this year, and their plans to build, or renovate, others in 2017. These community centres will hold music and arts classes because Government sees their value. The Government says it will engage stakeholders to develop ways to better integrate culture in our tourism thrust,  and Sandals is expected to spend a $100 million on services, quite  a bit of that would be for culture and entertainment.

But Trinidad and Tobago is supposed to be thinking serious about diversifying it’s economy,  and moving away from it’s dependence on oil and gas. The rumblings on my Facebook feed suggests that people aren’t seeing where in the budget that Government has put anything in place to support the development, or creation of, a creative sector, that many believe has the power to support our economy.

But my answer to those people is, what did you expect? You have a Government that isn’t accustomed to thinking about culture as something other than entertainment, or something to pacify the masses. They don’t “know” that it has real monetary value. So what is required now is civil action, to craft and then encourage the type of policy this country needs when it comes to culture.

The first step is creating a National Cultural Policy, and enforcing it. The NCP will guide how we treat with cultural things, ensure that it is included in the national education sylabuslabus, it will provide protection for cultural spaces etc. Then you create a Cultural Development Policy which will deal with the development of the sector including supporting its industrial development. But what is required now is the action of people in the creative sector to tell Government what it wants and direct how they are to get it.

 

A Caribbean Culture Reader

Meagan Sylvester shared this on her page last September 2nd. It popped up in my Facebook reminder and I thought, that this is the best place to post it, because it’s such a great list of papers and essays on our music and Carnival customs etc. So without further adieu:

Mason, Peter. 1998. Bacchanal? The Carnival Culture of Trinidad. London; Philadelphia: Latin American Bureau; Temple University Press.

Liverpool, Hollis Urban. 1998. Origins of rituals and customs in the Trinidad Carnival: African or European?. TDR/The Drama Review 42, no. 3: 24-37.

Liverpool, Hollis. 2001. Rituals of Power and Rebellion: The Carnival Tradition in Trinidad and Tobago, 1763 – 1962. Chicago, Trinidad and Tobago: Research Associates School Times; Frontline Distribution.

Stolzoff, Norman C. 2000. Wake the Town and Tell the People; DanceHall Culture in Jamaica. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Rouse, Marilyn A. 2000. Jamaican Folk Music: A Synthesis of Many Cultures. Studies in the History and Interpretation of Music. Vol. 66. Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press.

Regis, Louis. 1999. The Political Calypso: True Opposition in Trinidad and Tobago, 1962 – 1987. Barbados; Gainesville: Press University of the West Indies; University Press of Florida

Besson, Gerard, and Angostura Bitters Limited. 2001. The Angostura Historical Digest of Trinidad and Tobago. Cascade, Trinidad and Tobago: Paria Pub.: Angostura.

Cowley, John. 1996. Carnival and Calypso: Traditions in the Making. Cambridge; New York, NY: Cambidge University Press.

Dudley, Shannon. 2008.Music from Behind the Bridge: Steelband Spirit and Politics in Trinidad and Tobago. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press.

Dudley, Shannon. 2004. Carnival Music in Trinidad: Experiencing Music, Expressing Culture. Global Music Series. New York: Oxford University Press.

Elder, J.D. 1972. From Congo Drum to Steelband: A Socio-Historical Account of the Emergence and Evolution of the Trinidad Steel Orchestra. St. Augustine, Trinidad: The University of the West Indies.

Feld, Steven. 1984. Sound Structure as Social structure. Ethnomusicology 28 (3): 383-409.

Frith, Simon. 1996. Performing Rites: On the value of popular music. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.

Gibbons, Rawle. 1994. No Surrender: A biography of the Growling Tiger. Tunapuna, Pantheon Books.

Guilbault, Jocelyne. 2007. Governing Sound: the cultural politics of Trinidad’s carnival musics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Hill, Donald R. 1993. Calypso Callaloo : Early carnival music in Trinidad. Gainesville: University Press of Florida.

Lipsitz, George. 2007. Footsteps in the Dark: The Hidden Histories of Popular Music. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Liverpool, Hollis. 1990. Kaiso and Society. Diego Martin, Trinidad, W.I.: Juba Publications.

Nettleford, Rex M. 1995; 2002. Calypso monograph. Caribbean Quarterly Monograph. Mona, Jamaica: Caribbean Quarterly.

Rausert,Wilifried. 2000. Negotiating Temporal Differences: blues, jazz and Narrativity in African American Culture. Heidelberg, Germany: Heidelberg.

Rohlehr, Gordon. 1990. Calypso & Society in Pre-Independence Trinidad. Port-of-Spain, Trinidad: G. Rohlehr.

Ryan, Selwyn D., Gloria Gordon. 1988. Trinidad and Tobago: The Independence Experience, 1962-1987. The University of the West Indies. Institute of Social and Economic Research St. Augustine, Trinidad: Institute of Social and Economic Research, The University of the West Indies.

Stone, Ruth M., Verlon L. Stone. 1981. Event, Feedback and Analysis: Research Media in the Study of Music Events. Ethnomusicology. Vol 25 (2): 215-225.

Williams, Eric Eustace. 1984. From Columbus to Castro: The History of the Caribbean, 1492-1969. 1st Vintage Books ed. New York: Vintage Books.

Williams, Eric Eustace. 1964. History of the people of Trinidad and Tobago. New York: Praeger.

Alleyne, Mike. 2009. Globalisation and Commercialisation of Caribbean Music. World Music Roots and Routes. Collegium. Tuulikki Pietila. (ed). Studies across Disciplines in the Humanities and Social Sciences 6. Helsinki: Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies. 76–101.

Hope, Donna. 2006. Inna De DanceHall: Popular Culture and the Politics of Identity. Kingston: Jamaica. The University of the West Indies Press.

Howard, Dennis. 2012. Rantin from Inside the Dancehall. Jamaica: Jahmento Publishers

National Awards 2016

On Wednesday at the annual National Awards ceremony the following persons were recognised for their national service in the fields of culture and the arts.

Leston Paul the Musical Arranger/ Producer/Composer/Musician received the Chaconia Medal Silver

 

The Humming Bird Medal (Gold) was awarded to the:

  • St. Margaret’s Boys’ Anglican School/Youth Steel Orchestra (Culture)
  • Mr. Irwin Johnson a.k.a. “Scrunter” – Calypsonian (Culture)
  • Mr. Timothy Watkins a.k.a.“Baron”- Calypsonian (Culture)
  • Mr. Angelo Bissessarsingh – Historian (History and Education)

The late Austin Wilson was awarded the Humming Bird (Silver) for his work as a sound engineer.