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Look de band coming
Posted By: News
Date: Monday, 23 February 2004, at 7:12 a.m.
By Terry Joseph
As the Exodus Steel Orchestra approached the eastern side of the Queen's Park Savannah stage shortly after midnight Saturday en route to victory in Panorama's large conventional orchestra category, a shout arose from one of the Grand Stand boxes: "Look the band coming!"
Taken from the title and hook line of Shurwayne Winchester's popular Road-March contender, the trumpeting sound of "Look the Band Coming" will no doubt enjoy tremendous popularity among masqueraders entering the many competition venues set out for the two-day parade of the bands.
Already, several aspects of the festival have concluded, leaving only the determinations arising from the street parades. We have crowned various manifestations of calypso royalty, the pan challenges have been settled and extraordinary energy expended on pre-Carnival fetes that began as early as Boxing Night.
Last night's final of the King and Queen of Carnival competitions and the crowning of this season's National Calypso Monarch topped out a month of competitions that have now spread from the staple State-run contests to similar activities in just about every possible sphere. Companies like the
Caribbean Communications Network (CCN) parent of the Express and TV-6 have their own calypso, road march and ole mas contests and ascendancy from these amateur jousts to the professional stage have not been altogether rare.
While there have been a few disruptions to the conduct of the festival it has, by and large, proceeded without undue anxiety over crime and the promise of increased vigilance by law enforcement agencies, if applied as assiduously as was the case at last year's Carnival, is likely to result in greater calm and deliver much more of the generally anticipated fun.
Today, Jouvert characters will take up positions well before Port of Spain Mayor declares Carnival's street parades open at 5 a.m. but at the blast of the rocket fire skyward to mark the spot, crowds in stands across the nation will crane forward, looking toward the source of thumping soca sounds, no doubt conscripting Winchester's Road March contender to announce: "Look de band coming!"
Much the same sequence of events will unfold at various centres nationwide, heralding the official start of two days of revelry, beginning with ole mas, wanton excesses of Jouvert, complete with steelband "bomb" competitions, otherwise well-groomed and upright citizens daubing themselves in mud or oil, joined at the hip to other less slippery portrayals in pursuance of the same goal.
And there will be several bands coming, the Jouvert component this year extended in Port of Spain to include a new contest for steelbands, although raising concerns among mas band leaders about the practicality of completing their rounds of contests in their genre, given the later start time.
With the steelband competition in the heart of the Downtown area, no doubt some among them will also find it difficult to satisfy that demand and return to base in time to begin this afternoon's parade, which is scheduled to get underway at 1 p.m.
For reasons easier associated with concerns about personal safety, night mas is not as popular as it was just a few years ago, with a small number of bands braving the circumstances to parade through tonight. Concomitant with other anxieties is the problem of music supply, since the soca bands and sound systems are already doing double (or triple) duty, playing for Jouvert, Monday afternoon and Tuesday mas.
Steelbands will fill a bit of the gap this afternoon with two major consortiums coming out of West Port of Spain, emanating from the PCS Starlift panyard and the newer Koskelle presentation that embraces a combination of single pan and conventional steel orchestras from the district.
But in the land of calypso and steelband and one that generates a tremendous supply of festival music, the problem remains one of extraordinary demand at this time of the year.
Those who have properly secured arrangements for playing mas have little reason to worry, their main concern being the point at which they meet their bands and the time set out for such connection.
No doubt they too will stand on street corners peering in the direction from which the music power is expected, waiting for first sign of a banner or boom of a music truck to shout: "Look the band coming!"
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