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The PULSE. Kaiso, Virtual Pan Excitement and a Quick Look Back.

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Tomorrow marks one year since Klassic Ruso premiered its 2020 Carnival season at City Hall, Port-of-Spain. How things have changed in one year as, under the shadow of Covid-19, come Thursday, January 28th, Klassic Ruso Tent will have its 2021 virtual opening, at 7 p.m., on the WACK Network.

There are stars aplenty in this calypso tent including reigning National Extempore Monarch Brian London, whose well crafted “All Fours – No Trump” is a sure certain hit, as well as Contender’s “What Corona Do.” Also on the billing are Crazy, All Rounder, Hamidullah, Typher, Black Sage, Carlton Collins, Lady Wonder, Versatile, Shirlaine Hendrickson, Robbie G, Dr Will B, Garth St Clair, Manchild, Stanley Adams and Mark Eastman.Kaiso Karavan, usually based at La Joya, St Joseph, opens its doors tonight, at 7 p.m., on The 2021 New Calypso Tent Experience. The opening will be streamed on the WACK Network and the tent’s cast will be headlined by favourites like Bro Valentino, Bally, Johnny King, Cardinal and Poser.Tomorrow, also at the same time, Kitchener’s Kalypso Revue will host its premiere on the same platform. Managed by Sugar Aloes, frontliners for season 2021 include reigning NWAC National Calypso Queen Makeda Darius, Sasha Ann Moses, Morisha Ransome and De Mighty Trini.

ANOTHER PHASE OF VIRTUAL MUSIC

For the next-to-nothing admission fee of US$10 ($70), you can feast on some of the best music when Hadco Phase II Pan Groove holds its virtual “Another Phase” concert, on Wednesday, January 27th.The glitzy and diverse array of music on this production includes pan, soca, Kaiso Jazz and chorale works.Of course, led by Phase II’s Mozart of Pan Dr Len “Boogsie” Sharpe, the billing also features internationally acclaimed US-based musician Etienne Charles, Barbados saxophonist Romaro Greaves and champion pan arranger Duvonne Stewart.Also starring on “Another Phase” are soca starlet Nailah Blackman, past International Soca Monarch Olatunji, virtuoso siblings Johan and Johanna Chuckaree, Lydians, CAL Skiffle poster boy Joshua Regrello and fast-rising southern choir Voix Riches.To access the link to purchase tickets, log on to www.hadcophaseII.com

Farmer Nappy will perform virtually at “Tempo in Sando” .

Keeping the vibe of Carnival 2021 alive, as February begins with a mix of calypso, soca, humour and pan, is CAL Skiffle Steel Orchestra. Pride of the southland, Skiffle will hold its “Tempo in Sando” virtual concert on Saturday, February 6th. This epic one-nighter will be produced at the National Academy for the Performing Arts (Southern Campus), aka Sapa, at 7 p.m., and its cast is as stunning as that at “Another Phase.” On its billing are Dr Len “Boogsie” Sharpe, Farmer Nappy, Rachel Price, Nadia Batson, reigning International Soca Monarch College Boy Jesse, Viking Ding Dong, Brian London, Voice, Cro Cro, Ras Kommanda, Elon Baker, GI and of course Skiffle.

CARNIVAL RETROSPECT

One year ago, carnival was in full swing with at least one leg of the National Panorama competition already finished and the junior competition approaching its finals. Massy Trinidad All Stars Youths eventually won that competition. Five years ago on this weekend, the National Panorama (Single Pan) semi-final was being held at Victoria Square, with the large bands semi-final scheduled for the Queen’s Park Savannah, on the Sunday (January 24). QRC’s Fete Royal all-inclusive fete was also held that weekend.

So here we are, this penultimate weekend of January, restricted to home entertainment and nursing a carnival tabanca. But I encourage, do continue to adhere to the Covid-19 protocols and restrictions.

Written by: Mr. Peter Ray Blood

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PULSE: A New Steelpan Company is Coming.

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A new steelpan manufacturing company will be operational in the fourth quarter of 2021. The company, Musical Instruments of Trinidad and Tobago (MITTCO), will produce a full range of high quality steelpans to supply growing demands both locally and internationally.

MITTCO is the brainchild of Akua Leith, Artistic Director and conductor of the National Steel Symphony Orchestra (NSSO) of T&T. He is a Fullbright Fellow and graduated from Northern Illinois University with a Masters of Music in Conducting, with emphasis on Steelpan Performance. He also holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Musical Arts from The UWI. Akua has played and conducted in tours throughout Europe, Asia, North America, Central America and the Caribbean. He is also a teacher of the steelpan.

Akua says he envisioned a full-service pan ecosystem that would provide year round employment in the production and craftsmanship of steelpans. “I’ve had this idea for a while now…but was very protective of it until I felt I could collaborate with a team who shared the same vision and values as I did,” he says.

He approached the Hadad brothers, long time supporters of the national instrument and together they created a team to implement Akua’s vision. The company’s Board of Directors and shareholders combine musicians and pancrafters, and seasoned professionals – Akua Leith, Mario Joseph, David Hackett, Robert Hadad, Joseph Hadad and John Hadad.

MITTCO’s goal is to offer the best musical instruments coupled with flawless service to music and steelpan enthusiasts in both local and export markets. To do so, the company will work with a team of experienced and dedicated steelpan craftspeople, using the highest quality raw materials, and integrating tradition with innovative manufacturing practices. MITTCO will engage the wider steelpan fraternity to create more employment within the industry.

The pan facility will be based in the e-Teck Diamond Vale Industrial Park, Diego Martin and will feature a robust production process. “We believe in collaborating to compete,” says John Hadad, “and have entered this joint venture with a genuine desire to promote this musical instrument globally.”

“Trinidad and Tobago is the home of steelpan,” says Akua. “We have, without doubt, the best artisan steelpan craftspeople in the world, and this is no better time than now to establish a world class company with international reach. MITTCO’s goal is simple: to keep the authenticity of steelpan manufacturing alive, here where it belongs, in its country of origin.”

For further information, contact Micah Jodhan (762 6073).


Written by: Peter Ray Blood

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The Pulse: “Farewell Ambataila Woman.”

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Today, Thursday, January 28, opened with the sad news that calypsonian Singing Sandra (Sandra des Vignes-Millington) died this morning.

Peter Ray Blood

Sandra was one of calypso’s history-making icons, as well as a stalwart in the Prime Minister’s Best Village Trophy Competition. I met Sandra 35 years ago when she was introduced to me by fellow calypsonian Dr. Zhivago at Sparrow Young Brigade calypso tent.

Her success was almost instant as in 1987 she made everyone sit up and take notice when she sang the still much-loved Die with my Dignity. She won the National Calypso Queen title that year with that song. She continued to soar and, five years later, Sandra won the 1992 Carifesta Monarch and Calypso Queen of the World titles.

Having formed The United Sisters with three of her calypso sisters – Tigress, Marvellous Marva and the late Lady B – the quartet won the 1991 National Song Festival in a canter. In 1993, they rocked calypsodom with their smash hit single ‘Whoa Donkey.’ I still have fond memories of Sandra and The United Sisters mashing up Soca Village on Wrightson Road with that song.But, more glory awaited Sandra.

Singing Sandra was a double calypso Monarch.

In 1999, singing ‘Voices From the Ghetto’ and ‘Song for Healing,’ she defeated some of calypso’s best bards by winning the National Calypso Monarch title that year, only the second woman to do so since Calypso Rose created that bit of calypso history in 1978.Sandra created history in 2003 when she won the National Calypso Monarch title again, becoming the first woman to win this coveted crown more than once. That year, she sang ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’ and ‘Ancient Rhythm’.

Singing Sandra was a phenomenal artiste and was a role model for the young, upcoming calypsonians, especially young ladies in the art form. She had a very special affinity for Karene Asche who won the National Calypso Monarch title in 2011.Singing Sandra will be greatly missed in the calypso arena and within the Best Village fraternity.

May she RIP.

Written By: Peter Ray Blood.

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