Caribbean Beat Magazine (#123: September/October 2013)


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The latest issue of Caribbean Beat (
EMBARK: Events around the Caribbean in September and October • Discover a new crop of Jamaican artists, experience J’Ouvert Brooklyn style, and jam to Dominica’s World Creole Music Festival • Cayman-based Admas Mahdere brings Ethiopian textures to the Caribbean • The West Indies women’s cricket team is on the rise • Travel tips from Vincentian artist and ARC magazine editor Holly Bynoe • This month’s reading picks • Recent tunes to get your feet tapping • Franka Philip remembers the late Mott Green and his vision for Grenadian chocolate • IMMERSE: Chutney soca’s rise to mainstream popularity in Trinidad began in the 1990s, and today’s artistes are hits of the Carnival season and the year-round concert curcuit. Photographer Mark Lyndersay’s portraits capture two generations of chutney soca stars, while writer Essiba Small explains how the sound has evolved over the decades • Little known outside Barbados, Landship is a unique performance tradition — drawing on naval lore — with deep community roots. As Landship marks its hundred and fiftieth anniversary, Marcia Burrowes investigates how the movement has responded to changing times • Drawing on their love of animals and willingness to work on a miniscule budget, the short films of Trinidadians Christopher and Leizelle Guinness have become online sensations. Georgia Popplewell learns how they got started, and where they’re heading next • Bahamian playwright Nicolette Bethel, co-founder of the Shakespeare in Paradise theatre festival, on the unpredictable thrill of live performance and the importance of preserving tradition — as told to Nicholas Laughlin • Where would Jamaican music be without the genius of its backup musicians? Garry Steckles pays tribute to these stage and studio veterans • ARRIVE: In the eighteenth century, the “Golden Rock” was a bustling port. Today, sleepy St Eustatius has more historic ruins per square mile than any other Caribbean island. Walter Hellebrand remembers how it went “from boom town to ghost town” • It’s Trinidadian writer Attillah Springer’s first time in Ghana. Why does it feel so familiar? • Squeezed between the Atlantic and the Everglades, Miami may be the biggest Caribbean city that isn’t actually in the Caribbean. Philip Sander explores Miami’s Caribbean pockets • ENGAGE: As part of a pioneering development strategy, Guyana gets US$50 million per year to preserve its vast rainforests. Nazma Muller finds out what it means for long-term economic growth • UWI’s Seismic Research Centre helps keep the Eastern Caribbean safe from earthquakes. Erline Andrews talks to the scientists who monitor the tremors under our feet • James Ferguson recalls the fateful day, five hundred years ago, when the conquistador Vasco Núñez de Balboa set eyes on the Pacific • The spices of life in Marigot market

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Caribbean Beat Magazine (#123: September/October 2013)

  1. 1. www.Magdalenagrand.coMPhone: 868-660-8500 Fax: 868-660-8503 E-Mail: agnificent Magdalena grand M Combine Tobago’s rich adventure and Magdalena’s great value for a vacation of a lifetime. The resort offers 178 deluxe rooms, plus 22 one and two bedroom suites with private hot tubs, all with panoramic views of the ocean from large balconies and terraces. Enjoy sunning on fabulous decks surrounding 3 swimming pools while kids have their own club and play area. Activities include an 18-hole PGA designed golf course, tennis, dive center, fitness center, spa services and a variety of indoor and outdoor dining venues. There is a lot to see and do in Tobago! Visit the “True Caribbean”.
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  3. 3. 10 WWW.CARIBBEAN-BEAT.COM No. 123 September/October 2013Contents 54 66 EMBARK 19 Datebook Events around the Caribbean in September and October 26 Word of Mouth Discover a new crop of Jamaican artists, experience J’Ouvert Brooklyn style, and jam to Dominica’s World Creole Music Festival 32 The Look Cayman-based Admas Mahdere brings Ethiopian textures to the Caribbean 34 The GAME The West Indies women’s cricket team is on the rise 36 frequent flyer Travel tips from Vincentian artist and ARC magazine editor Holly Bynoe 38 Bookshelf This month’s reading picks 40 Playlist Recent tunes to get your feet tapping 43 Cookup bittersweet Franka Philip remembers the late Mott Green and his vision for Grenadian chocolate IMMERSE 46 panorama chutney succession Chutney soca’s rise to mainstream popularity in Trinidad began in the 1990s, and today’s artistes are hits of the Carnival season and the year- round concert curcuit. Photographer Mark Lyndersay’s portraits capture two generations of chutney soca stars, while writer Essiba Small explains how the sound has evolved over the decades 54 backstory landship ahoy Little known outside Barbados, Landship is a unique performance tradition — drawing on naval lore — with deep community roots. As Landship marks its hundred and fiftieth anniversary, Marcia Burrowes investigates how the movement has responded to changing times 58 snapshot lights, camera, animals Drawing on their love of animals and willingness to work on a miniscule budget, the short films of Trinidadians Christopher and Leizelle Guinness have become online sensations. Georgia Popplewell learns how they got started, and where they’re heading next 60 Own Words “in the theatre, you never know what’s gonna happen” Bahamian playwright Nicolette Bethel, co-founder of the Shakespeare in Paradise theatre festival, on the unpredictable thrill of live performance and the importance of preserving tradition — as told to Nicholas Laughlin 63 Riddem and Rhyme backup stars Where would Jamaican music be without the genius of its backup musicians? Garry Steckles pays tribute to these stage and studio veterans ARRIVE 66 offtrack the stones of statia In the eighteenth century, the “Golden Rock” was a bustling port. Today, sleepy St Eustatius has more historic ruins per square mile than any other Caribbean island. Walter Hellebrand remembers how it went “from boom town to ghost town” 72 travellers’ tales azonto lessons It’s Trinidadian writer Attillah Springer’s first time in Ghana. Why does it feel so familiar?
  4. 4. WWW.CARIBBEAN-AIRLINES.COM 11 Media & Editorial Projects Ltd, 6 Prospect Avenue, Maraval, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago Tel: (868) 622 3821/5813/6138 Fax: (868) 628 0639 E-mail: Website: Editor Nicholas Laughlin General manager Halcyon Salazar Online marketing Caroline Taylor Design artists Kevon Webster Bridget van Dongen The Caribbean Airlines logo shows a hummingbird in flight. Native to the Caribbean, the hummingbird represents flight,travel,vibrancy,and colour.It encompasses the spirit of both the region and Caribbean Airlines. This is your personal, take-home copy of Caribbean Beat, free to all passengers on Caribbean Airlines An MEP publication ISSN 1680–6158 Caribbean Beat is published six times a year for Caribbean Airlines by Media Editorial Projects Ltd. It is also available on subscription. Copyright © Caribbean Airlines 2013. All rights reserved. No part of this magazine may be reproduced in any form whatsoever without the written permission of the publisher. Website: Sales Marketing Manager Trinidad Tobago Denise Chin T: (868) 683 0832, 622 3821 F: (868) 628 0639 E: Printed by Solo Printing Inc., Miami, Florida www.facebook/caribbeanbeat Follow us: Scan this QR code with your smartphone to visit our website CaribbeanBeat 76 destination miami is an island Squeezed between the Atlantic and the Everglades, Miami may be the biggest Caribbean city that isn’t actually in the Caribbean. Philip Sander explores Miami’s Caribbean pockets ENGAGE 82 green forest economics As part of a pioneering development strategy, Guyana gets US$50 million per year to preserve its vast rainforests. Nazma Muller finds out what it means for long-term economic growth 84 discover great shakes UWI’s Seismic Research Centre helps keep the Eastern Caribbean safe from earthquakes. Erline Andrews talks to the scientists who monitor the tremors under our feet 86 On this day a wild surmise James Ferguson recalls the fateful day, five hundred years ago, when the conquistador Vasco Núñez de Balboa set eyes on the Pacific 96 parting shot The spices of life in Marigot market 76 Sales Marketing Representative Caribbean International Karen Washington T: (868) 767 4878, 622 3821 F: (868) 628 0639 E:
  5. 5. WWW.CARIBBEAN-AIRLINES.COM 13 Cover The colourful life- guard stations along Miami Beach, each one unique, are icons of the city Photo Fotomak/ This issue’s contributors include: Marcia Burrowes (“Landship ahoy”, page 54) is a lecturer in cultural studies at the Cave Hill campus of the University of the West Indies, whose research includes the history and social connections of the Landship movement. Walter Hellebrand (“The stones of Statia”, page 66) is Monuments Director of St Eustatius, the Dutch Caribbean island where he was born. He previously worked in international public relations. His work since has included TV documentaries (for the National Geographic Channel and Discovery Channel), articles, exhibitions, and presentations at symposiums. Mark Lyndersay (“Chutney succession”, page 46) is a writer and photographer working out of Trinidad and Tobago. His long-form photojournalism projects include Local Lives, which explores the human endeavour underpinning daily life and the spectacular festivals on the islands. He also photographed Drupatee Ramgoonai, featured in this issue, for the cover of her breakout album, Mr Bissessar. All can be found on his website, Freelance journalist Nazma Muller (“Forest economics”, page 82) divides her time between Jamaica and her home country, Trinidad and Tobago. She is currently working on a visitor’s guide to Trinidad. Georgia Popplewell (“Lights, camera, animals”, page 58) is a media producer and writer from Trinidad and Tobago, and managing director of the international citizen media network Global Voices Online. Nicole Smythe-Johnson (“The art of hope”, page 26) is a reader, writer, and senior curator at the National Gallery of Jamaica.
  6. 6. 14 WWW.CARIBBEAN-BEAT.COM W elcome aboard, and thank you for choosing Caribbean Airlines for your flight today. We hope you have had the chance to meet many members of our team, from reservations to check-in and, of course, in-flight. These are just some of the people behind your flight today, and we are sure you’ve noticed that we try to do what we do with that little extra warmth that can make any day or trip a bit brighter. On many of our most popular routes there are many competitors, and we appreciate that you value the relationship we offer — along with our great value- added extras, such as free bags and snacks or meals on most flights. After the busy and hectic summer peak season, and before the excitement of Christmas, this is a great time to wander off to one of our many destinations for a little “me time” with your favourite travel companion. Take advantage of one of our special fares and even do some exploring close to home — we know you’ll love the beaches of Antigua, the forests of Guyana, surfing in Barbados, or even an idyllic beach villa in Tobago. If you really feel the call of the blue Caribbean Sea, “come down to Jamaica, mon,” and tackle a thousand-pound marlin — yes, even the giants of the deep know where is the coolest coast to cruise, and our local sport-fishing experts know how to find them. If you are one of the luckiest people alive, and a Caribbean paradise is where you call home, why not jet off to the big cities of North America, now that the lines are shorter and kids are back to school? You can pick your favourite ride at an amusement park and feel young again, or even hit the club scene in New York, Toronto, Miami, or London — and remember why it’s not so bad to be a grown-up either! Go show them the island warmth that somehow makes us the coolest folks on earth. So go ahead and shed your inhibitions, and call us today for your next Caribbean adventure. Making a reservation is easy: visit us online at, or call our Reservations Centre. You can even follow us on the web via www.facebook. com/caribbeanairlines. Take advantage of our Cargo and Jet Pak services. We are the perfect answer to your every shipping need. We have raised the standard of delivery with our complete Air and Ground Transportation Network, offering you dedicated Freighter Services, frequent line flights, and punctual interconnecting truck schedules. Not yet a member of our Miles Loyalty Programme? Join Caribbean Miles today, either through our website, or secure an application form at any of our ticket offices. And it’s never too early to book your Christmas trip. We know Christmas is a special time of year, and when the season really gets going, and you feel the urge to be with friends and family, those early-booking fares might be long gone. Book early and save . . . you’re going to need that extra cash for the gifts you’ll be packing in your two free bags for your flight. Enjoy your flight and see you again soon! Team Caribbean From Team Caribbean Airlines The best airline in the Caribbean The beautiful bays of Antigua — let Caribbean Airlines fly you there! EricBaker/
  7. 7. 16 WWW.CARIBBEAN-AIRLINES.COM Cal Events Caribbean Airlines supports Jamaica Diaspora Conference on trade and investment Trade and Investment was the focus of the fifth Biennial Jamaica Diaspora Conference, recently held in Montego Bay. Caribbean Airlines was an exhibiting sponsor of the event, which this year built on the legacy of the Jamaica 50 celebrations by exploring defined opportunities for the diaspora to expand their business interests in Jamaica. Caribbean Airlines was the Official Airline Partner of the three-day conference, and participants — including several key governmental stakeholders, officials, and business leaders — got the opportunity to interact with the airline’s team of representatives in areas such as sales and cargo. Minister of State in the Jamaica Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade the Hon. Arnaldo Brown with CAL cabin attendants (from left) Nyasha Davidson, Taryn Holung, and Suliann Pinnock Caribbean Airlines a hit at TIC 2013 Caribbean Airlines was one of the more popular booths at this year’s Trade and Investment Convention held at Hyatt Regency Trinidad. With a focus on the airline’s Cargo and JetPak products, TIC provided a great platform for Caribbean Airlines to promote the benefits of flying and shipping freight with the air carrier. Caribbean Airlines supports Guyana diaspora in Canada Caribbean Airlines was a notable presence at the Guyana Independence Festival at Centennial College (Progress Campus) in Toronto, which brought together several government, tourism, and trade agencies, all with the focus of addressing concerns of Guyanese in Canada. The event was fully endorsed by His Excellency Donald Ramotar, President of Guyana, who was in attendance along with other Guyanese officials. The day included songs and dances by the Katawau Dance Group, a group of young Amerindians from Guyana, as well as softball cricket and football games featuring Guyanese-Canadian players. Hardeep Birdi and Nazie Mohammed hand over a prize ticket to a lucky participant at the Guyana Independence Festival Caribbean Airlines at CTO in NYC Caribbean Airlines made its presence felt at Caribbean Week in New York. Organised by the Caribbean Tourism Organisation, Caribbean Week in New York is a celebration of the sights, sounds, colour, culture, and unique vacation experiences of the Caribbean, combined with business sessions and consumer- oriented events with food, fashion, entertainment, and networking opportunities.
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  9. 9. WWW.CARIBBEAN-AIRLINES.COM 19 datebook Your guide to events around the Caribbean in September and October — from a new music festival in Suriname to a celebration of Creole heritage in St Lucia Don’t miss . . . New Roots at the National Gallery of Jamaica, page 26 • J’Ouvert in Brooklyn, page 28 • Dominica’s World Creole Music Festival, page 30 SURINAME courtesythemoengofestivalofmusic Get your Moengo groove Like most Caribbean territories, Suriname has a rich past that influences its present. The country’s many cultural influences are the backdrop for the new Moengo Festival of Music in September. Organised by the Kibii Foundation — which was founded in 2010 by visual artist Marcel Pinas, profiled in the July/August 2013 Caribbean Beat — this is the first in a triennial series of cultural festivals focused on music, dance, and contemporary art. Pinas, a descendant of Ndjuka maroons, sees the event as an opportunity for the indigenous people of the rural Marowijne region to showcase their culture and talent. The festival, which will host local, regional, and international music groups, plus workshops and a craft market, is the beginning of a bigger plan to brand Moengo as a cultural district. When: 20 to 22 September Where: Moengo, Marowijne district For more information: email
  10. 10. 20 WWW.CARIBBEAN-BEAT.COM datebook Three Kids Director: Jonas D’Adesky • 2012 • Haiti • 81 minutes A steadfast friendship binds three twelve-year-old boys living in a children’s home in Port-au-Prince. When an earthquake devastates the city, the lads escape to seek their fortune on the streets. God Loves the Fighter Director: Damian Marcano • 2013 • TT, USA • 104 minutes Charlie is a young man seeking to make ends meet on the streets of Port of Spain. Reluctantly, he takes a job from a gang leader as assistant to a drug courier. An honest yet sympathetic tale of real life as lived in contemporary urban Trinidad. The Stuart Hall Project Director: John Akomfrah • 2013 • United Kingdom • 100 minutes In 1951, Stuart Hall left his native Jamaica to study at Oxford. He would later become one of the UK’s foremost cultural theorists. This powerful documentary portrait of Hall is comprised entirely of footage from his archives. I Am a Director Director: Javier Colón • 2012 • Puerto Rico • 87 minutes A budding filmmaker returns to his native Puerto Rico with plans to make a movie, Hollywood style. There are just a few small complications: he has no script, no money, and no discernible talent. A hilarious satire on the filmmaking process, by turns savage and affectionate. Melaza Director: Carlos Lechuga • 2012 • Cuba • 80 minutes In the town of Melaza, the sugar industry is at a standstill. Monica, receptionist at the sugar mill, still goes to the factory daily, although it has been shuttered for a year. Her husband Aldo teaches swimming in a pool with no water. To make extra money, they engage in a lucrative but illegal venture. TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO Catch a flick Eight years on, the trinidad+tobago film festival (ttff) is still going strong, as it continues to celebrate films from the Caribbean, its diaspora, and “heritage countries” — including, for the first time this year, China. A special highlight: a retrospective of the work of black British filmmaker John Akomfrah. At the opening night gala, director Biyi Bandele’s Half of a Yellow Sun — an adaptation of the popular novel by Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie — will open the usual packed programme of feature-length and short films, with 130 narrative, documentary, and experimental selections. ttff/13 also includes workshops, panel discussions, seminars, and a Unesco-ttff conference called “Cameras of Diversity for a Culture of Peace.” When: 17 September to 1 October Where: locations around Trinidad and Tobago For more info: visit Jonathan Ali of the trinidad+tobago film festival shares his top five picks from the 2013 programme Audience at a ttff screening in Port of Spain marlonjames,courtesythetrinidadandtobagofilmfestival courtesythetrinidadandtobagofilmfestival Still from Melaza
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  12. 12. 22 WWW.CARIBBEAN-BEAT.COM Aruba Aruba Reef Care Project When: 21 September Where: Beaches around the island What: Volunteers help clean up the scenic beaches and reefs of Aruba, with the collected waste sorted for recycling. Twenty years after it started, the project is still going strong For more info: email or call +297 740 0797 Jamaica Caribbean Fine Cocoa Conference and Chocolate Expo When: 25 to 27 September Where: Ritz Carlton, Montego Bay What: Nothing else signals guilty pleasure as immediately as chocolate, and while you may not be a chocolatier with an interest in the business side of things, the expo will feature all sorts of delicacies made from the humble cocoa bean, as well as chocolate-making master classes For more info: visit datebook Tobago International Cycling Classic When: 1 to 6 October Where: around Tobago What: In its twenty-seventh year, the island-wide tournament attracts some of the world’s top cyclists to compete in one of the Caribbean’s loveliest landscapes. New to the 2013 programme: two days of off-road mountain biking, through the picturesque hills of Tobago’s Main Ridge For more information: visit TOBAGOARUBA JAMAICA courtesythetobagointernationalcyclingclassic 1 2 Area M Plantation Le Ressouvenir, East Coast Demerara Guyana, South America Experience international quality and service with a local flair at Guyana’s premier boutique hotel. Conveniently located minutes away from our capital city, Georgetown, Grand Coastal Hotel is the place to stay when travelling for business or pleasure. Tel: 592-220-1091 Fax: 592-220-1498 Restaurant | Bar Grill | Gym | Pool | Conference | Free Wifi /grandcoastal
  13. 13. WWW.CARIBBEAN-AIRLINES.COM 23 ST LUCIA courtesythestluciatouristboard Practice your Kwéyòl Jounen Kwéyòl — Creole Day — began in 1984, and is a celebration of the food, music, dress, culture, dance, and other aspects of life that make St Lucia unique. The highlight of Creole Heritage Month, which runs all through October, it is the biggest national cultural festival in the island. Each year, different communities are selected to host Jounen Kwéyòl activities, which include a Creole Mass, a food and drink fair, and an “exhibition of Creole technology, equipment, and items depicting the folk life of the ancestors of modern-day St Lucians,” with cultural performances throughout the day. When: 27 October Where: communities across St Lucia For more info: visit, or call the Folk Research Centre at +758 452 2279 or 453 1477
  14. 14. 24 WWW.CARIBBEAN-BEAT.COM datebook courtesythecocodancefestival
  15. 15. WWW.CARIBBEAN-AIRLINES.COM 25 Barbados Caribbean Food Beverage Expo When: 18 to 20 October Where: Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, Barbados What: Looking for culinary masterpieces from the Caribbean? Be sure to visit the expo to experience cooking demonstrations, competitions, QAs, pastry displays, and a chocolate fashion show on the final day — yes, you read that right . . . For more info: visit St Kitts Latin Festival St Kitts When: 27 October Where: St Kitts Marriott Resort What: It started out as a way to bring the Caribbean and Latin America together, but has grown up since then. Now in its fourth year, and with a Dominican Republic focus, the Latin Festival continues to spice things up, with music, food, and dancing For more info: visit BARBADOS ST KITTS Stories by Mirissa De Four Make some moves Quick, think about the best dance video or musical you’ve ever seen. Those dance moves are all the work of talented choreographers who use the human body as their medium. If you’re interested in seeing what some of the best Trinidadian choreographers have to offer, check out the fifth annual COCO Dance Festival in October. More formally known as the Contemporary Choreographers’ Collective, COCO is the brainchild of Dave Williams, Nicole Wesley, Nancy Herrera, and Sonja Dumas, themselves choreographers, who use this event as “a platform of innovation, experimentation, and excellence.” Alongside a programme of performances, there will be an award ceremony honouring those who’ve made significant contributions to the world of dance. When: 11 to 13 October Where: Queen’s Hall, Port of Spain For more info: email, or visit the COCO Facebook page TRINIDAD
  16. 16. 26 WWW.CARIBBEAN-BEAT.COM word of mouth Dispatches from our correspondents around the Caribbean and further afield The art of hope F or me, the New Roots exhibition at the National Gallery of Jamaica — which opened on 28 July and runs until 30 September — is a small miracle. Two months before its opening date, the exhibition originally scheduled for the summer was postponed. Suddenly there was a three-month hole in the National Gallery exhibition programme. Then word came that the Mutual Gallery was closing. It was sad enough to have one less art space in Kingston, but all the more since Mutual hosted the annual Super Plus Under 40 competition — one of the few opportunities for young Jamaican artists to show their work. Spirits were low all around. We decided an exhibition focused on emerging artists was the way to go. We began searching for promising artists under forty years old with limited exhibition histories. At first, prospects seemed dim. Few were prepared to pull together a body of exhibition-quality work in less than ten weeks. But after much nail-biting and cajoling, ten artists representing all of the major media were identified. We found three distinct approaches to painting in Gisele Gardner, Camille Chedda, and Deborah Anzinger, photography from Varun Baker, film from Nile Saulter, animation from Ikem Smith, digital art from Astro Saulter, sculptural jewellery from the Girl and the Magpie, and installation pieces from Olivia McGilchrist and Matthew McCarthy. We decided to liberate the exhibition from any thematic requirement, giving the artists free rein to indulge their varied fascinations. We envisioned it as a demonstration of the new routes (pun intended) that Jamaican art is taking, not an exploration of any subject. Yet, sitting in the National Gallery a few days before opening, I couldn’t deny the presence of strong resonances across this disparate group of ten. There is definitely a focus on all things “street”: from McCarthy’s grafitti-inspired mural to Nile Saulter and Varun Baker’s character studies of recognisable figures from the streets of Kingston. Social responsibility is also a theme, with Ikem Smith and the Girl and the Magpie being the best examples. Spontaneous conversations like Anzinger’s unstretched canvas in the same gallery as McCarthy’s stretched tarpaulin are also a joy to observe. The real party-crasher though, is hope. I don’t mean hope for the continued development of Jamaican art, though there is that too. I am talking about an absence of sadness or despair. These artists articulate an energy and lightness in their approach, a seeming determination to make good of what is. They engage with politics, identity, injustice, but with remarkable joie de vivre. Walking through the exhibition, what you see is play and a youthful exhuberance that challenges gloom-and-doom narratives, even as it acknowledges the difficulties. And so it was that an exhibition that came out of disappointment and recession became an example of the continued currency of good intentions and sweat equity. All I can say is: here’s to that. Curator Nicole Smythe-Johnson of the National Gallery of Jamaica explains why an exhibition of work by younger Jamaican artists fills her with hope White Palm Painting (2013), by Deborah Anzinger; acrylic on palm, dimensions variable courtesythenationalgalleryofjamaica
  18. 18. 28 WWW.CARIBBEAN-BEAT.COM T here I was, liming in the subway station until the train came. It was a little more than nippy. Not my regular J’Ouvert weather. But when in Rome — or Brooklyn during Labour Day Carnival in September — love the J’Ouvert you’re with. I’m connected to J’Ouvert in Trinidad on an umbilical level. For me, the navel string of Trinidad Carnival lies there. The rhythm, the charmed darkness, and the mystical break of dawn forging into licensed abandon are just what I need to feel the power and beauty of my island nation. It was easy to feel the spirit of the thing even in that Brooklyn subway station, where my Tobagonian cousins and I waited for the Number 2 or 3 train to take us to Eastern Parkway. The buzz of the pre-dawn moment was unmistakable. Young second-generation Trinidadians proudly displayed their red, white, and black, and you could see that even if they never visited Trinidad for Carnival, they understood it — the perusal of the streets before dawn with the collective intention of communing with each other through revelry. They understood the power of tradition. A few bouncy train stops later, we were at the Parkway, with the Brooklyn Public Library in the background and Grand Army Plaza in front, both magnificently lit up. Throngs of people hovered at the library steps or walked down Flatbush Avenue towards Empire Boulevard, energising themselves with soca music along the way. Pan on wheels was “beating sweet,” and the rhythm sections were in full swing. It was strange for me to perambulate a thoroughfare that feels like twice the width of Port of Spain’s Ariapita Avenue, with gargantuan deciduous trees bending towards me as pan music filled the air, and NYPD vehicles keeping vigil. But there were the familiar sights too. There were versions of the Dame Lorraine, whose cross-dressing, subversive inversion of self and society is universally understood. There was the infamous Grenadian mud band whose reputation for immersion in mud, paint, madness, and mayhem precedes them — and they did not disappoint. In the midst of the action, island identity was most present. It is a parade of Caribbean pride as well as festivity. Vendors sold small, medium, and large Caribbean flags, and revellers and onlookers alike entered the night and exited the morning with representations of their native land draped around their bodies. For those second- and third- generation Caribbean-Americans, identity was wrapped around them, literally and figuratively. Older Caribbean-Americans — mostly Trinbagonians, I wager — also kept tradition in the form of the Ole Mas competition, going strong with age-old picong on makeshift signs poking fun at local and national public figures. And just in case I was homesick, a Moko Jumbie, stiltwalker of the mas, loomed large above the crowd, looking very much like an overgrown Pierrot Grenade in his colourful, ragged splendour. Pretty mas’ was due to come out later in the day. But by eightish, I was tired and sated, the way I am after any good J’Ouvert, so I took the trains back to my friend’s apartment, showered, and crashed on the nearest bed. The cat of the house, a friendly feline named Max, looked at me quizzically, but in mere minutes, in the middle of the morning, I was deep in slumber and oblivious to his curiosity. The only thing I had really missed was a little post-J’Ouvert dip in the sea. Maybe next time, after the fact, I’ll hop on a train headed for Coney Island. Parkway J’Ouvert Visiting New York, Sonja Dumas discovers that Brooklyn’s Labour Day Carnival opens with a J’Ouvert that’s close enough to the real thing DArrenCheewah word of mouth
  19. 19. Discover what’s possible TMTrademark of the Bank of Nova Scotia, used under license (where applicable). To find out more, start a conversation with us today. Visit a Scotiabank branch or go to But it’s our customers that deserve all the credit. We’re honoured to be one of the most highly awarded banks in the Caribbean. At Scotiabank, we believe in serving the needs of our customers first. So much so, we were recently awarded Global Bank of the Year, Best Emerging Markets Bank and Best Internet Bank, to name a few. We’d like to thank all of our employees who have made these awards possible. And though the awards are nice, it’s really the success of our customers that we care about the most.
  20. 20. 30 WWW.CARIBBEAN-BEAT.COM Let the music flow In Dominica, music flows like water, writes Natalie Clarke, previewing the 2013 World Creole Music Festival rhythms, pulling you in, and it’s home to the famous World Creole Music Festival (WCMF), now in its seventeenth year. WCMF — in 2013, running from 25 to 27 October, and marking Dominica’s thirty-fifth anniversary of Independence — is three nights of pulsating rhythms, made up of many Creole genres. Every year the Dominican diaspora, along with their posse, come home to celebrate all month long with family and friends. From the beginning, WCMF has hosted many of the major Creole music acts of Haiti, Guadeloupe, Martinique, and Dominica itself — as well as musicians from Africa and from the Creole diasporas in Europe and North America. In recent years, many top reggae and dancehall acts have joined them. Two legendary performances among many: the closing of the first-ever festival by Haitian kompas group Tabou Combo, and Kassav’s performance to mark the fifth anniversary in 2001. My own favourite memories include Jah Cure’s awesome early Sunday afternoon “rebound” performance in 2010, when a tropical storm caused this last-minute rescheduling to become a regular fixture. The Sunday “early” show has become a family affair, appreciated by all patrons. And last year Tarrus Riley got over five thousand fans to put their hands in the air and over their hearts in perfect mesmerised harmony, totally absorbed in the divine heights created by his musical design. The WCMF’s main stage continues to engage great local musicians. This year the festival honours one of the creators of “cadence-lypso,” Fitzroy Williams, along with a galaxy of cadence stars. Dominica’s greatest cover band — Swingin’ Stars, featuring Daryl Bobb, Dice, Hunter, and Daddy Chess — will take us back in time, with thirty-five years of calypso hits. Other headliners include a mix of Creole and reggae superstars, including veterans Kassav’ — the zouk ensemble par excellence who invented the genre — Carimi and Nu Look from Haiti, international reggae act Busy Signal, and the legendary Tito Puente, Jr, bringing a Latin element of explosive percussion. No wonder my love affair continues to grow, as I experience the joie de vivre of Dominica and its music. n W aitukubuli: the Kalinago name for the island resonated in my mind as the plane floated down between the verdant mountains of Dominica. In all my previous travels I’d never been greeted by such bubbling excitement and river-rushing wellness. Three years after settling here, Dominica still beckons me to come away from the hustle and bustle of my work space and explore a hinterland full of wonderful colours, giant ferns, and cascading waterfalls. Waters flow everywhere — as does the music of the island, from every village. The Commonwealth of Dominica is full of natural DArrenCheewah word of mouth
  21. 21. 32 WWW.CARIBBEAN-BEAT.COM Photography by Bernado Neri Visit for information on purchasing Admas items Smooth as silk Cayman-based Admas Mahdere combines traditional weaving techniques with sleek silhouettes T he 2013 Cayman Islands Fashion Week boasted a slew of impressive designers, but Admas Mahdere wowed the crowd with her latest collection of perfectly tailored clothing for women, inspired by her African roots (she was born in Eritrea). Using beautifully hand-woven cotton and silk from Ethiopia, each piece has what Mahdere calls “a stand-out feature.” Despite no formal training, her skill at mixing textures, patterns, and cut-outs, incorporating her signature weaving, is a definite representation of what she aspires for her line to always be: innovative. Alia Michèle Orane Above Silver and ultramarine blue diamond jumpsuit with woven trim details Left Admas silk and cotton blend woven bustier and diagonal pencil skirt the look
  23. 23. 34 WWW.CARIBBEAN-BEAT.COM W hile their male counterparts have struggled to stay competitive in international cricket, it’s the West Indies women’s team who are currently making waves on the international scene. Captain Merissa Aguilleira and her band in maroon have certainly made it known that they aren’t to be taken lightly in a world once ruled exclusively by Australia, England, and New Zealand. And they’ve done that the hard way. Last February, the West Indies made it all the way to the Women’s World Cup final in India, a marked improvement, considering their previous best finish was fifth. In fact, that’s where they landed in their last two trips to the event, in 2005 and 2009, while their two before that — in 1993 and 1997 — saw them place sixth, then with a first round exit. Fast forward to today, and the team’s growth is evident: at the 2013 World Cup, they beat both Australia and New Zealand for the first time in history, but were overwhelmed by the former — who have won six of the ten Women’s World Cups to date — by 114 Making the finals of the 2013 Women’s Cricket World Cup is just one of the recent successes of the surging West Indies women’s team. Kern De Freitas credits an infusion of young talent, combined with hard work, for the team’s international ascent runs in the final. They’ve also reached the semi-finals of the last two ICC Women’s T20 tournaments. The first sign that things were changing for the team came following the 2005 Women’s World Cup. Regional teams began to place an emphasis on youth and development. Aging stars like inspirational Trinidadian skipper/wicket-keeper Stephanie Power, Tobagonian Envis Williams, and St Lucians Nadine George and Verena Felician began to make way for a younger crop. Trinidadian Anisa Mohammed, for example, played in the 2005 Women’s World Cup as a sixteen-year-old off- spinner, and she is currently atop the West Indian bowling records at age twenty-four. Almost all the remaining members of the current Windies women’s squad began playing in 2008, and are under age twenty-four. Former West Indies opener Sherwin Campbell, who has coached the team since then, is finally seeing the fruit of all his hard work. “I think obviously we had a good fifty-over World Cup, and gained a lot of experience through that,” he says. “The team that went to the World Cup was quite a young, inexperienced team. We gained some more exposure on [the previous] tour [of England] as well, so we have some focus.” Campbell is sober in his understanding that improvement is still needed, particularly in the batting department, and he wants his most senior players — including inspirational Trinidadian skipper Merissa Aguilleira, consistent Stafanie Taylor and spunky Shanel Daley of Jamaica, and hard-hitting Barbadian Deandra Dottin (record-holder for fastest century and first women’s T20 International century-maker) — to lead that charge. The next step for the players is to prove that their growth continues. An exciting tri-series tournament in October, hosted by the West Indies and featuring England and New Zealand, will provide that opportunity. That could make the learning curve steep, and the challenge stiff, for the young Windies women. But if appearances count for anything, then surely their best is yet to come. n New kids on the pitch courtesythewestindiescricketboard West Indies women’s team players celebrate on the field the GAME
  24. 24. 36 WWW.CARIBBEAN-BEAT.COM “I depend Vincentian artist and ARC magazine editor Holly Bynoe on keeping healthy on the road, and the importance of taking your time while travelling courtesyhollybynoe L aunched in early 2011, ARC magazine has quickly won an enthusiastic audience for its coverage of contemporary Caribbean art, with a focus on younger artists close to the cutting edge. Based in Bequia, editor-in-chief Holly Bynoe — also a artist and curator — spends much of her time travelling to fulfil a busy programme of launches, exhibitions, and other art-world events. What’s the place you’ve travelled to that surprised you the most, and why? I visited London for the first time in 2011, to produce the exhibition Forever Forged, Forever Becoming in collaboration with the African and African Caribbean Design Diaspora. I was very much drawn to the familiarity of the streets, the façades, and the general aura of the flow of the city. There was a certain colonial staging to the order and the circuitry that I inherently recognised, and felt combative with. I don’t often travel alone, and I did for this particular trip, so I took my time and didn’t have to manage anyone else’s expectations. In many ways, I was able to wander and gaze at a pace that didn’t feel too metropolitan — meaning I wasn’t rushed, and I allowed things to progress organically during my hectic work schedule. You’ve visited galleries and other art spaces across the region. Do you have a favourite one, and what makes it special? Popopstudios International Centre for Visual Art in the Bahamas has been the unique Caribbean creative community experience for me. There is a diffusion of hierarchies and the formation of one solid community that works like a well-oiled machine. At Popopstudios they allow for experimentation and have an increasing regionalised view of Caribbean art. There is something special in the Bahamian creative community, and Popopstudios is an anomaly in the Caribbean, where networks and niches are pervasive. How do you cope with being away from home so often? I make sure to travel with very homely and comfortable casual clothing that allows me to adjust swiftly to new spaces. I do a lot of investigation when I travel to new countries, ensuring I always have a wifi connection and proper electrical connections in order to keep up with work. Getting enough rest and water, and eating foods with little sugar content before I travel, means that I have adequate energy. If all else fails, the triple shot: finding good coffee is crucial to my well-being. That said, being over-caffeinated when travelling can be terribly uncomfortable. I need to find my happy medium. I usually depend on the kindness of strangers, colleagues, and my friends to ensure that my accommodation, transport, and all else is in place. What places are still on your wish list? Iceland, Argentina, Hong Kong, Micronesia, and the entire West Coast of the United States. I am in the preparatory phases of planning this epic US trip with three close compatriots and artists. If you had to leave your house with five minutes’ notice to catch a plane to the other side of the world, what essential things would you take with you? My computer, camera, and hard drive would be on the top of the hasty grab — not sure how I’d survive without them. Also comfortable shoes, pajamas, and my stack of vitamins and medication to promote proper rest and relaxation. If you could have an all-expenses-paid vacation anywhere in the Caribbean, where would you choose? Guyana or Belize. I haven’t been to these countries yet, and could profit from a fully immersive experience and some alone- time exploring their cuisines, capitals, historic sites, rivers, and interiors. n on the kindness of strangers” Frequent flyer
  25. 25. We Offer Call: 1-868-675-7034 or visit our website: • email:
  26. 26. 38 WWW.CARIBBEAN-BEAT.COM The Sky’s Wild Noise, by Rupert Roopnaraine (Peepal Tree Press, 370 pp, ISBN 1845231619) Winner of the 2013 OCM Bocas Prize for Non-Fiction, Rupert Roopnaraine’s collected essays span a lifetime of service to Guyanese politics, representing a compendium of reflections on the nation’s evolving socio- cultural fortunes. Roopnaraine’s unflinching doughtiness as an analyst imbues the writing: certain fellow political luminaries do not escape satirical treatment. The author divides the collection into four sections, covering politics, art, literature, and tributes: fallen and departed comrades are remembered in expansive prose for the merits of their contributions to Guyana’s nation-building, lingering in the political interstices in the literary work of Martin Carter. The Sky’s Wild Noise reveals as much about the tenor of Roopnaraine’s activism as it does about the often-fractious landscape of Guyana’s navigations towards autonomous rule. Chick, by Hannah Lowe (Bloodaxe Books, 64 pp, ISBN 1852249609) Hannah Lowe’s debut collection of poems spotlights her father, a Chinese-Jamaican migrant to Britain in the 1940s, revealing segments of the life he led in compartments: chief among them, he was an accomplished card sharp, whose motto read, “If you can’t win it straight, win it crooked.” Lowe peels back layers of her domestic past, revealing as much about the Britain she grew up in as she does about Chick, the tender-hearted, tenacious gambler whose nickname furnishes the collection’s title. These are earnest, immediate poems, of a dice- and card-player’s dexterous hand, of a father’s presence and absence alike, of a daughter’s coming to terms with a man she once claimed as her brown-skinned chauffeur. Chick reads as a litany of memoir pieces, suffused with tenderness, grace, and Windrush-fuelled dreams hung out to dry on Brixton laundry lines. All Decent Animals, by Oonya Kempadoo (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 260 pp, ISBN 9780374299712) As a designer for a prominent, unwieldy Carnival mas camp, Ata has cut her teeth on the creative irregularities of an artist’s life in Trinidad. She searches for more than can be found in her careful blueprints for commercial work, while she tends to her ailing friend, the architect Fraser Goodman. Her European boyfriend Pierre aids in Fraser’s care, but as their mutual friend’s health deteriorates, the couple finds that fewer things between them can be taken with certainty. Oonya Kempadoo’s third novel, released a full decade after her 2002 Casa de las Américas Prize–winning Tide Running, serves up Trinidad Carnival and Trinidad culture on an ambitious fictive stage, typified by its unusual, often startling use of language. Through Ata’s documentarian eyes, the writer hails out “the chaotic Spanish clamouring, the Indian clannishness and cutlass temper, the African skiving danceability, and English peasant/French farmer crudeness,” noting how “they all blend together into a confused, brash way of life and language.” Fans of Kempadoo’s dually curious and wondrous lexical assignations will revel in her colourful, synaesthetic depictions of J’Ouvert’s messy splendour, of the kaleidoscope that a drive up to Blanchisseuse can afford, in which “Trinidad is revealing slips of her exotic dress.” But, more than a proclamation of the island’s beauty, All Decent Animals grapples gamely with the ache and persistence of disease, charting the decline of Fraser’s health, hearkening to his longings for the reckless ardour of a hale youth. The novel displays a persistently seeking core, pulsing with questions about the artist’s mission, about the incompatible dualities between passion and usefulness, about how courageous, ordinary people might survive in a pseudo-paradise land beset from within by so many masked devils. Penning both a love letter and a riot act to Trinidad, Kempadoo charts fragile terrain deftly, summoning a portrait of a place that prompts both delight and rich despair. Bookshelf
  27. 27. WWW.CARIBBEAN-AIRLINES.COM 39 Solid Foundation: An Oral History of Reggae, by David Katz (Jawbone Press, 416 pp, ISBN 1908279303) In this revised and expanded edition of a volume first published in 2003, David Katz augments what was then hailed as a necessary exploration of reggae as an art form, social catalyst, and inter-generational mouthpiece. The full panoply of reggae’s freshest and finest do not escape illumination in Katz’s chronicles: Jimmy Cliff and Buju Banton, the Skatalites and Prince Jammy, Beenie Man and the Wailers — all receive investigation and assessment in the writer’s deft timelining, representing a veritable embarrassment of riches in the art form’s dynamic evolutionary diorama. Repurposed for inclusion in the lineup of the twenty-first century’s musical encyclopaedic contributions, Solid Foundation purposes to be just that: a bulwark of information sure to enhance the historical chops of the reggae savant and dilettante alike. And Caret Bay Again: New and Selected Poems, by Velma Pollard (Peepal Tree Press, 190 pp, ISBN 9781845232092) Casa de las Américas Prize– winner Velma Pollard’s newest collection repositions the writer’s semaphore atop the uncertain, often- perilous fissures that riddle Caribbean selfhood. These poems bear the full, frequently disappointed weight of an archivist’s gleanings: a historian observing the land and its peoples, speaking freely of the ways in which we wrong nature, in which we wrong ourselves for uncertain empires of foreign promise. Yet, in the Caret Bay poems, and several others dotted throughout this anthology, Pollard purposes to write away from regional disillusionment, reminding the reader of what sanctuary might be found in Nature’s respite: in “Caret Bay II”, the poet proclaims, “this evening needs no syllables to watch us walk away, shielded by sombre evening and the smell of young smoke rising like incense from a dreadlocks’ hearth.” Reviews by Shivanee Ramlochan, Bookshelf editor THE PLACE TO STAY S P A N I S H C O U R T H O T E L 8 7 6 . 9 2 6 . 0 0 0 0 1 St. Lucia Avenue, Kingston 5, Jamaica
  28. 28. 40 WWW.CARIBBEAN-BEAT.COM playlist Bread Gyazette The band Gyazette was formed in 2007 by self-taught guitarist Nikolai Salcedo and six other musicians. They have been an energetic addition to the live music circuit in Trinidad, with their unique sound described by Salcedo as “fresh kaiso with a contemporary edge.” Some have labeled it “nu kaiso,” and while the lyrics do lean in that direction, the band is more versatile than that. You can’t help but hear the influence of the great David Rudder, André Tanker, and 3Canal on Gyazette’s eagerly anticipated debut EP, but that doesn’t mean they are copying them. What they have done is taken that sound, flipped it on its head, and added a rock sound with reggae beats. Lyrically, the songs touch on topics like hunger and fighting inner demons, and there is some playfulness too. The title track “Bread” tells the story of a Trinidadian, unemployed, who needs to “wuk his car like a taxi” to get food. This is something that happens every day in Trinidad and Tobago, but Salcedo tells a good tale about how he turns the page on some would-be robbers and they end up feeding him. “Mango” is about working too hard, and to relieve this stress the singer must “go pick a mango” (you can decipher the lyrics however you please). The final song, “Longing for You”, brings a change of pace, and can be considered the ballad of the album, but it’s definitely a standout. The only drawback to this album is that it’s too short. Jumbie in the Jukebox Kobo Town On listening to the second album release from the Toronto-based band Kobo Town, led by Trinidad- born Drew Gonsalves, you get the feeling it wasn’t by accident the first lines of the opening song, “Kaiso News”, are “If I had a choice I would choose to live back when calypso bought you the news.” Gonsalves paints a vivid picture of Trinidad past and present. He sings of the Trinidad Labour uprising of 1937 in “Road to Fyzabad”, as well as topics like emigration and paranoia, all the while transporting the listener directly to his home island. Tapping into the roots of calypso as social commentary, he sings of “Postcard Poverty”, where tourists come to Trinidad simply to take photos of the ghetto to show their friends at home. And when Gonzales sings about “Diego Martin”, the town where he grew up and which he left at age thirteen for Canada, you can hear in his voice the pain he felt as a young man separated from his home and country. If you love kaiso, calypso, alternative music, Improving the quality of life for every patient
  29. 29. WWW.CARIBBEAN-AIRLINES.COM 41 or just want to hear some great musical storytelling, this is the album to buy. If this reviewer could give it stars, it would receive five out of five. Losers Never Win desmond Reggae, like other forms of music, has many categories. Some artists sing of their political views, some are lady lovers’ rockers, and some give off a dancehall vibe. desmond — yes, he goes by one name, with a lowercase d — does not fall into any of these categories. You can tell he isn’t a typical reggae singer. His voice is very distinctive, as he is classically trained. This also shows in the music, which relies heavily on saxophone and piano, neither of which is heard much in reggae, but they are perfect for the sound he is going for, as he delivers positive messages in each of the three songs on his EP Losers Never Win. The title track tells a straightforward story of a son wanting to be a winner in life, and his father giving him advice. Nothing groundbreaking there, but the arrangement of the music is very evocative. “Makes me Stronger”, venturing into RB territory, tells of a relationship gone bad, where the singer claims “All the wrong you do is all right for me / Makes me stronger.” The final track returns to the reggae format and again is positive in its message. If you’re looking for a unique new artist, give desmond a listen — his music is available on itunes and Amazon, or visit his website at Other Side of Love Sean Paul Music is an ever-changing entity, and all artists must adapt to stay current and trendy. Sean Paul has tried to do exactly this on his new single — the first from his as yet untitled next album — and has hired hit-maker producers Benny Blanco and the Cataracs to give him an electronic/pop sound, pulling him away from his dancehall roots. The song is about a relationship break-up, and while other artists might have taken a sombre approach, Sean Paul gives it an upbeat swing. The production is flawless, but while it will be a hit in the clubs, Sean Paul really should stick to what he does best — his attempt to sing on this single is very distracting, even given the liberal use of autotune. Reviews by Sheldon Cadet Single spotlight
  30. 30. WWW.CARIBBEAN-AIRLINES.COM 43 I n the past, when friends visited Grenada, they brought back quaint little packets of nutmeg and spices with some cocoa balls. We’d usually take out the cocoa, and toss the nutmeg into a spice bottle in the cupboard. The cocoa would be grated and made into delicious cocoa tea — and that was as far as Grenadian cocoa went for me. Fast forward a few years to London, and I’m shopping in a supermarket, where among the posh chocolate brands like Green and Black’s and Valrhona sat a chocolate bar from Grenada. The Grenada Chocolate Company’s brightly coloured wrapper — depicting the Caribbean Sea framed by branches laden with yellow and orange cocoa pods — put a smile on my face, because it looked so much like home. The seventy-one per cent dark chocolate bars were impressive, and I felt they more than held their own against more popular brands. I did a little research about the company behind this chocolate, and discovered it was run by a hugely passionate American man who had fallen in love with Grenada. I didn’t know much more about Mott Green and the grand vision he had for Grenadian cocoa until recently, when, sadly, I read his obituary — and discovered that the idealistic driving force behind the Grenada Chocolate Company had developed a system of farming and manufacturing chocolate that was quite revolutionary. M ott Green was born David Friedman in Staten Island, New York. He studied for a degree in engineering at the University of Pennsylvania, but dropped out months before graduation. Embarking on a bohemian existence, he lived in abandoned houses with groups of anarchists and helped feed the homeless by getting food that would otherwise be dumped by restaurants. While living this bohemian dream, he put his engineering skills to use, and Green assembled appliances and systems based on solar power in the neighbourhoods where he lived. B ittersweet The late Mott Green (April 15, 1966–June 1, 2013) was an unconventional American entrepreneur with a vision for making Grenadians proud of their world-class cocoa. Franka Philip explains how his Grenada Chocolate Company broke the mold, and set an example for cocoa producers around the world cookup
  31. 31. 44 WWW.CARIBBEAN-BEAT.COM were able to experiment with how they fermented the cocoa beans and therefore determine the flavour they wanted in their chocolate. “It’s interesting how so many chocolate makers don’t get involved in the fermenting process,” he said. “The fermenting part affects the flavour so much. It puts us in the interesting position of being able to make the most of our beans, flavour-wise.” As any cook knows, working with chocolate in a tropical climate is not an easy thing. The Grenada Chocolate Company’s award-winning chocolates especially fascinated chocolatiers in Europe. Chantal Coady of Rococo Chocolates was the first to sell the bars in Britain. When interviewed by The Food Programme, she marvelled at how Green and his team managed to create such excellent chocolate in tropical conditions. “It’s extremely hot and humid. To make chocolate, you need very controlled, almost laboratory type conditions, a constant temperature of about eighteen degrees C to align the crystal structure to make a chocolate bar. It’s very difficult when you don’t have good electricity, and when you’re starting with a temperature of almost thirty degrees outside, it’s almost impossible,” she said. Green built the machines to suit the small scale of the operation. He used exercise bikes to power one of the mills and solar power to run the operation. According to the New York Times, Green’s company only recently became profitable. This was due in part to the opening of a shop in Grenada that sells treats made from its chocolate. Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper noted that, with a weekly output of less than three hundred pounds, Grenada Chocolate Company chocolate is some of the most expensive in the world. (A bar of Grenada dark seventy-one per cent costs £5.50, or US$8.37). But it won many fans for its bold flavours, which Green attributed to Grenada’s volcanic soils, and the walls of his factory featured numerous awards in the category of best dark organic chocolate bar from the London-based Academy of Chocolate. G reen’s tragic death, as a result of an accident while fixing electrical equipment at the factory, shocked many. Chantal Coady said he was “taken at the prime of his life.” “Mott was truly a son of Grenada. He came in, shook the place up, and he cared so deeply about the country. They definitely claim him as one of their own,” she said. Mott Green’s vision — for making top-class chocolate that benefited the people of Grenada — is his legacy. And it’s not just for Grenada, but for cocoa producers all over the world who want their people to be empowered and in charge of their destinies. n According to the New York Times, Green’s love affair with Grenada began as a child, when his father, a doctor, took the family to the island for several winters while he taught at the medical school there. He cemented this relationship in the mid 1990s, when convinced by a Grenadian friend living in New York that he should visit. After arriving with very little money or material things, it was only a matter of time before Green fell in love with Grenadians and their cocoa. Green himself started to produce his own cocoa balls and cocoa tea in his bamboo house in Hermitage, which would become the base for the chocolate factory. After studying the techniques Grenadian farmers were using, he became convinced that fine chocolate could be produced on the island. In 1999, he and his business partner Doug Brown established the Grenada Chocolate Company. “My progression,” he told D magazine in Dallas in 2012, “was activist, love Grenada, love cocoa, love machines and tinkering, making chocolate, and doing it all without hurting the land.” The Food Programme on BBC Radio 4 had been following Green for several months before he died to make a documentary about the chocolate and his vision. In many cocoa-producing nations, farmers and workers have been exploited by middlemen working for chocolate producers across the world. In some ways, the Fairtrade movement has tried to address this imbalance, and, as Green told The Food Programme, his vision was to create a co-operative of cocoa farmers and chocolate makers so they could benefit directly from cocoa farming. The Grenada Chocolate Company pays cocoa farmers twice the going rate for their cocoa, and all the workers in the factory are paid equally. This seems like a simple and obvious idea, but it was new, and it was the first time that any country grew cocoa and produced chocolate for export. Usually, cocoa farmers sell their beans to companies who make the chocolate and then distribute it around the globe. So rather than boasting that their cocoa beans go into some of the finest chocolate in the world, Grenadians can lay claim to producing top class chocolates themselves. “I wanted to create a group of self-empowered cocoa makers who would be in control of the whole supply chain,” Green told the BBC. Since he and his team had control of the entire process, they The Grenada Chocolate Company headquarters in Hermitage courtesyceliasorhaindo/tropicaltiesdominica
  32. 32. 46 Closeup Chutney succession 54 Backstory Landship ahoy Chutney soca artiste Sally Sagram immerse marklyndersay 58 Snapshot Lights, camera, animals 60 Own Words “In the theatre, you never know what’s gonna happen” 65 Riddem Rhyme Backup stars
  33. 33. 46 WWW.CARIBBEAN-BEAT.COM I t’s fitting that the man who created soca music, by combining soul with calypso, was the one who also birthed chutney soca. Back in 1974, when Trinidadian Ras Shorty I released “Om Shanti Om”, there was not yet a name for this musically intoxicating marriage. Shorty infused soca with traditional classical Indian percussive instruments like the dholak (a two-headed hand-drum), the tabla (similar to bongo drums), and the dhantal (a long steel rod played by striking it with a horseshoe). “Om Shanti Om” was arguably the first chutney soca song on record, but the genre drew on the older chutney style, which can be traced to Caribbean Hindu weddings. Traditionally it meant a kind of traditional tune sung by women, later lent a dance tempo by musicians like Ramdew Chaitoe in Suriname. Trinidadian Sunilal Popo Bahora, a.k.a. Sundar Popo, took it mainstream with the release of his 1970s hit “Nana and Nani”. And though Shorty experimented with a soca-and-chutney cross in that same decade, chutney soca as we know it today was only officially defined in 1987, with the debut of Drupatee Ramgoonai’s first album Chatnee Soca. The following year, another exponent emerged, in the person of Samraj Jaimungal, or Rikki Jai, as he’s much better known. Rikki Jai was a member of the Indian music orchestra JMC Triveni before releasing “Sumintra” — a runaway hit that told the story of an Indo-Trinidadian woman’s love for soca over the music of Indian playback singer Lata Mangeshkar. Today’s widespread popularity of chutney soca among Trinidadians of all backgrounds can be credited in part to the introduction of the Chutney Soca Monarch competition in 1995, open to all performers of the genre. Rikki Jai and Drupatee became household names, alongside Ramrajie Prabhoo (the first woman to win the coveted Chutney Soca Monarch prize), Heeralal Rampartap, Sonny Mann, and Rooplal Girdharie — who also increasingly found a place in Carnival fetes and soca concerts. Today’s chutney soca has changed since the days when Drupatee and Rikki Jai ruled supreme. The use of filmi melodies from popular Bollywood movies, with lyrics rewritten to give the songs local relevance, has increased the genre’s popularity. Meanwhile, the lyrics’ prevailing themes have also evolved, in directions that often flirt with stereotype, with numerous pro-alcohol songs (Adesh Samaroo’s “Rum Till I Die”, Ravi B’s “Rum Is Meh Lover”), and others slyly tackling marital infidelity. The genre has also spawned young and feisty superstars — among them, KI, Sally Sagram, and Nisha and Ravi B — who are just as popular during Carnival season as soca artistes. Unafraid of trying new things, including musical collaborations, these artistes are also trendsetters, with endorsement deals for telecom companies and websites that keep their fans in touch with gig dates and new releases. Meanwhile, pioneers Drupatee and Rikki Jai have also successfully kept up with the music, and serve as inspiration and motivation to the growing bunch of younger chutney soca performers. Earlier this year, Drupatee’s career was given a second breath of life, when she teamed up with soca’s hottest export, Machel Montano, for the song “Indian Gyal”. The two first collaborated on the chutney soca “Real Unity” thirteen years ago — the song symbolic not only of the ethnic backgrounds of the two singers, but as a genre all Trinidadians can lay claim to. Chutney succession Its roots go back to the 1970s, but chutney soca — a genre infusing Indo-Caribbean music with soca elements — really began its rise to popularity in Trinidad in the 1990s. Today’s chutney soca artistes are stars of the Carnival season, with international concert gigs filling the rest of the calendar. Essiba Small charts the musical form’s evolution over the decades, while photographer Mark Lyndersay captures portraits of two generations of chutney soca stars panorama
  34. 34. WWW.CARIBBEAN-AIRLINES.COM 47 Sally Sagram Photographed at Extreme band room, Chaguanas Two years into her career as a singer, Sally Sagram lost her father, Bal Sagram, a local singer of Bollywood playback songs. She was just ten years old, and decided she would follow him onto the professional stage. By the time she was nineteen, she was singing chutney soca with the Spread Paal Crew, and soon after began performing and competing in national shows. Three years ago she formed the crossover band Extreme with her brother Shivan, and it’s here, in the band room below her home in Chaguanas, that Sally plans global musical domination with her bandmates.
  35. 35. 48 WWW.CARIBBEAN-BEAT.COM KI Photographed at Woodford Café, PricePlaza, Chaguanas When Kris Vishal Persad was hoisted aloft by his fans at the 2012 Chutney Soca Monarch competition, it seemed a clear repudiation of the love song “Single Forever”, which had propelled him to what seemed like sudden, shocking success. But KI, at twenty-five one of the youngest-ever champions in the national competition, had already spent most of his life around a band, his father Veerendra’s JMC Triveni. Formed in 1977, Triveni was a polished band performing a range of Indian classical works and a Bollywood repertoire before they jumped boldly into the soca mix. KI began freelancing with the band at the age of fourteen, joining as a keyboardist and drummer three years later. He fondly recalls winning the first ever Children’s Mastana Bahar competition, but fell back on his “single man” persona for photographs at the Woodford Café bar. In 2013, he invited ladies to be “Friends for the Night”, a popular sequel to his runaway 2012 hit. It’s a persona that suits the dimple-cheeked charmer, who never fails to flash that devastating smile.
  36. 36. WWW.CARIBBEAN-AIRLINES.COM 49 Raymond Ramnarine Photographed at the Bakyard Studio, Gasparillo Dil-E-Nadan was playing at a concert in Toronto, and Raymond Ramnarine, then just a child, realised, “I want to be on stage!” Ramnarine’s hubris was understandable. Dil-E- Nadan had won the Prime Minister’s Trophy in 1970, was acknowledged as a powerful export product, and it just happened to be led by his father, Ramnarine Moonilal. He would have to wait and pay his dues, along with his brothers Rennie and Richard, who are also part of the band, a half-century-old family tradition. In the Bakyard Studio, a small room adjoining the Dil-E-Nadan band room, Ramnarine works out the songs that have made him a force to be contended with in chutney soca, and winner of the 2013 National Chutney Soca Monarch competition. The space is behind his father’s house, which is next to his home, which in turn is next to his brother’s house. Dil-E-Nadan may be a band, but it’s also family, the fruit of those bonds and the weave that binds Raymond Ramnarine’s bloodline tight. “It’s our father’s dream,” Ramnarine says. “Our parents lived every moment of their lives for this.”
  38. 38. WWW.CARIBBEAN-AIRLINES.COM 51 Ravi and Neysha Photographed at the Sangre Grande roundabout Ravi Bissambhar and Neysha Bissambhar, the son and daughter of the late Jewanlal Bissambhar, grew up influenced by their father’s life in music. As Ravi B and Neysha B, working with the band Karma (which includes their brother Anil), the stylish siblings have offered up a collection of hits and successful collaborations with other performers in the genre and outside it. The pair point to their successful opening of a Bollywood show — featuring playback singers Alka and Udit Narayan, which won them praises from the headliners — as a highpoint in their careers. The two singers chose the tiny roundabout in Sangre Grande for their photograph. They grew up here, in east Trinidad, and it remains dear to them as the place where they first dreamed of performing for big audiences. The roundabout is a landmark, but it also leads off in multiple directions to quite different destinations. It’s also a reminder of all the places they can still go.
  39. 39. 52 WWW.CARIBBEAN-BEAT.COM Drupatee Ramgoonai Photographed at the Trinidad Valley Harps panyard, Penal Mother of two, wife to Siewdath Persad, and the seminal influence on the merging of local Indian music and the fast dance version of calypso known as soca, Drupatee Ramgoonai worked with producer Kenny Phillips in 1987 on a blend of the soca beat and the rhythm of the tassa drum called “Mr Bissessar” that landed in the local music market like a bomb. Known since then for her collaborations with Machel Montano, Crazy, and Alison Hinds, she had a hit in 2013 with Montano in “Indian Gyal”, which invited listeners to “wuk up the larki.” It’s been an astonishing thirty-one years since Drupatee decided to sing, and it’s even more surprising to realise it began in a panyard, the home ground of Trinidad Valley Harps, then a small band practicing under a house in Penal, South Trinidad. “I would sing a Hindi song and they would play along the pan,” she recalls. “I think this is where I saw that the merging of two genres of music could create unity.”
  40. 40. WWW.CARIBBEAN-AIRLINES.COM 53 Rikki Jai Photographed at the Pungalunks Factory, Couva Virtually nobody in Trinidad and Tobago knows who Samraj Jaimungal is, but Rikki Jai is a national icon. The young performer had already been working with the Naya Andaz Orchestra and JMC Triveni when he encountered Drupatee Ramgoonai, and realised her success had opened the doors for what would become known as chutney soca. Born into a household where all flavours of music were embraced, it wasn’t surprising that young Rikki absorbed calypso, classical Indian music, rock, and rockers, and began to blend the beats he was hearing into something fresh and new, breaking out with the still popular song “Sumintra”. Rikki Jai spent most of his professional life in studios, and wanted to be photographed where the music gets made. He got his start with Kenny Phillips (“Sumintra” was the B-side of his first single with the producer) and is photographed at the Pungalunks Factory in Couva, where producer Big Rich crafts songs for a new generation of performers. n
  41. 41. 54 WWW.CARIBBEAN-BEAT.COM Launched a century and a half ago, Barbados’s unique Landship masquerade joins British naval heritage to West African performance roots. In its 1930s heyday, there were sixty Landships across the island. Today, only one remains. But as Marcia Burrowes explains, Landship’s Friendly Society community roots have helped steer its traditions through the weather of change A uniformed group of men, women, boys, and girls march out in straight-line formation, to the rhythms of the drums and flute of a tuk band. When the Drill Master calls out “rough seas,” they start to dance around the parade space, creating the image of sails tossed in the wind. At “man overboard,” a member of the crew dramatically falls to the ground, and a nurse comes over to revive him with “quinine” — which is actually white rum. Other “manoeuvres” include the plaiting of the maypole and the “wangle low,” for which the crew, hands on hips, dance low to the ground with circular waist movements. Landship is a unique form of traditional Barbadian masquerade, combining elements of naval lore with African- Caribbean performance tradition, and dating back to the mid nineteenth century. Oral history refers to 1863 as the year when the community ritual of forming ships on land first began. The narrative remembers Moses Wood as the seaman and founder who decided to recreate on land the discipline and camaraderie he had experienced at sea. Wood and a number of his friends, also former seamen, created this ritual by adopting and transforming the uniforms of the British Royal Navy. They also followed the ranks of naval hierarchy, and used titles such as Captain, Lieutenant, and Commander for the crews of these “ships” that “sailed” on dry land. Documented evidence of Landship activity surfaces briefly from 1875, when a group entertained sugar plantation workers with their “marchings” and “dancing” at a Crop Over celebration. But it is at the end of the nineteenth century that the “ships” appear in records as Friendly Societies, known also as Shipping Societies. The records also note their ritual of naming: in 1898, the Ship Nelson and the Naval Victory were the first two Landships to be registered. Between 1907 and 1912, further “ships” were launched, such as the Indefatigable, Queen Mary, and Rosetta. By the 1930s, such famous Landships as the Landship ahoy Cornwall, Ironduke, and Vanguard were afloat. In 1931, a central authority, called the Barbados Land Ship Association, was formed to oversee the administration of the various groups. The association devised the prefix “BLS” — “Barbados Land Ship” — further acknowledging a nautical heritage. And the crews had the support of prominent members of Barbadian society, such as Dr Hugh Cummins, later premier of Barbados. B y this time, many of the crews had never actually been to sea. With occupations based in and BLS Barbados Landship performing the “maypole” manoeuvre in National Heroes Square, Bridgetown, in the early 2000s backstory
  42. 42. WWW.CARIBBEAN-AIRLINES.COM 55 caption Ad escipsame qui omnit acepudae. Dolorem saecepedi dit omnias apiendae sus, cone liberru around Barbados’s plantations or villages, Landship crews of the early twentieth century were, for example, cane-cutters, lighter men, washerwomen, and domestic servants. Sixty Landships are estimated to have been in existence in the 1930s, with crews totalling three thousand men and eight hundred women. In 1937, the Landship sailed into a significant event in Barbadian history. When Marcus Garvey visited the island for one day, it was the BLS York, comprised of twenty-four men and women, who formed his guard of honour. And the women in the Landship crews, “nurses,” were given the title of “star,” in memory of Garvey and his Black Star liners. Key aspects of Landship ritual had been established by this time. With the ship as the central image, the headquarters of a Landship was called the “dock” and the surrounding land was called the “waters.” In the early days, many docks were identified by the presence of a “moses,” or small fishing boat, out front, or by a miniature ship on its roof. When on parade, some Landships in Bridgetown created the image of a ship through the use of ropes. The crew on the outside of the formation held the ropes while the officer, known as the Sailing Master, marched on ahead. The tuk band — with its bass drum, kettle drum, flute, and steel triangle — had also become an integral component of the Landship’s public appearance. Though evidence suggests that other musical combinations, such as the string band, accompanied some ships, it was the tuk band, known as the “engine,” that ultimately delivered the musical wind force for the Landships to set sail. Often the Landships on parade were so big that two or more tuk bands would play for their performances. MikeToy
  43. 43. 56 WWW.CARIBBEAN-BEAT.COM L andship history is characterised by lost ships. Lord High Admiral Vernon Watson, head of the present- day Landship, explains that just as a new ship is said to be “launched,” his father used the terms “foundered” and “sank” to describe a ship that ceased to exist. Landship membership fell after the Second World War, possibly because crew members had been recruited for the war effort, or migrated after the war. Only the BLS Cornwall appears to have been active in the late 1950s and early 60s. For the ceremony marking the Independence of Barbados on 30 November, 1966, a combined squadron of Landships went on parade. But membership and morale were low, and the movement seemed to be heading for extinction. Commander Leon Marshall of the BLS Cornwall worked assiduously at resuscitating the Landship. His efforts were successful: in 1972 six ships werere-launched:theBLSDirector,Ironduke, Queen Victoria, Rodney, and Vanguard. Consequently, the 1970s witnessed the launch of several other Landships in parishes around the island, known for their parades, which were held on pastures and other designated areas, such as the field at WIBSCO, the biscuit company in Bridgetown. In many ways, Landship visibility in the 1970s echoed the popularity of the 1930s. Newspaper coverage was intense, and Landships became central to national events, such as Crop Over celebrations. The Matron of the BLS Director remembers the vast and appreciative crowds witnessing Landship performances at plantation fairs. But the sudden publicity resulted in closer scrutiny of these community groups, with some members of the public accusing them of playing the “monkey game” — mimicking the culture of former colonial masters. Those in the Landships’ defence came swiftly forward and the public was made aware, perhaps for the first time, of their Friendly Society histories. Many young Landship members Top Landship tuk band parading at a funeral, 1973 Above left Landship officers in Bridgetown on Independence Day, 1973 Above right Commander Leon Marshall of the BLS Cornwall on parade in the 1970s courtesythebarbadosgovernmentinformationservicecourtesythebarbadosgovernmentinformationservice courtesythebarbadosgovernmentinformationservice
  44. 44. WWW.CARIBBEAN-AIRLINES.COM 57 could attest to support for the purchase of schoolbooks and the payment of tuition fees as they prepared for the eleven-plus examinations. The practice of “meeting turns,” or susu, was integral to Landship identity, a cultural norm that reflected a West African heritage. And the drumming rhythms of the tuk bands and the crews’ “manoeuvres” clearly anchored Landship within the creolised spaces of Caribbean culture. D espite the 1970s Landship revival, and in keeping with the cycles of its history, by the early 1980s membership dwindled and several Landships foundered. Officers of the remaining Landships opted to become a combined squadron. This decision proved unpopular, especially among the rank and file, as many crews wanted to retain their individual Landship identities. The union proceeded, but with a much-reduced membership. The unified ship was named the BLS Barbados Landship. It sailed under the command of Vernon Watson, then at the rank of Captain. As older members died or withdrew their membership, Watson took steps to ensure the ship’s survival. He lowered the entrance age for members from twenty-one to eight years, a move that allowed him to welcome children, especially girls, into the crew — a significant change to Landship identity. Watson also ensured that the Barbados Landship continued key rituals, such as meeting at the dock on Fridays, “throwing” meeting turns, attending church services, and hosting parades. Three decades later, the now Lord High Admiral Watson continues to work at keeping the Landship afloat, as it sails into its century-and-a-half anniversary. “My passion,” says Watson, “is not to let it die!” With an aging crew of officers and much younger and fewer numbers in its rank and file, the future of the Landship is once again uncertain. But the Landship has faced rough seas before. Perhaps more favourable winds are waiting ahead. n Though other musical combinations, such as the string band, accompanied some ships, it was the tuk band that ultimately delivered the musical wind force for the Landships to set sail. Often the Landships on parade were so big that two or more tuk bands would play Landship nurses performing the “wangle low” manoeuvre MikeToy
  45. 45. 58 WWW.CARIBBEAN-BEAT.COM Photography courtesy Bepperton Entertainment Productions Lights, camera, animals When Christopher and Leizelle Guinness released their short film Pothound online, they didn’t expect its audience would number in the hundreds of thousands. With their latest short, Captain TT, similarly winning fans, the Trinidadian couple talk to Georgia Popplewell about their love of animals, the advantages of working on a shoestring budget, and the origin of the name of their Bepperton Entertainment Productions W hen the great American comedian W.C. Fields quipped that one should never work with children or animals, he likely had both his tongue in his cheek and visions of catastrophes, actual and imagined, in his head. But those of us who’ve ignored Fields’s advice and lived to tell know the perils only too well, and so do Trinidadians Christopher and Leizelle Guinness — which hasn’t stopped this filmmaking couple from making a beeline for these two cinematic no-no’s. The Guinnesses, both thirty-one, have three short films to their credit. For their first, they chose a safe subject: themselves. Married People was made during the year they spent in Canada furthering their studies. Shot in their apartment in Oakville, Ontario, it was one more item on the list of “passion projects” the couple has racked up over the years, alongside their work for various Trinidad and Tobago advertising agencies. Returning to Trinidad in 2011, the Guinnesses decided to strike out on their own, parlaying their skills in animation (Christopher) and graphic design (Leizelle) and their experience producing television commercials into Bepperton Entertainment Productions (the acronym, BEP, is Trinidadian slang for “sleep,” something Leizelle says she’s quite fond of doing). Forced soon after their return to confront the death of one of their beloved dogs, Christopher was inspired to write the short that put them on the filmmaking map. Pothound debuted on the video-sharing site Vimeo in November 2011. It became a Vimeo Staff Pick the day it was uploaded, and by January 2012 the film had gone viral, registering 15,342 plays on 5 January alone. It was a finalist at the 2012 Vimeo Awards in the narrative category, and won Gold ADDY awards for cinematography and animation. At the time of writing, Pothound has been viewed 150,000 times. The story of an adventurous mongrel with an overdeveloped sense of social responsibility, Pothound stood out on account of its unique visual and storytelling style. Absent was the conventional linear narrative common in Caribbean films; also absent was dialogue, as the story is told is told largely from the perspective of snapshot
  46. 46. WWW.CARIBBEAN-AIRLINES.COM 59 Bubbercin, the Guinnesses’ engaging mixed-breed puppy. Bubbercin, only five months old when filming began, received a crash course in acting at the Google School of the Arts (i.e., dog training information Leizelle downloaded from the Internet) before being put in front of the camera. She proved a moody star at times, so the filmmakers kept things simple and went with the flow. The result, according to Leizelle, was “a lot of happy accidents.” Pothound takes on issues such as bullying, aging, and ethnic stereotypes, and highlights aspects of rural and small-town island life. One of the most appealing scenes was shot on the beach at Grande Rivière on Trinidad’s north coast during turtle nesting season, with Bubbercin roving the beach among leatherback turtles and vultures. Pothound was made in support of the Trinidad and Tobago Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and to say that Chris and Leizelle are animal lovers is a vast understatement. They currently have nine dogs, and regularly care for and re-home strays. They’ve nursed a pigeon, an owl, and when Bubbercin had her way with an iguana, they took care of it too. “Whatever we find we try to rescue,” says Leizelle. “I think we would both be really good vets if we weren’t filmmakers.” Releasing Pothound publicly on on Vimeo, followed by heavy promotion on social networks, has exposed the couple’s work to a larger — and more global — audience than if they depended solely on film festivals. One concern the Guinnesses had was whether non-Trinidadians would “get” the story. But the nearly dialogue-free Pothound turned out to have universal appeal, as the 450-plus comments left on its Vimeo page attest. “The first question people ask is usually, ‘How did you get the dog to do that?’” says Leizelle. “I think everybody enjoyed the fact that it was a dog movie.” T he Guinnesses next film project was Captain TT, released in May 2013, and starring six-year-old Kden Hee-Chung. More ambitious in scope than Pothound, Captain TT opens with the famous Edmund Burke quote about the triumph of evil — albeit used ironically — and includes some voiceover. The story of a young boy exploring his potential by imagining himself as a superhero, Captain TT feels somewhat messier and less resolved than Pothound, but there’s a real enchantment to its chaos. The two films are connected by recurring characters, including the elderly woman in the market, played by Christopher’s grandmother. The Guinnesses received some financial support from the Trinidad and Tobago Film Company’s production assistance and script development programme for Pothound, but they financed Captain TT out of their own pockets. “They say think outside of the box, but I like to think inside of the box, because you get very creative inside your little box with nothing,” says Leizelle, referring to decisions dictated by their shoestring budget. Things like compensating for the lack of a full-frame camera by using a wide-angle lens. Or the improvised monopod (a 2x4 and some twine) on which they mounted the camera, running with it in order to capture Bubbercin’s travelling shots on the streets of San Fernando. Telling the story from a dog’s-eye view — or, in Captain TT’s case, a child’s-eye view — justified the audacious angles, the frenetic cutting, and the impressionistic storytelling style. For Captain TT, where Christopher did a great deal of climbing and swivelling his body for the overhead shots, part of the budget went towards Tiger Balm, to sooth his sore muscles. And they chose locations with lots of existing texture and props. “People see a junkyard,” says Leizelle of one location that features prominently in Captain TT, “but when Chris and I were scouting for places and came across it, the first thing that came to mind was, ‘wow, what an amazing set.’” Captain TT has been screened at the Aruba Film Festival and at an ARC magazine Caribbean Short Film Night in St Vincent. It will appear next at the Caribbean Film Corner in London and the 2013 Icon Festival in Israel. And in September the Guinnesses will begin pre-production on their fourth short, Forever Alone, “a satire on the culture of loneliness.” “It’s a departure,” says Christopher, “from the nostalgic charm of Pothound and Captain TT, but there will be flashbacks featuring kid actors, and a mischievous dog.” n Opposite page Kden Hee-Chung, star of Captain TT Above Christopher and Leizelle Guinness and two of their canine charges
  47. 47. 60 WWW.CARIBBEAN-BEAT.COM Photograph by Duke Wells “In the theatre, you never know what’s gonna happen” Nicolette Bethel, Bahamian playwright and co-founder of the Shakespeare in Paradise theatre festival, on the energy of live performance, the relevance of Elizabethan plays, and the importance of passing on traditions — as told to Nicholas Laughlin T heatre was all around me when I was growing up. Every place you went — church, school — had a performance component. My mother Keva was the principal and then the president of the College of the Bahamas. And my father Clement was a concert pianist and a composer and a choral director. Then I had a grandmother who was the most amazing storyteller. So performance was always around me, and it was just a small step to get from that everyday involvement to the actual stage. The very first time I remember being on stage, somebody picked me to play Mary in a school Christmas pageant. I might have been six or seven. I had no lines — I just had to stand there and look virginal. When I was around eleven or twelve, I wrote stories all the time, and I discovered that my stories were coming out in play form. Not that I knew anything about how to write for the stage, but it was dialogue back and forth, and laid out like I’d seen plays laid out in books. When I was thirteen, fourteen, I wrote an adaptation of Cinderella for a class pageant. Nassau also had a very active theatre scene, and my parents, being the parents they were, took me to see some of the plays and musicals. I remember very clearly the day I went to see Oliver! I made up my mind that one day I was going to play the Artful Dodger. Never happened! I did all this in high school, but when I went away to the University of Toronto, I just didn’t have the same mindset as the people I observed doing drama. It was a very Eurocentric, highly intellectualised, highly stylised approach to theatre, and it just did not resonate with me. I was always interested in storytelling. Then I met a woman who produced plays in French, which was my minor. She recruited me into her theatre company, and made me stage manager. They were doing Molière, and classical French comedy, and I loved it. That’s probably the closest thing I had to any formal training until I came back to the Bahamas and I got involved with the Dundas Centre for the Performing Arts, which was the community theatre of the time. In the 1980s and 90s, the Dundas created a repertory season which ran for five or six months every year. Philip Burrows was the artistic director. That’s where anybody over forty who has real theatre credentials got their training. Everybody did a bit of everything, and if you had an affinity for anything, you tended to take on that task. We improvised a lot. We couldn’t invest in the bells and whistles of a really professional grade theatre, but we made do. It was fun, and it gave us the sense that you can do pretty well anything. In live theatre, you never know what’s gonna happen. But you know the show is going to go on. There’s an electricity there that’s totally addictive. Every night is different. I like that. I get bored easily. Own words
  48. 48. WWW.CARIBBEAN-AIRLINES.COM 61 I eventually married Philip Burrows, and we spent three years on the west coast of Canada. Every year we would go to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, which made a real impression on both of us. It’s held in a tiny town called Ashland, which has nothing else. It’s the major economic contributor to the town. I thought, if Ashland can do it, surely Nassau can do it. We came back in 2000 and we formed Ringplay Productions, mostly with former members of the Dundas repertory company, and we concentrated on putting out a play or two a year. Then I went into the government to work as Director of Culture. I learned a lot more about what’s going on in the Caribbean, and how to interest people who are gatekeepers and sponsors. When I left government in December 2008, I took all of those contacts and put them into producing Shakespeare in Paradise, creating the festival we had imagined. Every year we have one Shakespeare production, one Bahamian production, and three smaller plays. Shakespeare and the Caribbean, to me, are inextricably linked, by their time, by their philosophy. The same ideas that were moving Shakespeare were impelling people to come and colonise this so-called New World. And Shakespeare’s plays are very close to Caribbean sensibilities. Elizabethan society had a lot in common with Caribbean society. We have a really strong school outreach — about two thirds of our audiences are school kids — and their responses to Shakespeare are pretty amazing. Part of it is the way we restage the plays. We don’t change the language that much, but we set the scenes in spaces they can recognise. In last year’s Merchant of Venice we made Shylock into a Haitian Bahamian, as opposed to a Jew. His punishment at the end was exile — he had to go “back” to Haiti, even though he wasn’t born there. It inspired discussions among students of Haitian parentage who were born in the Bahamas and Bahamian students, as it addressed head-on issues we never talk about, but are nonetheless very real to young people — the fear that even though you were born and raised here, you are not accepted and feel always that someone wants to send you to a “home” you never knew. Another year we did Julius Caesar, because that’s the play every Bahamian at some point has read, and every Bahamian politician quotes from, whether they know it or not. On the last night, all of the Julius Caesar fans came out and recited the play from top to bottom, along with the actors. These are things that make me feel I’m not wasting my time. This year is the fortieth anniversary of Independence in the Bahamas, and the fifth year of the festival, so we’re reviving my father’s folk opera, The Legend of Sammie Swain. It’s based on a folk legend collected in Cat Island in the 1940s. My father took the bare bones and wrote first of all a ballet, and then this folk opera. He wrote it in what seems like a summer, when I was five years old. When I went to bed and when I woke up every morning I would hear him composing it at the piano. We had to search for the score, and old videos of productions from the 1980s to recreate the choreography. We didn’t have an actual script. We had to watch the video and transcribe that. I feel very strongly that it needs to be passed on to the next generation. There is one song that every Bahamian knows — it’s basically in the public domain now — but not where it comes from. “When the Road Seems Rough”: it’s from Sammie Swain, and it’s my father’s piece. It’s anthem-like and inspirational. People sing it at weddings and graduations. It’s that kind of song. When you’ve borne enough, don’t faint, don’t sigh, don’t cry, wonder why, just keep trying. n
  49. 49. WWW.CARIBBEAN-AIRLINES.COM 63 Garry Steckles Photograph by David Corio I t’s hardly surprising that Jamaica has produced more brilliant players of musical instruments — on a per capita basis, that is — than any nation on earth. The sheer volume of music coming out of the island, be it recorded or live, is simply staggering, and has been since the late 1950s, the era that gave birth to the industry as we know it today. Jamaica has given the world a raft of internationally renowned singers — among them Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff, Toots Hibbert, Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer, Buju Banton, Gregory Isaacs, and Dennis Brown. Somewhat less celebrated have been the men whose genius has made all of this possible: the players of instruments. (I say men, by the way, because this is an almost exclusively male-dominated sphere of the Jamaican music business.) And it struck me the other day that a column paying tribute to at least some of these great studio and stage veterans is long overdue. So let’s start at the beginning, with unquestionably the most influential of all the great Jamaican backing bands and — under the collective name of the Skatalites — a group of international stature for almost half a century. The foundation members of the Skatalites were Tommy McCook, Roland Alphonso, Lester Sterling, Don Drummond, Jerome “Jah Jerry” Haynes, Jackie Mittoo, Lloyd Brevett, Lloyd Nibb, and Johnny “Dizzy” Moore. The first incarnation of the Skatalites lasted just over a year, Backup stars Jamaica’s reggae singers are known around the world, but their music couldn’t exist without the men standing behind them on stage and in the studio, playing their instruments. Garry Steckles pays tribute to the backup musicians whose sounds are better known than their names Roland Alphonso and Tommy McCook of the Skatalites Riddem rhyme