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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Flair Publishing House Ken ‘Daddy’ Browne Leroy Constantine Mr. John Horne & Digi Photo Mr. Julian Pollard/SVG Players Mr. Owen Ralph/Professionals Mrs. Cynthia Rogers & Rogers Photo Studio Oneka Morgan Petra Pompey Shaun Young Staff of the Carnival Development Corporation (CDC) Utamu Rose Wesley Millington Woodrow Williams

CONTENTS PAGE


FROM THE EDITOR’S DESK:

Conley ‘Chivambo’ Rose Editor

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e have survived!”, is the cry of the mas designers, costume builders and masqueraders of Vincy Mas, who are proud to be celebrating 50 years of the ‘Band of the Year’ competition in St.Vincent and the Grenadines. ‘The Glory and Splendour of Vincy Mas’ is a special 50th anniversary magazine to commemorate this historical milestone through the collaborative efforts of the Carnival Bands Association (CBA) and the Carnival Development Corporation (CDC) along with the mas men and women. All parties involved have made supreme sacrifices, to produce work of imaginative and exceptional quality throughout a challenging yet gratifying 50 years. This ‘Golden Jubilee’ is indeed a remarkable achievement. Carnival is the soul of the people. It is a galvanizing and electrifying force that draws people together. Vincentians regard Carnival with a passion, a sense of pride and nationalism. The festival demonstrates the resourcefulness, creativity, innovativeness, vibrancy, dynamism and versatility of the Vincentian people. The crème de la crème however, are the mas designers and builders whom amidst a variety of negative influences and fluctuating economic fortunes, struggle to keep the festival in a particular cultural direction. The pioneers and forerunners in mas would be very proud of our achievements in Vincy Carnival. They brought Vincy Mas from the simple maypole dancing, sailors, cowboys and Indian bands, the “boosie back”, weather-man and “monkey kong” of the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s to the modern, artistic designs and presentations we see today. Credit and high praises must be given to individuals such as Alton ‘Septic’ Primus, Brother Blaugh, Estley Eastmond, Denise Marshall, Bobby Brisbane, Raffi Davidson, Leroy King, Stella James, Louise Millington, Paddy Corea and many others who played an important role in keeping Carnival alive in St.Vincent and the Grenadines in these very early periods. The pioneers of Vincy Mas in the 60’s and 70’s included an impressive list of mas men with the likes of Winston

‘Samo’ Samuel, Ian Reid, Jenson Jack and the Bridge Boys, Selwyn ‘Fuzzy’ Knights, Norris ‘Moby’ Dick, Raymond ‘Sevens’ Knights, Vibert DeShong, Lennox ‘Scully’ Hunte, Louis Boucher, Sonny King, Aresto Spring, Roy Ralph and the Dragons, Edison ‘Sheggy’ John and the Bad Lads and Lasses, Owen Ralph and the Professionals, Melbourne Artisans, Lennox ‘Becks’ Gonsalves, Lennox ‘Dinks’ Johnson and others too numerous to mention, have set the pace and foundation in Vincy Mas. The Glory and Splendour of Vincy Mas highlights the Journey of the ‘Band of the Year’ competition from “A Portrait of Ancient Egypt” by the Bridge Boys in 1963 to “A Glimpse of Kingstown” by Blondie Bird and Friends in 2012. This magazine provides a photographic display of the “Memories of Vincy Mas” in living colour to celebrate 50 years of mas-The Golden Jubilee and going strong. Happy 50th Anniversary to the Carnival Mas Bands of SVG!


MESSAGE FROM CHAIRMAN OF CARNIVAL DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION

Over these years, there was one constant feature of the Mardi Gras and the Art of the Masquerade- Winston ‘Samo’ Samuel. His stalwart contribution to Vincy Mas has earned him the signal honour by CDC through the renaming of the title in 2008 as the “Winston ‘Samo’ Samuel Band of the Year award”. In the 1990’s at the turn of the 20th century, we saw a new approach to Carnival. In many ways, it was a more business oriented style, amidst pleas to retain the cultural focus of the season; the centre piece of our Carnival must always be the “Mas”- The Art of the Masquerade. Despite this shift in style, the June-July festival became fully established and so too did the name “Vincy Mas”.

Chairman of the CDC - Mr. Dennis Ambrose

Of course, Congratulations must be extended to the Carnival Bands Association, whose members design, teach and help to organize bands in Anguilla, St.Kitts and Nevis, Barbados, St.Lucia and in the Diaspora.

arnival is in the air, again...But this year is The Golden Jubilee of the ‘Band of the Year’ competition which started way back in 1963. At this time, Mas or the Mardis Gras did not yet have a “brand name”, as it does todayknown as “Vincy Mas”.

Congratulations are also in order for our Mas Band leaders who through seemingly unnassailable challenges, have managed to keep their art and craft alive, thriving and the increasingly important factor-relevant. Honourable mention must be given to:

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The social and cultural frame and fabric of St.Vincent was alot different. The ‘new intellectuals’ were now returning home from University. There was a Colonial Administrator occupying Government House. The Carnival was a shorter affair, celebrated the weekend just before Ash Wednesdaymostly in February. This year also marks the 36th Anniversary of the new June-July mas season Rivalry was friendlier, and ‘big mas bands’ were just coming into their own. There were only six categories of masAdvertising, Historical, Fancy Originals (including Native, Indians and Africans) and Stills & Floats where characters of literature and history were favourites. Calypso came through the Tents that ran early, and were almost always full through the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s. J’ouvert was very traditional, but fever was always strong. The Road March was not necessarily from our own composers, and patrons would have been glued to their radios waiting for the Trinidadian Road March tune. Pan around the neck was also very popular...and soon advertising band would be on trucks. But we lost the Stills, the Floats and the Sailor Band along the way. J’ouvert needed freshness, and Monday afternoon needed a lifting boost. New Mas Bands & leaders also emerged during the 1970’s and 80’s: “Bad Lads and Lasses” led by Sheggy John; Lennox ‘Scully’ Hunte to Dinks Johnson’s “Wizards”; “Nelson Bloc” became the heirs of Fuzzy Knights from Paul’s Avenue. The consequent rivalries lit up Victoria on Dimanche Gras night, and crowded the streets with the parade of the bands at Mardi Gras.

• Dragons- 10 Band of the year titles • Nelson Bloc- 9 Band of the year titles • Sheggy John- 6 Band of the year titles • Wizards- 4 Band of the year titles • SVG Players- 4 Band of the year titles • Blondie Bird and Friends- 3 Band of the year titles • Scully Hunte- 3 Band of the year titles • Winston Samo Samuel- 3 Band of the year titles • Fuzzy Knights- 3 Band of the year titles • Bridge Boys- 2 Band of the year titles • Mirage Productions- 2 Band of the year titles • Avis Yorke- 1 Band of the year title The approach for this Golden Jubilee has been led by the responsible approach of the Carnival Bands Association, now coming of age, and writing its Memorandum for the inclusion of the Art of the Masquerade in the formal curriculum in the Visual Arts in schools, starting from the Primary Level, onwards. This initiative will: give new life and meaning to the Visual Arts; Nurture a love for the Art of the Masquerade; Prepare the new generation to keep the culture of Vincy Mas alive and Give a new application for the historical significance of the Carnival Festival, with Mas as the centre-piece. The new task is also to generate a love for the Mardi Gras and remain aware of the new competitions in the region and internationally (notably Caribana, Nottingham and Labour Day). Every good wish on this Golden Jubilee for it has been well-earned. The organizers, designers, mas makers and masqueraders alike have certainly made the difference in our brand- Vincy Mas. Another 50 years beckons!.


50 YEARS OF THE BAND OF THE YEAR COMPETITION, 1963 – 2013

THE LINE- UP 2013

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he year 2013 will record the fiftieth winner of the Band of the Year title which was first awarded in1963 when the Bridge Boys led by Roy Austin defeated all comers with the presentation A Portrait of Ancient Egypt. It is not remembered just how much prize money Bridge Boys received for this first ever victory, but the winner of Band of the Year title for 2013 will take home Fifty Thousand ($50,000.00) Dollars.

streets of Kingstown. Between 1963 and 1971 these bands continued the tradition of categorisation in six areas namely: Historical, Fancy(Fantasy), Original, Indian and African, Navel and Military and Advertising. In earlier times, historical presentations were dominant but, fancy presentations would have outscored all other categories. Indeed, only historical, fancy and original presentations have won the band of the year title. Indian and African, Navel and Military and Advertising presentations were never able to score a band of the year victory. LONGIVITY – A FEATURE OF COSTUME BANDS Bridge Boys lasted from 1958 until 1972. Samo’s band was around for a decade or so Fuzzy played mas from 1963 until 1977. Scully took over from Samo in1966 and remain on the scene until 1973 returning for about four years in the early 1980’s this time teaming up with the Associates.

These are the 2013 contenders: Blondie Bird and Friends are the defending title holders and is seeking a beaver trick of wins. Because of the eruption of La Soufriere Valcano in 1979 there was no official Carnival Celebrations, hence, the fiftieth award this year 2013. FROM BRIDGE BOYS TO BLONDIE BIRD Over the years there has been a total of twelve costume bands who were in winners row. The first winners were the Bridge Boys in 1963 and last year’s winning band was Blondie Bird and Friend led by Elroy Boyde.. In between the other winners were Winston ‘Samo’ Samuel, Selwyn ‘Fuzzy’ Knights, Lennox ‘Scully’ Hunte, Dragons Cultural Organisation led first by the legendary Roy ‘Dragon’ Ralph and since 1998 by Elliot ‘Prince’ Telesford, Bad Lads and Lasses whose sole band leader was Edison ‘Sheggie’ John, Avis Yorke, Mirage Productions under the leadership of Lennox ‘Becks’ Gonsalves, Lennox ‘Dinks’ Johnson’s Wizards Mas Camp, Nelson Bloc, whose first band leader was Adonis ‘Goat’ Hector and whose current head is Alvern ‘Alli’ Cadogan, SVG Players International with Technical Director – band leader Julian ‘Pillin’ Pollard and Elroy ‘Blondie Bird’ Boyde Blondie Bird and Friends. During this period there may well have been over one hundred costume bands who participated in the passing parade of the bands at Victoria Park and through the

Dragons Cultural organization is nearing fifty years and will achieve that memorable milestone in 2015. Bad Lads and Lasses achieved twenty years in the field of mas ranging from 1974-1993. Mirage Productions is twenty seven years old but, Becks Gonsalves have spent his lifetime in mas first as an individual masquerader before the age of two, and since 1986 as a full fledged band leader. Becks was a co-band leader in1977. Wizards sojourn in mas lasted for twenty five years. Nelson Bloc is this year celebrating thirty years in the business while SVG Players is thirteen years old. Blondie Bird and Friends started on the road to victory in1995. In the fields of sport and culture, the masquerade bands have been noted for longevity. Below is a summary of the Band of the Year Winners and number of Wins:

Major victors over these years have been Dragons, Nelson Bloc, Bad Lads and lasses, Wizards and SVG Players. Dragons Nelson Bloc, SVG Players and Blondie Bird and Friends all have the opportunity to increase their number of victories at this the highest level.


Bad Lass and Lasses A Brief History.

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n 1973 following the departure of Lennox “Skully” Hunte ,the group of guys who had been the workmen behind most of “Skully’s” winning productions decided that they had to continue their involvement in carnival. Having taken this decision a meeting was convened at which it was agreed to form an organization to produce a mas band for Carnival 1974. Persons present were ,Edison “Sheggy” John ,Gary “Gengen” Mc Kell, Anthony “Gripsey” Daisy, Ernesto Spring, Willy Howe, Roland “scrapie” Dopwell, Franklyn Maule, Maxwell Boucher, Keith” Becks” Jack ,Bert Browne, Julian “Yard Ah Mouth” Bailey, Tyrone Porter, Keylee Williams, Robert ”Robbie” Jacobs ,Allison “Mouse” Murray ,Bertland ”Zulu” Alexander, Lennox “Duck Tripe” London ,Arnold Munroe, Douglas Hamlett, Avis Yorke, Adlia Quashie,Kendal Forde, Agnes De roche, Kathy Daisley and Charlene ”Faye” Cato. At this meeting it was agreed that the Band would be known as Creative Enterprises Limited (CEL) as no one wanted the band named after them. This name did not last, some members who were into the black power movement and were influenced by the” Shaft” movie insisted that they were the “Baddest” mas men, thus the name was changed to Bad Lads and Lasses. The production for Carnival 1974 . “Once upon a Time,” failed to continue where “skully” had left off and did not win the band of the year title. In 1977 when the change of dates for Vincy Mas came, the band produced what some persons consider it best production with “Artistique”, however the band did not participate in the Band of the Year competition as one of the Judges for the Queen of the bands competition in their remarks on the score sheet had stated that Bad Lads and Lasses needed to be judged by “ University professors as the production was to complicated. This was the first time a mas band had boycotted the competition ,in 1978 the band paid tribute to Alston “Becket” Cyrus as a show of appreciation for the work he had done in promoting Vincy Carnival Internationally.” Coming Higher ,A Tribute to Becket” won the Band it’s first Band of the Year”title, this started a winning streak for the Band which apart from 1979 when there was no Carnival, ran,up to 1982,with Spectrum 80( A review of it’s productions) in 1980,Roots Hairouna,(Tribute to our roots)1981 and” Mas ah kno yo”,(Tribute to the Mas men of the past). During this period most of the founding fathers(Gengen”, “Gripsey” ,Scrapie, Willy Howe) migrated while Yard ah Mouth, Mouse ,Zulu and Duck Tripe retired from being involved in carnival and were replaced by Richard Proud foot, Rohan “Tooth” Bailey,”Dolly”Craigg, Fabian Arthur, Julian Bute ,Eddie

Porter ,Robbie Stowe, Albert “Mutt” Edwards, Master Fang, “Washer”. In 1983 the Band joined with the other Carnival Bands, who were members of the Carnival Bands Association and boycotted the Carnival Competitions for that year as they were dissatisfied with the prizes being offered. 1984 saw Bad Lads and Lasses return to competition but was unsuccessful in it’s quest to reclaim the title of Band of the Year, Bad Lads and Lasses returned to winning ways in 1985 with Fantastique, (A tribute to our fans), the trend continued in 1986 with “Timbuktu,” and in1987 with Legend of the “Cucumaca”. Bad Lads and Lasses were never to win another title and in 1993 following the carnival season the band was formally dissolved, however some members of the band continued to be involved in the production of mass bands.


CELEBRATING FIFTY YEARS WITH THE BAND OF THE YEAR

feel the advise effects of a continuing international economic downturn and publications of this nature invariably depend on support coming from the corporate sectors in the form of advertisement. Nevertheless, the Carnival Bands Association (CBA) undertook this task as one means of paying tribute to the masquerade pioneers of the past and in this technological age leaving something behind for posterity’s sake. It has not been easy. There has been disappointment along the way but those involved have faced the challenges head-on in the recognition that it is a Labour of Love.

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he idea to publish a commemorative magazine marking fifty years of Band of the Year Competition was first mooted in a conversation on Grenville Street held by a hand full of Carnival enthusiasts last August. Earlier this year the same idea was suggested at a regular Board Meeting of the Carnival Development Corporation (CDC). There were one or two misgivings. Unfortunately we have not done well in cataloging our masquerade achievements over the years and whatever records that were available have inevitably fallen victim to the passage of time. We continue to

To our readers we hope that this publication will go some way towards giving you an historical overview of the masquerade component’s contribution to the development of Carnival over the past fifty years. The CBA thank those businesses who have advertised thus making it possible for this magazine to be published. We are also grateful for those individuals who provided photographs and other materials so that the story could be told. We recognize the support and encouragement which came from Lennox Bowman and Mac Sealey. Finally, the young people who assisted and without whose help it could not be a reality – Oneka, Bianca, Utamu, Kenroy and Kelly-Ann. Editor Conley Rose has been a tower of strength.


OF SAMO AND THE BRIDGE

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or almost a decade they locked horns in fierce rivalry on Mardi Gras Parade of the Bands. The general public at large particularly carnival lovers looked forward to their excellent presentations. At the end of both presentations before the Judges at Victoria Park one or the other would emerge victorious. There was never a question of a tie. COMPELLING PRODUCTIONS According to John Horne the presentations of legendary masquerade bands Winston ‘Samo’ Samuel and the Bridge Boys of which he was one of the leaders were all “compelling productions”. This was especially so in the years 1963, 1964 and 1965. Bridge Boys ran away with the 1963 Band of the Year title apparently swamping ‘Samo’ (whom his rivals said “play old mas” and a Portrait of Ancient Egypt triumphed. The Egyptians with the pharaohs at the helm ruled. There was virtually no dispute about who won. There was almost universal agreement that Bridge Boys, led that year by Roy Austin had scored a most convincing victory. Alas! 1964 and 1965 were different in outcome to 1963 with “disputed” results. The Judges decisions were final it is true but for years afterwards there were those convinced that not Samo’ but the Bridge who should have walked away with both Band of the Year titles. In 1964 perhaps it was the depictions of Samo and Bridge Boys which caused the entire furor. Indeed, so strong was the divide between the bands and their respective followers and supporters that a rumour soon made the rounds that both had agreed to a “rematch” at Victoria Park on Easter Monday!

GREAT AMERINDIAN CIVILISATIONS VS FROM THE STORY OF WESTERN COLONISATION Samo’s 1964 presentation was entitled Great Amerindian Civilisations highlighting the Aztecs, Incas, Maya, Caribs, Arawaks and other tribal nations. Naturally the Spanish conquistadors were a part of this epic production. Conquistadors constituted also a notable section in Bridge Boys offering From the Story of Western Colonisation with the French and English also in the thick of things. Featured in the presentation too were such historical figures as King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain , Queen Elizabeth I of England and King Louis IV and Queen Marie Antoinette of France. England’s Sir Walter Raliegh was there along with Sir Francis Drake. From Haiti came Toussaint L’Overture. Somehow, the main disputed areas centred around whose account was the more accurate and in form and fashion followed history and tradition. This could never be resolved and the rest as they say is “history”. MIGHTY RIVER STATES OF ANCIENT TIMES VS INVADERS OF BRITIAN 55BC- 1066AD For most carnival observers, Samo’s Mighty River States was his best ever presentation. No Hollywood historical epic could have been better than this production which hit the streets of Kingstown that bright sunny carnival Tuesday morning just before 8 am with the masqueraders chipping along to a 1965 popular calypso done by Lord Blakie of Trinidad. To Blakie’s lyrics “This is Carnival”, the masqueraders sang “this is Samo’ mas” as they paraded along to the sound of the accompanying steel orchestra. One remembers hearing


the comment “absolutely brilliant” from one spectator obviously moved by the spectacle. As a matter of fact Mighty River States was given a standing ovation when it entered the Victoria Park. As was customary the masqueraders underwent inspection outside Victoria Park before entering. The band had undergone weeks of practice at Memorial Hall under the tutelage of Dr. Edgar Adams who taught the masqueraders various dance steps they were to execute on stage. The Band’s management had the previous year held meetings to come up with the concept and develop the theme. Leroy Mulraine was Samo’s Researcher and Narrator. He recalls choosing the presentation while going through a national Geographic magazine which carried an article complete with maps of the rivers and areas where the various states were located including the Nile, Euphrates and Tigris. Mesopotamia which featured in the production is known as the “cradle of civilization”.

THE INVADERS In contrast, Bridge Boys ‘Invaders of Britain’ saw warriors and soldiers in full military dress with all the accoutrements. In the lineup were Picts, Scots, Druids, Romans, Anglo Saxons, Vikings and Normans. It was certainly a powerful presentation and much care and attention had gone into detail. The production had been mainly researched by Raymond English, then a history teacher at the Intermediate High School. From an historical standpoint this presentation was accurate in terms of dates and the various military costumes. Certainly much time had been taken to drill the troops into a semblance of military precision in accordance with tradition. Bridge Boys had done their homework by ensuring that what was to be the final of the masquerade rivalry between Samo and themselves lived up to the expectations of carnival lovers and the public. The drama on stage was well done and was well received by the patrons. It was generally agreed that the Judges would have a hard task coming up with a winner. The competition was close and many patrons found difficulty in making up their minds regarding which of the two presentations would emerge victorious this time around. Invaders of Britain were resplendent and received sustained applause from an appreciative audience. The masqueraders must have thought that some measure of revenge was about to be exacted for the previous year’s defeat. They definitely looked a confident bunch as the presentation departed Victoria Park for uptown. IN SUMMARY

Additional research had to be done from other sources since as Mulraine says the presentation had to be “strictly authentic”. Mulraine had done ancient history at Advance Level and knew his subject. The floats (stills) were very effective. Lennox ‘Becks’ Gonsalves had already been crowned Prince of Carnival at Children’s Carnival. Ken Browne who was later to win several King of the Band titles was that year’s Individual winner. The Gate of Babylon built at Beachmont by Alfred ‘Sonny’ Hazell made a strong impression. Jean Duncan was Chief Decorator and adorned the gate with animals, plants and various oriental symbols. There was a chariot in the lineup. Sections featured Egyptians, Etruscans, Babylonians and Roman Soldiers. There was a platform on which Roman senators reclined. Specially ordered materials and decorations had been sourced in Trinidad including velvet, satin, swansdon and leopard skin cloth.

The Judges gave the nod to Winston ‘Samo’ Samuel and his team. The band also won People’s Choice to put the icing on the cake. Along the way the band had won the first ever Queen of the Bands title with Joan Gonsalves appearing as the Queen of the Etruscans. In the presentation of both bands, Roman soldiers had been featured. There was however, one significant difference in the armored breast plate worn by each group. Bridge Boys armour had been made from tin while those of Samo were molded from clay found in the Cox Heath area of Upper Edinboro and made into papier-mâché. The Breast plate of tin did not help in terms of the heat coming from the sun. That made of clay kept the masqueraders cool even in the heat of the sun. Did this matter of the breast plates tilt the balance in favour of Samo’s production? Maybe! Who knows? Finally, Timm Daisy narrated Invaders of Britain 55BC1066AD. His narration was exemplary and did much to contribute to the sustained applause which the presentation received. But narration is not part of the score sheet.


MAS:

THE GLORY... THE SPLENDOUR... THE SPECTACLE... By Hugh ‘Comrade’ Raguette From 1963 – 1976

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he year 1963 saw the introduction of the Band of the Year Competition. This was the era when mas was played in six categories namely Historical, Fancy, Original, Indian and African, Naval and Military and Advertising. The big bands were Winston Samuel, Bridge Boys, Norris ‘Moby’ Dick and Selwyn ‘Fuzzy’ Knights had just entered the fray. The glory, splendor and spectacle of the masquerade dominated Mardi Gras and the masquerade was king. He / she graced the stage and ruled the streets. This was the time when masqueraders could be seen on the road before the sun rose. By 7:30 am bands were making their way to Victoria Park with the competition underway by 8:00am. MASQUERADE OF THE STILLS / INDIVIDUALS Those were the glorious days of the Stills mainly historical Stills portrayed by the likes of the great Vibert De Shong, Louis Boucher and Milton Ried. These Stills were giant floats and depicted historical or biblical figures notable land marks and features. The masquerader would portray the figure of interest and on occasion the Still called for other masqueraders so that the presentation is complete. The Stills were lone individuals who were not part of the masquerade band, but there was also a competition for individuals from the costume bands. An individual did not necessarily have to come from a band and sometimes did not. There were many memorable historical Stills and individual masquerade presentations. But Dr. Edgar Adams holds the distinction of being the only individual masquerader to present two portrayals using a single costume. The portrayals were ‘An Ace in the Hole’ and ‘Al Hole in the Ace’ respectively and was part of Denise Marshall’s 1966 presentation ‘Fun and Games’. Those were the days of great drama at Victoria Park. Notable individual masqueraders included Becks Gonsalves and Ahmin ‘Spy-der’ Soleyn who could be counted on to put in annual appearances at Mardi Gras. The individuals did their thing before the arrival of the bands whose stage presentations always had dramatic effect. A dramatic display was the main feature of a costume band presentation.

THE JOHN THE BAPTIST DRAMA While the emphasis is on Band of the Year Winners, we must take time out to show case other band leaders/ bands who made a contribution to our beloved art form. One such bandleader was George Myers, a Barber by Profession. Some of his presentations were Old Lady in the Shoe, Dragon Festival, Sailors Ashore, To Have or to Have not and Somewhere in New Guinea. However, George will never forgot the presentation ‘The Story of John the Baptist’ Part of the drama included the execution of John the Baptist. Real live characters were part of this scene including George Myers himself. The police on duty at Victoria Park that Shrove Tuesday thought the masquerader playing the role of John the Baptist had his head chopped off!!! Such was the dramatic effect. So the policemen rushed on to the stage to witness this strange phenomenon of an execution which had apparently taken place in front of hundreds of spectators. Aghast at this invasion Myers demanded that the police leave the stage and allow “me to finish my play”. In obvious embarrassment the police sheepishly left that stage with a boule’ from which goat’s blood gushed. “John the Baptist” was still alive and well. All a part of Mardi Gras. FROM EGYPT TO THE MOON Bridge Boys started the ball rolling with A Portrait of Ancient Egypt taking spectators back to the age of Egyptian Empire. By 1976 Roy Ralph and the Dragons had taken Mas on the Moon. We had also received historical lessons from Winston Samuel’s Great Amerindian Civilizations and Mighty River States of Ancient Times. Along came Selwyn Fuzzy Knights with Ocean Extravaganza but the Bridge Boys returned us to the historical path the following year with an epic ‘Extracts from the Dark Continent’. Bouncing back in ’68 Knights again topped the table using Fairy Tales. For the next two years it was all Lennox ‘Scully’ Hunte, the successor to Winston Samuel. He presented winners in The Minoan Era of Crete and Quest in Paradise. It was the third time around for Fuzzy Knights in ’71 with Gulliver’s Travels.


In 1972 for the first time a band based on a local theme beat all comers and Roy Ralph’s Dragons copped the Band of the Year title bringing on stage ‘ Hairoun: Splendour of Nature’. Lennox ‘Scully’ Hunte took home his final title using local materials in the master production ‘In The Hands of Our People’. This was a truly remarkable presentation surrounded by legend. In the first place the scores of the Judges showed a tie between Scully’s In the Hands of Our People and Fuzzy’s Christmas Festivity. However, the Judges awarded the Band of the Year title to In the Hands of Our People because of its unique originality. But more drama, this time, offstage was to come involving both bands. On Ash Wednesday the then Carnival Development Committee (CDC) announced that ‘In the Hands of Our People had won Band of the Year – People’s Choice. Well, at the CDC meeting a day later one member disclosed that he had been handed two ballots by patrons to place in the ballot box, placed them in his pocket and promptly forget them. The drama here was the fact that Scully had won by a single vote and the inclusion of those two votes would have given Fuzzy People’s Choice by one vote.

Vincentians Carnival component of our glorious Caribbean Carnival Culture. Each and every Mas band made a significant contribution to the overall development of the masquerade component over the Twenty-Five years of Vincy Mas. Each and every costume band has been a winner in its own right. Overcoming the real obstacles of limited financial resources, inadequate production space and the lethargy and dismissive attitude of an uncaring political directorate was not easy. But these mas-makers were determined that the legacy left by those who went before had to be enhanced for the benefit of this and future generations. This nation owe a deep debt of gratitude to our Bandleaders, Designers and Costume builders whose labour of love has created a carnival product that is the envy of others in the Caribbean and beyond. It was Twenty-Five years of sheer brilliance in creativity and artistry from Dragons Cultural Organisation, Bad Lads and Lasses, Melboume Artisans, Associates, Artists Unlimited and its successor Mirage Productions, R ‘Fuzzy” Knights and Fuzzy’s Genuises, Nelson Block, Al and Forces, Pat Drayton and P’tani Mas-makers, Phillos, Sparky and the Stars, Owen Ralph and the Professionals, Douglas Melville and the Ranchers, Avis Yorke and Company, Wizards Mas’ Camp, Blondi Bird and Friends, Beautex International, Potential Mas band, My imagination, SVG Players International, Ezzi and Terri Buck lntemational, Hairounna Productions, The Gang and Roses Crew. No praise is too much for Dragons Cultural Organisation and Melboume Artisans (formerly Melbourne and the Mas’ Youth) both of whom were there and present at the I977 change over and will grace the Victoria Park stage with their presence in 2002.

Roy Ralph and his Dragons duly completed a hat-trick of wins. ‘Its Just My Imagination, Vincentians Most Colourful Festival and Mas on the Moon’ respectively were the winning presentations. Dragons dominance was to continue but the era of the grand historical spectacles had sadly come to an end. Times were changing and an increased number of female masqueraders were playing mas, replacing step by step their male counterparts. The costume bands entered the new era of Vincy Mas starting in 1977. THE COSTUMED BANDS They kept the spirit of carnival alive. They made quite certain that the masquerade survived into the Twenty First century. “Kicked from pillar to post” with little thought or attention given to their welfare and development,these masquerade producers continued the tradition of our forbears in creating presentations second to none in the region and the wider world. From Dragons to My Imagination the costumed bands of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines enabled the

But, Owen Ralph and the Professionals, Wizards Mas Camp, Nelson Block and Mirage Productions have all been around for a long time and deserve honourable mention among those who stayed the course despite the hard going. BEHIND THE PRODUCERS In every field of human endeavours strong personalities sometime makes the difference between failure and success. During the past Twenty-five years, bandleaders designers and builders have ensured that the art form grew and developed. Significant among these, have been Roy ‘Dragon’ Ralph, Edison ‘Sheggie’ John, Lennox ‘Dinks’ Johnson, Owen ‘Skin’ Ralph, Lennox ‘Becks’ Gonsalves, Julian ‘Pillin’ Pollard, Junior ‘Melbourne’ Constance, Adonis ‘Goat’ Hector, Oswald ‘Ossie’ Constance, Elroy ‘Blondi Bird’ Boyde, Wayne Berkely and the late Neville Hinds. Edison ‘Sheggie’ John, Lennox ‘Dinks’ Johnson and Owen Ralph have been able to combine the positions of Bandleader and Designer successfully. In varying degrees, Roy Ralph, Becks Gonsalves, Junior Constance, Adonis Hector and Blondi Bird Boyde have led from the front scoring successes


along the way. Julian ‘Pillin’ Pollard has recently combined the positions of Bandleader / Designer with SVG Players International but, did very well as Designer for Dragons, Hairouna Productions and Blondi Bird and Friends. Ossie Constance has been out-standing in recent years while Wayne Berkley was the Designer behind several of Mirage Productions individual triumphs and their two bands of the year title wins. Neville Hinds designed Dragon’s 1996 Band of the Year Warriors of the Sun and several individual victories including a hat trick for Rachel Charles in the Queen of Carnival category 1997 - 1999. Another designer of note was Walter Elliot who did some presentations for Mirage Productions in its early years as well as for Melbourne Artisans and Fuzzy’s Geniuses.

the Bands) and Roy Ralph (King of the Band) respectively. Both costumes epitomized the magnificent work of art and craftsmanship of the builders, which left deep impressions on the minds of the thousands at Victoria Park that night. Throughout the 1980’s mas-makers soared to great heights as they fought for supremacy in the King and Queen of the Bands Competition. Generally, competition has been very keen with no one band being able to establish dominance in the categories. In regal splendour they paraded before the Judges and Patrons at Carnival City in a grand spectacle of colour and creative genius. In 1977 Aileen Browne was a Mirage from the Band Reflections, a presentation of Lennox

MASQUERADERS OF DISTINCTION Among individual masqueraders of distinction over this Twenty-Five years period (Lockhart. Anesto Spring and Cheryl Hornsey scored three victories each while Pamela Browne and Jim Lockhart chalked up two wins a piece. Among other well known winners in the Individuals from the Bands Competition were Trevor ‘Cobax’ Browne, Vanessa Wilson, David ‘Skye’ Llewellyn who shared the title with Cheryl Hornsey in 1989, Trevor ‘Third World’ De Shong, Davrell Douglas and Chatoyer Boyde, son of Blondi Bird Boyde. One of Cheryl Homsey’s victories (1989) was registered with Bad Lads and Lasses and the others with the Wizards Mas Camp in 1997 and 1999. Overall, no band has been able to register a clear dominance in this field, but Dragons have won Six times, Bad Lads and lasses Five, while Nelson Block and Wizards Mas’ Camp have each registered four victories. IN REGAL SPLENDOUR There were times during the past Twenty-Five years when the Kings and Queens of the Bands (King and Queen of Carnival)

exuded sheer magic and class. Dimanche Gras Show 1985 will long be remembered for the Dragons Creations of ‘Out of the Frying Pan into the Fire’ and ‘Two Man Rat Cant Live in one Hole’ portrayed by Carol Gonsalves (Queen of

‘Becks’ Gonsalves and Daff Browne and took home the first Vincy Mas’ Queen of the Bands Title. In the counterpart King of the Bands competition, Ken Browne’s portrayal of ‘Inheritor of Barclays’ from Roy Ralph and the Dragons ‘From Halifax to the Comer of Granby and Sharpe Street’ copped the title. Rachel Charles has scored four victories including a hat trick in the Queen of the Bands / Queen of Carnival Competition doing so in 1993 and 1997-1999. Her 1997 portrayal of Aphrodite from Dragons ‘ Water world’ was simply fantastic. She was closely followed by Eleanor Fergusson of Nelson Blocks who won the title in I987, 1988 and 1991. Carol Gonsalves and Keisha Lemmon of Dragons and Mirage Productions and Nelson Block respectively had two wins each with Claudette Llewellyn (Dragons) Marcia Mc Intosh (Dragons) Helen Cyrus (Associates, Faye Cato (Bad Lads and Lasses) Monique Bailey (A. Yorke and Company) Jacintha Ballantyne (Associates) Primmadonna Bascombe (Dragons) Pamela Browne (Dragons) Petra Davy (Hairounna Productions) Yvette Jackson (Nelson Block) Debra Huggins (Mirage Productions) and Shaunnelle Mc Kenzie (Nelson Block) winning on one occasion. Vibert DeShong arguably, this in a grand country’s premiere individual of colour and creative genius. In masquerader of all times, continued his winning ways up to 1989. He has been King of the Bands / King of Carnival four times during this period sharing this feat with two other outstanding masqueraders in the persons of Roy Ralph


and Gordon ‘Tarya’ Boucher. DeShong’s victories were in 1981 and 1982 with Associates and 1987 and 1989 with Mirage Productions. He then bowed out leaving son Trevor “Third World” DeShong with a hard act to follow. Roy Ralph (Dragons) and Tarya Boucher (Nelson Block) shared the honours of most victories with Vibert DeShong over the 1977-2001 period. Ken Browne (Dragons) and Garth Niles (Blondi Bird and Friends) have both wore the Kings Crown on two occasions. Oxley ‘Giddy’ Lockhart (Dragons) Elford Charles (Wizards) Basil Charles (Wizards) Trevor Browne (Dragons) Trevor DeShong (Mirage Productions) Bhisma Browne (Blondi Bird and Friends) Garfield Mayers (Wizards) and Michael Ollivierre (Mirage Productions) all reigned as King for one year. Incidentally, it is worth mentioning that Trevor ‘Third World’ De Shong whose portrayal of Tinamou - The Serpent Slayer from Mirage Productions Ebony and Ivory brought him his lone title in 1994 placed runner-up (third) in the Carnival King of the World Competition in Trinidad and Tobago later that year. This of course underlined St. Vincent and the Grenadines prominence along with that of Trinidad and Tobago in the Mas’ business. Trinidad and Tobago won that competition when it’s two entrants tied for first place. This country owes a debt of gratitude to Lennox ‘Becks Gonsalves, bandleader of Mirage Productions, for spearheading SVGS’ participation in the Carnival King of the World Show in 1994. JUNIOR CARNIVAL In the first years of Vincy Mas’ the Junior Carnival continued to be known as Kiddies Carnival. But, with its growth, development and massive popularity, this competition for children aged 1-15 was transformed into the Junior Carnival. It is Junior Carnival, which, more than any other competitive Masquerade Show that has registered the greatest success this last Twenty-Five years. The number of children playing mas has shown tremendous increase with the passage of time and perhaps in another decade or so Junior Masqueraders may well outnumber their senior counterparts. Junior Carnival is guaranteed to fill Carnival City at Victoria Park with patrons thus ensuring financial success for the organizers. The competition has its Age group individuals 1-5, 6-9 and 10-15, which in recent years had to be limited to only two entrants per band in each category, The Junior King and Queen of Carnival arouses keen interest in the outcome. A best junior section is declared followed by the announcement of Junior Band of the year. Again, no one band has been able to completely dominate Junior Carnival and it has been a case of fluctuating fortunes. Over the years, Dragons, Bad Lads and Lasses, Nelson Block, Wizards and Mirage Productions have been victorious in seizing Junior Band of the Year honours. Certainly, Junior Carnival has been the nursery, which has facilitated a tremendous

increase in the size of Senior Bands over the last five years. Junior Carnival is fast outgrowing the time frame allotted for parade and competition which since 1992 has taken place on the first Saturday of our twelve day Vincy Mas’. With the growing number of Junior Masqueraders the time will surely come when more than five hours inclusive of parade, will have to be allocated to Vincy Mas’ prestigious Junior Carnival. It has to be mentioned herein that Bottlers (Saint Vincent) limited Bottlers of Ju-c and Pepsi has been sponsors of Junior Carnival during the 1977-2001 period. This support has also encouraged the success that has been Junior Carnival and no praise is too high for Bottlers in this regard. In recent times, Sunshine Snacks whose Agents are Bryden & Sprott’s has joined Bottlers in lending support to Junior Mas’. They too deserve commendation for their vision. VINCY DIASPORA Vincentians overseas have not been left out of the Mas’. Over the years, we have had presentations out of New York, beginning with Winston ‘Samo’ Samuel’s “The Festival and I” in 1978. Samo, a famed bandleader of the early 1960’s, was responsible for producing great historical presentations and for several years was involved in a healthy rivalry with the Bridge Boys for Band of the Year supremacy. Veteran Man-woman Sylvia DaSilva also organized and led a few presentations, the most notable being Festival Siam in 1992. Our Caribbean Cousins notably from Trinidad and Tobago and St.Lucia have participated in Mardi Gras over the years. This year expects to see and witness the parade of a Masquerade band from Guadeloupe. THEY RULED CARNIVAL After all is said and done, the proverbial “Lion’s Share” has been divided up among six bands of producers only with each of them taking a portion more or less. In the final analysis Bad Lads and Lasses and Nelson Block ruled Carnival on six occasions. Bad Lads and Lasses scored a beaver trick (1978-1982) and were again in winners row during 1987 and 1988. Nelson Block in turn became the third band (after Dragons and Bad Lads and Lasses) to score a hat trick doing so in 1991-1993. Their other victorious outings were,


in 1995, 1997 and 2001. Wizards Mas’ Camp is the most unassuming mas band in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines who quietly went about the business of scoring a hat trick

business operation, which could provide a certain level of employment for members. The Ministry of Education / Ministry of Tourism must incorporate mas production into the primary/secondary school system including the very important concept of design and costume making/building. The government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines in furtherance of its stated goal to place culture at the center of the developmental process will have to assist masmakers/producers at the institutional level. This will involve a financial outlay in investment.

of title wins from 1998-2000 following their first ever victory parade in 1990 with the presentation ‘Visions’. Mirage Productions may have only copped the Band of the Year title twice (1989 and 1994) but,over the years have steadily proven to be very competitive and the “One to beat”. Indeed, there are those who strongly maintain that Mirage, which took this name in honour of Bandleader Becks Gonsalves 1977 presentation victory of the same name in the Queen of the Bands category, ought to have won at least another two Bands of the Year titles. Be that as it may, there have always been something to catch the imagination in Mirage’s many productions over the years. When the major bands decided that they were unable to make it to Victoria Park in 1983, Avis Yorke stepped into the breach. A masquerader of note and distinction she led a Company of like minded spirits in a presentation of Seasons which that year received the Judges nod for Band of the Year. ’ It was also in 1983 that Nelson Block and Wizards Mas’ Camp made their debut presentations. Almost Twenty years later they are still around and creating great mas. After a drop in standards during the early to mid l990’s, Mardi Gras has again been on the upswing since 1996. Mas-makers have a lot to do in order to ensure that standards continue to improve so that the recognition, and reputation which this country has established in the masquerade THE ROAD AHEAD If we are to maintain our position up there with Trinidad and Tobago as mas’ producers, then several decisions will have to be made. It will not be possible, given the limitation of space to go into detail here, but briefly outlined below is some of those decisions. SVG mas’ producers must decide if (individually) they wish to continue in the masquerade business. Having decided to continue, each band must decide to stream line it’s operations around a business management level so as to obtain maximum financial returns. Each band will have to develop an all-year round

Mas Production has provided an outlet for our costume designers and builders to ply their trade within the Caribbean Region and beyond. Carnival is a growing business internationally and those involved in the art form must begin to take matters seriously. Above all, mas-makers and producers must work towards building and strengthening the Carnival Bands Association (CBA), placing that Organisation on a firm footing to continue developing the Vincentian component of our Caribbean Carnival Culture.


And Dat Was Kong! By Bassy

pitch marbles and spin top with the smallest child. Ah have ah belief he was a bit on the immature side judging from the way he uses to argue and cheat, just like any of us small boys, or maybe he was just ‘monkeying’ round. Getting Dressed For Town But as little children we uses to look forward to seeing “Kong” go through his dress routine. He would strip stark naked in front of us displaying his abnormality, and you should ah hear our sighs and murmurs when he did that! Next he creamed his entire body with ah black concoction for which he and only he had the formula; vaseline or coconut oil and soot, the black substance from the oven at the bakery. He would then put on his red silk all-in-one bath suit, his gladiator outfit. From his buttocks hung a long tail made from rope. Ah monkey is not a monkey without ah tail but he ha to find a place to put he tail when he put on pants!

Y

ou know people never quite understood how I could just casually say that “Monkey Kong” would have been one of the most outstanding features of the carnival during the late 40’s and throughout the 50’s and 60’s. Oh we had all sorts of characters and bands in those days. Bum drum, string band, boozie back, wining donkey man, May Pole dancers, Kaisonian, Quadrille dancers, steel band, masqueraders like Raff-I Davidson and the King Bros., musicians like the McIntoshes, but nobody roamed and ruled the streets with as much fear and “Terror” as Monkey Kong! And mind you there were several “Monkey Bands” yo‘ know, but none was half as fierce, wild, nor as strong as Kong. And hear this, Kong looked the closest thing to ah Monkey, I suppose after many years of impersonating a character, perfection soon follows. His Livelihood Kong made a regular living at the bakery cutting up wood for the fumace. No doubt the constant use of the axe and the nuff wheat bread to eat, would have been responsible for those strong and powerful muscles which he displayed at Carnival . Kong was Human He was over two hundred pounds, six feet plus, shining black hands clearly not the most handsome person to look at! But you couldn’t ask for a more kind-hearted person, especially to kids. He lived just up the road from my home, and every evening he distributed cakes -- which he took from the work place, to all of us. He played cricket – softball;

Kong’s outfit was more complete than the other characters that played monkey; for example he had what he called claws, false nails made from light galvanize or tin, those were dangerous and Kong uses to tear people’s clothes with his claws when they refused to put a penny or cent in his “begging monkey-hands!” They tell me dat Kong did “long stop” the Administrator by Government office steps, he couldn’t move ‘till he paid Kong a six cents. And finally somebody had to put on his head piece, his crown of hair false hair made from strand-out rope fibre, long strands reaching down to his waist. Once that head piece was in place, Kong was no more human being, he like he gone wild, and we weren’t sticking ‘round after that to see them chaining him around his waist. Two long cattle chains fitted around the mid-section. It took two fellows, and ah mean two strong men on either ends of them chains, to hold back Kong in the Streets. Jack Ah-Winkey No monkey band was complete without ah Jack-ah Winkey - an offspring, usually a very small boy played the young monkey, he would dance and climb on Kong’s back most of the time. Kong Reach! I never knew Kong as no dread character until I experienced my first Carnival Ole Mas Monday at the Kingstown Wesley Hall School. It was about 9am and the bands were all going down to Victoria Park to be judged. In those days Carnival Monday was a normal working day for stores and schools. There was the sound of the Bum drum in the distance and the headteacher went into the street, made a check, came back and announced: “He is coming!” Everybody started to scream, well I didn’t know what they were screaming ‘bout so I join’d in too. Then to the top of his voice the headteacher order us to be quiet. He gave us


ah sort of a disaster preparedness lecture. “Not to be afraid! Kong is nothing! Bla! bla bla! And then he ordered the teachers to close the doors and windows. Kong Reach There was no electricity in the school so we were in the dark now. That was confusion! Real pandemonium! Most of the bigger boys started shouting and whistling while the girls and small kids were screaming. Outside the school gate we were hearing all sort ah commotion including the full thunderous rolling of the drums. They played for ah while and just when it seemed as though they were moving away, we heard like someone was breaking down the door with ah sledge hammer! That was the weight of Kong’s hand! And screaming started again, by this time some of the bigger kids didn’t wait, they started to jump through the windows. Everybody started to panic, children running here, some jumping over desks, some through windows, the old door gave way to the pounding and Kong was in! Kong Reach! Even the head teacher an‘ all, who was telling us a few short moments ago to be brave, he too ran out of the school! I ran straight home so I don’t know what took place after, but that was my first experience of the legend of a great Mas Man. Kaisonian “Jah Live on,” ah Rastaman, sang ah kaiso last year called “Rule Carnival”. His version is that mas men, pan men and kaisonian they all rule Carnival! In his own way he is correct but I still contend that there was only one man who ever reigned supreme over Carnival for three decades “And Dat Was Kong!”


Memories of Vincy Mas Band of the Year 1963 “A portrait of Ancient Egypt” by Bridge Boys

Memories of Vincy Mas Band of the Year 1964 “Great Amerindian Civilizations” by Winston Samo Samuel

Memories of Vincy Mas Band of the Year 1965 “Mighty River States of Mesopotamia and the River Euphrates” by Winston Samo Samuel

Memories of Vincy Mas Band of the Year 1966 “Ocean Extravaganza” by Selwyn Fuzzy Knights


Memories of Vincy Mas Band of the Year 1967 “Extracts fom the Dark” by Horace “Kentish” Cunningham (Bridge Boys)

Memories of Vincy Mas Band of the Year 1968 “Fairy Tales” by Selwyn “Fuzzy” Knights

Memories of Vincy Mas Band of the Year 1969 “Siam 1275-1675” by Lennox “Scully” Hunte

Memories of Vincy Mas Band of the Year 1970 “Quest in Paradise” by Lennox “Scully” Hunte


Memories of Vincy Mas Band of the Year 1971 “Gullivers Travels” by Selwyn “Fuzzy” Knights

Memories of Vincy Mas Band of the Year 1973 “In the hands of our People” Lennox “Scully” Hunte

Memories of Vincy Mas Band of the Year 1972 “Hairoun - Splendour of Nature” by Roy Ralph - Dragons

Memories of Vincy Mas Band of the Year 1974 “Its Just my Imagination” by Roy Ralph - Dragons


Memories of Vincy Mas Band of the Year 1975 “Vincentians most colourful Festival” by Roy Ralph - Dragons

Memories of Vincy Mas Band of the Year 1977 “From Granby to Corner of Halifax Street” by by Roy Ralph - Dragons

Memories of Vincy Mas Band of the Year 1976 “Mas on the Moon” by Roy Ralph - Dragons

Memories of Vincy Mas Band of the Year 1978 “Coming Heigher - A tribute to Becket” by Bad Lass & Lasses - E. Sheggy John


Memories of Vincy Mas Band of the Year 1980 “Spectrum” by Bad Lass & Lasses - E. Sheggy John

Memories of Vincy Mas Band of the Year 1981 “Roots Hairouna” by Bad Lass & Lasses - E. Sheggy John

Memories of Vincy Mas Band of the Year 1982 “Mass ah know yo” by Bad Lass & Lasses - E. Sheggy John

Memories of Vincy Mas Band of the Year 1983 “Seasons” by Avis Yorke


Memories of Vincy Mas Band of the Year 1984 “Sometime, Someplace - Legend of the Black Caribs” by Roy Ralph - Dragons

Memories of Vincy Mas Band of the Year 1985 “Nonsense Story - Mouth Open ‘Tory jump out’ ” by Roy Ralph - Dragons

Memories of Vincy Mas Band of the Year 1986 “We go Carolling” by Roy Ralph - Dragons

Memories of Vincy Mas Band of the Year 1987 “Timbuktu” by Bad Lass & Lasses - E. Sheggy John


Memories of Vincy Mas Band of the Year 1988 “Legend of the Cucumaca” by Bad Lass & Lasses - E. Sheggy John

Memories of Vincy Mas Band of the Year 1989 “Wings” by Mirage Productions - L. Becks Gonsalves

Memories of Vincy Mas Band of the Year 1990 “Visions” by Wizards - L. “Dinks” Johnson

Memories of Vincy Mas Band of the Year 1991 “Riches of the Earth” by Nelson Bloc - A. Hector


Memories of Vincy Mas Band of the Year 1992 “Preserving SVG Marine Environment” by Nelson Bloc - A. Hector

Memories of Vincy Mas Band of the Year 1993 “Pride in our Local Industry” by Nelson Bloc - A. Hector

Memories of Vincy Mas Band of the Year 1994 “Ebony & Ivory” by Mirage Productions - L. Becks Gonsalves

Memories of Vincy Mas Band of the Year 1995 “We only Dancing” by Nelson Bloc - A. Hector


Memories of Vincy Mas Band of the Year 1996 “Warriors of the Sun” by Roy Ralph - Dragons

Memories of Vincy Mas Band of the Year 1997 “An Explosion of Colours” by Nelson Bloc - A. Hector

Memories of Vincy Mas Band of the Year 1998 “Its Only a Dream” by Wizards - L. “Dinks” Johnson

Memories of Vincy Mas Band of the Year 1999 “Paradise” by Wizards - L. “Dinks” Johnson


Memories of Vincy Mas Band of the Year 2000 “Mythical Expression” by Wizards - L. “Dinks” Johnson

Memories of Vincy Mas Band of the Year 2001 “Wave It” by Nelson Bloc - A. Hector

Memories of Vincy Mas Band of the Year 2002 “This is Carnival” by Nelson Bloc - A. Hector

Memories of Vincy Mas Band of the Year 2003 “Retrospect - A blast from the Past” by Nelson Bloc - A. Hector


Memories of Vincy Mas Band of the Year 2004 “FanFare” by Dragons - Elliot Prince Telesford

Memories of Vincy Mas Band of the Year 2005 “You Ask for it” by Nelson Bloc - Alvern Cadougan

Memories of Vincy Mas Band of the Year 2006 “History of the Band of the Year Competition in SVG 21963-2006” by SVG Players International - Julian Pollard

Memories of Vincy Mas Band of the Year 2007 “Beauty Beneath the Sea” by SVG Players International - Julian Pollard


Memories of Vincy Mas Band of the Year 2008 “Exotica - Wonders of Nature” by SVG Players International - Julian Pollard

Memories of Vincy Mas Band of the Year 2009 “Expo Zargosa - The World’s Extravaganza” by SVG Players International - Julian Pollard

Memories of Vincy Mas Band of the Year 2010 “King of Pop - Tribute to Michael Jackson” by Blonde Bird & Friends - Elroy Boyde

Memories of Vincy Mas Band of the Year 2011 “Natures Fury” by Blonde Bird & Friends - Elroy Boyde


Memories of Vincy Mas Band of the Year 2012 “A Glimpse of Kingstown” by Blonde Bird & Friends - Elroy Boyde


S

Historical Notes

ince 1997, Vincy Mas has been adorned with even greater craftsmanship, artistry, skill and creative imagination of ordinary Vincentians with extraordinary talent. These designers, builders and mas men are now widely recognized for their hard work and dedication. It is necessary to highlight especially, the imagery, originality, and subtlety of Roy Ralph and the Dragons; the Kaleidoscopic splendour of Lennox ‘Scully’ Hunte, Edison ‘Sheggy’ John and the Bad Lads and Lasses, and Adonis ‘Goat’ Hector and the Nelson Bloc. The artistry of Lennox ‘Dinks’ Johnson; the innovations and daring of Lennox ‘Becks’ Gonsalves, Wayne Berkley and Mirage Productions; the determination, persistence and resilience of the Melbourne Artisans, the passion of Avis Yorke and the Walronds. The courage of Sparky and Hairoun Productions in their focus on local; and Blondie Bird and Friends for their new approach to production and portrayal of mas in St.Vincent and the Grenadines. Vincentian mas designers and builders have created images of wonder, images of fear, images of beauty- all dazzling the eyes of onlookers with oceans of colours and sheer artistry in appearance and movement. What started as simple pleasure and enjoyment for many mas designers and builders, has become an obsession, if not a compulsion. For some, it has become an occupation, albeit only seasonal. OF SHEGGIE JOHN’S BAD LADS AND LASSES

agreed to form an organisation to produce a mas band for Carnival 1974. Persons present were: Edison “Sheggie” John, Gary “Gengen” Mc Kell, Anthony “Gripsey” Daisy, Ernesto Spring, Willy Howe, Roland “Scrapie” Dopwell, Keith “Becks” Jack, Bert Browne, Julian “Yard Ah Mouth” Bailey, Woodrow “Keylee” Williams, Robert “Robbie” Jacobs, Allison “Mouse” Murray, Bertland “Zulu” Gloster, Lennox “Duck Tripe” London, Avis Yorke, Agnes De Roche and Charlene “Faye” Cato. At this meeting, it was agreed that the Band would be known as Creative Enterprises Limited (CEL) as no one wanted the band named after them. This name did not last, some members who were into the Black Power Movement and were influenced by the “Shaft” movie insisted that they were the “Baddest” mas men, thus the name was changed to Bad Lads and Lasses. The production for Carnival 1974 “Once upon a Time” failed to continue where “Skully” had left off and did not win the Band of the Year title. In 1977 when the change of dates for Vincy Mas came, the band produced what some persons consider its best production with “Aristique”, however the band did not participate in the Band of the Year competition as one of the Judges for the Queen of the Bands competition in their remarks on the score sheet had stated that Bad Lads and Lasses needed to be judged by “University Professors as the production was too complicated”. This was the first time a mas band had boycotted the competition, in 1978 the band paid tribute to Alston “Becket” Cyrus as a show of appreciation for the work he had done in promoting Vincy Carnival internationally. “Coming Higher, A Tribute to Becket” won the Band its first band of the Year title. This started a winning streak for the Band which apart from 1979 when there was no Carnival, ran up to 1982, with Spectrum 80 (A review of its productions) in 1980, Roots Hairouna (Tribute to our Roots) 1981 and Mas Ah Kno’ Yo’(Tribute to the Mas Men of the Past). In 1983 the Band joined with the other Carnival Bands, who were members of the Carnival Bands Association and boycotted the Carnival competitions for that year as they were dissatisfied with the prizes being offered.

In 1973 following the departure of Lennox “Scully” Hunte, the group of guys who had been the workmen behind most of “Skully’s” winning productions decided that they had to continue their involvement in carnival. Having taken this decision, a meeting was convened at which it was

1984 saw bad Lads and Lasses return to competition but was unsuccessful in its quest to reclaim the title of Band of the Year. Bad Lads and Lasses returned to winning ways in 1987 with Timbuktu. The trend continued in 1988 with Legend of the Cocomaca. Bad Lads and Lasses were never to win another title and in 1993 following the carnival season the band was formally dissolved, however some members of the band continued to be involved in the production of mas bands.


OF SAMO AND THE BRIDGE For almost a decade they locked horns in fierce rivalry on Mardi Gras Parade of the Bands. The general public at large particularly carnival lovers looked forward to their excellent presentations. At the end of both presentations before the Judges at Victoria Park one or the other would emerge victorious. There was never a question of a tie. COMPELLING PRODUCTIONS According to John Horne the presentations of legendary masquerade bands Winston ‘Samo’ Samuel and the Bridge Boys of which he was one of the leaders were all “compelling productions”. This was especially so in the years 1963, 1964 and 1965. Bridge Boys ran away with the 1963 Band of the Year title apparently swamping ‘Samo’ (whom his rivals said “play old mas” and a Portrait of Ancient Egypt triumphed. The Egyptians with the pharaohs at the helm ruled. There was virtually no dispute about who won. There was almost universal agreement that Bridge Boys, led that year by Roy Austin had scored a most convincing victory. Alas! 1964 and 1965 were different in outcome to 1963 with “disputed” results. The Judges decisions were final it is true but for years afterwards there were those convinced that not Samo’ but the Bridge who should have walked away with both Band of the Year titles. In 1964 perhaps it was the depictions of Samo and Bridge Boys which caused the entire furor. Indeed, so strong was the divide between the bands and their respective followers and supporters that a rumour soon made the rounds that both had agreed to a “rematch” at Victoria Park on Easter Monday! GREAT AMERINDIAN CIVILISATIONS VS FROM THE STORY OF WESTERN COLONISATION Samo’s 1964 presentation was entitled Great Amerindian Civilisations highlighting the Aztecs, Incas, Maya, Caribs, Arawaks and other tribal nations. Naturally the Spanish conquistadors were a part of this epic production. Conquistadors constituted also a notable section in Bridge Boys offering From the Story of Western Colonisation with

the French and English also in the thick of things. Featured in the presentation too were such historical figures as King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain , Queen Elizabeth I of England and King Louis IV and Queen Marie Antoinette of France. England’s Sir Walter Raliegh was there along with Sir Francis Drake. From Haiti came Toussaint L’Overture. Somehow, the main disputed areas centred around whose account was the more accurate and in form and fashion followed history and tradition. This could never be resolved and the rest as they say is “history”. MIGHTY RIVER STATES OF ANCIENT TIMES VS INVADERS OF BRITIAN 55BC- 1066AD For most carnival observers, Samo’s Mighty River States was his best ever presentation. No Hollywood historical epic could have been better than this production which hit the streets of Kingstown that bright sunny carnival Tuesday morning just before 8 am with the masqueraders chipping along to a 1965 popular calypso done by Lord Blakie of Trinidad. To Blakie’s lyrics “This is Carnival”, the masqueraders sang “this is Samo’ mas” as they paraded along to the sound of the accompanying steel orchestra. One remembers hearing the comment “absolutely brilliant” from one spectator obviously moved by the spectacle. As a matter of fact Mighty River States was given a standing ovation when it entered the Victoria Park. As was customary the masqueraders underwent inspection outside Victoria Park before entering. The band had undergone weeks of practice at Memorial Hall under the tutelage of Dr. Edgar Adams who taught the masqueraders various dance steps they were to execute on stage. The Band’s management had the previous year held meetings to come up with the concept and develop the theme. Leroy Mulraine was Samo’s Researcher and Narrator. He recalls choosing the presentation while going through a national Geographic magazine which carried an article complete with maps of the rivers and areas where the various states were located including the Nile, Euphrates and Tigris. Mesopotamia which featured in the production is known as the “cradle of civilization”. Additional research had to be done from other sources since as Mulraine says the presentation had to be “strictly authentic”. Mulraine had done ancient history at Advance Level and knew his subject. The floats (stills) were very effective. Lennox ‘Becks’ Gonsalves had already been crowned Prince of Carnival at Children’s Carnival. Ken Browne who was later to win several King of the Band titles was that year’s Individual winner. The Gate of Babylon built at Beachmont by Alfred ‘Sonny’ Hazell made a strong impression. Jean Duncan


was Chief Decorator and adorned the gate with animals, plants and various oriental symbols. There was a chariot in the lineup. Sections featured Egyptians, Etruscans, Babylonians and Roman Soldiers. There was a platform on which Roman senators reclined. Specially ordered materials and decorations had been sourced in Trinidad including velvet, satin, swansdon and leopard skin cloth. THE INVADERS In contrast, Bridge Boys ‘Invaders of Britain’ saw warriors and soldiers in full military dress with all the accoutrements. In the lineup were Picts, Scots, Druids, Romans, Anglo Saxons, Vikings and Normans. It was certainly a powerful presentation and much care and attention had gone into detail. The production had been mainly researched by Raymond English, then a history teacher at the Intermediate High School. From an historical standpoint this presentation was accurate in terms of dates and the various military costumes. Certainly much time had been taken to drill the troops into a semblance of military precision in accordance with tradition. Bridge Boys had done their homework by ensuring that what was to be the final of the masquerade rivalry between Samo and themselves lived up to the expectations of carnival lovers and the public. The drama on stage was well done and was well received by the patrons. It was generally agreed that the Judges would have a hard task coming up with a winner. The competition was close and many patrons found difficulty in making up their minds regarding which of the two presentations would emerge victorious this time around. Invaders of Britain were resplendent and received sustained applause from an appreciative audience. The masqueraders must have thought that some measure of revenge was about to be exacted for the previous year’s defeat. They definitely looked a confident bunch as the presentation departed Victoria Park for uptown. IN SUMMARY The Judges gave the nod to Winston ‘Samo’ Samuel and his team. The band also won People’s Choice to put the icing on the cake. Along the way the band had won the first ever Queen of the Bands title with Joan Gonsalves appearing as the Queen of the Etruscans.

In the presentation of both bands, Roman soldiers had been featured. There was however, one significant difference in the armored breast plate worn by each group. Bridge Boys armour had been made from tin while those of Samo were molded from clay found in the Cox Heath area of Upper Edinboro and made into papier-mâché. The Breast plate of tin did not help in terms of the heat coming from the sun. That made of clay kept the masqueraders cool even in the heat of the sun. Did this matter of the breast plates tilt the balance in favour of Samo’s production? Maybe! Who knows? Finally, Timm Daisy narrated Invaders of Britain 55BC1066AD. His narration was exemplary and did much to contribute to the sustained applause which the presentation received. But narration is not part of the score sheet. Historical Notes on Vincy Carnival ‘Moby Dick’- 30 YEARS OF MAS Norris Samuel- “Moby Dick” he was called, from Town Hill, Richmond Hill, Kingstown was a tower of strength up on the hill. Standing like a “rock of Gibraltar”, ‘Moby Dick’ was sheer determination, commitment, love for culture and carnival, that he gave his life to creating mas for Vincy Carnival. For three decades (30 years), ‘Moby Dick’ came down from the Hill year after year with excellent mas productions from the 1950’s to 1980’s and made his mark and contribution towards the development of Vincy Mas in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. ‘Moby Dick’s historical mas presentation included “Watusi”, “Golden Age of India”, “Glory that was Greece” and “Port Royal” among other spectacular mas bands. Although he never won a band of the year title, ‘Moby Dick’ was a dedicated , disciplined mas band leader who stuck to his guns and made his mark in our carnival history. His association with the legendary Roy Ralph, Raymond ‘Sevens’ Knights his lieutenant and mas partner for year, Paddy Corea, Vin De Bique and many other soldiers, who helped to enrich the tradition of Vincy Mas. ‘Moby Dick’ was a true mas man, a Vincentian patriot, a brave man who was not daunted by the bigger bands in Vincy Carnival such as Bridge Boys, Fuzzy Knights, ‘Samo’, Scully Hunte and others, but faithfully completed year to year with pride and dignity. Roy Ralph-‘’ The Dragon’’ How did Roy get this name Dragon? There are several versions of this story on how Roy Ralph, veteran mas man, (deceased) acquired the name “Penn Dragon”. However, Kyes Vegetarian Cuisine gave his version as an eye witness to the event, where Roy actually got his name that very day, and it stuck with him throughout his life.


Whichever is the correct version of Roy’s naming story, let us leave it as that way, he dressed in all black like the movie character. Roy Ralph “The Dragon” rose to fame in 1972 when he won his first Band of the Year and King of the Bands titles from his band presentation, “ H a i r o u n Splendour of Nature”. It was a presentation with a difference, and the designer was a very lean had named Adolphus ‘Buck’ Barber, who received many, praises for his exceptional mas designs. Roy Ralph had arrived and Vincy Carnival would never be the same again with the interest rivalry and fierce competition from the other mas bands in St.Vincent. Lennox’ Scully” Hunte another Creative artist and innovative mas designer had other ideas and ‘Scully’ eclipsed Roy’s presentation the following year with his mas presentation, “In the Hands of our People” which many Vincentians are of the opinion that this mas band was the most unique mas ever presented in Vincy Carnival. The debate continues up to today.

imagination, skill, creativity and stage craft. Many persons have debated Roy’s best portrayals in the King of the Bands category as “Hurricane” and “Two Man Rat can’t Live in the Same Hole”. Each portrayal has its own unique character and mas design that grabs your attention with amazement and bewilderment at this awesome and memorable costume.

During his heyday, ‘Dragon’ nurtured and inspired a host of individuals and masmen in this country, who all mushroomed and gloomed into excellent mas producers in Vincy Mas. Julian “Pilling” Pollard, Elroy “Blondie Bird” Boyde, Oxley “Giddy” Lockhart, Eric Monk, Ellie Prince, Culture Man Walker, Third World, Mice, Leroy, Cobax, Yank and an impressive list of masqueraders.

Roy Ralph‘s pride was at stake, and so was the Band of the Year trophy, which “The Dragon” was hell bent on retrieving it. Roy Ralph bounced back with vengeance in securing the Band of the Year titles in 1974 with “It’s Just My Imagination”, “Vincentian most Colorful Festival in 1975, “Mas on the Moon” in 1976, and the epic “From Granby to Halifax Street” in 1977, placed Dragon and his mas camp into a category by themselves, as they achieved a beavertrick in the Band of the year competition, the first such achievement in Vincy Carnival. Basking in glory, Roy was King of the King of the Bands competition winning on several occasions with costumes of

Following Roy Ralph‘s band of the year title in 1977, it took the Dragon five (5) long years to regain this coveted and prestigious title. Bad Lads and Lasses won the title consecutively from 1978 – 1982, Avis Yorke assisted by Sheggy John won it in 1983, when Bad Lads and Lasses took a break. Dragons returned the Band of the year supremacy title in 1984, with a presentation called “Sometime Someplace – Legend of the Black Caribs”. He repeated this feat in 1985 and 1986 with “Nonsense Story – Mouth Open, Story Jump Out”, and “We Going Carolling”, respectively, and finally won again in 1996, with “Warriors of the Sun”.


Historical Notes: Nelson Bloc

Nelson Bloc has won the Band of the Year competition in Vincy Mas on 9 occasions, bettered only by the great Roy Ralph. This feat consists of a record two-hat tricks, making them one of the most successful mas bands ever in SVG. Nelson Bloc has produced some excellent presentations over the years, some of which are still freshly etched in the minds of mas makers and masqueraders alike. These include “Extracts from a Chinese Movie” – their very first mas presentation, “Dusk to Dawn” in 1988, “Riches of the Earth” in 1991, “Explore SVG’s Marine Environment” in 1992, “Pride in our Local Industry” in 1993, “Wave It” in 2001, “This is Carnival” in 2002 and “Retrospect-A Blast from the Past” in 2003. In 2004, Nelson Bloc tried to complete what only the likes of Roy Ralph and Sheggy John had been able to achieve- a beaver trick. Their presentation “The Caribbean Civilization” was a true representation of Vincentian creativity at its best.

However, Dragons Cultural Organization shattered Nelson Bloc’s dreams and edged them into second position by a mere six points with an ironically fitting presentation of “Fanfare”.   Historical Notes: Wizards Wizards Mas Camp has won the Band of the Year title in Vincy Mas on four occasions including a hat trick: 1990, 1998, 1999 and 2000. This gives them a title no mas band-

at least in our time- can boast: Being the Millennium Band of the Year. Their winning portrayals include “Vision” in 1990, “Only a Dream” in 1998, “Paradise” in 1999 and “Mythical Expressions” in 2000. Some of their other presentations since their debut in 1985 include “Atlantis”, “Perilous Road to Glory”, “Riches to Rags”, “Carnival”, “Legends” and “Celestial”. The mas band has since disbanded, having not competed since 2001. Their contribution however, to Vincy Mas, will live on forever.


BAND OF THE YEAR WINNERS 1963 - 2012 YEAR

NAME

PRODUCERS/ BANDLEADERS

YEAR

NAME

PRODUCERS/ BANDLEADERS

1963

A Portrait of Ancient Egypt

Bridgeboys / Roy Austin

1988

Legend of the Cucumaca

Bad Lads & Lasses ( E. Sheggy John)

1964

Great Amerindians Civilisations

Winston Samuel

1989

Wings

Mirage Productions (L. Becks Gonsalves)

1965

Mighty River States of Ancient Times

Winston Samuel

1990

Visions

Wizards L. "Dinks" Johnson

1966

Ocean Extravaganza

Selwyn Fussy Knights

1991

Riches of the Earth

Nelson Bloc (A. Hector)

1967

Extracts from the Dark Continent

Bridgeboyd / H.D.N Cunningham

1992

Preserving SVG Marine Environment

Nelson Bloc (A. Hector)

1968

Fairy Tales

Selwyn Fussy Knights

1993

Pride in our Local Industry

Nelson Bloc (A. Hector)

1969

The Minoan Eve of Crete

Lennox Scully Hunte

1994

Ebony & Ivory

1970

Quest in Paradise

Lennox Scully Hunte

Mirage Productions (L. Becks Gonsalves)

1971

Gullivers Travels

Selwyn Fussy Knights

1995

We only Dancing

Nelson Bloc (A. Hector)

1972

Hairoun - Splendour of Nature

Dragons (Roy Ralph)

1996

Warriors of the Sun

Dragons (Roy Ralph)

1997

An Explosion of Colours

Nelson Bloc (A. Hector)

1973

In the Hands of Our People

Lennox Scully Hunte

1998

It's only ah Dream

Wizards L. "Dinks" Johnson

1974

It's just my Imagination

Dragons (Roy Ralph)

1999

Paradise

Wizards L. "Dinks" Johnson

1975

Vincentians most Colourful Festival

Dragons (Roy Ralph)

2000

Mythical Expression

Wizards L. "Dinks" Johnson

2001

Wave It

Nelson Bloc (A. Hector)

1976

Mas on the Moon

Dragons (Roy Ralph)

2002

This Is Carnival

Nelson Bloc (A. Hector)

1977

From Halifax to the Corner of Grandby and Sharpe Street

Dragons (Roy Ralph)

2003

Retrospect - A Blast from the Past

Nelson Bloc (A. Hector)

2004

Fanfare

1978

Coming Heigher - Attribute to Becket

Bad Lads & Lasses ( E. Sheggy John)

Dragons / Elliot Prince Telesford

2005

You Ask For It

1980

Spectrum 80

Bad Lads & Lasses ( E. Sheggy John)

Nelson Bloc / Alvern Cadogan

2006

1981

Roots Hairouna

Bad Lads & Lasses ( E. Sheggy John)

History of the Band of the Year Competition in SVG 1963-2005

SVG Players International / Julian Pollard

1982

Mas ah know yo

Bad Lads & Lasses ( E. Sheggy John)

2007

Beauty Beneath the Sea

SVG Players International / Julian Pollard

1983

Seasons

Avis Yorke

2008

1984

Sometime, Someplace - Legend of the Black Caribs

Dragons (Roy Ralph)

Exotica - Wonders of Nature

SVG Players International / Julian Pollard

2009

Expo Zaragosa - The World's Extravaganza

SVG Players International / Julian Pollard

1985

Nonsense Story - Mouth Open 'Tory Jump Out

Dragons (Roy Ralph)

2010

King of Pop - Tribute To Micheal Jackson

Blondie Bird and Friends / Elroy Boyde

1986

We Go Carolling

Dragons (Roy Ralph)

2011

Nature's Fury

1987

Timbuktu

Bad Lads & Lasses ( E. Sheggy John)

Blondie Bird and Friends / Elroy Boyde

2012

A Glimpse of Kingstown

Blondie Bird and Friends / Elroy Boyde



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