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MAS:

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

T

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.

Band of the year magazine2  
Band of the year magazine2  

This ia a historical document of St.Vincent and the Grenadnes biggest Cultural Festival called Carnival,which is held annually in June/July,...

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