Thanks for the people who are supporting me down here and at home, and for everyone who follows this discussion!
No, no Sandra, it was not a bad thing that Renegades jumped in front of us! "Jumped" meaning you guys came out of no where and got in place really fast! Like I said, I thought it was really cool to have Renegades on the road with us!
I'll look forward to your writing!
Hello again everyone,
I left off at the end of J'Ouvert morning. Like I said before, there was a brief costume change (20 minutes of sleep) and then it was on to Act II: Carnival Monday! People kept telling me Starlift had one of the largest mas bands on the road Monday. We had five different steelbands that joined our band! With our truck leading the charge, there was also Powerboat Scorpions (a single pan group from Carenage), World Wide Steelband, one that I didn't catch the name of, and finally Woodbrook Playboyz in the back! Taking a similar route as J'Ouvert, I noticed a totally different kind of energy and feel for Carnival Monday. J'Ouvert was more chaotic, mischievous and all about the music for Starlift, while Carnival Monday was organized and became this showcase performance of pan and mas. With the flagman opening the way, the pans up front and a giant entourage of bands and mas players behind us, it felt like the band was proudly strutting through the street as if to say "Yeah, that's right, this is STARLIFT coming through!"
The crowd was more separated from the bands than J'Ouvert, so it wasn't as intimate a relationship, but people were still dancing and singing along when we passed. There was still the same love and respect for the steelband that was shown on the night/morning before. Soundtrucks stopped their music, people looked up at us and smiled, danced along, and made me feel like we were their favorite band!
I have to admit, I loved the reactions people were giving me as a white Yankee playing on the road! Of course I knew I would stick out, but I didn't know how common that was and how people would react. During J'Ouvert I thought I was noticing people smiling, dancing and positively reacting a little more to me specifically as my rack passed. I told myself it was mostly my imagination... Carnival Monday though, it was a lot more obvious, and I have to admit, I kind of made me feel a bit famous (down, ego, down!) People grabbed their cameras as I passed, people smiled and pointed me out to their friends, reached up for high fives and fist bumps, and yes, a number of ladies blew kisses at me... I about died laughing as we passed through Independence Square, when a little boy looked up at me tugged on his dad's sleeve and said "he's white!" His dad and I shared a smile. I never saw anyone react negatively to me, and the responses were honestly what gave me the energy to play all day without much food or sleep!
Another nice thing about Monday was seeing people that I knew in the crowd. I also took a short break to walk back to Playboyz racks and see my friends playing. I was also blown away when I saw the enormous structures of the Carnival King and Queen costumes! Many of them almost took up the entire street! It's hard to believe these huge, awesome and fantastical creations, with their welded and wheeled frames, are costumes worn by one person! Some are also surprisingly articulate and animated!
I will say, once we got to the Savannah on Fredrick Street, traffic was a mess! The bands were bottle-necked in the street by vendors, and the mas competition on stage was everybody's destination... We had to stop, and I had a friend come with me as I attempted to walk up to see the costumes ahead of us. I have never been so crowded in my life: people were pushed up against me on all sides, and once the crowd started moving, you had no choice but to follow. (Word of warning, in these situations it's best to watch your pockets: my friend was watching and saved me from getting picked...) Eventually the traffic began flowing again, and we finally made it to the stage. The truck went along side of the stage, and I was on the North Stand side, so the only thing I saw was practically empty seats.
Once our mas band crossed the stage, we were heading home for the night, and the band was definitely wearing down a bit. Most of us went almost straight through the day, and as we looped songs over and over, my brain was turning mushy... Some of the tunes really only had a verse and chorus, but I would forget which part I had just played and which was coming up. The last stretch home was really tough, as seemingly half the players were trying to end the piece by not playing and the rest of us would be trying to keep it going. We ended up playing our masqueraders all the way back to Ariapita, and one of the coolest feelings was seeing kids rush to the doors, windows and gates to watch us pass by. Families gather to see us, and I could see the amazement in the kids' faces. I imagined those kids remembering that moment as they grow up and hoped the memory would inspire them to play pan later in life...
Carnival Monday came to an end, and all of us had the opportunity for a somewhat reasonable night of sleep. This was the intermission before Act III: Carnival Tuesday! Again, I don't want to write too much in one post, so I will end here and pick up Tuesday in the next post. Thanks for reading, and until next time,
Life for Pan
This is what we live and breathe, every carnival. Its refreshing hearing it from another perspective. Great writing Eric, i've read all your posts. Sorry I did not meet you this time around, as I along with my son and daughter are now with Invaders.
aaahhhhhhhhhh WONDERFUL Eric - ! you got it!!!
excellent writing, you really made us all feel right there with you. I'm so glad you took it all in.... and i know just how you feel.
MR FRIEND I HAVE ENJOYED EVERY MINUTE OF YOUR WRITINGS FROM THE BEGINING TO END.
I COMPLMENT YOU ON AN EXCELLENT JOB--WELL DONE. IT TOOK ME BACK ON A BEAUTIFUL JOURNEY OF MY HOMELAND THAT I LEFT IN 1955 WHEN I PLAYED MAS WITH SALDENA IN THE GLORY OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE. I AM HAPPY YOU HAD SUCH A GREAT TIME IN MY COUNTRY.
DAVE DE CASTRO "THE BANDIT"
Hello Eric, thank you for sharing your experience of T&T's carnival. Pity the carnival is over because I was always looking forward to read your pieces. I played with Starlift on Monday and made it my business to find you and say hello to you. I was one of the many and what a lovely smile you have. I would like to thank "When steel talk" for the opportunity and hope that this can be documented and a copy send to Pantrinbago for their Library. It was truly a joy to read. Best of Luck in your endeavours.
Great job Eric,
I thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog. You have excellent skills of writing and expression. The sincerity of your love for pan and for our people was recognised by all the Trinis you met, hence the good treatment you received.
I hope that this will not be the last we will hear from you on When Steel Talks - so as the Jamaicans say -
Walk Good and More Time.
I do hope that we will be able to Do Something for Pan in the near future.