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Monday 24 June 2019
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SAVANNAH BLUES

Kes calls for Road March judging reboot

MY SAVANNAH: Soca star Kees Dieffenthaller at the Queen's Park Savannah during a recent interview. His hit Savannah Grass placed second in the Road March race. PHOTO BY ROGER JACOB
MY SAVANNAH: Soca star Kees Dieffenthaller at the Queen's Park Savannah during a recent interview. His hit Savannah Grass placed second in the Road March race. PHOTO BY ROGER JACOB

THE Road March title should go to the song most played on the road and not the one played most often on stage and at mas judging points.

This was the tenor of a statement yesterday on the official Instagram page of Kees Dieffenthaller's band Kes, which at the time this story was written, had already garnered over 12,000 reactions.

Kes’ Savannah Grass, a hot pre-Carnival favourite, placed second to Famalay by Machel Montano, Bunji Garlin and Skinny Fabulous in the Road March contest.

Savannah Grass was a crowd favourite, so when it was announced on Ash Wednesday that Famalay had won, many memes were created on social media saying Dieffenthaller's song was robbed of the title.

An online petition was also started for a People’s Choice to be added to the Carnival titles in light of what happened to Savannah Grass. The petition has a deadline of March 22 and was shared by Shelley Persad on the Kes the Band's official Facebook page.

Kes' Instagram statement read: “Throughout the years of experiencing Carnival as a creator and a spectator, it has been clear, to many, that this year, the ‘Song of the road’ is different to the ‘Song of the Stage.’

“From my knowledge, 'Road March' is a title that is given to the song of the season , Sparrow's Jean and Dinah, Shadow's Bassman, Wayne Rodriguez's footsteps and Machel's Like a Boss, to name a few.

“But somewhere along the way, what we hear on the stage has been pre-determined, not by the people, but by those who control the judging points.

“We've never based our success on titles and very grateful that our contribution #SavannahGrass has transcended beyond any competition, cause this was its purpose. Its purpose now however is to shed light on the system, and ways in which @ncc_tt and @tucoofficial can evolve in these times so that the Song of Carnival can be just that.

"Road March should be the song played most on the road in general. Not just the stage and there are groups already collecting this sort of data. The truth of Carnival is one of the few things we have left as a people. Let's give it back to the people, where it belongs.”

But mere hours before this statement, Kes released another congratulating Montano, Bunji and Skinny Fabulous for their win saying, “Together, we have provided the people, the festivals and the region with an awesome soundtrack to celebrate Caribbean culture throughout the coming year…”

Trinbago Unified Calypsonian Organisation (TUCO) president Lutalo Masimba said while he agrees that “it is not the first time that more than one song has competed with each other for the title of the Road March...I am concerned that it has become an issue. There are always songs competing with each other for the title."

Masimba said he agreed the Road March should be the song played most often on the road. “From ever since I was a child and it had Road March, everybody would talk about that it should be the song that is played on the road the most, and not the song that is played on the stage.”

What has not been done, however, is to show how the number of times a song is played on the road can be calculated, with Masimba pointing out that there were parades in Port of Spain, San Fernando, Arima, Tobago and all over.

“How do we tabulate the number of times a song is played on the road which seems to be the solution to everyone's concerns,” he asked. Nevertheless, he was “open and willing” on TUCO’s behalf, to look at any system that “could deliver accurate data as to the song played the most on the road at Carnival.”

Asked about a People’s Choice Award for next year’s Carnival, Masimba said if people can show how it can be tabulated, it would be considered. He said he was not sure about the prizes, as there would have to be a people’s appeal to the government or private sponsorship.

However, Masimba took umbrage at the part of Kes' statement which said, “But somewhere along the way, what we hear on the stage has been pre-determined, not by the people, but by those who control the judging points.”

He said TUCO does not judge Road March, but put people at judging points to count how many times a song is played.

“We count everything. If the supplier of the music plays ten songs for the different sections to cross, we count the ten songs,” he said. He said no judgement is made as to which is the better song or the song “people have in their hearts.” Montano could not be reached for a comment yesterday.

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