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Tuesday 18 June 2019
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Time to review Road March

Culture Minister on Savannah Grass, Famalay debate

Minister of Community Development, Culture and the Arts Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly cuts the ribbon to open a new road in her St Ann's East constituency with Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan, right, residents and officials yesterday. PHOTO BY SUREASH CHOLAI
Minister of Community Development, Culture and the Arts Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly cuts the ribbon to open a new road in her St Ann's East constituency with Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan, right, residents and officials yesterday. PHOTO BY SUREASH CHOLAI

THE time has come to look differently at how the Road March competition is judged, Minister of Community Development, Culture and the Arts Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly said yesterday.

The St Ann’s East MP spoke with the media at Sou Sou Lands, Febeau Village, San Juan at a ceremony to open Laventille Road.

Asked about concerns raised by soca artiste, Kees Dieffenthaller, who championed a change in the competition last week, Gadsby-Dolly said the format was something that had been talked about for the past two years. Ways to attract spectators to Queen's Park Savannah, Port of Spain for parade of the bands were also being considered, said the minister.

“If we want to being back families to the savannah and make the viewing of mas spectator-friendly, we certainly can’t continue that way, and so this issue of how we judge Road March is one that we have been discussing. We are taking views, one of them is using an online voting system,” she said.

The MP said she had begun discussions with the National Carnival Commission (NCC) about the savannah. She said spectators were forced to hear a cacophony of the same song being played at different venues. Among the ideas proposed were removing the savannah as a judging point and having a house DJ, but more importantly was finding another way to judge the Road March.

Last Wednesday, Dieffenthaller posted on the Kes the band Instagram page that the Road March title should go to the song most played on the road and not what is played on the savannah stage and at mas judging points. Dieffenthaller's Savannah Grass, a pre-Carnival favourite, placed second to Famalay by Machel Montano, Ian “Bunji Garlin” Alvarez and Gamal “Skinny Fabulous” Doyle. Fans of Savannah Grass have since begun an online petition for a people’s choice to be added to Carnival titles.

Part of the Instagram statement read: “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. 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...”.

Trinbago Unified Calypsonian Organisation (TUCO) president Lutalo Masimba told Newsday, last week, that while he agreed that the Road March should be the song that is played on the road, tabulating the results would be a challenge.

“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,” he said.

Masimba added there were parades in Port of Spain, San Fernando, Arima, Tobago and other venues and tabulating the number of times a song is played on the road was difficult.

Speaking on Carnival in general, Gadsby-Dolly said she did not have the figures on visitor arrivals and would meet the NCC to get those and other data soon. She added that Carnival was a long and enjoyable one.

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