THE young players of Roadblock Steel Orchestra are exposed to the elements nightly as they practise for the ongoing 2020 National Panorama Small Band Competition. The band took up residence on the pitched area on the eastern side of the Queen's Park Savannah, Port of Spain, opposite Jerningham Avenue.
Roadblock faces judges Tuesday night, and with the inclement weather, their practice sessions are disrupted very often. Another cause for concern is the lack of facilities like running water and toilets.
According to captain Martin Cain, “The band is from Trou Macaque in Laventille and is said to be on the borderline between Pashley Street and Morvant and there is always the fear of gang violence.
“Not even members of the community come out to hear us practise. Added to this, players are afraid to come to Trou Macaque to join the band. That is why we moved to the Savannah.”
Cain continued, “First we were in the grass but with the rainfall the ground becomes soggy and we end up in mud. We wrote to the CEO of the National Carnival Commission (Colin Lucas) for the use of the Paddock, it’s safer, has facilities and we will be comfortable to do our music. First we were told it was alright but then we we told we cannot have the use of the Paddock.
NCC chairman Winston "Gypsy" Peters told Newsday, “I take no pleasure in denying the band the use of the Paddock but that is strictly a professional decision. The Paddock is a revenue-earning space, we rent it out for commercial use especially around this time of the year. Further to that our insurance company told us they will not be liable for any accident that take place if we do that.”
Peters continued, “We will not like to set a precedent where we allow on band to use it and others feel they could get it also. The last time we gave a band permission to use the Paddock we had to remove their pans four years later. I am sorry but that just can’t work.”
The band's song for the competition is Kes The Band’s Savannah Grass arranged by Martin's16-year-old son Dejean Cain.