THE party is still on, even though it may be scaled down for a much smaller audience. Entertainers continue to provide their fans with a Carnival experience through performances with small, live audiences.
This weekend will see events hosted by soca artiste Nesta “Sekon Sta” Boxill, a 21st Century Calypso Tent Experience that includes Desperadoes Steel Orchestra and top calypsonians, and Neil "Iwer" George will continue his virtual Stage series.
Boxill will stage his annual Sekon Sunday show this weekend at Queen’s Hall, St Ann's. The show is open to a limited live audience by invitation only, and will also be streamed live on CNC3, Slam 100.5 and Vibe CT 105.
Boxill said some home viewers will also be able to participate via the use of technology. He said the decision to have a live show was because he wanted to invoke the feeling of Carnival.
This is Boxhill's third edition of the event which had already received rave reviews and a huge following in only its second staging in 2020.
“I believe, just as with sports, what brings the excitement of the thing is not knowing what is going to happen. The lack of control is what appeals to people, and that’s the thing about it being live.
"One of the joys of Carnival is feeling what is working for us, so we were very against pre-recording – not that there’s anything bad about pre-recording, but we were very pro bringing back that sense of wondering what is going to happen, and knowing something can happen, whether positive or negative.”
Boxill said Queen's Hall had put restrictions in place to ensure covid19 protocols are followed. The live audience will be limited to approximately 30 per cent of the venue’s capacity.
“We have innovated a way to have people safely enjoy Carnival within the restrictions and within the protocols that have been set by the Ministry of Health and what is allowed by the government.
"I feel places like Queen’s Hall are safe because of there being no global history of any contact tracing coming back to a theatre or a show as a hub for the spread of covid19. And the audience will be seated, we will not be serving alcohol and people will not be walking about, so this is the way we’re going to enjoy a live experience of the music.”
Pannist Dane Gulston will hold a small intimate event in celebration of his birthday on January 15 at Kafe Blue, Wrightson Road, Port of Spain. Titled A Different Shade of Silver, the event will feature performances by Gulston, his sons Daniel and Denilson, and singers Adrian Philbert and Natasha Benjamin.
Gulston said he wanted people to come and enjoy the occasion with him. He said having a live show was essential.
“The venue could only hold around 50 people at 50 per cent capacity, so it will be a very small gathering.
"But even with covid19, you still have to do something, you still have to try and live. This is the artform, you just can’t do nothing. There’s only so many virtual shows you could do, especially because as musicians and panmen, we’re not really doing or getting anything at all.
"We’re trying to give people some sense of hope to make sure things are happening.”
He said Carnival performances would have been in full swing at this time.
“For me, as the NCC said, people could try and do stuff on their own to make sure that things continue within the rules and safely. I just figure it’s my birthday and I’ve never had a real birthday party, so even though it’s a hard time, we still have to try to do our best and do something.”
He commended Kafe Blue’s owners Carl and Carol Jacobs for making the space safe to use.
“They are making a respectable effort to keep the place safe and follow the restrictions, etc, and it’s still a space that the artistes can use within the rules to make sure we all share and come together.”
Gulston said patrons could expect some surprise performances at the concert.
“There might be some people coming through as my friends, and you could expect some surprises from my son Daniel.
"It’s my birthday but also a little bit of stress relief. Come and enjoy a little touch of Carnival, keeping the whole memory and idea of what Carnival is, that’s what I really want to try and bring forward. Carnival is a soul, it’s we.”
Tickets are $200, with a couples' price of $300.
Artistes are also continuing virtual performances, mimicking the events which would normally be taking place. One such is Crackers and Cheese, A 21st Century Calypso Tent Experience, being hosted by Fenceline Productions on Saturday.
The concert, which will be broadcast via Wack 90.1FM Radio and Wack TV, will feature 2020 National Panorama Champs Desperadoes Steel Orchestra, and calypsonians Duane O’Connor, Devon Seale, Jumaane "Jube" Cox, Maria Bhola and Stacey Sobers. Music will be provided by Rellon Brown and the Calypso Jazz band Dominant Seventh, and the show will be hosted by Omari Ashby.
Fenceline Productions consultant Gervon Abraham said “the show and its cast represent a best in class of the cultural products TT has to offer.”
Soca artiste Neil "Iwer" George continues his Iwer Stage series this weekend with a Queens of Calypso concert on Friday and a five-soca-band brass festival throwback on Saturday. He said the events are part of the structure he’s done for the past eight months.
“Wednesday is gospel, Thursday is throwback, Friday is calypso, Saturday is soca, Sunday evening is pan and Sunday night is zess. The brass throwback event is trying to educate this generation who does get miss out and don’t understand where we come from with this whole soca music concept.”
George said he would be continuing with the virtual shows, as he sees them as the way of the future.
“My project is not just about Carnival. Virtual will always be there. The response has been good: there have been shows where over 100,000 people tuned in, and we’ve had different numbers, but that was the highest one."
"We alternate between live and pre-recorded shows and some are a mixture of both formats.” The shows can be viewed on George's Facebook and Instagram pages.
Other shows to look forward to are Erphaan Alves’ E Day during Carnival week, Patrice Roberts’ Strength of a Woman on Carnival Thursday, Nadia Batson’s Art form, Voice’s Cavanal concert, and a new event called Soca for Love on Carnival Sunday.
Some upcoming virtual fetes include Soka in Moka, scheduled for January 17, and Holy Name Convent's "cooler party experience” called Flight of the Virtual Phoenix on January 24.