Black Immigrant Daily News
Frontline members of Carib Dixieland during the semifinal rounds of the medium band competiton. – ROGER JACOB
STEELPAN action shifts to Tobago, on Sunday, for the national Panorama medium convention band final at the Parade Grounds, Dwight Yorke Stadium, Bacolet.
Action starts at 7 pm.
Tobago hosted the medium band competition for the first time in 2020 but the event was not held over the past two years owing to covid19.
In November, THA Secretary of Tourism, Culture, Antiquities and Transportation Tashia Burris announced that the competition would return to the island for Carnival 2023.
On Saturday, Burris told Sunday Newsday, “Tobago is delighted to once again play host for the Panorama medium band final. After an exciting first year in 2020, there was no doubt that this event had to become a fixture on the island’s Carnival offerings in February. We are ready to welcome everyone to the festival grounds for this highly anticipated event, which we anticipate will be a huge success for our tourism and culture.”
Tobago has three bands in today’s final: Katzenjammers Steel Orchestra, NGC Steel Xplosion and Carib Dixieland.
The Black Rock-based Katzenjammers, which played Timothy Watkins’ (Baron’s) Tell Me Why, grabbed the top spot with 282 points in last Sunday’s semi-finals at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain. The tune was arranged by Kersh Ramsey.
NGC Steel Xplosion and Dixieland tied for seventh place with Aaron St Louis’ (Voice) Out and Bad and Winston Henry’s (Explainer) Lorraine, respectively. The bands got 267 points.
KatzenJammers players during panyard juding in Panorama medium conventional band competition. – David Reid
An upbeat Pan Trinbago president Beverly Ramsey-Moore told Sunday Newsday the stage is set for a fantastic show.
“Things are moving smoothly. So we are looking forward to a bumper competition and I know that citizens will be satisfied,” she said, adding that a practice session was expected to be held on Saturday night at the stadium carpark.
She wished all of the 12 finalists well.
Ramsey-Moore, who manages Katzenjammers, said Pan Trinbago has also provided a park-and-ride facility for this year’s event.
She said patrons will have access to a shuttle service at Old Market Square in Scarborough from 4.30 pm.
Trinidad-based arranger Vanessa Headley, in her first appearance with Carnbee’s Steel Xplosion, said the band’s management team and players have invested heavily in the presentation.
“A lot of hopes and dreams are wrapped up in preparations for today’s competition. It’s a new competition on a new stage, in a new location, so anything is possible,” she said.
Saying the goal was to win the judges’ approval, Headley said the band studied their remarks after last Sunday’s semifinals and have made the necessary alterations.
She added Steel Xplosion, which will be playing in position number nine, has made a “few strategic enhancements” to both the arrangement and general performance.
“Steel Xplosion’s members are always co-operative and excited to deliver the goods. I’m looking forward to a really outstanding performance by the band.”
Headley also extended best wishes to the competitors, saying, “It’s going to be a fantastic show.”
Dixieland manager Keston Duke admitted that players were disappointed with their seventh place finish in the semi-finals.
But he said the Mt Pleasant-based outfit, performing in sixth spot, has since regrouped and is ready to “blaze a trail.”
“Some new parts have been added and we are totally excited.”
Dixieland will be playing the Ojay Richards-arranged composition in position six.
Tobago’s accommodation sector, meanwhile, is experiencing an upswing as the carnival season approaches its climax, according to hoteliers.
Jacqueline Yorke Westcott, executive chairman and owner of Mt Irvine Bay Resort, said she currently has about a 70 per cent occupancy rate.
“I would say that our house count is pretty good and continues to be pretty good until at least the week after Carnival because there are some people who like to play mas and come to Tobago afterwards and those who don’t want to play mas and come to Tobago now,” she told Sunday Newsday.
“So we are doing pretty well in terms of occupancy certainly compared to last year and the year before. It is much improved.”
Yorke Westcott said Mt Irvine has also been offering unique packages in an attempt to woo patrons.
“We have been concentrating more on the food and beverage outlet. We are doing a lot more events on the beach on evenings. It is a private beach so people like coming there at night.”
An event is being planned for Friday at the hotel, she said.
“Things are not where they were pre-2020 but certainly we are moving in the right direction.”
Saying occupancy at the resort will dip in March and rebound in April, at the start of the Easter season, Yorke Westcott said the main problem confronting hoteliers is the lack of airlift.
“We still have only half the number of internal flights that we had pre-covid and we lost nearly all of our international flights. We just have British Airways and Condor coming in once a week. That is not enough to service an island.”
Tobago Hotel and Tourism Association vice-president Carol-Ann Birchwood-James said members have generally reported “good figures” for Carnival, thus far.
Members of Curepe Scherzando perform during the semifinals of the Panorama. – ROGER JACOB
“Once we have people in our hotels, we are smiling,” she said.
“People come for the Carnival itself, Crown Point J’Ouvert and there are those who come just to spend a few days away from it all.”
Birchwood-James said three weeks ago, the association reported a 67 per cent occupancy rate for hotels, guesthouses, villas and other types of accommodation.
“That was the figure just before they published the schedule for the ferries. So now that we have the boat schedule on, we should be about 80 per cent and more by now. But we will only know when we do another poll with our members.”
She said the next poll could be on Thursday.
ORDER OF APPEARANCE
1 Courts Sound Specialist of Laventille
2 Arima Angel Harps
3 NGC Couva Joylanders
4 Pan Elders
5 Siparia Deltones
7 Curepe Scherzando
8 Potential Symphony
9 NGC Steel Xplosion