It was just a taste, after all, to maintain a semblance of the creativity and revelry generated annually by Trinidad Carnival. An opportunity for musicians and costume designers to showcase their talents; for the traditions of yesteryear to maintain the link to Carnival’s past.
The ‘Taste of Carnival’ was launched with little time to prepare, yet the grandeur was resplendent in the Carnival Kings and Queens costumes. The winners, Joseph Lewis’ depiction of Kreegorseth - Mystic Guardian of the Amazons and Shynel Camille Brizan’s portrayal (while six months pregnant) of Olugbe-Rere Ko - The Spirit Who Brings Good Things, were welcome harbingers after months of pandemic enforced lockdowns.
Brizan’s towering ice blue Moko Jumbie beauty was representative of costumes that boggle the mind – elaborate constructs created in minimal time – and reminded the world about the undisputed magnificence that is Carnival design.
Soca artists rocked the stage with abandon despite the social distancing restrictions, with concert venues in north and south Trinidad deemed safe zones. Their performances emphasized release, even if there could not be all of the customary abandon. The likes of Voice, Bunji Garlin, Blaxx and Fay-Ann Lyons belted out their hits, with collaboration a major theme of the truncated season. Singers joined one another on stage, to the delight of crowds that were limited to pods of ten. That did not prevent them from wining to the beat, as Farmer Nappy said, encouragingly “We might have no road, but we can still party”.
The Kaiso Karavan at Queen’s Hall provided two years’ worth of social commentary that emanates from calypso, with a beautiful outdoor setting amongst the gigantic trees, that could set a new precedent for calypso tents in forthcoming seasons.
The re-enactment of the Canboulay Riots (which caused the first ever cancellation of Carnival in 1881), maintained its 5am Carnival Friday slot but moved from its traditional Piccadilly Greens location to the NAPA stage. The importance of its production in 2022 and evolvement into a play ‘Kambule’, was summed up by its writer Eintou Springer. “It is an ancestral tribute, so we will always do it. We intend to keep ritual in the Mas’, to remind ourselves of those from whose belly the Mas’ came and give them reverence, recognition, and visibility”.
Top marks for this unusual Carnival season were reserved for Musical Showdown in De Big Yard. In the absence of Panorama, this new steelpan event may have been scaled down, but the sound was big…and varied. Steel bands chose to perform gospel, R&B and classical music, with outstanding results. It was promoted as a show, rather than a competition, with the fans the true winners.
It was just a taste of Carnival, albeit a vital one; we cannot wait for the full serving.