By Nelson A. King
Belmont Connections, Family & Friends Connected promises to give masqueraders just “Ah Touch of Carnival in T&T” this Labor Day.
Veteran Trinidadian-born producer and co-designer Wendell Jack told Caribbean Life that he will be showcasing two bands simultaneously, for the first time, this year: a Children’s and J’ouvert band.
He said he decided to add a Children’s band after producing J’ouvert bands for the last 15 years.
“I always wanted to do a Junior (Children’s) band but never pursued it until Lystra (James’, co-designer of the Children’s band) came along,” said Jack, a native of Belmont, in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, where he was born and grew up. “She has good designing qualities.”
He said the children’s band comprises 11 sections and the J’Ouvert band nine.
The sections in the children’s band are: Bachannal, Nylon Pool, T&T Independence, Diwali, Camboulay, Carnival, T & T Gold, Rain-O-Rama, Cane Cutters, Botanical Gardens and Pan-o-rama.
Jack said Pitch Lake and Bird Sanctuary replace T&T Gold and Carnival in the anticipated 300-strong J’ouvert band.
“Every year, we hope for bigger and better things,” he said. “We hope for a smooth J’ouvert morning.”
James, a former Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) College student, said she has yearned, over the years, to design a Children’s band – until Jack “came along.”
“I want to bring something different,” said the daughter of the late Kenneth Brown, a former “wire bender” for Cito Velasquez, one of the pioneers of “wire bending” and mas producing in Trinidad and Tobago.
“My goal is for the kids to just have fun,” James added. “It’s not about competing, it’s about having fun.”
Jack agreed, stating that the band will even reduce the registration fee so less fortunate kids will get the opportunity to play mas.
“We want to bring them in, and give them a chance to play,” he said, disclosing that the kids will additionally get free spandex and spraying of shoes. “We just feel we’re doing something different.
“Everything we do here is in recognition of the 50th anniversary celebration of Trinidad and Tobago,” he added.
The mas camp is located at 9602 Farragut Rd. between East 96th and Rockaway Parkway in Brooklyn.
Jack can be reached at (646) 623-3102 and James at (917) 627-1904.