Señor Gomez, how you do that?

Narcenio 'Señor' Gomez
Narcenio 'Señor' Gomez

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Interview Recorded: May 15, 2005
Posted: June 12, 2005

Narcenio Gomez better known as Señor Gomez, is one of the leading wire benders (sculptors) in Trinidad and Tobago. He has been designing, bending wire and making costumes for over 50 years. Mr Gomez shares his experiences with us.

Señor Gomez Speaks

Looking back from then to now, there have been so many changes from how mas' used to be. They would dance and have their pictures, and you would see someone playing King Arthur or so and he would be dancing and he would have his picture alongside with him where you could actually see him and whom he was portraying. As far as I could remember, I saw so many different changes in mas'. I saw many people like Harry, Burroughs and so on. There were many good bandleaders who could play the Dragon or so. What we used to see years ago was real mas', it is not that I am saying anything about the present day mas', but long ago it was the type of artistry you used to see, and I used to see it as a young fella growing up. I couldn't remember they saying it was a mas' camp, but now I know it was a mas' camp.

I used to enjoy everything starting from Jouvert. I remember right here on Prince Street as a young boy coming up, when the Wild Indians started, it was so real, that I would take off and didn't come back out for the day, because the fellas would portray the mas' in a very real way. It wasn't just playing mas'. I remember some calypsonians who sang too, because I lived in the barrack yard on Twenty-three Queen Street, and there were lots of calypsonians there, like Kitchener, Tiger, Dictator and others. There were also these brothers from Guyana who used to play in calypso tents we had around here.

In my early days, there was a steelband on Queen Street, and we would portray things like Pirates. And I remember one of the productions was Captain Dog, and Barracudas, everybody had one eye and a sword. There was another guy, I think his name was Oliver and he would bring out a Dragon band. When that Dragon band come out from Nelson Street and it reached the corner of Queen and Nelson Streets, the fellas would dance for hours before they crossed that water, because as they would say, the water was holy water. The people who were looking on, got a good display, and sometimes they would explain, "He cannot cross that water because is holy water." People would exchange ideas, and they would throw in money too. So you would be playing and watching and whatever you threw in the dragons would be collecting.

I think it was Forty Nelson Street that they had the steelband, The Red Army. I believe that was one of the first steelbands that left Trinidad to go to British Guyana, and I also believe it was the first steelband that got banned for fighting and rioting. The captain was Captain Diego. Then we had another little band, we used to call it the junior Red Army Band. It was lower down Nelson Street, and I remember the captain was a guy named Dean, but he migrated to Venezuela some years ago, but he would come for a Carnival now and then. Nobody would really know him now, only like me. He would say, "Boy you still in mas'? You are big in mas' now." We would then start to recall the good times.

My parents were Venezuelans and they were never really much into mas' because they were Catholics. To run away sometimes I had to put on my sister's dress. Sometimes when my father came home, he would know we were out and he would wait and then say what he had to say. He was not actually rough with us, but he didn't believe in the steelband because of the riots with Tokyo, Red Army, or Casablanca, which didn't stop until somebody either get their hand cut off or somebody died. I could remember too, we were playing on Queen Street an evening, and we saw some fellas running up and they said they had just killed a man in the square they call 'Black Shot'. Black Shot was a 'bad man' in Red Army and the fellas were from Green Corner.

After playing with Captain Dog, the name of the band I played with next was 'Men of Boys Town'. There was a guy by the name of Tom, in those days printing jerseys was done with stencils, even on your sailor pants they used stencils, for everything like Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse and so on. At that time he was the man who used to be in control and do all the work for all the bands. Then there was Charlie who had a sort of blinky eye and he was good too, he used to do on the spot painting.


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