Muhammad Abu Bakr Speaks on Mas

Mas band and Music Truck
Mas band and Music Truck

Pages: 01 | 02 | 03 | 04 | 05 | 06 | 07 | 08 | 09 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14

The next thing is the music band

Staff Article
Interview Recorded: April 24, 2005
Posted: April 30, 2005

The Carnivals out there including the Caribbean happen around June, July, August and September. They are too close, so you have to choose, and that is a problem. For example, I was supposed to go Notting Hill at one time, and when I returned home, I found out that a guy was looking for me while I was doing an interview in Boston, and he had gone to Notting Hill. Sometimes if Notting Hill going on, Boston might be going on or Labour Day, which is just a week different to Boston. I remember I had to do a Mas for Hawks International in New York, and I had to leave Boston to go across to New York. I did not have any time because it was just a week, and within that time is Notting Hill Carnival. I did work for Sanchez and them when I was invited to go to St. Croix. I was also asked at one time to go and do Mas with Louis Saldenah, Harold Saldenah's son, in Toronto. But if Saldenah winning band of the year every year, why would I go up there and join him? I didn't want to join him, I wanted to go up there and give him some competition. I told Albert Bailey we should go up there and give them some trouble. A guy by the name of Skinner came to me once to build some Mas for him. He wanted a replicate of Tan Tan and Saga Boy. When we started to deal with him, he couldn't take it. These people get a grant out from the government, but you have to produce.

I find they should be giving you a grant right here in Trinidad. When you bringing six hundred million U.S. dollars into Carnival, you are not taking out of the treasury, you are putting into the treasury. If you are giving me assistance, it is not the money I want. What I am saying is, if you give me twenty thousand dollars, I must be able to go by Samaroos and Jimmy Aboud and take material, and when that runs out, that's it, or if not I could put it into the music. I honestly do not find the government does enough here. You are bringing Mas for all these years and they do not care. Imagine you are building Mas and they do not know who you are, they do not even come around. We have a post mortem after Carnival and bandleaders are still bawling because they still owe workers even though it was successful. But the bandleaders are asking how a project could have been successful and you still have to be hiding from a man coming around a corner for the money you still have for him for the music. The government should be able to cover that, and help you, yet it is something they do not do. Our assistance fee for Carnival is two thousand dollars. I did an article in the papers last year and I asked them to write exactly what I said because I do not like to say things that I cannot back up. They did not write it, every time I say to write exactly what I say, they do not do it. I am the one saying it, I am in the fire, in the heat, and I am the one who knows it. I could take you to Samaroos with two thousand dollars now and you would be ashamed to walk with me, and the two thousand dollars. A small size roll of sequins is four hundred dollars, a plume is forty dollars, and ten plumes are four hundred dollars. People do not know, but go by Samaroos and look at the price, go and look at the price of material by Jimmy Aboud.

If you come to play for me all right, but as soon as we decide to play, you want half the money. From the time I contract you, is seventy thousand dollars you want, and I do not want you to get away because other bands will hire you. So you are looking at me to give you thirty five thousand dollars, and I still have Mas to build. It might not look like much to some people, but what if you are not getting sponsors? The next thing is the music band. That is a problem. They do not have anything, they just come to play for you, but they have nothing. It comes like this guy here wants me to make some outfits for him, I will say, "ok, you recommend me. But here is what you will have to do. You will have to get a place for me, a machine, a cutting board, an iron, and then I will produce." That is what the music band does. The music band has nothing. You have to supply everything for them. They will give you a breakdown; a truck is twenty thousand dollars, a system is twenty five thousand dollars and then the players. They do not have anything and they do not invest anything. They wouldn't even say, "well all right, I playing with you, we have a relationship and we have a contract, let us go." All the time they are nice with you, but from the time you sign the contract, if you sign the contract Friday, Monday morning bright and early they are by you saying; boy we could lose de truck, ah have a forty foot truck and ah could loose it if ah doh get ah twenty thousand. Like you could just walk inside and hand them the money. When you give it to them now, they tell you about getting a nice system so they want a twenty thousand again. Imagine we haven't even started building the Mas. People do not realize this, but a lot of people wait till last minute to play Mas. That is why I never liked how they stopped the Panorama, but that is another story by itself. The Preliminaries was one of the best times, some of the best registrations I got was right after.


Pages: 01 | 02 | 03 | 04 | 05 | 06 | 07 | 08 | 09 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14

Homepage | Carnival Features