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Saturday, May 16, 2009

An Interview with a Band Leader... Louis Saldenah

El Dorado, City of Gold (1968)
Capturing Band of the Year 15 times and recently second place in ’07 & ’08, Louis Saldenah Mas-K Club is presenting A Tribute to Harold Saldenah this Caribana 2K9.
Louis father Harold Saldenah was a legend in Trinidad Carnival, producing his band in the 1950’s-1970’s. He created many historical epics including his first Band of the Year win, Imperial Rome. Bands that best display the use of colour are awarded a Harold Saldenah Award. Due to his band growing larger, he was a pioneer of “section mas”, putting masqueraders into sections to represent the entire theme. Harold Saldenah immigrated to Canada in 1977 and brought his mas to Caribana.
Here is my interview with Louis Saldenah.
► ~K~ : Louis, what are some of the themes we can expect for your presentation in tribute to your father?
L.S.: The sections are: El Dorado, City of Gold; Festival of the Tembu Warriors; Mexico 1519-1521; Fantasy in Jewels; Psychedelic Latin America; Glory of Greece; Masquerade to Carnival; Atlantis; Crees of Canada and Pacific Paradise.
► ~K~ : How do you decide on a presentation? Where do you get your inspiration from?
L.S.: I decided to pay a tribute to my father since he contributed greatly to Trinidad Carnival and I could not leave the Caribana area without paying respect to one of the great bandleaders, so that happens to be my father.
1957 - "The Glory That Was Greece"
►~K~ : Do your section designers get their materials and supplies locally, or from an international supplier?
L.S.: All our costumes are being built in the mas camp except one. I do not believe in getting ready-made costumes, for example China and India.
► ~K~ : How is the order of the bands chosen?
L.S.: The top eight bands draw in the position of the results of Band of the Year the previous year. For example: I placed second last year, I was called second to draw from 7 balls, 3rd place draw from 6 balls, etc.
► ~K~ : Security at Caribana has become a concern over the years (with people not in costumes entering the band/parade route). What are your thoughts on how to deal with this issue? How has your band had to adjust to this?
L.S.: Last year was the first time in years that we went 8 and it was a disaster. I have told the City and the festival management team over the years that if they can't control the crowd, lets cancel the costume part and have one big blocko. I have spoken to the Deputy Chief of Police a few weeks ago advising him of the serious problem we have with spectators coming into the bands and if the problem isn’t corrected, the parade will die a slow death. We have to have police on the route and higher fences.
► ~K~ : Have there been any changes to your band? Or is there anything you would like to let your masqueraders know?
L.S.: As we go along, we are trying to correct mistakes we made in the previous year and our number one goal is making each masquerader fell appreciated in choosing our band because without them we would not have had the success over the years. We hired security last year and we will continue to do so in position number 2.
► ~K~ : For those who’ve never played mas, what kind of experience can they expect playing with Louis Saldenah Mas-K Club?
L.S.: Our band over the years is noted as a family band, the masquraders come first, classy costumes, beautiful people to be with on that day and are totally taken care of on the road Caribana day.

25th Anniversary, 2005

► ~K~ : How has Caribana evolved for you, and what kind of future do you envision for Caribana?
L.S.: Caribana has changed over the years, the young people have forced designers to design around two pieces which has limited us from designing more beautiful costumes, & we are basically forced to comply otherwise they are not going to participate. We have done our part in Caribana and our record speaks for itself. 15 times Band of the Year, 10 seconds and 2 thirds, and I will leave it to the next generation to make the changes. Caribana is in good hands, we have about seven bandleaders in the parade who came from my band and are doing quite well. I would like to see the parade moved to a better location and where we can end in a park, so every one can wine down (so to speak). All my three sons are involved in the band so the Saldenah name will continue in mas and hopefully when I am long gone they will pay a tribute to me.

Louis Saldenah Mas-K Club band launch is on May 30th.


de cocoa panyol said...

Great interview Karabana.....its wonderful to have the viewpoint of a Caribana pioneer!!!

Kay said...

I really enjoyed reading this. The pictures of past mas are beautiful.

dianne said...

excellent interview. expressing what caribana is all about. taking time out to enjoy fun, everyone can experience.

Karabana said...

Glad you enjoyed it!


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