April 10, 2012 § 6 Comments
I took a photo almost a month ago with the intention to write a blog-post about two Guyanese musicians who have touched my soul through their music. I know I can easily come under criticism for picking out just thee two, especially when there are many more out there, then and now. I can even mention some that have made me proud to be Guyanese at one time or another, people like Bill Rogers and Terry Gajraj, EC Connections, Mingles Sound Machine and The Ramblers, Eddy Grant and Natural Black, Concert Pianist Ray Luck and local saxophonist Sweet Sax Kilkenny, and there are more. The two men I had in mind are Dave Martins of Tradewinds fame and Dennis DeSouza.
I decided last night to limit this post to Dennis DeSouza who died this last weekend, sorry Dave
As Caribbean people, music is in our bones, it is not something we listen to, it is part of who we are. I grew up listening to a wide variety of music, at home it was everything from Slim Whitman to ABBA, my father has LPs (vinyl records) from a variety of genres, I listened to reggae from Pluto and Marley, instrumentals from Ace Cannon and Victor Sylvester, and loved music from Ray Conniff and his Orchestra. On the radio I got my dose of the 80s as I grew older. Among those records in my father’s collection were albums by Dennis DeSouza.
Dennis was born in Guyana, more specifically Mahaica on the Easy Coast of Demerara. He later made his home in Trinidad & Tobago, and in Canada. I was once told my by mother that while learning to play, Dennis practiced the piano at the house they lived in on Broad Street, Charlestown, Guyana (I wish I had known this when I met him some years ago).
I like instrumental music, especially when they do versions of pop-music, but I also appreciate the classics to some degree and also the individual’s own compositions. Dennis DeSouza had a style of playing that I could pick out easily from any other pianist, I would always say he had very nimble fingers and you could feel the joy that he felt through his playing.
When I started buying CDs and realised that he had started recording on CDs I quickly bought the first one “Caribbean Paradise” at 3H CD and Video Club (now closed), and on a visit to Trinidad I bought his “Best Of” CD that I saw in the airport shop.
On one visit to Trinidad with my wife, we had heard that he was playing at the Lounge at Cascadia, it was a toss-up between going there or going to see Maxi Priest in town, since I had already been to a Maxi Priest concert I chose to go hear Dennis play (much to my cousin’s dismay, he was practically asleep at the table). We not only heard Dennis and the band perform, but Maureen and I took to the floor to join other couples and dance, it was a beautiful experience for us. There was a break for the band and I went over and spoke with Dennis for a minute, and to take pity on my cousin, we left shortly after.
His music touches my soul, from his rendition of Phil Collins’ “Another Day in Paradise” to his own compositions like “Pakaraima”, from his playful key-taps on old Latin pieces on his own albums to lending his skill to accompaniment in Byron Lee’s seventh installment of the Soft Lee Series.
I won’t dwell on the loss of a musician, I will rejoice in the music he has given us in his lifetime. To Dennis DeSouza; a Guyanese by birth, a Caribbean Man at heart and a Musician to the World.
February 29, 2012 § 9 Comments
Mashramani. A Guyanese Celebration that has taken on the overtones of Carnival. The name, derived from an Amerindian word (Arawak) meaning “Celebration after hard work” has been synonymous with Guyana’s Republic Day celebrations for many many years. Although the original activity began in the mining town of Linden (known as Mackenzie back in those days), it spread quickly around the country.
It is probably hard to have grown up in Guyana (or at least one of the towns in Guyana) and not have attended and have memories of Mashramani celebrations, especially the “Float Parade”. But after reading Krysta’s blog post “Mash in Guyana, People going crazy”, my mind did that funny thing where it takes you back to remembering what it was like when you were a child.
Just for the record, her title was a reflection of a popular song for the Mashramani celebrations going back many years, it was written and performed by Rudy Grant and is yet to be replaced as “The” song for Mashramani.
So, back to my memories of Mash (faulty though they may be)!
I won’t go into any detail (since that is very much lacking in my memory) but I’ll tell you what I miss… the Low-bed trailers. I remember there being two very distinct types of “Floats”, one was the very mobile (often times extravagant) personal Float Costume, handled by one man or woman, who expertly maneuvered it down the streets, spinning and dancing and giving a very exuberant display, the second was the low-bed display, a very low (two or three feet of the ground low) trailer with an extravagant display on it, these were usually pulled by a tractor (I even remember a Tapir pulling one once).
These days I see the larger trucks which make seeing all the components of a well-detailed display hard to see. So, I miss the low-bed trucks or trailers that were used back then.
As a photographer on Mash Day, it’s a nightmare, the police have no control over the crowds, who fill up the street where the bands are supposed to pass, and when the Bands\Floats are passing they also walk alongside, in-front and behind, and sometimes even within! In doing so they obscure others from seeing and enjoying the beautiful costumes and other design works in the Floats and trucks. Of course, that also makes it really hard for a photographer to get “easy” shots, but we persevere and press on to get what we can
I’ve put aside (with Nikhil’s help) a Select set which is about a quarter of the whole gamut, you can click HERE for that, but I do encourage you to check out the whole Gallery by clicking the image below.
This photo for me is very much “Mashramani”, this is Slingshot, a Guyanese singer / Calypsonian, a few years ago he fell of the horse-cart and was injured, this year he was back, undaunted, and back on the horse-cart! Hats off to you Slingshot!
February 25, 2012 § 3 Comments
I have to begin by apologising for the amount of photographs in the album on the site… I normally go just for fairly close shots, but I thought that this year I’d try to get some of the whole shots with the costumes, I’m not too good at it, but I’ve been asked many times about why I don’t have the nice big costumes. Also, the Children’s parade this year was very engaging and the costumes very nice, and I think there were more of them too
Every year I think that the Children’s Parade is better to attend than the Adult’s Parade, it is shorter, even though the amount of entrants might be on par, even though they don’t speed down the road, they seem to be more organised and better managed, and this results in a very good flow of groups and floats down the street.
The sides of the street is also less crowded so as a spectator, I can enjoy it more and as a Photographer, I can get the photographs easier without being elbowed and shoved, and possibly trampled.
I know it may be a lot of photographs, but I think you may find at least a few that appeal to you Click on the image below to see the entire collection in the Gallery. Or just click this TOP 25 link for a select 25 images.
December 30, 2011 § 5 Comments
People who know me, know that I like music, I can carry a tune, I can even play one (given enough time), and I have a wide appreciation for music, meaning that I try to appreciate different styles and genres.
Everyone has their opinions, and they’re entitled to them, so not everyone will agree on the categorization of music into “good” and “bad“. I have my own definition of music, or more specifically the “tune” or “melody” that forms the body of a song; for me it’s “If you can play it on an instrument (other than the human voice) then it may be classified as a melody or tune”
Enough of the rambling, this is actually about a photograph. This was a photo that was a strong contender for the 2011 Deck – Week 51, but was passed over.
Jane has been the primary organist at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception for as long as I can remember, she has her quirks, but the one thing I know is that for her, it’s about the Music. As I understood the story (as I was told as a boy) she had a development challenge and learning music (and the piano/organ) was a form of therapy, to say that Music saved her life would probably be a reasonable statement.
Click on the image for a better view in the Gallery :-)
May 21, 2011 § 18 Comments
One year ago, I wrote and posted my first official post on this blog, I am not counting the “Hello World” that Word press starts me off with. It might seem morbid to some that the first post was about the death of my maternal grandmother, and a photo of the same, but to me it’s not only the scenes that capture our eyes as photographers that may appeal to viewers, but the feelings and emotions that we can convey or arouse from others viewing our work.
One year has passed, and I have had “ups and downs” in blogging, recently a lot of “downs”, time seems to be an elusive creature, and I have not put as much into the blogging or reading blogs as I think I should. But I think that I have kept up pretty well, and The Deck project certainly gives it some impetus.
Recently there have been other deaths as well, not a good way to celebrate one year of blogging, but it is what it is. My daughter recently lost one of her teachers from last year, Teacher Gillian, and only this week we lost “Mr. Terrific”, Flavio Commacho, who was very instrumental in the conversion of our system of measurements in Guyana from Imperial to Metric, I remember from when I was a little boy listening to “Swing to Metric” on the radio (yes, radio. Televisions weren’t quite the thing as yet)
Also this month we lost Sister Rose Magdalene, there is so much to be said for her, and there is a lovely Tribute page on Facebook. What I remember of Sr Rose is her love for music and pageantry. She wrote, she sang, she danced, she lived and loved with music in her heart. I always will remember the special Christmas mass at the old Sacred Heart Church (now burnt down), the traditional readings were replaced by a pageant telling the story of the birth of the Christ child, and at the heart of it all was Sr Rose. This photo in today’s blog was taken at the memorial mass held in Guyana at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception (Brickdam Cathedral) for her, the people in it are a few of the members of the Marigold Children’s Choir that she formed many years ago.
This was meant to be a simple (hopefully artistic) photograph, but for me, it has a depth of emotion also.
December 24, 2010 § 6 Comments
This week’s photograph is not the best I’ve taken for the week, it is, however, somewhat representative of Christmas in Guyana. The Masquerade bands come out during the Christmas Season and then at Mashramani, although I didn’t see the “Mother Sally” and the “Bull” at this gathering, these gentlemen were out in the hot midday sun, entertaining the public and raising some funds for their future endeavours.
Merry Christmas to all who stop by to read this, busy though most of us are