day (or rather, night!) because
the Five Alive rules allowed
for as many as thirty out of the total one hundred points,
to be gained from 'overall impact,' as determined by
'excitement and crowd response.' With groups taking on
names as imaginative as Three Chipmunks and Two Donkeys...
well, you get the idea.
Five Alive is
an original and hilarious concept of festival organizers
Gemonites Steel Orchestra, developed as a key component
of their Moods of Pan festival activities. Each
year the theme is different. For example in 2004,
participants were free to choose and interpret any
selection by the world-renowned Antiguan group Burning
Flames, (now known as Red Hot Flames). This year,
in honor of the upcoming celebration of fifty years
(1957-2007) of Carnival in Antigua and Barbuda, Five
Alive competitors could choose any winning Antiguan Road
March selection as their piece. As the name
indicates, the focus is on 'five' including the duration
- five minutes.
To visualize what Five Alive brings to
the stage, think Ole Mas portrayals meeting pan
performances, with all the comedy routines that are part and
parcel of Ole Mas presentations, showcasing all the
creative, exaggerated and outrageous genius that is acted
out as music storylines/themes are brought to life.
This is especially apparent when the groups make their
initial entrance, with some additional garnishes during the
selection, and then finally as they exit the stage.
from St. Vincent
For those outside the Caribbean community unfamiliar with
the concept of Ole Mas, bring to mind comic routines set
around the storylines of musical selections (with costume
and skits provocative enough to elicit side-splitting
laughter in some cases) to round off the presentation.
And as in previous years all bets were off as Five Alive
competitors strove to outdo each other and claim the first
prize, this year in the amount of USD $2,006.00. It is
said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and
since Gemonites' hugely successful creation of Five Alive,
both Barbados and Trinidad & Tobago have held their own
versions of the competition. In 2004, competitors came
from as far as England and New York to Antigua & Barbuda.
This year, St. Vincent
and Trinidad & Tobago joined groups
from the host country in vying for the cash prizes and
trophies at stake.
Some of the contingents on Saturday
night competed in two categories - but with one performance.
St. Joseph's Academy, Antigua Girls High School, Antigua
Grammar School and Princess Margaret Secondary all competed
for cash prizes and trophies in the Schools category of the
Five Alive contest, and had their presentations additionally
adjudicated in the overall competition where they were up
against quintets who could be termed their senior
contemporaries in the overall Five Alive category.
and Two Donkeys
So from the very first group - St.
Joseph's Academy - who took the stage first playing a
fairly recent (2001) Antiguan Road March called Ole Time
Something, to Bacchanal who had the crowd
in stitches with Crazy Man (1997) - laughter was
indeed the best medicine for the night. The audience
imbibed mega doses. St. Joseph Academy's members
dressed the part for their selection, sporting huge white
mustaches, emulating the appearance of some of the elderly.
The appearance of Princess Margaret Secondary (PMS) under
the sobriquet 'Three Chipmunks and Two Donkeys'
brought renewed expressions of mirth from the audience as
they performed Tourist Leggo (1976) complete, of
course, with the suspiciously 'female' looking tourist
wearing a multi-colored wig taking a few seconds from behind
'her' pan to remind the crowd that her character was the
topic of the song, along with the 'drummer.' The legs
and attire of the 'female' tourists drew much comment from
the crowd. They came second in the Schools category of
the Five Alive contest, going home with a trophy and USD
$500.00, and were in fifth position in the overall contest.
Calling themselves Mischievous
Mistresses, the Antigua Girls High School's contingent
came out in convict garb, complete with law officer keeping
discipline in the ranks, and also on drums for their
performance of Trouble (2006). These
young ladies secured third place, a trophy and a USD $250.00
prize in the school category, and placed sixth overall.
The squad from Antigua Grammar School came out as Men
In Tights, and there was almost no end to the peals of
laughter and cat calls once the 'men' divested themselves of
their overalls, casting them off-stage to reveal 'tights,'
appropriate for their Road March selection of Exercise
(2000). For their unabashed display, at the end of
the evening, Men In Tights were awarded first place, along
with a USD $750.00 prize packet in the Schools category, and
copped third position in the overall Five Alive competition.
Former pan player
the Hon. Baldwin Spencer takes in the Five Alive
Among those who thoroughly enjoyed Men
In Tights' music and characterization was Antigua &
Barbuda's Prime Minister, the Honourable Baldwin Spencer, who
is himself a pan man (former manager of nine-time panorama
champions Halcyon Steel Orchestra) and was present as just
another pan lover. As Prime Minister, he is known as a
no-nonsense individual and an extremely shrewd Caribbean
leader, but on Saturday night, Mr. Spencer
was present at
Deanery Grounds devoid of pomp and ceremony; he was just
one of the people - the pan people. He stood among the
crowd taking in the show of creative and fun-filled
performances, his presence a testimony to his full support
of the young steel pan musicians on stage, his nation's pan
movement, and the steelpan art form in general.
from Trinidad & Tobago
St. Vincent was
represented by Digicel Rhythmix Steel Orchestra and
had also participated in 2005. They chose The
Magician (aka / Command You) (1999) and wove their magic
spells well enough to cop fourth place in the 2006
competition. Golden Hands Steel Orchestra
had also performed on the first night of Moods of Pan which
featured Gospel Pan, were the
second entrants to choose Tourist Leggo as their
selection. Their musical performance, together with
their skit featuring Richarde Bereaux as the sexy 'female
Tourist' who began to 'leggo,' allowed them to pull off a
historic first in the Five Alive competition. Not only
did they go home with the first prize of USD $2,006.00 and a
plaque, but it was the first time that a
non-Antiguan/Barbudan band had won the title.
Closing off the Five Alive
performances for the evening was the group that would
eventually capture second place honors - again - for yet
another year. Dubbing themselves Bacchanal the
young men began acting their part as they emerged
unexpectedly from the audience. Their selection was
Onyan's Crazy. The name said it all. They
had a great time (along with the audience!) of 'acting'
deranged with no consequences. Let's just say if you
were not there in 2006, you might immediately set your
calendars for Moods of Pan 2007, and definitely not
miss Five Alive!!! Bacchanal
second, time and again behind recurrent winners Musical
Youth, who 'sat out' this year. It was naturally
assumed that they would take the championship with ease
without the latter participating. From their 'dress'
to their antics, Bacchanal certainly pulled out all
The host for the Five Alive segment of the evening was none
other than Alvin Livingstone
(pictured), a member of the irrepressible
Musical Youth, holders of the 2005 Five Alive championship.
He was joined briefly for a few minutes by a couple of his
cohorts during the evening, but Livingstone himself did a
superb job as MC, having the audience practically falling
off their chairs with his commentary during the entire show.
Results and prizes for both the
Junior Steelpan Solo competition
and Five Alive were given shortly after the final
performers. Dr. Radcliffe Robins, President of one of
Five Alive's key sponsors - Community First Co-operative
Credit Union - was on hand to present the Five Alive event winnings.
Ms. Barbara Mason, steelband co-ordinator from the
Ministry's Culture Department handled the presentations to
the soloists. The night, and its results, were
definitely memorable for many of those who attended.
For Gemonites Steel Orchestra, it was the second night of a
successful pan event. It was now on to the third and
final night, "Another side of Pan - The Jazz Influence."
C. Phillips, Basement
©2006 When Steel Talks - All Rights Reserved