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'Five-Alive' Competitors
Bring Down the House - As Usual
-
at Moods of Pan 2006

Five Alive in Pictures
 



Crowd at Deanery Grounds, St. John's

St. John's, Antigua - The crowd was at the Deanery Grounds for two shows.  It was the biggest night of the three-day steelpan festival known as Moods of Pan hosted by Gemonites Steel Orchestra, and, in 2006 was in its eighth year.  The Junior Steelpan Solo competition had just concluded.  Now it was time for cutting-edge humor that would bring convulsions of laughter and tears to the eyes of all present, as quintet after quintet of musicians made up primarily of pan players, took the stage for the "Five Alive" competition.  And competitors had better make the crowd's (pictured) 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. 



Digicel Rhythmix Steel Orchestra
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 (pictured) 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.



Three Chipmunks 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' (pictured) 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.



Mischievous Mistresses

Calling themselves Mischievous Mistresses, the Antigua Girls High School's contingent (pictured) 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 competition

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 (pictured) 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.



Golden Hands Steel orchestra
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 (pictured) who 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.



Bacchanal on stage

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 (pictured) also placed 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 stops.



Host Alvin Livingstone

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 Press Corp.
2006 When Steel Talks - All Rights Reserved

'Five Alive' in Pictures


 

 

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contact:

Gemonites Steel Orchestra|www.gemonites.com |
Patrick 'Stone' Johnson | email: stonenrico@yahoo.com   | 1-268-727-6633 (cell)
Robin Margetson | email: robin_margetson@hotmail.com |1-268-773-3748 (cell)
Golden Hands Steel Orchestra |
Franka Hills-Headley | email: frankelgolden@hotmail.com |1-868-653-4117
 

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