Musicians reclaim space in Carnival with Brass to the World
There was a time brass bands ruled the Carnival.
Blue Ventures, Chandelier, Charlie’s Roots, Atlantik, Roy Cape All Stars and Surface to name a few along with bands from around the Caribbean, drew massive crowds to the ultimate brass event, Brass Festival and provided live music on the streets on Carnival Monday and Tuesday.
Those days are long gone but in 2017 we saw brass return to the streets with Etienne Charles and his band on Carnival Monday and with Brass to the World accompanying the band K2K.
In 2018, Brass to the World intends to take things further by infiltrating the fetes and bringing their own Carnival Monday band. Brass Mas will be launched on Saturday, December 2.
“This Carnival we will be everywhere, in all the major all-inclusives,” said Burt Marcellin, co-founder of the band. He revealed that among the events they have been booked for are Bishops All-Inclusive, Yorke, One Ness Party and Calypso Fiesta.
He said the response they received this year was overwhelming and not just from locals.
“When we crossed Ariapita Avenue with K2K we were approached by people to go outside Trinidad. A lady approached us from San Francisco and we were invited to Montreal by the Carnival committee. We went there in July,” he said.
He said from the Montreal gig, the band got calls to play in Las Vegas, Boston, New York, Arizona and Canada.
“Every time the band plays, doors open.”
Marcellin, the son of legendary musician Mano Marcellin, is one of the musicians in the 13-piece band that contains a live four-piece horn section. The musicians comprise veterans from now-defunct bands. Marcellin and co-founder Gary Gervais played with Atlantik, Blue Ventures and Fireflight.
“Within the last few years, electronic music has taken employment from most musicians. Brass men are a thing of long time,” said Marcellin at the band’s headquarters in St Joseph.
He said his wife Michelle, who plays individual mas, used to notice musicians at different points along the band route every year with sour faces.
Tired of being left out of the Carnival, Marcellin rounded up some musicians and in 2016 the band launched with frontline vocalists former Road March winner Sanell Dempster, Heaven “Snakey” Charles and Edwin Granger known as EJay. Dempster has since left the band and Keisha Stewart and Russell Cadogan have joined.
The band does a range of genres: soca, calypso, reggae, disco, Latin, hip-hop and ballroom music.
The band has its own songs as well. For 2018, Snakey and Stewart have “Island Vibrations” while Snakey has “Born to Party” and a tribute to Superblue which is yet to be released. EJay also has a song, "Heritage".
Reflecting on what the band will bring to the fete experience, Marcellin said they will do a show in the parties.
“We came from an era where you had full orchestras and it was competitive. Everyone played the same songs but had different arrangements. We have arrangements for plenty of our music with brass interludes. We will be doing a show in the party,” he said.
Members of Brass to the World
Burt Marcellin/Band Leader/Manager/ Trombonist
Terrence Sealey/Manager/Musical Director/Audio Tech
Gary Gervais/ Manager/ First Trumpet
Rolston Mathura - Trumpet
Michelle Marfan-Urquhart- Saxaphone
Shawn Stewart - MP3 machine
Dwayne Thompson - Bassist
Azriel Bahadoor - Drummer
Ato Williams - Keyboards
Atiba Williams - Keyboards
Heaven Charles - Vocalist
Russell Cadogan- Vocalist
Edwin "EJAY" Granger- Vocalist
Keishea Stewart- Vocalist