A Classic Steel-band Carnival Parade – Trinidad Carnival 1956

To me, as a Trinidadian born in a certain era, this is the best and most meaningful piece of street theater ever recorded on audio.

In 1956, a brash young singer who called himself the Mighty Sparrow was just about to establish his dominance of the calypso world that would last decades.
We were being introduced to rock and roll music with hits like Bill Haley’s “Rock Around the clock”
This was the year that Dr Eric Williams and the Peoples National Movement changed Trinidad politics for ever.

The steel-band was beginning to explore its potential as a serious musical entity, and had already established itself as the predominant musical sound on the road at Trinidad’s carnival.
The local music scene was changing, but it was still a time when a band could learn a tune overnight to be played on the road, as happened with “Yankees Gone”, which had won Sparrow the Calypso crown the night before at Dimanche Gras.

On J’ouvert morning that year, American audiophile Emory Cook hung up his microphones on Frederic Street, Port of Spain and recorded the proceedings as the steel-bands paraded by.
The steel-bands featured were North Stars playing ‘Puerto Rican Mambo’, Starland – ‘Back Bay Shuffle’,Invaders-‘Yankees Gone’, Cairo-“Yankees Gone” and Trinidad All Stars -Puerto Rican Mambo .

A brass band also hurried by in the quick tempo style that was popular with those bands back then in contrast to the more laid back tempo of the steel-bands.You can also clearly hear the sound of hundreds of feet “chippin” along to the music.

Interestingly , the band Starland was led by a youth named Clarence Curvan who also played bass, and the arranger was another youngster named Beverly Griffith.

As we all know, both these young men were to become musical icons of T&T.




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