Sep 26, 2012

Laventille, Trinidad | Part 2

Part 2: Laventille, Then & Now | Desperadoes, Some History By San Diego Lee! Information:San Diego Lee | Written by Santiwah

My story about Laventille will not be complete if I did not mention the pride of the hill - Despers! The Story I want to lay out is part of the history of the Band Desperadoes. Please note that I will use the words 'Despers' and 'Desperadoes' in my story but take note that they both are references to the same steel band.

I remember Desperadoes as a very young kid; I was around the age of six years I believe. Everyone knew that there was something special about Despers.  The beautiful part of Desperadoes in those days is that when it was carnival time there was only one band. Yes I said one band. I guess you may be asking if there was more than one band named Desperadoes. Well the answer is yes and no! Let me explain... When it was carnival time it was simply Desperadoes the band but during the off season the band was split into two parts. One on the lower part of Laventille road and the other half was way up the hill going back to an area called Red Hill. Let me add this to the conversation (a little history)... the Redhill area is the continuation of Laventille road leading into Morvant.  Anyway, my oldest sister’s house was next to that pan yard.  The banner for Desperadoes mass presentation was stenciled on the side of her house and that name was imprinted there for years from the painting of that banner. I am not talking from here say but from what I know and yes,  it was on the wall of my sister's home that the banner was emblazoned!

To continue down memory lane... when carnival time arrived, the arranger and pan tuner worked with both halves arranging the same tunes with both sections.. upper Laventille and lower Laventille sections of the band. This also included the tuning of the pans.  This is a very interesting part of history that most of you did not know but will from this day on, the pan tuner’ s name was Carl Greenidge and if you don't know that name then you will surely know the name Robert Greenidge! Yes that Greenidge... he was the uncle of Robert Greenidge. Now when Carnival Monday and Tuesday arrived the band on the upper part will begin it’s decent into Port of Spain collecting masqueraders along the way as they travel down the hill. Masqueraders will be waiting at junctions exiting from many alley ways. Some of these masqueraders waiting 'down de hill' did not wait and headed towards the band to get that extra masquerade time as the band travelled down to Port of Spain.

When the upper half of the band reached the lower part of the hill they joined up with the second half becoming one united Desperadoes.  Damn, that was so sweet!

Desperadoes was one of those steel bands that played mostly "pretty mass" as we used to call it in those days. During that period people looked down at the residents of Laventille as nothing but poor and destitute people which, in my view, was utter nonsense! However, the masqueraders that played mas with Desperadoes made that band one of the biggest to parade in Port-of-Spain during that period. Now regardless of what people thought of the residents of Laventille they always "found money" to play mass with the band.

Desperadoes is one of the best steel bands in the World. I am proud to have grown up in the period that shaped the identity of Despers. The great Rudolph Charles left his mark on Desperadoes and the band has continued to make the people of Laventille proud. Laventille and Despers will continue to prosper even today with the name of Laventille tarnished because of a few miscreants who live on the hill.

Next - Part 3: Steel Band Clash!






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