TT's Country Boys Tassa thrills Liverpool audiecs
By SEETA PERSAD Monday, August 19 2013
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Tropical Powers Country Boys Tassa Group...
On invitation from the popular Brouhaha International Festival, drummers of the Penal-based Tropical Powers Country Boys Tassa Group performed for thousands in Liverpool, UK recently.
“Brouhaha” which is the French word for “excitement”, is an annual event which features the talent of 23 countries in a carnival like parade through the streets.
Country Boys led by Narine Bachu thrilled the huge audience with the calypso and soca beat on the tassa drums at this event.
“It was pure delight to see people dancing and enjoying our drumming in England,” Narine said.
Country Boys Tassa Group has been performing at this festival for the past four years.
This show which Narine describes as an exchange of culture brings together scores of artistes from many countries under one roof for a “five-day” show.
“It is one of the most interesting shows in the world with a lot of media attention as it goes over the Internet for worldwide viewing,” Narine said, adding that while other artistes are funded by respective countries, his tassa group had to source help from sponsors and well-wishers.
“I believe this show actually showcased the arts of each individual country and it should be given sponsorship by the Ministry of Culture in this country,” Narine said.
He has since approached the culture ministry here but has gotten no response thus far.
“This art form, which is indigenous to this country, should be given more respect from the Government.”
He noted that drumming is a separate art from all the other musical art forms, and both tassa and African drumming are separate categories in the performing arts in TT. Narine outlined his recipe for success as sticking to traditional ‘‘hands’’ (beats) and ringing out sounds that are distinct.
“Tassa drumming is an art and we must continue the tradition, showing the rhythms as it was in the beginning,” Narine said.
He said while it is good to entertain in the chutney, soca and calypso rhythms, in competition, drummers must delve into the traditional hands of Nagar, Tikora and Dingolay.
He also emphasised the need to give the viewing public a treat by doing the appropriate portrayals to accompany the presentation.
He contracted former Mastana Bahar winners, Amritam Shakti Dance Company, led by Vishal Pooran, to accompany his band. Narine also thanked their sponsors Tropical Power Limited for their support over the years.
Like so many of the other genres of music, tassa has evolved through the years.
Drummers have experimented with several modern rhythms and are now able to bring change to the stage.
Narine said his information on tassa revealed that these drums were made more than 100 years ago from hollowed out tree trunks which were carved in the shape of a pot.
It was then covered with goat’s skin and was beaten with cane sticks.
The Country Boys Tassa Drummers, is now preparing to perform in the Grenada’ Drum festival later this month.
This festival, held in Trivoli, St Andrews, showcases drummers from many of the Caribbean countries, with an emphasis on African drumming.
At the 2011 festival Country Boys received cash awards and a trophy for their efforts in the event.
Speaking about their win Narine said they were happy with the outcome of the festival. “African drumming is very powerful and we were able to match this as we had the people dancing along when we performed,” Narine said.
The tassa group has captured several top prizes in recent times.
Their most recent win was in the 2011 Republic Bank Tassa Taal competition. In the 28 years of this competition, Country Boys has taken the title on four occasions.
The group is also the reigning Tassa Association of TT (TATT) champion.
The other members of the Country Boys Tassa group include Deolal Baboolal, Rajindra Ramlogan and Ivan Sahatee.