Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 24th 2013 Contents A20
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Tuesday, September 24, 2013
It was no surprise whatsoever
that the band won the Band of the
Year title for 1976.
Warm praise for Lee Heung's
victory caused that bandleader
to say: "It is not me, but Peter...
When you look at the work, of
course you could see it is the dawn
of a new era."
Minshall's ideas were given full
rein in 1978 when he brought out
his own band, Zodiac, but it was
only in 1979 that Carnival felt the
full force of the change he was
bringing to it.
That year Minshall's band was
Carnival of the Sea, a dramatic
fantasy of life in the deep.
Also, Minshall seemed to be
asking more from the masquerad-
ers than to simply jump up to mu-
sic. They had to perform. For him
the Carnival band had to provide
the theatre of the streets.
In 1980 Minshall brought out
Danse Macabre, a comment on
the battle between evil and good,
death and life. In 1981 Jungle Fever
won him his first band of the Year
"Who is the bandleader who
has most influenced the Car-
nival of Trinidad?
There are no prizes. Because
the answer is too easy. Everyone
knows it's Peter Minshall.
Minshall first came to promi-
nence in 1976 when he designed
costumes for a band called Para-
This band, which was produced
by Stephen Lee Heung, was based
on the epic poem Paradise Lost
by John Milton, which dealt with
the biblical story of the fall of Man
through sin and his loss of Para-
The band is still regarded by
many as the most spectacular to
have crossed the Queen's Park Sa-
Lee Heung brought the band
onto the stage late in the evening
to get the most out of the setting
sun and the sun itself must have
conspired with him, for when the
band hit the stage the sunlight
reflecting on the red tinsel rep-
resenting Hell seemed to set the
stage ablaze. People in the packed
stands roared, while flames
seemed to lick the sky.
The story of man's innocence
and his descent into sin was re-
flected by many of the individual
portrayals, some unique and sen-
There was the Bird of Paradise,
for example, and the God of Para-
dise, but no portrayal was more
stunning than the portrayal of the
king of the band, Peter Samuel.
He appeared as the Serpent, so
lifelike and glitteringly awesome
that on its appearance a wave of
shock and fear seemed to sweep
through the stands.
In the fashioning of those cos-
tumes Peter Minshall made his
special mark in the design of
wings, and it is not going too far
to say that all the wings featured
in later bands bore the stamp of
Carnival is a stage
Peter Minshall --- Theatre of the streets
In celebration of Independence,
we present a series written specially
for the T&T Guardian about people who
made a difference to the nation's history
and its future.
CORNERSTONES by Michael Anthony
In l982 Papillon and his band
of the following year, The River,
and his 1984 band, Callalloo,
demonstrated what Minshall
meant meant by "theatre of the
On stage at the Parade of the
Bands show in 1984, The River
put on a long dramatic display.
There was a storm of protest
from other bandleaders, saying
not only that Minshall held up
their bands, but that what Min-
shall was doing was "not Car-
nival." The judges showed their
agreement by placing Minshall
as low as they decently could.
At this point Minshall was re-
belling against everything that
the conventional Carnival stood
for, even the use of colours. He
was using only black and white.
Yet he continued receiving the
unreserved acclamation of Car-
He had already, in this short
time, changed the Carnival, for
there were no longer bands like
Imperial Rome, Norse Gods and
Vikings, and Ye Saga of Merrie
In 1986 Minshall brought out
Rat Race, which was social com-
mentary. In 1987 came a great
surprise. He had broken severely
with his monochrome costumes
and that year he was leading a
gloriously colourful band. He
even had the nerve to call the
band Carnival is Colour.
The crowd acclaimed him, as
they had done every year, but
that year the judges loved him
too, and deeply, for they gave
Carnival is Colour the coveted
Band of the Year title.
Minshall continued his work,
which had already made a pro-
found difference to the Trinidad
Carnival, a difference for the
Even the bandleaders and oth-
ers who had criticised him must
The Bandele people of Peter Minshall's Lost Tribe.
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