Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 27th 2014 Contents B3
APRIL 27, 2014
Five new books
at Bocas 'Sunday
Launch ---Page B4
Lynn Joseph's YA
novel subtle but
The music group Alternative
Quartet has been around for nine
years. It s performed for Britain s
Queen Elizabeth II and in concert
with soca star Machel Montano
and R&B star Heather Headley. It
hopes to release its first album
before the end of the year.
Yet the average music listener in
T&T probably doesn t know Alter-
That s because it s difficult for a
group of string musicians---two vio-
linists, a viola player and a cellist---
to compete for attention in a musi-
cal market centred on soca and
"One aspect is getting the major-
ity to appreciate this type of musical
entertainment," said Alternative
Quartet violinist and founder Andre
Donawa, when asked about the
group s challenges.
Alternative Quartet will be per-
forming on Saturday at the Decibel
Entertainment Festival, a showcase
intended to expose Trinidadians
and Tobagonians to the variety of
talent in the country.
Groovy Soca Monarch Kerwin
Du Bois will headline a list of per-
formers that includes MX Prime,
DJ Alicia D Duchess and dance
troupes. The venue is Pier 1,
The festival will cap off three
days of events that promote the
local entertainment industries. The
first day, May 1, mainly targeting
young people interested in the field,
will include a career fair, conference
and expo. Fashion designer/reality
TV star Anya Ayoung-Chee and
American choreographer Christo-
pher Scott will be among the pre-
senters. The location is the
Chaguaramas Convention Centre.
The second day will include a
series of workshops at Pier 1facil-
itated by foreign executives and tar-
geting industry professionals.
The three-day package of events
is a resurrection of the Decibel that
ran from 2001 to 2005.
"Every year I would see this great
love for our music and our culture
that would erupt on to the scene
from Boxing Day and will last
straight through to Ash Wednesday,
and then we d just sort of give it
up," said Simon Baptiste, one of the
founders of Decibel.
"Why do we place so much
emphasis on supporting music dur-
ing Carnival and not through the
rest of the year?" Baptiste added.
"Our music needs to be supported
Baptiste not only wants to spread
the attention given to local enter-
tainers more evenly throughout the
year, he wants more of that atten-
tion on exciting acts producing dif-
ferent kinds of T&T music.
"They re lot of young acts that
people aren t aware of, but they re
so talented, and they have so much
to offer," he said.
The original Decibel, which had
brought executives from interna-
tional entertainment giants like Dis-
ney, Universal and Sony and celebri-
ties like Carmen Electra, Pras and
Shia Labeouf to these shores, had
ground to a halt partly because he
and his partner, Carolyn Pasea, were
young, naïve, and still new to the
industry, said Baptiste. They tried
to finance and organise Decibel
This time things are different.
Their company, Question Mark
Entertainment, the organisational
structure behind Decibel, has built
up an impressive amount of influ-
ence in music, film and television
over the last 13 years.
Question Mark manages a long
list of popular artists including Kes
the Band, David Rudder and Alison
Hinds, has facilitated the filming
of American TV show episodes in
T&T, and even produced short films
and music videos.
"I d like to think we ve proven
ourselves within the industry," said
Decibel 2014 is supported by a
bigger team and a cadre of corporate
sponsors, including main sponsor
Baptiste said while the original
Decibel was focused on music and
industry professionals, the new
Decibel includes other aspects of
entertainment and is more oriented
towards audiences and young peo-
ple still deciding on careers.
It s also going to be a year-round
series of initiatives, rather than a
one-off convention/concert. One
of these initiatives is called Dream
Big, which awards promising artists
a grant and other incentives to con-
tinue their work.
The first Dream Big award has
gone to filmmaker Christopher
Guinness, known for the much-
praised shorts Pothound, which
looks at life from the point of view
of a stray dog, and Captain T&T,
an emotional exploration of the
mind of a young boy.
His next short, Fade to Black, is
a futuristic look at an elderly man s
attempt to conquer Alzheimer s
using virtual reality.
The Dream Big grant of $30,000
is a bigger budget than he has had
in the past and means his film can
be more ambitious than it would
have been without it, said Guin-
The prize includes trips to US,
one of which he took this earlier
this month, to visit production stu-
dios and meet with entertainment
The film is due to be finished in
July, after which the Decibel team
will launch and screen it.
"An event like this can serve to
guide and push the next wave of
entertainment in T&T," said Guin-
ness. "I see it as a vital component
for the unrealised potential of har-
nessing our cultural talents and
showcasing it to the world."
Andre Donawa of Alternative
Quartet sounds equally upbeat. The
group is going to perform with
singer Sienna Thornhill at the Deci-
bel festival. Collaborations and
incorporating soca and other mod-
ern sounds into their music are ways
the group reaches listeners who may
not be familiar with strings.
"We hope that this venture brings
more awareness to the dynamics
of the different talents in our coun-
try," Donawa said about Decibel.
"This can only be the beginning of
a new era of sound and apprecia-
on local entertainment
For more: decibelexpo.com,
"An event like this can serve to guide
and push the next wave of
entertainment in T&T," said Guinness. "I see it as a
vital component for the unrealised potential of
harnessing our cultural talents and showcasing it to
FILMMAKER CHRISTOPHER GUINNESS
and Wasia Ward.
AND PETER ELIAS.
MAKE UP: JAU
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