September 3, 2004

Vincy Mas band for Labour Day jam

by Nelson A. King
in New York

Buoyed by its extraordinary success last year, and despite incessant showers, the lone Vincentian-New York mas band “Mas Productions Unlimited” will be “waving it” all the way down Eastern Parkway on Labour Day, Monday, September 6.{{more}}
The 20-member, Brooklyn-based outfit says the best way to go in the spectacular
West Indian-American Day Carnival Parade is to “Wave It” – the production’s title.
“We try to do something nice,” said Wesley Millington, the band’s founder, leader and designer of the 11-section production. “Every carnival band has a flavour of its own that makes it unique. We just want to keep the St. Vincent and the Grenadines flag out there.
“All sections have to do with a wave,” added the veteran costume designer, who has been playing mas at home since the tender age of six. “All sections have a flag. So we’ll be waving a flag.”
Millington’s father, Winston “Sammo” Samuel, who now carries the surname Quammie, is also a veteran mas producer in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
The medium-sized Mas Productions Unlimited, expected to comprise between 150 and 200 masqueraders, constitutes eight adult and three children’s sections.
The adult section encompasses: Wave of Flight, Shock Wave, Tidal Wave, Cold Wave, Heat Wave, Fiesta Wave, Wave of Change and Royal Wave. The children’s section contains Jump and Wave, Sound Wave and Wave of Peace.
With just a few days remaining before the grand annual extravaganza, Millington is happy that this year’s production is ahead of last year’s. Except for a few large costumes, most others are already finished. Production began early this year, in April in preparation for the June 19 Philadelphia Carnival.
Mas Productions Unlimited is again receiving expert assistance from veteran mas producers and designers, such as Ricardo “Puzzle” Grant, from SVG Players International, which placed third in the Band of the Year category in Vincy Mas 2004, and Junior Melbourne Constance, producer of Melbourne Artisans. Though Mas Productions Unlimited caters primarily to Vincentian nationals in New York, Millington said that they do not discriminate, indicating that all carnival lovers, regardless of race, ethnicity or national origin, are welcomed.
He boasts of revellers from St. Lucia, Jamaica, Barbados, the United States, and even Trinidad and Tobago – the land of carnival and calypso. In addition, a contingent of masqueraders from Belize will augment the band for the sixth successive year.
“We have people from all over,” Millington said. “We don’t discriminate. A lot of people who come in don’t know how well we did last year. People come because they like the costumes.”
Since the band’s formation 12 years ago, Mas Productions Unlimited has failed to capture many big carnival titles in a field that had been dominated by Trinidadian bands until last year. In 1993, they snatched the Junior Queen title and a host of prizes in the Children’s category.
However, Mas Productions Unlimited took first place for Kids’ bands in the medium category with last year’s stunning production, “Maya, the Myth and the Mystery”, and placed second for the overall King of the Band.
They also seized the Individual of the Year title with Ricky Lorrick’s portrayal. Lorrick captured the same title for SVG Players International in Vincy Mas 2004.
Mas Productions also placed second and third for Junior Carnival Queen and Junior Carnival King, respectively, in last year’s West Indian-American Carnival.
“It was great,” said Millington, who was in an unusually relaxed mood for this hectic carnival-time interview at the mas camp located on East 98th Street, near Riverdale Avenue, in Brooklyn.
He said that unlike previous years, the division of labour, or love is greater this year.
“It was the best year we’ve had since we started,” he said, reflecting on the 2003 feat. “All the costumes started on time. We had good music.”
He sought to downplay a repeat performance this year, saying only: “It’s a nice band. So far, we’re on schedule. We’re looking good this year.”
“The Executive”, a disc jockey from Union Island in the Grenadines, on Bashment Radio, 103.1 F.M. will, for the second year in a row, blast soca vibes to “Wave It” revelers.
Millington can be reached at (718) 759-7766. His daughter, Sharleka Millington, the mas camp manager, can also be contacted at (917) 701-3133.