Ronnie McIntosh has always been renowned for his high energy levels on stage.
Ronnie’s iconic trench coat and hat, which he said happened quite organically, are now part of soca lore.
In the late 80s and throughout the 90s a high flying Ronnie was on the frontline of soca music’s biggest bands: Massive Chandelier, Blue Ventures and Atlantik. During that time he unleashed a barrage of fete-shaking hits that remain potent to this day including: “Whoa Donkey”, “On de Road”, “Ah Come Back Home”, “How It Go Look” and “Ent”.
Last Saturday Ronnie showed he still had some gas in the tank when he took a gleeful Queen’s Hall audience through the highlights of his extensive repertoire at the Spektakula Through the Years throwback concert.
Ronnie ran, jumped, waved and tested the brass line of the backing Vincent Rivers-led soca unit much to the delight of the capacity audience. He also released a new song this year “Town In Trouble”. Penned by SuperBlue (Austin Lyons) the jam drips with nostalgia. (go check it out on YouTube).
“That energy is nothing recent nah,” Ronnie said when asked about that display by Kitcharee on Friday.
“Is not no present diet. It stems from my days as a national hockey player. I is an ole hockey player from long time. I played with Jets and Rangers and the national team,” he proudly recalled.
Ronnie played pro grass hockey from 1982 to 1986 and represented T&T at the Pan American and Central American and Caribbean games. He had to turn his back on the sport, however, when his other passion started colliding with his training times.
“There was a point in my life I used to live hockey. The drama took place when the music start to step in in the 80s. I would have performances with Chandelier and finish four in the morning and have training at 6 a.m. at the St James Barracks.
“I was burning the candle on both ends and the national coach then Errol Hartley tell meh ah have to make a decision. Of course the decision was music,” he said with a wide smile.
Looking back at Ronnie’s illustrious career it is clear he made the right choice. He went on to become a household name in soca music winning the International Soca Monarch on two occasions, 1995 with “On The Road” and 1997 with “Ent” in a tie with SuperBlue’s (Austin Lyons) “Barbara”.
“I guess is quality eh,” Ronnie responded when asked about the longevity of his music.
“Yuh have examples not only from me, you have the (David) Rudders, (Mighty) Sparrows, (Lord) Kitcheners even the Johnny Kings that music just as well recovered today as it was back then.
“Some years ago we were focusing on quality and keeping certain elements. Brass is an integral part of it that does bring out a certain energy,” he continued.
Ronnie mused that contemporary soca acts are missing a trick by not including brass lines in their productions.
“The new approach not realising that and bringing it empty. Just basically a drum pattern and keyboard line and down the road. There is nothing to hold on to.
“The performances now are very robotic. The singer’s voice is in the machine so he or she sings when they feel like singing. That’s why the crowd participation is less. The entertainer is doing less so the crowd doing less.
“Your job is to energise the people. A lot of artistes have it reverse. They thinking the crowd have to give them the energy. No; the promoter hires you to energise them and mash up the party,” he said with a laugh.
Ronnie says that customer centred approach he developed in music has served him well in business. Together with his wife Caroline he created the award-winning Carnival mas band Ronnie & Caro.
“At the end of the day it’s a customer service. Caro and mehself always focus on nice quality costumes, but besides that Carnival has transformed into customer service. Yes the costumes nice and every band will have a green or a pink costumes but the difference is the service. Giving people their money’s worth,” he explained.
Holding on to what is yours
Ronnie warned that the controllers of soca and Carnival ought to do more to push local talent to the fore and protect this country’s positioning as the mecca of Carnival. With growing emphasis on visiting acts he worries that T&T is in danger of losing its prime regional creative positioning.
“We depending now on visitors to set the pace which it shouldn’t be. I have no problem, invite people, but when you invite them you should still be in charge.
“You can’t go to a wedding as a guest and dictate when they cut the cake or serve food. You have to sit and wait. We have to protect our space. The high points of our Carnival must remain focused around us. The frontrunners should not be visitors,” he concluded.
LINK ORIGINAL: Trinidad Express