By Lincoln DePradine
Trinidad entertainer Tony Prescott, perhaps best-known for the vocals on the hit “All Aboard’’, has not been at a Toronto carnival for a dozen years. He’s returned to the city in 2023 and promises fans high-energy, enjoyable performances.
“They’re going to get energy. They’re going to get a good show; I’m not going to cheat the fans,’’ Prescott told The Caribbean Camera in an interview at the mas’ camp, “Saldenah Carnival’’. The camp is headed by veteran masquerade bandleader, Louis Saldenah.
Prescott, who has been spending part of his time meeting various people, joined several others at the camp – including carnival organizers from the Festival Management Committee – for an expected visit to “Saldenah Carnival’’ by Grammy Award-winning Reggae/Dancehall icon, Shaggy, and popular Trinidad artiste, Kes, frontman of the Soca outfit, “Kes The Band’’.
The Shaggy/Kes visit did not materialize but Prescott said he was still happy to be at the mas’ camp. “I’m loving the Toronto vibes,’’ he said.
Saldenah has won Band of the Year at carnival 21 times; 13 times, his band has been second.
He’s been able to attract thousands of revellers to his band at each carnival; this year, there’ll be more than 4,000 in his presentation of “Unmasked’’.
Saldenah said band preparation is progressing well and he’s not primarily focusing on winning.’
“If it happens, it happens. The most important thing is the masqueraders having a great time,’’ Saldenah said. “I don’t have anything to prove anymore. Let’s give somebody else an opportunity – a younger bandleader, a younger band.’’
Saldenah, involved in masband production in Toronto since 1977, said it takes a lot out of him to get his bands on the road for carnival.
“In my younger years, I would stay at the camp until one, two O’clock in the morning. But now, my deadline is around 8, 9 O’clock,’’ he said.
Apart from the 2001 release of the party classic “All Aboard’’, which Prescott sang while a member of Atlantik, he’s also performed with Surface and has been the voice behind a series other well-known calypso and parang tunes such as “Energy’’, “Oil Drum’’, “Together As One’’, “Surrender’’, “Sailing’’ and “Coming Home”.
Prescott’s career has allowed him to travel to perform on the international music circuit, including to audiences in Japan and India. His music is released under the VP Records’ label.
He combines his performance engagements with his work on radio at WACK 90.1fm in Trinidad.
“I’ve been working for eight years now on WACK 90.1 in San Fernando. That has been a blessing for me,’’ said Prescott. “I’m still doing music and I’ve been on VP Records now for about 20-something years.’’
Music, he said, has taken him to “different places and spaces’’, including his latest appearance in Toronto.
“I’m here, enjoying the vibes; coming back in this Caribbean environment, seeing the advancement of the energy and of the music in Toronto,’’ said Prescott, whose upcoming bookings include a performance in Miami.
“I’m loving the Toronto vibes. Everybody is showing me great spirit and energy and respect.’’