Ross and Siewsarran are Rock music advocates

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Dig­ging up the Un­der­ground is a na­tion­wide tour, com­pris­ing six of Trinidad and To­ba­go’s most in­flu­en­tial un­der­ground bands: Tran­syl­va­nia Zoo, Blood Red Clover, Cobolized, Kru­ci­fix, Necrop­o­lis and Over­Rdose. These bands helped build the foun­da­tions of to­day’s lo­cal rock mu­sic scene, and the mem­bers con­tin­ue to pro­mote orig­i­nal lo­cal rock mu­sic in var­i­ous ways, not least of which is pay­ing homage to the ini­tial ef­forts that will be cel­e­brat­ed dur­ing the Dig­ging up the Un­der­ground Tour this sum­mer.

This week is the fi­nal in­stal­ment of The Un­der­ground se­ries, and fea­tures the peo­ple be­hind The Dig­ging up the Un­der­ground Tour.

Peo­ple be­hind the scenes

Dig­ging up the Un­der­ground Tour has been a year in the mak­ing. Sievan Siewsar­ran and Joan­na Ali have been work­ing on every­thing from the con­cept to the de­sign, the bands and the venues. But per­haps most im­por­tant­ly, they have been work­ing tire­less­ly on the ide­al: a per­ma­nent av­enue through which lo­cal orig­i­nal rock mu­sic can grow and evolve in Trinidad and To­ba­go. To­geth­er, Siewsar­ran and Ali de­vel­oped The Dig­ging up the Un­der­ground Tour, a lo­cal tour that pro­motes orig­i­nal rock mu­sic–mu­sic that is writ­ten by the bands that per­form it through­out the coun­try. So why do this now? Ac­cord­ing to Ali, the for­mer own­er of San Fer­nan­do’s Club Jenz: “I pro­mot­ed lo­cal orig­i­nal rock bands for some years. I helped push the idea of orig­i­nal rock mu­sic as a sta­ple at my then club. “When I re-emerged from life out­side of the scene, I re­alised that rock bands were play­ing more and more cov­ers, and I was sur­prised. “So many bands that had set the stan­dard of orig­i­nal mu­sic were do­ing en­tire cov­er sets that were of lit­tle ben­e­fit to the de­vel­op­ment of the lo­cal rock scene.”

More than just en­cour­ag­ing lo­cal bands to pro­duce orig­i­nal mu­sic, it seems that this tour has an­oth­er ob­jec­tive in mind; to make it orig­i­nal­i­ty prof­itable and worth­while for mu­si­cians. Siewsar­ran ex­plains that “lo­cal bands scrape to put to­geth­er a sin­gle or even an al­bum, which gets min­i­mal air­play and ex­po­sure.” Ra­dio seems to have a long bat­tle with lo­cal un­der­ground rock bands. But The Un­der­ground has found an al­ly in Mike Ross, the host of 95.1FM’s Thurs­day Night MRU (Mike Ross Un­der­ground/ Mod­ern Rock Un­der­ground) be­tween 10 pm and 11 pm. Siewsar­ran con­tin­ues: “Mike’s to­tal lo­cal pro­gramme is lit­er­al­ly jam-packed with lo­cal orig­i­nal rock mu­sic, and it gives bands the chance to de­but their new songs or ad­ver­tise mu­sic and up­com­ing shows. “Most im­por­tant­ly, the show al­lows bands to have an out­let.

Most of the bands on this tour, if not all, on­ly have their mu­sic played on ra­dio on 95.1 FM’s MRU. “Thank God for Mike Ross and his sup­port for giv­ing lo­cal bands at least one hour once a week. But it is still not enough. “Dig­ging up the un­der­ground as a sus­tain­able idea is si­mul­ta­ne­ous­ly lob­by­ing for lo­cal orig­i­nal rock mu­sic to be­come a sta­ple on air at any­time.” Apart from lo­cal orig­i­nal rock mu­sic ad­vo­cates like Mike Ross, Ali and Siewsar­ran state that their team con­sists of many more sup­port­ers. Dig­i­tal Me­dia and gen­er­al me­dia have al­lowed The Un­der­ground to reach the mass­es which, in turn, gar­nered more sup­port. Is­land­noise.com and 420 graph­ics have been push­ing the dig­i­tal en­ve­lope. Is­land­noise.com is the most pop­u­lar rock Web site in Trinidad and To­ba­go. It al­lows bands, fans and in­ter­est­ed peo­ple to com­mu­ni­cate, share band in­fo and sell equip­ment while ad­ver­tis­ing and mar­ket­ing up­com­ing shows through­out the coun­try. 420 graph­ics al­so has been in the fore­front of build­ing the lo­cal rock scene by help­ing bands with mer­chan­dis­ing.

The com­pa­ny has been in­stru­men­tal in cre­at­ing band lo­gos, t-shirts, Web sites, my­space ac­counts, CD book­lets and the like for var­i­ous lo­cal bands. Mer­i­neo Ramkissoon, Jig­nesh Kha­tri and Ricky Ab­dul are some of the no­table peo­ple be­hind these scenes who are all faith­ful to the rock and roll cause. Ail and Siewsar­ran firm­ly be­lieve that, “When all is said and done, lo­cal orig­i­nal rock mu­sic has done a lot for what Trinidad and To­ba­go calls its own. “Or­ange Sky, Joint­pop and In­cert Coin are ex­am­ples of suc­cess sto­ries for the rock scene in Trinidad and To­ba­go. “And more will be cre­at­ed, since it seems that we are liv­ing in his­to­ry.”

Dig­ging up the Un­der­ground Tour 2010

Kicks off on Ju­ly 3 at Prive’s Lock­down and will be go­ing across the coun­try to var­i­ous venues.

South: Prive Night­club and Des­ti­na­tion Bar and Lounge. Cen­tral: Sparky’s Sports Bar. East: Samaan Tree Rock Mu­sic Fes­ti­val. West: Shak­ers on the av­enue.

For tour dates and the com­plete itin­er­ary, go to www.is­land­noise.com for more in­fo or vis­it the LOCK­DOWN event page on Face­book.

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