Local Lives 20

Expanding the Tribe
Photographs and story by Mark Lyndersay

Some might think it brazen, this appropriation of the title of a famous 1999 Minshall Carnival band, The Lost Tribe. Some might consider it appropriate. It certainly seemed that Tribe bandleader Dean Ackin thought so, as he told the assembled media that he had heard the concerns about the loss of art and craft in the annual festival and decided to do something about it.

What he did was to assign one of his senior designers, Valmiki Maharaj, to work with a new team of artists and designers to create a new suite of costumes, which were the first thing unveiled on Saturday night’s all encompassing “The Launch,” event, which also saw the unveiling of the costumes and concepts for Bliss and Tribe.

The Lost Tribe is a side project for the massive Tribe production engine, Ackin promised to keep it small, holding it to around 1,200 masqueraders, while totally eschewing the lifeblood of the brand for the last 12 years, the costumes were designed without a single feather.

The new designers produced a mix of shaky new concepts, designs inspired by ideas introduced by Peter Minshall and Cito Velasquez, among others in a presentation that won’t go far enough for traditional mas aficionados and may be a stretch too far for the traditional Tribe masquerader.

But Ackin has done something that others have talked about but never put into production. He’s dared to do a band that, while supported by his considerable brand, will rise or fall based on what the market makes of this hybrid of traditional concepts adapted to a faster, more athletic Carnival customer.

Win or lose, this is a Tribe band that will challenge the status quo that Ackin and his team have done so much to cement.
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