He played percussion with the group. It was not until the vocalists left, that he volunteered to take up the spot as a singer. “They were one of the biggest bands back in the day. They had a huge following.
Then, Shandileer went through some changes with members. Carl and Carol Jacobs, Ancil Forde and Robin Imamshah left the band. So, Shandileer was basically in shambles. They were looking for a replacement for Carl and Carol, and although I had no formal training as a singer, I basically offered myself as a vocalist.” For over a decade, McIntosh was the frontman of the band.
“I was singing calypso and reggae on the frontline. Then in 1986, I got the opportunity to record my first track “As long as I get it” and then I recorded “Happy” in 1987. In 1988, we released “Shaking it” and “Do what you want” in 1989. ” McIntosh had a series of infectious tunes while he performed with Massive Chandelier like “Whoa Donkey” in 1993 and “On de Road” in 1995 which earned him the winning title of Soca Monarch.
He left the group and joined Blue Ventures in 1996. Tracks like “Ent” followed in 1997 and “How it go look” in 1998. After joining Atlantik, McIntosh had hit songs like “Biting Insects” and “Run” in 2002. He was also instrumental in pulling Destra Garcia into Blue Ventures.
In 2004, he left the group and performed with Island Vibe for a year, before slipping out of the soca scene altogether. In the past McIntosh turned down international solo gigs, so he used the down-time to capitalise on the chance to tour the United States, Canada, Europe and Asia, “I would get calls for solo gigs abroad, but being very band oriented I refused. But I realised that there is a career out there as a solo artiste. There was also money to be made because after Carnival there is nothing to do home.” The time also allowed him the opportunity to develop his own businesses with Ronnie and Caro, the clothing store and the mas band.
“The soca business is not something you can depend on in the long term. I decided to do something with the money I collected and to diversify. So I diverted my funds into the clothing store business. Between Trinidad and Tobago, we have about eight stores.
But band practice would clash with business appointments. I was dealing with full-time musicians, who would call a 10 am rehearsal. I would have to meet with the loans officer or collect goods in customs during business hours. So, increasingly, it became difficult to balance both.
I started missing rehearsals and losing interest. I realised I was not able to do both. I did not have the passion for it anymore.” The Ronnie and Caro mas band, began with Caro’s crafty ways to customise her own costumes which, over time, eventually became an entire section of friends. “Our family was always very mas oriented.
My wife would always go to Samaroo’s and buy fabric and accessories, so when she came out her costume would be special. So friends started asking. It grew into a crew inside the section inside the band.” They created sections for Masquerade and Legacy, before branching into their own band. The Ronnie and Caro mas band is in its third year now and won first place medium band for the last two years.
This year Ronnie and Caro’s presentation entitled “Tribute” highlights the contributions of the mas men from the past. McIntosh explained that he knew he still had something to offer in terms of soca, but was disenchanted by the industry: “I observed the art-form from the outside and I saw it going downhill. There is a certain level of disrespect for local artistes. There is a greater inclusion and preference for foreign performers.” After an impromptu guest appearance at the Bishop’s All- Inclusive Fete last year, his long-time friend Ken Marlon Charles (KMC) saw how he hyped up the crowd and urged McIntosh to resume the soca circuit.
“Blaxx and Roy Cape called me up on the stage to perform. Getting back on stage was not that difficult for me. The energy is still there.” McIntosh and KMC recorded the track “While you can” which made it to the semi-finals of the Soca Monarch, “On stage, me and KMC have chemistry and we have the same kind of focus. We spoke to our families and we got the support to re-enter Soca Monarch.
I am returning after 13 years and he is returning after seven years. So it’s been a while. Going into the competition, we are on the same page. Our emphasis is on entertaining the crowd.
It is not about the prize or the title. We are very excited and amped up. We want to put on a good show. We want to mash up Soca Monarch.” Read more on Last.fm.
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