Let’s play a game. Can you guess what business I’m referring to?
It started in 2001 with a small music truck, 120 of the owner’s friends and family, a drinks truck supplied by her hairdresser’s brother, and some blue body paint that wouldn’t come off for weeks. Its name begins with “J” and is a play on a popular Trinidadian calypso tune.
Still stumped? Here’s one more clue. It’s run by professional landscape architect and self-professed Crop Over addict Lloyda Springer, and has been one of the most popular Foreday Morning bands for over a decade.
The answer is Jambalasse and Dazzle got a chance to sit down with its 39 year old owner to find out more about her unusual business.
How did it all start?
I grew up in a household with my parents jumping in Kadooment, having a band or associated with friends who have bands. I did my first Grand Kadooment in first or second form and I haven’t missed it since with the exception of one year when I went on a family vacation overseas.
How did you make the transition from taking part in the festival to actually owning a Foreday Morning band? Was it planned?
It didn’t really start out as a money making venture. I used to go to Wadadah parties in Bank Hall and one year Wadadah decided to put speakers on the back of a truck and just go down the road. A group of us went and really enjoyed it. By our third year taking part, and after some negative experiences, we realised that if we were to continue doing Foreday Morning we would need to create a formal band.
Did you do it on your own?
I had the support of my friends and family. My people are Crop Over people. We sat down and I asked them, “Do you think we could get 75 to100 people?” We made our debut following a small Suzuki truck with a speaker behind it. We had white rum, five star and beer. That was it. The music truck broke down three times. But everyone had a blast!
When did you realize you had to structure it as a business?
There was always some business element to it. It was for me to have fun, but I always said I’m not paying for everyone to have a street party. Worst case scenario I had to break even. By 2003 our numbers had doubled to 250, by 2006 they had increased again to 400. We had to get more security. Costs went up and a lot more time and effort started going into the planning and structure. We couldn’t just put two speakers on a truck and go down the road. I was taking people’s money so I had to deliver.
How does running the band now compare to those early days?
It’s all work now. I don’t jump and have a good time at all now. There is too much to do. The event starts at midnight but I am there from 8pm making sure all the trucks are there, security is briefed and everything is organised.
What is the most challenging thing for you?
Foreday Morning is not being given the priority is deserves from the NCF. It is now the biggest and most popular event on the Crop Over calendar but it’s always been treated as kind of an afterthought. You are now looking at ten to twenty thousand people jumping and the same number lining the route spectating.
What do you think about the move to have costume styled outfits for Foreday Morning Jam?
I am a J’ouvert purist. I believe in t-shirts, paint and mud. The dirtier you are at the end the better. That’s how J’ouvert is across the region. The dirty mass, freeing of the spirit concept is very much different from costumed mass. I think the two should remain separate and distinct.
What is the secret to Jambalasse’s success over the years?
Everything as it relates to Jambalasse has to be good value for money; good advertising value for our sponsors, good entertainment value for our patrons. I try to keep that as my priority. It’s easy to get sidelined by profit and greed. I do business fairly and won’t compromise on the quality I offer to my patrons.
Where do you see Jambalasse going in the next few years?
My years of experience have taught me that there are enough people who enjoy what I have produced to keep it going, but I am always looking for ways to be creative to enhance my product. As long as I am bringing a positive influence to Foreday Morning, I will continue to do it. If I reach a point where people are no longer entertained by what I do, then I would consider saying I’ve done my part for the festival and it’s time to hand the baton over.