Bad Lad’s contribution to music recognized
January 26, 2017
In the last 40 years, Ian Gould (aka Bad Lad) has missed just one Trinidad & Tobago Carnival.
While revellers were jumping up to Kurt Allen’s ‘Dus Dem’, Sanelle Dempster’s ‘River’ and the latest soca tunes on a hot 1999 Carnival Monday in the twin-island republic, he was in cold Toronto taking the oath of citizenship.
“You know it had to be something very, very important to stop me from going,” he said. “Since 1978, that’s the one time that I was not there.”
Before embarking on his annual Carnival retreat next week, the venerable disc jockey collected a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 20th annual Snowflakes on Steel concert in Scarborough.
“When Earl LaPierre Jr. called and said they were going to present me with this award because they thought I was deserving of it for my musical contributions in the last four decades in Canada, I was very humbled,” he said. “This is something I will really cherish.”
LaPierre said Gould has been a mentor to him and many other young musicians in the city.
“Whenever I sit down with Bad Lad for a conversation, I learn something new about the musical scene in Toronto,” he pointed out. “He is a historian in his own right who has done a lot in this community.”
Had it not being for his late mother, Gould might very well be a steel pan player.
Attracted to panyards at a young age, the constant lashes she doled out whenever she saw him in spaces where steelbands rehearse proved to be an effective deterrent.
“Just before she passed away two years ago, she asked me how come I get so big in this DJ business,” he said. “I reminded her she used to beat me when I went to the panyard and that I decided to go into another yard and play music. She was stunned.”
Growing up with an uncle who led Timothy’s Orchestra and hanging out with the late Billy Reece, one of the leading disc jockeys in T & T in the 1960, were also inspirations.
“Billy did about three to four parties a night and I helped to set up his sound system and start the ball rolling by playing music before he arrived,” Gould, who was born in San Juan and raised in Curepe, recalled. “He was among the best in his time, so to be around him was a big deal.”
It didn’t take long for Gould to pick up from where he left off after migrating in 1974.
After purchasing his first sound system a few months later with the help of Orson Alexander – he died three years ago – who was a co-signor, Gould and former T & T sprinter Carl Archer, who represented his country at the 1968 Summer Olympics, formed a partnership 35 years ago.
“We met through a friend of mine and have been going strong ever since,” said Gould. “There was a time when we were booked at least 45 weekends during the year. That’s how busy we have been playing at clubs and social events in England, the United States and Canada.”
He said the moniker ‘Bad Lad’ was adopted after party promoter Ian Wiltshire of Island Style Entertainment created a flyer with the headline, ‘Bad Lad from Trinidad’.
“Back in the day, Jamaicans would approach me at parties and say, ‘Boss, play some culture music nah’,” the father of four children pointed out. “For them, that was reggae, but I came out of a culture of calypso and soca and that was what I played most of the time. Anytime you saw the new flyer, you knew right away that soca music was going to dominate the party. I had no problem with the nickname because in those days, bad was good and complimentary. It meant you were doing something real good.”
Former Trinidad & Tobago consul general in Toronto Michael Lashley said Gould is a supreme entertainer.
“When you go to a fete and he’s playing, you know you are not only going to get good music, but you will also get a really rich mix,” he noted. “When you go to hear him play, you know from the time you see him wink at you, he’s going to play ‘Golo Golo’, knowing that the whole crowd will get up and dance. So he’s just as much a part of our enjoying music as a musician is. He’s part of us, he knows what he’s doing and he can reflect our choice of music by playing things he knows we are going to enjoy.”
New Dimension Steel Orchestra founder Miley Duke, who passed away in June 2015 at age 78, was posthumously honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award while Joe Brown, who arrived in Toronto in 1963 and launched the St. Christopher House Steel Drum Band, was recognized with a Pan Pioneer Award.
Afropan Steelband player Suzette Vidale and Giselle Bishop of Fantasy were this year’s Women in Pan Award recipients.