St. John’s Antigua- The plot thickens for reigning party monarch Joel “Hard Knaxx” Lewis and his entourage, who are currently in Trinidad & Tobago preparing for participation in the International Soca Awards next month and fast running out of money.
As the artiste’s manager, Shawn “Danski” Ryan awaits a $20,000 injection he said the Minister of Culture Eleston “Namba” Adams promised was coming, the government official said it was not a promise, but a mere suggestion.
“What I said to them is that Tian Winter and Claudette Peters, when they went to Trinidad … had applied for assistance (and) were given $20,000 dollars,” Adams said yesterday on OBSERVER Radio’s Voice of the People. “I suggested to these individuals, if they have a management team, they could apply to government for a similar assistance.
“As far as I’m concerned, it’s not a must. They have not applied. I can’t go and take up government’s money and give to them. They have to apply to Cabinet and Cabinet will make such a decision,” Adams added.
Ryan said the group had been encountering financial difficulties since arriving in Trinidad earlier this week, and that the prize money disbursed to the Kentucky singer had all been spent. Unless they received some help from the government, they would be making their way back home before the competition, he said.
But the minister of culture said government is not in a position to provide such level of sponsorship.
“The competition is on February 17. They have taken at least TT $86,000 dollars to Trinidad … with that money, after two days, they have come back to this country crying that they don’t have any money,” he said on the afternoon show yesterday. “I’m working in the interest of this country and what this country has at this present moment to spend. We have been spending so much and this country can only spend that and no more. So if people are not getting the type of assistance they need, it’s just that there’s no money.”
He said government had arranged, through LIAT sponsorship, 10 complimentary tickets for the group. This was for a trip to Barbados for visa business, in addition to the trip to Trinidad.
Adams said as a contestant in the international competition, Hard Knaxx would automatically get TT $100,000 (EC $42,519) once he graces the stage.
“And I also want the public to understand that it is one person that is invited (to the International Soca Monarch Competition in Trinidad) and that is the winner – Hard Knaxx,” Adams said. “And so if five people decide to go to Trinidad, should government pick up that tab?
“It is time that people (get) good management around them. That is what calypsonians and artistes don’t do well in this country,” the minister of culture said.
Speaking of preparations, Ryan, who was contacted in Trinidad yesterday via telephone, said the group was at Caribbean Prestige Foundation for the Performing Arts, organiser of the competition, putting publicity arrangements in place.
“We’re looking to go to an awards show tomorrow night,” he said. “After that, we’re invited to the first fete in T&T, that’s the Fire Fete.”
He said Hard Knaxx and his “chicken song” have been getting positive feedback – a sentiment the star himself shares.
“People just getting familiar with us; everybody is going crazy,” Hard Knaxx said. “The hairstyle right now (is attracting attention) … Everywhere I go, everybody’s watching me like that guy looks like a chicken. …We are not dying from hungry but we need the financial assistance to go the extra mile.”
Meantime, CEO of Juggle Fu Life Entertainment Dion MacDougal is disassociating himself and the Juggle Fu Life Entertainment name from Hard Knaxx and his crew. He told The Daily OBSERVER he’s dissatisfied with the way they’ve conducted business, having obtained the services of a manager and other arrangements unknown to him.