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Charlotte Amalie
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HomeNewsArchivesCARNIVAL SALUTES ONE GOOD T'ING -- BROWNIE

CARNIVAL SALUTES ONE GOOD T'ING — BROWNIE

For a quarter-century, V.I. Carnival fans have heard Irvin "Brownie" Brown tell them their annual celebration is a "good t'ing."
For the first festivities of the new millennium, the V.I. Carnival Committee repaid the compliment, naming the Year 2000 Carnival Village "Brownie's Ville."
Relatives, friends, musical mates from Milo's Kings, Savaneros and fellow broadcasters came out at the village opening ceremonies Monday night to pay tribute to the modest man with the mustache, glasses, broad smile and Tortolan alter ego named Walter.
"The Original Side of Walter and Brownie" has entertained calypso fans tuning into WSTA Radio/Lucky 13 for the past 30 years. But even before he took to the Virgin Islands airwaves, this seventh-grade dropout who worked as a teenager to support his family had found that entertainment would be the way he would make his mark in the world.
Brownie spent 17 years playing drums for the venerable Milo and the Kings, a Virgin Islands band that began its career at the Pilgrim's Terrace nightclub on St. Thomas and later gained fame in Puerto Rico for its soca, merengue, calypso and big band repertoire. Directed by Emile "Milo" Francis until his death 1997, Milo and the Kings also toured to the U.S. mainland, Canada and other far-flung destinations.
At Monday's program dedicating the village, mistress of ceremonies Debra Brown Roumo recalled as a child hearing her father, Warren E. Brown, say that her cousin was back in town and how proud he was of young Irvin, who was making a name for himself as a musician. Unlike many success stories, however, Brownie did not opt to leave his islands for good.
For the past 25 years of Carnival on St. Thomas, Brownie has emceed hundreds of staged events — among them the Carnival queen, prince and princess competitions, calypso shows and culture nights.
As calypso emcee and as the split personality of Brownie and Walter, Brown shows his talent for comedy. In a thick B.V.I. accent, always trading w's for v's, Walter is a quarrelsome but befuddled character who always seems to miss the point. Brownie often reminds him how "chupidd" he sounds when he says certain things.
Brownie also is an environmentalist among entertainers: He recycles jokes. There's the one about the two friends who are walking along when one is bitten by a snake in his private parts. His friend runs to find help and finally finds a doctor who instructs him to make two cuts over the snake bite and suck out the poison.
The friend rushes back to the side of his stricken friend, who asks desperately what the doctor said. The friend replies, "He said you're going to die."
Those who have heard it so many times before recite the punchline before the newly told can finish their own retelling.
Brownie continues to put in the time and energy at Carnival that would lay our others half his age. Covering the big parades, he has stood for hours in the searing sun on Main Street shielded only by his Atlanta Braves baseball cap. There have been countless late nights after daytime work at the radio station, onstage and in the village, conducting live interviews of locals and visitors, announcing the festival schedule and showcasing musical acts.
Why does he do it? His daughter told those gathered for the opening of Brownie's Ville that she had often thought her dad was overdoing it. But, she recalled, when she raised her concerns, he would say he spent the hours and the years in the spotlight because it was his community and he lived here.
In his unaccustomed role of honoree rather than interviewer or emcee, Brownie stood patiently on same stage with speaker after speaker listing his contributions and sterling qualities. But when his turn came to offer a few comments, he could not resist cracking a joke. "All day long I've been looking for what to say when they called me to the mike," he said, "and I finally found what I would say.
"Thank you. Good night," he said.
The veteran St. Thomas entertainer announced his intention to spend rest of the evening away from the microphone and down in the crowds around the Carnival booths, greeting old friends and wishing them well for the festival season.
"I think this is the prettiest village I've seen in a long time," he said, "and I'm not being prejudiced. It's beautiful. These people went all out to beautify this village. I'd like to see everyone come out, meet your friends, walk around, chat with everybody. Just enjoy yourself. That's what it's all about."
The opportunity to do just that remains available nightly through the Last Lap partying following the fireworks on Saturday night. Village hours are 5:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. To see the schedule of music groups performing, click on Community/Other stuff .

Editor's note: There's more Carnival coverage on the Source main page and under "Arts/Entertainment/Showcase" as well as "Community/Other stuff."

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For a quarter-century, V.I. Carnival fans have heard Irvin "Brownie" Brown tell them their annual celebration is a "good t'ing."
For the first festivities of the new millennium, the V.I. Carnival Committee repaid the compliment, naming the Year 2000 Carnival Village "Brownie's Ville."
Relatives, friends, musical mates from Milo's Kings, Savaneros and fellow broadcasters came out at the village opening ceremonies Monday night to pay tribute to the modest man with the mustache, glasses, broad smile and Tortolan alter ego named Walter.
"The Original Side of Walter and Brownie" has entertained calypso fans tuning into WSTA Radio/Lucky 13 for the past 30 years. But even before he took to the Virgin Islands airwaves, this seventh-grade dropout who worked as a teenager to support his family had found that entertainment would be the way he would make his mark in the world.
Brownie spent 17 years playing drums for the venerable Milo and the Kings, a Virgin Islands band that began its career at the Pilgrim's Terrace nightclub on St. Thomas and later gained fame in Puerto Rico for its soca, merengue, calypso and big band repertoire. Directed by Emile "Milo" Francis until his death 1997, Milo and the Kings also toured to the U.S. mainland, Canada and other far-flung destinations.
At Monday's program dedicating the village, mistress of ceremonies Debra Brown Roumo recalled as a child hearing her father, Warren E. Brown, say that her cousin was back in town and how proud he was of young Irvin, who was making a name for himself as a musician. Unlike many success stories, however, Brownie did not opt to leave his islands for good.
For the past 25 years of Carnival on St. Thomas, Brownie has emceed hundreds of staged events -- among them the Carnival queen, prince and princess competitions, calypso shows and culture nights.
As calypso emcee and as the split personality of Brownie and Walter, Brown shows his talent for comedy. In a thick B.V.I. accent, always trading w's for v's, Walter is a quarrelsome but befuddled character who always seems to miss the point. Brownie often reminds him how "chupidd" he sounds when he says certain things.
Brownie also is an environmentalist among entertainers: He recycles jokes. There's the one about the two friends who are walking along when one is bitten by a snake in his private parts. His friend runs to find help and finally finds a doctor who instructs him to make two cuts over the snake bite and suck out the poison.
The friend rushes back to the side of his stricken friend, who asks desperately what the doctor said. The friend replies, "He said you're going to die."
Those who have heard it so many times before recite the punchline before the newly told can finish their own retelling.
Brownie continues to put in the time and energy at Carnival that would lay our others half his age. Covering the big parades, he has stood for hours in the searing sun on Main Street shielded only by his Atlanta Braves baseball cap. There have been countless late nights after daytime work at the radio station, onstage and in the village, conducting live interviews of locals and visitors, announcing the festival schedule and showcasing musical acts.
Why does he do it? His daughter told those gathered for the opening of Brownie's Ville that she had often thought her dad was overdoing it. But, she recalled, when she raised her concerns, he would say he spent the hours and the years in the spotlight because it was his community and he lived here.
In his unaccustomed role of honoree rather than interviewer or emcee, Brownie stood patiently on same stage with speaker after speaker listing his contributions and sterling qualities. But when his turn came to offer a few comments, he could not resist cracking a joke. "All day long I've been looking for what to say when they called me to the mike," he said, "and I finally found what I would say.
"Thank you. Good night," he said.
The veteran St. Thomas entertainer announced his intention to spend rest of the evening away from the microphone and down in the crowds around the Carnival booths, greeting old friends and wishing them well for the festival season.
"I think this is the prettiest village I've seen in a long time," he said, "and I'm not being prejudiced. It's beautiful. These people went all out to beautify this village. I'd like to see everyone come out, meet your friends, walk around, chat with everybody. Just enjoy yourself. That's what it's all about."
The opportunity to do just that remains available nightly through the Last Lap partying following the fireworks on Saturday night. Village hours are 5:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. To see the schedule of music groups performing, click on Community/Other stuff .

Editor's note: There's more Carnival coverage on the Source main page and under "Arts/Entertainment/Showcase" as well as "Community/Other stuff."