Kees Dieffenthaller

On a high: Kees Dieffenthaller

According to those on social media, the first time you hear Kes the Band perform “Savannah Grass” live, there is some deep-rooted euphoria that you experience.

Intentionally or not, the song has deep roots in the foundation of Carnival.

On the significance of the Savannah and Carnival, writer and Carnival historian Attillah Springer said: “It was a part of the Peschier plantation. And while it is absolutely possible there are remains of enslaved people under there, the larger issue is that it was a site of labour for enslaved people, and the fact that it was a place that we celebrate freedom is significant.”

The song’s lyrics celebrate who we are as a people from Jouvert to Ash Wednesday, and also encompasses the notion of coming together to seek freedom in the Savannah grass. When combined with the vocal capabilities of Kes the Band’s lead vocalist, Kees Dieffenthaller, and the musical prowess of the band, it’s easy now to ­understand why the song resonates with the people on a spiritual level.

Memories of Dad

“Savannah Grass” also has strong emotional ties to the Dieffenthaller family personally. “For me, it is of deep significance because of my earliest memories with my father,” said critically acclaimed filmmaker Danielle Dieffenthaller, Kees’ older sister.

“It was our hub of play and we watched horse racing and horse training,” she said. “When I was little and couldn’t find our Dad at our aunt’s house on Chancery Lane, I would know that I’d find him liming with his friends on the bench by the cannonball tree at the top of the street. It was their traditional liming spot, having taken it over from their fathers. The bench is no longer there, but the tree still is.”

Their father, George “Bunny” Dieffenthaller, passed away recently and the video was dedicated to his memory.

While some quarters state the song is too slow and needs a “road mix” to be a true contender, the same was said of “Stranger” by the Mighty Shadow, which took the title in 2001.

At Tuesday on the Rocks, and every other live performance of the song, crowds go wild at the introduction, and it will no doubt move revellers to exuberance come Carnival Monday and Tuesday.

It’s won the heart of the nation

What is also becoming apparent is that Dieffenthaller and his music have evolved into a beautiful hybrid of the storytelling of calypso with the power of soca, with “Savannah Grass” being the crown jewel of the hits which ­showcase this.

Reviewing his cache of work, he’s moving his repertoire away from usual “wine, wave, drink” mantras that permeate soca, thus making himself more export-ready and international.

Even if the song does not win the Road March title, it has already won the heart of the nation. People have been brought to tears when they hear it, and the momentum has grown with each live performance. It’s not only an enduring staple of any Carnival, but also an anthem of the people of T&T.

“Savannah Grass” — Kes the Band


Oh na na na (2)

Mmmm ay ay

If you know yeah

Then you know yeah ay

[Verse 1]:

We are all on the ground yeah

We holding it down yeah

We open we story yeah

It’s savannah J’ouvert morning

J’ouvert morning ,everybody coming in ay

They ready to ready to go yeah

We go make them jump

We go make them turn up

We go make them wine

We go make them free up

Is the place of bacchanal

In this sweetful botanical this Carnival


I want you to find your way everybody on stage

Oh lad oh

If you coming down from the mountains oh gad oh

When the Riddim beating in town

See we jumping on (d savannah grass x2)

You could see in all when the dust raise

Oh lad oh

When the people tell yuh they cannot wait

Oh gad oh

When the spirit jumping in town we coming around

De savannah grass (2)

[Verse 2]:

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We up with the sun yeah

We take over town yeah

We making the most yeah

Two days is not enough noooooo

Is love we feeling

Look everybody revalling

They ready they ready for more

We go make them jump

We go make them turn up

We go make them wine

We go make them free up

Is the place of bacchanal

In this sweetful botanical this Carnival


If you know yeah (Make them jump)

Then you know (Make they turn up)

Make them wine

Make them free up

We all on the ground yeah

We holding it down yeah

We open the store yeah

Savannah J’ouvert morning