Kalypso Revue Tent 2015 Judging Night
On Friday 23rd January 2015, the Kalypso Revue tent opened its doors to the public as it once more offered a fully stacked deck of kaiso tradition in excellence. Happy faces, nice times and music flowed to mix with the vivacious chatter of a full house. Portraits of the Mighty Kitchener and the tent’s original manager, Mr. Jazzy Pantin smiled down from the stage as kaisonians prepped for competition while local politicians commingled with audience members. Leader of the Opposition Dr. Keith Rowley, along with former PNM ministers Mr. Eddie Hart and Mrs. Joan Yuille-Williams along with Independent Liberal Party leader Mr. Jack Warner, were just a few of the political cognoscenti attending the show. Patrons helped themselves to a wide selection of drinks from the bar as the café offered an aromatic array of culinary choices: from bake and shark to spicy geera necks, meaty pelaus, chicken foot souse, corn soup and barbecue prior to the show.
One of the musicians warming up his instrument was Mr. Solomon Pena. He explained that he had been with the tent for some time, saying, “I’ve been playing with the tent since 2001. I’ve been in and out but I’ve been here for a good while.” He plays under Musical Director, Mr. Dexter Walcott and was enthusiastic about the opportunity to entertain the crowd. He noted that in comparison to the other tents, Kalypso Revue was preferred since, “We have been here and we have been on top of the Kalypso Revue in Trinidad and Tobago and in the Caribbean, we have been on top so far. We have competition, but they haven’t reached our level of calypsonians, [and] artistes. The performances are very entertaining.”
Ms. Royanne Andrews of Petite Valley attended the event for the first time this year in support of Mr. Wendell Goodridge in this, his first time in the Kalypso Revue tent, with their baby Raedell. She indicated that she was feeling “good” and was excited about seeing the show. Mr. Wendell Goodridge also spoke optimistically of his competitive chances that night, declaring, “I feeling positive based on the response that the people gave me last night. I have a positive feeling that I could make the finals.” He expressed enjoyment at working with the Kalypso Revue, explaining, “Well this tent, you gain a lot more experience because you’re with the more senior calypsonians. You can learn from them [and] grasp a lot of ideas from them. I’m a person who’s always open to getting new ideas and stuff like that … mix it and fuse it like that so that [from] the old to the young, it could be appealing to the young population and also the senior population.” This “young” veteran has been competing for the last 24 years in and out of the Caribbean but he humbly offered, “I’m very glad that I was given the opportunity this year to sing with the Kalyspo Revue and hopefully next year, God’s willing, I’ll have that same opportunity because every year you have an opportunity to come a higher level every year so I intend to work and make the best of it.
Another competitor who expressed anticipation about the evening’s competition was Young King’s Finalist, Shashi ‘St. Nick’ Gosine. He acknowledged twelve years of competitive experience as a singer but this was his first time in the calypso arena. His skill as a singer was mostly gleaned from musical stints in karaoke competitions, chutney competitions and Mastana Bahar. His artistic drive into calypso is one he is now committed to, as he explains, “I decided to take this in full accord. I feel that it’s a way of expressing myself on what I want to say to people … it’s a good opportunity.” He is being compared to Timothy ‘Baron’ Watkins Jr. on account of his musical style and has even been referred to by some as ‘The Young Baron’. However, while he considered the title an honour, he was firm in pointing out, “I am not trying to sound like anybody. This is my natural way; this is the way I sing. There is a lot of people in Trinidad and Tobago who trying to sound like ‘Baron’ [but] this is just my natural style.” He shared his excitement to be performing with the Kalypso Revue, musing, “I feel comfortable because at the Revue Tent they have some people that make you feel welcome, so I feel comfortable with everything.”
Mr. Mitchell aka Ajamu was another artiste who also indicated his pleasure to be back at the Revue as well, saying, “Oh I’m feeling great. I mean, I’ve been a part of this for a few years now. I joined the tent sometime in 2003 and I took a three or four years break and I just came back this year so it’s like I’m rejuvenated.” He acknowledged that while he had performed with other tents, the Kalypso Revue continues to stand out because, “This is the tent of all tents. I mean, this is like an institution to me. The fact [is] that the Grandmaster ‘Kitchener’ … this was his brainchild … so a lot of great things happening here at the tent. So each time I’ve been here, I’m only accumulating great experiences.” He felt good about his season, sharing that, “I think the people … they really liking my song or they think the song is going down well. The song that I’m doing this year is a song that’s called “Take Your Chances” and its been accepted quite well.”
The Master of Ceremonies was local personality and comedian, CG, who stood out in a suit of bold burgundy and black. A full house was in attendance at the Revue and only standing room was left by the time the show started promptly at 8.30 p.m. CG proved himself to be in fine form as he bantered colloquially with the audience between each performance. The artistes’ topics rolled from patriotism to politics, from crime to corruption with a liberal side of bawdy comedy tying the whole together, much to the enjoyment of the packed house. Singers performed with determined heat, pouring their energy into the reinforcing of local oral tradition as they stood their ground and fearlessly delivered their messages which the audience embraced with hearty applause. The fifty-two year old tent maintained its presence in the musical arena for providing cutting edge political picong and commentary. The show was highly entertaining and crowd favourite, ‘St. Nick’, scored with his rendition of “Black Will Always Strive,” while ‘Chalkdust’ amused with his song, “Gypsy Go Vex.” Alana Sinette delighted all with her song, “New Politics,” and M’Ba’s “All Inclusive” did not fail to excite the crowd. Devon Seales also struck a powerful chord with his song “My Humble Plea,” which had the audience singing along with the infectious hook of “Go! Nah! Plee-ase!”
Mr. Ashton Forde, General Secretary of the People’s National Movement (PNM) was in attendance. He declared his enjoyment of the show, saying, “Wonderful! Great! I haven’t been to the show for the last two years but I’ve been coming for many years. I’ve heard about it for this year, and so far, excellent and topical! I haven’t been in the other tents as yet but I can imagine, if this is what I can get at the Revue then the other tents would have to come real good to beat the Revue.” The song that stood out for him was “Leave The Children,” by ‘The Original Tempo’.
Mr. Fitzgerald Hinds was another animated supporter for the Revue. He chatted about his thoughts on the show, stating, “I think it’s a great experience. I’ve been to many calypso tents before but tonight I had a really fulfilling experience. The cast was well-balanced. All the acts were powerful and there is a political flavor which has a special attraction for me and we are thoroughly enjoying it!” He disclosed that Devon Seales’ contribution stood out in particular for him as a favourite. He added, “The entire cast is powerful. I love ‘Skatie’ as well. Skatie’s song was a very complex song; not very simple calypso … a difficult one to deliver. Because of his experience, he delivered it effortlessly and I enjoyed that. It was great calypso, great culture, powerful messages, typically carnival Trinidad and Tobago.” He reiterated on the distinctive style of the Kalypso Revue thusly: “This is one of the oldest, if not the oldest … very experienced, very traditional. The spirit of ‘Kitchener’ still lives here. They opened up the programme with his song this evening, “What about the Needle?” and it really brought back the spirit of ‘Kitchener’, the Grandmaster. So the Revue is going to be special for that and many more reasons. You have a mixture of party type tonight, you’ve got some entertainment, you’ve got some history, Chalkdust, you’ve got some very powerful nation-building songs and I like the one by Aloes as well about coming back. It’s a song about his own personal experience and the way a human being ought to react to any tragedy or trauma or failure. There is a good lesson for us here.”
ILP Party Leader, Mr. Jack Warner was also on hand, vocal in his enjoyment of the high octane show as he too shared that his favourite song of the evening was by Devon Seales with “My Humble Plea.” Mr. Warner’s support for the show was not merely evidenced in his presence as he is also one of the sponsors of the event through his newspaper, “The Sunshine.” He shared that while he used to be annoyed about some of the political compositions presented, he now supported them, saying, “I think that when I came at first I used to be angry that they’d sing anti-government songs, butnow I’m thrilled.” He also remarked his surprise at the strong presence of his Parliamentary colleagues from the People’s National Movement, saying, “I didn’t know there were going to be so many PNM people here this evening; I was very surprised.” However, Mr. Warner lauded the performances, demonstrating himself to be a good sport about some of the political jibes made about him from the stage.
Entertainers crooned and roared, danced and pranced, all with easy confidence under the lights. Sprangalang made a guest appearance later in the show and provided added amusement with his comedic quips. The mature content of the show was well-received and the various themes explored by the artistes sharp-defined and precisely delivered.
Artistes / Song
1. Starr / Dr. Kitch
2. Maze / Still de Best
3. Nicole Greaves / Where Changes Begin
4. Glashy Dan / Gunshots Firing
5. Michelle Henry / Armageddon
6. St. Nick / Perspective of Black
7. Teniel Cooper / Who Paying You
8. Original Tempo / Leave de Children
9. Wendell Goodridge / Symptoms of Madness
10. Ninja / Level de Playing Field
11. Marlon Edwards / Fire Bun fuh so
12. Makeda / Ah Never Thought
13. Devpm Seale / My Humble Plea
14. Skatie / The Band
15. Bevon St. Clair / Awful
16. Sugar Aloes / I Believe/ Bounce Back
17. Chalkdust / True Reparation/Gypso go Vex
18. Warrior Empress / Time To Arise
1. Ajamu / Take Youth Chances
2. Young Poser / Crime Down
3. M’BA / All Inclusive
4. Mighty Trini / Samdaye & Radica
5. Baron / Words
6. Alana Sinette / New Politics
7. Brian London / Put dem up
8. Pink Panther / Wait
9. Swallow / Satan Coming Down/Fire SWALLOW
Kalypso Revue Calypso Tent 2015 in pictures: