Tonight is the bongo night in the Queen's Park Savannah, Port-of-Spain, as 11 calypsonians try to wrest the National Calypso Monarch title from Duane O'Connor. Showtime is 7 pm and the programme is embellished with guest appearances by stalwart bards Black Stalin and Shadow, and just crowned Junior Calypso Monarch Marq Pierre. Shadow, the 1974 Road March champion, 2000 National Monarch, and 2001 Soca Monarch, will be specially honoured.
One of the unique features of tonight's competition, held for the first time on a Carnival Thursday, is its line up has seven females as opposed to five males, a first time occurrence if memory serves me right.
Many have said that there is a paucity of "good calypsoes" for this year's Carnival. This point holds no water when one considers the good quality of compositions to be performed by tonight's dozen contestants, as well as when one analyses the more than 100 social and political commentaries produced by calypsonians. Of the lot many are saying that Kurt Allen's Political Sin Phony is the most original of the lot.
It came as no surprise when this song captured the Best Political Commentary title on Monday night at the Savannah. With biting lyrics laid atop a symphonic layer of music, augmented by a definite calypso rhythm, this song is a gem of a composition by the 1999 Soca March and 2010 National Calypso Monarch.
One of the best new finds in calypso this year is Alana Sinnette, a young lady with much stage presence and potential.
Having mesmerised audiences this year at Kalypso Revue each time she sang No Morale Authority, Sinnette had a packed Skinner Park eating out of her hands last Saturday when she performed this song at the monarch semi-finals. Once with another good composition, Sinnette is a clear and present danger to O'Connor.
Sinnette's Revue tent mates in the final are eight-time monarch Chalkdust and Pink Panther, two finalists with very strong songs. Chalkdust's witty and well crafted Virginia's Alzheimers can well earn him a ninth title, while Pink Panther is not to be written off with the equally well thought out Travel Woes.
Roderick Gordon (Chucky), the 50th anniversary of Independence monarch, is an artiste who is blessed with perfect diction and pitch and will be offering Bear With Me, the ditty which won him the Best Social Commentary title three nights ago.
No stranger to the formidable Savannah stage is 2011 monarch Karene Asche and one of her two songs will be In the Age of Blog. Though never a national monarch but as experienced as Aschje is at this venue is Heather McIntosh. A regular finalist and former National Calypso Queen, she will be singing The Old Man's Lament.
Other women in tonight's final are former calypso queen Kizzy Ruiz (In the Age of Blood); Eunice Peters (None of the Above); Marvellous Marva (Come Back to What?); and, Victoria Cooper (D' Betrayal), the daughter of late calypsonian Poody.
O'Connor is confident that he will retain the title and take the million-dollar first prize. His two songs tonight are titled Building a Wall and Seeking Sparrow's Advice.