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Are composers lacking a sense of humour?
Trinidadians seem to have lost their sense of humour, at least the composers of humorous calypso. Judging the semi-final of the Humorous Calypso Monarch competition on Saturday night, at SWWTU Hall, Port-of-Spain, was a painful experience as most the contestants sang calypsoes that were not remotely funny.
Sitting with my fellow judges through the tedious four-hour exercise, I mused on some great humorous calypsoes of yesteryear. Some which came easily to mind were Bedbug/Tarzan/ Cat Brain/ Magistrate Try Himself (Spoiler); Last Election/Snake in the Bag (Cypher); Farmer Brown/Ah Soul Man/Screw koo cheek (Funny); No Drawers/Back to Basics (Trinidad Rio); Ah Easing (GB); Iron Man/ Female Stickfighter (Zandolee); Kakaroach (Kitchener); My Lorry/ Hold de Pussy (Blakie); Lying Excuses/Phillip My Dear (Sparrow); Streaking Freaking (Mighty Duke); Chicken Chest (Christo); Maria (Crazy); and, To Kill ah Cat (Black Prince).
What became obvious to me on Saturday night is that our calypsonians need to attend a school of calypso composing and learn what differentiates a social and commentary composition from a humorous ditty and from a political song.
Some of the calypsonians, also, seemed to misconstrue the difference between smut and humour, not realising that they are not one and the same.
Undoubtedly the night’s strongest singer was Kid Kalaloo (Julien Hunte) of Tuco’s East Zone’s Kaiso Karavan. His articulation and delivery of Change of Address was perfect so much so the sold-out audience applauded wildly when he completed the song, beckoning him to return to the stage for an encore. Emcee Godfrey Pierre had to remind patrons that encores are not entertained in a competition.
Coming like a breath of fresh air, Kalaloo was the 20th of 29 semi-finalists to appear. He meticulously related his woes of accommodating a woman in his home who systematically brought in her “family” causing him to end up in the mad house in St Ann’s. Kalaloo was also the winner of last year’s semi-final as well.
The night’s biggest disappointment was Brown Boy (Knolly Brown) from Kaiso House who forgot the lines of his second verse.
Singing the funny Homosexual Rights, although he eventually rendered his four stanzas, the judges’ penalty cost Brown Boy a place among the eight finalists to meet defending champion The Incredible Myron B in the final, scheduled for April 5, at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port-of-Spain. Brown Boy is now contemplating whether he should resign from competition as it is not the first time he has had a memory lapse in a competition.
Hailing from Cro Cro’s Icons tent, Fritzy (Fritz Taylor) also impressed the judges with his Wha’ Dey Take me For, securing the second highest score.
Kaiso House’s Lady Aeisha (Elizabeth George) also succeeded in generating much mirth among patrons when she sang Size 12 and Up, a ditty that supports the belief that the length of man’s foot reveals other measurements of his anatomy.
Ninja (Kenson Neptune), a veteran of Kalypso Revue, sang What to Write, a ditty that chronicles his 18 years of making it to the Young Kings finals yet never winning the title. Ninja itemised all the much younger singers who have won the title. Ninja is well popular on the parang soca circuit, his best known song being Parang the Wrong House.
In terms of presentation, Anton Roberts of The Masters tent, theatrically performed Diana, including having someone distribute power mints to patrons as he extolled on the benefits of sucking Diana (mints).
Recipes of the Past was the title of the song that placed Magnificent Glow’s Caston Cupid into the finals. He too presented his song with the use of props which demonstrated traditional, indigenous ptions to trap a man.
The only prop Dr Rhythm (Shawn Mc Intyre) needed for his presentation was a cute baby boy in arms. A crowd-pleaser through Carnival at Klassic Ruso tent, Rhythm gave intangible proof of his paternity via the provocative My Son.
The eighth qualifier for the final was Juiceman (Dick Lochan) of Central Rainbow Stars, singing Frighten to Get Old.
A few of the unplaced semi-finalists drew some response from the audience, some not necessarily for the criterion being judged. Among these were Tempo whose Holiday saw his doing much high kicks and shrieks; Pieman, as blue devil, singing The Judges Fork; Slicky whose chorus for Coughman was actually of him coughing; Wizard of ID who sang Ah Not Lending with a live cock under his arm; and, Mr Mack for his facial expressions in Half Dead PP.
Defending monarch Myron B was seen in the audience on semi-final night and he said is excited to face the challenge of the eight qualifiers.
Panorama 2014 captured on DVD
On the steelband front, this year’s scintillating steelbands’ performances at the National Panorama Medium and Large Conventional Finals are captured “live” on DVD.
Celebrating the Evolution of Pan - Panorama 2014, is a DVD produced by Pan Trinbago, in collaboration with Advance Dynamics Home Entertainment which has already demonstrated its capability to deliver a high end quality product.
The DVD promises to be a collector’s item with sights, sounds, interviews and music never before experienced on digital format. It also promises to fill the void for many Trinbagonians at home and abroad and those who want a souvenir of national culture and heritage preserved and displayed like never before.
Disc One features 11 large bands, including champion Petrotrin Phase II Pan Groove, Neal & Massy Trinidad All Stars, bpTT Renegades and Witco Desperadoes; while Disc Two comprises ten medium bands, including Pan Elders, Courts Sound Specialists of Laventille, Petrotrin Katzenjammers and NGC Couva Joylanders, as they appeared at the Grand Finals at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port-of-Spain.
Available in Surround 5.1 Sound, the DVD Video is a tribute to the skills of the musicians, tuners and arrangers.
The original Panorama DVD can be purchased at most of the major music stores, i.e. Cleve’s One Stop Music Shop, Frederick Street; Crosby’s Music Centre, Western Main Road, St James; Kam’s Record Store, Long Circular Mall; MM, Piarco International Airport; Sanch Electronics; and, at Pan Trinbago Head Office, Park Street, Port-of-Spain.