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A thoroughly enjoyable barrack yard experience

Monday, May 12, 2014
Calypsonian Kurt Allen is joined by Theresa Hope, who played the character Rosie, during Allen’s concert The Badjohn In Town at the Mas Camp Pub, Woodbrook, on Wednesday night. PHOTO: SEAN NERO

From the moment one entered De Nu Pub in Woodbrook, last Wednesday night, there was this feeling that something special was in store.


Gone was the stage where artistes have been showcasing their talents for decades. In its place was a barrack yard. 


For those too young to have experienced living in one of these places, it was a revelation. For those of us who did, there was a feeling of déjà vu. 


The small, unpainted wooden shack surrounded with rusting galvanise fencing, the standpipe in the yard, the coalpot and cooking utensils scattered about, the old tyre and dull-looking cutlass resting against the building, and the gaudily-dressed “jamettes and saga boys” neighbours, all contributed to an authentic replication for the Last Badjohn of Calypso (Kurt Allen) to present The Barrack Yard Experience before a large crowd of calypso enthusiasts.


The event was an opportunity to relive where calypso was presented in the early days, and enjoy compositions from the large volume of work produced by Allen, who is the only calypsonian to have won the National Calypso Monarch (2010), International Soca Monarch (1999), and Young Kings Calypso Monarch (1993) titles.


Fittingly, he opened with The Last Badjohn of Calypso, which he sang in the final of the 2008 Calypso Monarch Competition, when he placed eighth. 


He revealed that after that contest he was given the sobriquet by fellow calypsonian Twiggy (Annmarie Parks-Kojo). Sit Down for the Anthem, sung in the Calypso Revue tent in 1997, was next, and was followed by Is Only Sports.


He then addressed the timely topic of crime, asking When Will It End? He lamented that “Every day is a murder, somebody dead!” 


The song spoke of our failings as citizens, and noted that “Trinbago was like ah starch sweet.” 


He was brilliant and articulate, and delivered the 2012 message with passion and pain in his voice. 


Surprise guest artiste Allan Welch may have won many new admirers when he sang his 2014 composition Soil Technician, arguably one of the better calypsos of the year, which tells of the financial success he achieved as a gravedigger because of the amount of killings taking place in the country. 


Allen disclosed that it was Welch who mentored him when he entered the Soca arena with the Roy Cape Orchestra in 1990.


When the Badjohn offered his composition Heroes, sung by Denyse Plummer to win the Calypso Monarch title in 2001, he admitted it was the first time he had sung the song, and said he still had the greatest respect and admiration for Plummer, no doubt in reference to the controversy that developed between them at the time over ownership of the material.


Reigning Humorous Calypso Monarch The Incredible Myron B (Myron Bruce) was outstanding in delivering his winning selections One More Sip and Take Carla Back. 


This encouraged Allen to showcase what he said was the first calypso he ever composed while a student at the Curepe Junior Secondary School in 1982. 


It was titled Miss Mary Pet, and since the pet was a fox, the humorous composition’s double entendre earned the forceful disfavour of his teacher.


Sweet Sizzling Summer, Too Bright, Political Sin Phony, Black Stalin Say, Stampede and Sexy Body, were also among his choices, as well as other lighter, Soca-brand selections. 


Black Stalin (Leroy Calliste) made a brief appearance, and thoroughly entertained listeners with Black Man Feeling To Party and We Can Make It If We Try.


Musical director, tenor pan player Adrian Jaikaran, and guitarist Marva Newton, along with a drummer, saxophone and trumpet players, lent their musical artistry to the recorded music tracks used in the very creative presentation produced by Wendell Etienne. 

The Barrack Yard Experience goes to the Little Carib Theatre on White Street, Woodbrook on May 17 and May 18, from 8.30 pm.


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