Vintage calypso, a potent form of social commentary that contrasts quite glaringly with present-day soca songs, reminds us of a time when we created songs and melodies that informed and validated our Trinbagonian identities. At Queen's Hall in St Ann's last Friday night, a large crowd was on hand to make the annual nostalgic trip down calypso memory lane at the 9th staging of Vintage Fuh So, presented by the Holy Name Convent Past Pupils Association.
Featured on the playbill were four of the finest exponents in the art of storytelling that utilises rhythm and rhyme to captivate audiences–Mighty Trini (Robert Elias), Denyse Plummer, Lord Nelson (Robert Nelson), and David Rudder.
With brilliant musical backing from the aggregation Vince Rivers and the Soca Unit, Trini opened the programme by emphasising in song that he was a Born Trini. He followed with the discerning Who Is Who, then launched into a medley of joyous and melodious songs from the pens of Dougla, Sparrow, Melody and Kitchener that included Lazy Man Paul, Benwood Dick, Miss Tourist, The Road, Last Train, Mama Look A Booboo, and The Bull.
He closed with his perennial favourites, Sailing and Curry Tabanca.
Plummer, in her turn, took matters to a higher level with a dynamic performance. In a voice that was bell-clear and tonal, she worked the audience into a frenzy with songs from her repertoire that showcased Woman Is Boss, Tabanca, and Nah Leaving.
She, too, opted for a medley of vintage works from other entertainers. In her case, venturing into the audience to engage members in a sing-along to Doh Back Back, Suck Mih Soucouyant, and an awesome interpretation of the Kanchan and Babla's top hit Kuch Gadbad Hai.
The merry mood continued during intermission, as the six-member group Just Friends had patrons in the Hall's foyer dancing and singing along to more vintage calypsoes from the songbooks of Blakie, Kitchener, Sparrow, and others.
Nelson opened after the interval. Now 81 years old and using a cane for walking assistance, the bard still showed some vestiges of his younger days. Disco Daddy, which he said should now be referred to as Disco Grand Daddy; Bald Headed Rasta; King Liar; We Like It; and Mih Lover were his choices. In rendering the latter he dispensed with the cane and took off his jacket to show an 81-year-old version of the famous "Nelson wine."
Rudder closed the playbill with another masterful performance. Like vintage wines, he seems to get better with age, at least from an audience perspective. Acknowledging that their "chairs were their enemies," patrons took to their feet to dance and accompany him with his renderings of Bahia Girl, Trini To The Bone, The Hammer, Dus In Dey Face, Madness and the seminal High Mas. Show host was the irrepressible comedienne Nikki Crosby in the role of Granny.