The late Railway Douglas, Jazzy Pantin, Syl Taylor and Sonny Woodley must be turning in their graves as calypso tents continue to be an endangered specie in the hurly burly activity of carnival. Having attended the opening night of a few calypso tents these past few days, it is painfully obvious that the calypso tent, at least in its traditional form, is dying and becoming extinct.
I remember days when there were long lines outside calypso tents with anxious paying patrons queuing to gain entrance. Opening night was a grand affair, with patrons dressing to the hilt to come and hear the new songs of the season, and Ladies Night attracted capacity-filled venues.
Last Saturday, 30 minutes after the scheduled start of the programme at Kalypso Revue, the SWWTU Hall venue was not even half-filled. Observing the arrivals, not a solitary attendee was beneath the age of 40. This doesn’t augur well for the future of the calypso art form as young people simply don’t seem interested in attending a calypso tent.
Like Klassic Ruso and Back 2 Basics tents, Kalypso Revue has a well balanced programme, although the first quarter of the programme needs strengthening. The night’s first encore was received by the fifth performer, Bevon St Clair, singing a gut-wrenching social commentary, titled Human, a statement on the plight of the socially displaced.
A perennial powerhouse at the Revue, Marlon Edwards was one of the night’s strongest performers, with a good song and performance of Silver Lining, and getting a well deserved encore.
Police Band musician Michelle Henry began the show’s second hour singing The Guest List, her take on requirements for guests invited to President House. She told me after, that President Paula-Mae Weekes likes her song.
In terms of original material, Singing Sonia was spot on with Welcome to Chinatown. Encored for this humorous ditty, she questioned the contribution by Chinese to Charlotte Street and East Dry River, suggesting that the community and street had more deserving dwellers, like the late Dr Rat (Winston Bruce).
Lady Watchman (Alana Sinnette) was her usual serious, militant, “in-yo-face,” dynamic self with her thought-provoking Snitches Get Stitches.
Former National Calypso Monarch Devon Seales was encored for Klepto, a song that is guaranteed to ignite the crowd at Guaracara Park at the February 15 National Calypso Monarch semi-final.
Another former national monarch, Sugar Aloes, as well as veterans de Mighty Trini, Skatie and Baron sang retro songs, with Aloes being encored for his pro-PNM Man of the Moment. Baron brought a closure to the show’s first half singing Dance Floor, one of his golden oldies.
Pink Panther, he too a past national monarch, was the only performer to get a double encore, getting it for his rib-tickling Quick, Quick, Quick.
Makeda Darius, comparing the late Sat Maraj to Martin Luther King, was stoutly encored for Not Martin.
The wizened Chalkdust sang one of the better compositions on the programme (Murder Frenzy) and was justly encored.
The Revue show came to a climax around midnight with de Mighty Trini singing Sailing, and Revue Orchestra band member Snaggs doing a cover of Mighty Swallow’s Fire.
Kalypso Revue has quite an entertaining programme, guided by emcee Marcus Baptiste. However, at times the band’s sound overwhelmed some of the artistes with a few of them signalling, behind their backs, to the percussion to either slow or increase the tempo.
Based on the material offered on opening night, the Revue could have a few of its artistes selected to the National Calypso Monarch semi-final after the judges make their visit there on Friday, February 7.