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Tobago kaiso posse scores at Mas Camp

Tobago Calypsonians

By Terry Joseph
October 10, 2003

Culture and Tourism Minister Pennelope Beckles and Community Development and Gender Affairs counterpart Joan Yuille-Williams were among calypso-lovers at the Mas Camp Pub on Wednesday to welcome singers from the Tobago zone of the Trinbago Unified Calypsonians Organisation (TUCO).

As the first of three concerts scheduled for that venue during Calypso History Month, the Tobago contingent set a warm tone and enjoyed a commensurate reception for its presentation.

Among their Trini calypso counterparts on hand to witness the work were Black Stalin, Cro Cro, Lord Almanac, Contender, Hamidulah, Brother Resistance, Karega Mandela, Brother Valentino, Trinidad Rio and Delamo.

There was no Shadow, Eric Powder, Tobago Crusoe, Nelson, Rose, Johnny King nor Axeback in the representative line-up, but there was perennial island king Tobago Rio who, among his offerings, scored big with "Name Calling", a song about a fictional lady dying of HIV/Aids who gave him a list of her partners, the hypersexed victim getting her comeuppance after a long campaign. He backed up with "Hello, Steelband".

The song earned Tobago Rio two genuine encores and was worth even more but, like his fellow singers, he respected the production demand for a tight show, with back up music from Cummings and the Wailers and which was professionally hosted by Bindley-B who, among his deliverables, was best appreciated for "Sound of the Trumpet".

Five-time Tobago calypso queen, Leslie Ann Ellis also touched a sympathetic nerve with her treatise on women being "Taken for Granted", Steve Holder gave us "Supervise the Children for Carnival", Walter Coppin appealed to his brethren in "Up Ye Mighty Race", Ainsley King told how he liked his lovers in a coffee-cup analogy "Black and Hot", Candace turned in "The Water Coming" and Opoku Ware delivered "Soca in the Stratosphere", before King brought the evening to a close with his brother's song "Appreciation", which turned into a pub-wide sing-along.

Calypso History Month, which opened with an interfaith service on October 1, is designed to mark the formal establishment of TUCO's educational thrust.

Chaired by general secretary Brother Resistance, Calypso History Month is also geared to reposition the image of the art-form. In launching the observance last week, Resistance lamented the fact that, while calypso has played a significant part in the socio-cultural development of Trinidad and Tobago as a nation, it remained an art highlighted more through its problems than performances.

"In spite of the fact that calypso has had a positive impact on national development, it is sad to see the continued neglect of the art as an official part of the school curriculum. Calypso as an art covers so many issues which affect humanity, yet it is not featured in events of national debate and discussion, except where there is controversy, its appreciation restricted to Carnival and considered seasonal, music for fun and party and jump up," he said.

"The mounting of Calypso Month is therefore an attempt to correct some of the impressions people have about the art. Our education thrust envisions links with a number of crucial agencies in order to spread the message of the history and continuing value of calypso," Resistance said.

After Wednesday night, no one can question the role of Tobago's calypsonians in seeking to correct that imbalance and next week at the same venue, the East Zone will present its arguments. This evening and every remaining

Friday, the Kaisoca Touring Team presents its members at Kavemar Pub in Henry St, Port of Spain.

The month-long observance comprises photo and information exhibitions at all libraries and the national museum, a television quiz for children of school age, collaborations with media to sensitise the nation about historical and biographical data, establishment of a reference library, seminars, workshops, lectures and performances.

Tomorrow, the activity moves its focus to Arima for the opening of a seminar that will tour the country.

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