Kaiso No 4

Best wishes as always from the Far North.  I am trying every time I mail this out to add new readers and to still get it out on about a weekly basis.  Regrettably that will change with the next issue which will be delayed as I am off for a couple days out of town.  So, the next issue is two weeks off probably.

Kim Johnson from the Express has offered to have the newsletter run as a column in the Sunday Express and this is under consideration.  So I will be creating a bit spruced up version starting next time, a bit more editing should mean less typos, better grammar.   I'll shift the focus a bit for a newspaper readership and plan to add a portion that is just for Internet readers.  So the good news is if this really happens this will get an expanded readership and hopefully help to develop more information on calypso.

Carnival Conference:

An important conference on Carnival around the world organized by Milla Riggio with special focus on Trinidad is scheduled for September 9-13 in Hartford, Conn.  I am trying desperately to arrange to attend.  It will follow Brooklyn Carnival and with a bit of deference from my spouse, I hope to go.  It will feature Chalkdust, Peter Minshall, Gordon Roehler, John Cowley and others, has many, many fascinating sessions, and a dramatic version of Lovelace's The Dragon Can't Dance.

Details are at the following website:

www.trincoll.edu/~carnival/   or e-mail at carnival@mail.trincoll.edu


This week's who's who entry and lyric are focused on Cristo, one of the most important calypsonians of the Fifties and Sixties.

Alvin Daniel has put together the program for the Tribute to Cristo.  The first show will be on August 5, at the Mas Camp Pub.  A repeat show is scheduled for August 12.  The artists are Mystic Prowler, David Bereaux, Luta, Regeneration Now, Black Sage, with a special appearance by Valentino.  A total of 26 songs will be featured including hits such as Mock Democracy, Don't Hang Yuh Hat, Miss Universe, Frozen Chicken etc.  He plans to do a video and a double CD of the live performance as was done with the Spoiler Tribute a few years ago.

Here is my current draft who's who entry for him:

Cristo (Christopher Laidlow)

Nicknamed 'Hard Luck', he was born about 1923 in Independence Square, Port of Spain.  He was educated at Picadilly Street E C School.  He was a trained as a cabinet maker.  He had had a passion for music from an early point singing in church choirs.  In the Forties he was a romantic lead singer for John 'Buddy' Williams Band.   He later joined the McLean Brothers and went with them in December 1952 to the United States.   When he joined the March of Dimes quartet and started as a calypsonian in Atilla's Victory tent.  First appeared in the tents in 1952, same year he sang with the McLean Brothers and toured in Pasadena.  Recorded extensively for Cook and at least one single for Sa Gomes.  Featured songs composed by Nelson Caton.  He sang Humorous Englishmen out of the Young Brigade in 1955.  Was MC for OYB since 1956 and in 1956 featured Elephant Traffic Jam (Circus Elephant) and The Girls Who Go to the Barber.

Left for Chicago after the 1957 calypso season and was featured at the Blue Angel night club and spent three years in Chicago singing in nightclubs and appearing on TV shows.  Recorded a Mercury album in Chicago when performing at the Blue Angel.  He sang Chicken Chest and Miss Universe in 1957.  He made a special record for the King of Sweden to celebrate Miss Sweden who won the Miss Universe.  Advertised for the 1959 OYB tent but not seen.  Returned to Trinidad in 1960 and was popular with Jonathan.  Sang Election and Whip Them PNM, Whip Them in the 1961 monarchy finals.  In the 1962 Young Brigade tent and in the 1962 finals with The Dumb Boy and the Parrot.  Made the 1964 semifinals.  Made '65 semifinals with No Nationality but also was featuring that year Calypso Beatle Man, Walking Race,Sweet Trinidad, Molly and Me, Adopting Children and Tribute to Churchill.  Appeared in the 1966 OYB tent and came in second in the monarchy behind Terror.  Appeared in the 1969 OYB tent.  Was in the 1970 OYB but he had missed the start of the season being in Germany.  In 1977, Duke makes a plea to help him, sick in hospital.  He died in 1984.

Alvin also plans a booklet of Cristo lyrics.  He sent a draft set he was transcribing for the shows and I spent some time and added ones I had and reviewed his drafts.  But after that was finished I recently got the 1956 Virgin Islands Carnival booklet that had the following one that neither of us had ever heard about.  The music isn't known nor does it appear it was ever recorded.

Lord Cristo - Bumble Bee

A lad, from St Thomas name Bumble Bee
Living in the heart of New York City
A lad, from St Thomas name Bumble Bee
Living in the heart of New York City
Bee is as round as a butter bit
And when she walk American men does fall
The whole of New York City
Compell to admire Miss Bumble Bee

On the side walk, bump, bumpty, bump from side to side
Bumpty, bumpty, pump If you see Miss Bumble glide
Woman and man running out they house to see
The girl from St Thomas that they calling Bumble Bee.

I hear she master the Times Square Area
You could be old and feeble like Methusalah
She blocked the traffic one Old Year's Night
Was collision on the sidewalk black is white
A fella was escorting his fiance Pearl
I know he loved that girl with his heart and soul
But he collided with a next lady
Because he stood up to look back at Miss Bumble Bee

Bumpty,bumpty, bump, from side to side
Bumpty, bump if you see Miss Bumble Bee
Marilyn Monroe, and even Grace Kelly
Stood up in amazement to tools at Bumble Bee

That night she went to a movie show
By name the picture was "Tokyo"
Sitting in front of a gentleman
She had the fellow in a confusion
The poor man had to strain his neck
For Bee had the poor gentleman in check
She is very short; but don't get her wrong
She is plenty, plenty taller when sitting down

When she passing, bump, bump, bump from chair to chair
Bumpty-ki, bumpty, bump, without a care
Passing between am sure you bound to fall
Is face to face you meeting with the butter ball.

She was summoned next day to the district court
I never saw nothing of the sort
The Magistrate got in a terrible rage
And charged her for blocking the free passage
She said your Honour, what is this at all?
Can I help it if am round as a butter ball
So he watch down from her head to waist
And right away he had to dismiss the case.

She walked off, wuckertic, bumptiki bump, from side to side
Worse than ever, cause she had nothing to hide
The magistrate tooled off his specs, is then he see
The beef from St Thomas they calling Bumble Bee.


Almost no responses to last week's questions regrettably, and Guyana remains a black hole for calypso information for me.

Ray Funk

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