Kaiso No 18 - January 23, 1999

Those warm Caribbean breezes seemed to have been blocked mid-week when the temperature dropped to below minus 40 on Wednesday evening but it up to a balmy 20 above today.  I'm not worried because I'm headed to Trinidad in less than two weeks, so I can take it.  Plus, the first batch of '99 Carnival CDs has arrived and so the music is pumping up the temperature here.  I note that tribute to classic kaiso is being paid.  David Rudder's new CD, International Chantuelle, has a great recording of Brigo's Limbo Break.  Meanwhile, Atlantik does a soca reworking of Lion's Jouvert Barrio on its CD, Making Waves.

Canboulay Productions

Every year, one of the most enjoyable events is the plays presented by Rawle Gibbons and Canboulay Productions.  This year for Carnival 1999, it is Juba Doobai: A Dame Lorraine Bacchanal, which features political calypsos of the 1930's to present and will be at the Queen's Hall on Jan 22-23, 29-30 and Feb.  5-6, 10, 11, 12, 13

Junior Calypso

Another event that I think is a must for the calypso fan during Carnival is the Junior Calypso Competition at the Savannah on Monday, February 8.  I have been lucky enough to attend every year for the last four years and believe it is a must.  Indeed, last year's winner Karime Ashe was stunning.  I saw her do Since You've Been Going not just at the competition but on guest appearances at Kaiso House and Spectacular and believe it was one of the great calypsos of recent years.   I remain amazed that it hasn't been recorded!  Relator, Machel Montano, Natasha Wilson, Roger George, and Kerwin Du Bois were all junior calypso monarchs and Melanie Hudson was a runner up.  The grandstand should be packed - but it never is.

Lady Trinidad

Lady Trinidad (Thelma Lane), the first female calypsonian to be recorded, died in the last couple days in Trinidad and was buried on Friday.  She recorded two songs for the Bluebird label in 1937, Advice to Every Young Man and Old Man's Darling.

I had no idea she was still alive or I'd have looked into trying to meet her!  There are several early calypsonians who I am researching and need information on their whereabouts and history such as Wrangler, Wonder, Beaver, Jaguar, Intruder, and Dynamite among many others.

Chang Kai Chek

Another calypsonian I have only spotty information on is perhaps the first successful Chinese calypsonian, Chang Kai Chek.  He was born in Sparia on March 23, 1934, he started in the calypso field in 1954 and was christened Chang Kai Chek by Atilla the Hun.  His first tune was a hit, The Obeah Man.  His 1956 selection Naughty Boy was released on a Cook album.  He sang in Port of Spain at until 1962 when he returned to compete in the South.  He was at OYB from 1959 to 62.  In 1960 he featured Four Foolish People and Calypso Animals.  In 1961, he sang Mrs Palmer.  He appeared in a Grand Ole Mas at the Macqueripe Club in 1962.  He was among the 12 finalists in the 1962 Independence competition.  In 1965 he featured My Wife, A Tribute to the Nation and Hygenie Teacher.  He is not known to have performed after the '60s.

Four Foolish People

Some funny things does happen in Trinidad
Enough to drive anybody mad.
Some funny things does happen in Trinidad
Enough to drive anybody mad.
An Indian tess give a party
And invite his friends and family
But the guest and them don't fail
To tell him he should ah serve them cocktail.

But the mister say don't make a row
Ah going for it, ah coming just now
He start serving cocktails like he mad
But it was feathers from he fowl cocktail in the yard.
This one happen just the other day
Down way he living in Claxton Bay
It have a woman they call Ma Joe
She husban' give she a radio
Believe me I ain't making fun
She play the thing til the battery done
When the radio cease to play
Hear what the woman jump up and say

The man in the radio must be hungry,
So ah better prepare some food for he
Believe me ah talking the truth
She hand the radio ah big plate of roast breadfruit

Now ah want everybody to understand
This one with a Bajan man
Looking for work without any fear
Down in the oilfields at Point-a-Pierre,
He got a job, yes, friend right away
But have to see the doctor the following day,
After the doctor finish his job,
Boy you go home sugar in your blood.

Well, believe me, I must tell you this,
He didn't know the Doc mean diabetes,
He say well doctor ah think you right
Believe my wife tell me about the sugar last night

This one take place in Port-of-Spain
You know ah laugh, ah near go insane
Please believe Mighty Chang Kai Chek
Ah blind man laugh til he lose his speck
A Chinee man walk in a bakery,
Saying he want a job immediately
They ask him what's his occupation
He told them "I'm an electrician."

"What you could do in a bakery?"
That was the question they put to he
Believe me I ain't making fun
He want a job to put current in the bun.

Is he still alive?  How can I reach him or his family?

London Calling

On February 23, at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies at the University of London presents a lecture by John Cowley and Richard Noblett, The Second World War in the Caribbean in Calypso and John Cowley returns on May 26 for a presentation, Carnival, Calypso and Commentary: Historical Case Studies.

Ray Funk

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