Kaiso No 19 - January 28, 1999

Greetings!  You may notice it is only a few days ago I sent a newsletter. Too true. But I have new information that I need to get out now to be timely!  Meanwhile I leave - hopefully - next Tuesday, February 2 and I won't look at e-mail as I go to New York and Trinidad for quite awhile. So unless I get a chance to get something else done this weekend, this is the last you'll hear from me until after Feb. 22.

Caribbean Voyage: The Roots of Popular Music In the Eastern Caribbean

The Alan Lomax Collection and Rounder Records are featuring next week a great sounding celebration of the latest releases in the Caribbean Voyage series at Hunter College in New York City on Wednesday, February 3rd. Just out are three volumes, Caribbean Voyage Sampler, Carriacou Callaloo, and East Indian Music in the West Indies. They are part of a projected 20 CD series of never released field recordings that Alan Lomax made in 1962 with the assistance of J D Elder and others, throughout the Caribbean. Future volumes feature recordings from Dominica, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Nevis and St Kitts, St Bart, and St Lucia. Future volumes on T&T include a Roots of Carnival collection and two volumes of Creole Traditions. Also of interest are earlier field recordings from the Bahamas in 1935 and Haiti in 1937 scheduled to come out as well as the live calypso concert that Lomax produced at Town Hall in New York City in 1946 with Invader, Duke of Iron and Macbeth the Great.

The celebration begins at 1:30 pm with a symposium featuring Ken Bilby, Bess Lomax Hawes, Don Hill, Peter Manuel, Lorna McDaniel, John Cowley and Winston Fleary, director of the Folklore Institute of Grenada. This is followed by a reception/press conference at 4:30 and a concert at 6:30pm. The concert will feature Sampath Boodram and an East Indian classical music ensemble, the Big Drum Nation Dance Company of Carriacou and a quadrille group. For more information, contact Matt Barton at 212-268-4623.

I am going through New York the next day on my way to Trinidad and if I can arrange to get there, a full report will follow!

Don't Stop the Carnival

Another CD anthology of classic calypso has just come out. I do not have full information but will try to locate this collection soon and provide details. Calypso: Don't Stop the Carnival with Lion, Houdini, King Radio, Tiger, Lord Invader Executor, Sir Lancelot, Lord Beginner, Sam Manning, Duke of Iron, Caresser, Atilla, and Macbeth the Great. Flapper 7825

Sir Lancelot

Now shameless self-promotion. While down for Carnival I am arranging to give a talk/presentation on early calypso singer, Sir Lancelot. While little known today, he is an important figure in the early spread of calypso popularity around the world. In addition, he had a remarkable career in Hollywood appearing in numerous feature films in the '40s and '50s, often singing calypso. Less a lecture than a celebration, I hope to review the amazing story of his career with audio clips of his music and video clips from his movies. The presentation is sponsered by the Fresh Water Yankees tent. Lancelot became in a sense one of the early Fresh Water Yankee expatriates. It is tentatively set for noon on February 11 at the Soca Boat in Port of Spain. You are all invited!

Lancelot was the first calypso singer I ever interviewed in depth. Over a decade ago, I helped arrange for a reissue album of some of his early recordings to come out in England. That album has been reissued on CD and is titled Trinidad is Changing, Flyright CD 942 and available from Amazon.com among others.

Sir Lancelot - Trinidad is Changing

Trinidad is changing they say
Since the Yankees have come here to stay
With their swinging fascinating talk
Just like you would think
You were on the sidewalks of old New York.

Nowadays you taking a chance
Every time you go to a dance
You ask a girl to do a little waltzing
She will tell you buddy get hip, you got to swing

One day walking down Frederick Street
I saw a girlie and was she neat
I told her, doo doo darling, you're some queen
But she answered Jax, knew one not the beam

Trinidad as everyone knows is the home of the calypso
But since the Yanks have come here to play
Every native want to swing here every day

Just the same friend, please get me right
Uncle Sam's are a delight
Through their swinging fascinating talk
Have Trinidad a tropical New York.

Lancelot sang about the war, domestic abuse, J Edgar Hoover, progressive politics, atomic energy, and did numerous singing commercials before creating his own set of gospel calypsos in later years. He was based in Europe and Hong Kong for several years.


A couple errors crept into Kaiso 18. Chang Kai Chek was "one of" the earliest Chinese calypsonians not the earliest. George Maharaj was quick to remind me that Patrick Jones was certainly earlier and there may have been others!

I said that Karime Ashe's Since You've Been Gone had not been recorded. John Child pointed out that a live version had!  She was a guest for Notting Hill Carnival and a live version was issued on an anthology called something like Notting Hill We Coming, a live album put out by the British Association of Calypsonians also featuring a guest appearance by Melanie Hudson. Again I will try to get further details on availability.

I am told that Fairbanks is in for a once in a decade cold spell the next several days. Today's -40 temperature is at the edge of what we can handle and we are told to expect -55 or -60! I am concerned that it gets warm enough for my flight next week out of here!

I arrive late afternoon Friday Feb 5 in Trinidad and leave mid-day Friday Feb 19. I will stay from 2/5 to 2/11 at Dr Robert Lee, 624-1326, and from 2/11 on at Kim Johnson's in Tunapuna (no phone). Messages may perhaps be left with Kim Johnson at the Express, 623 1711 ext 3960.

Ray Funk

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