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!
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 ChangingLancelot 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.
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.
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.
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