Kaiso No 32 January 8, 2000

With Carnival Season 2000 upon us ushering in an extended celebration of the new Millennium, calypso tents are gearing up. Starting next week in San Fernando is the ninth season of Kaiso Showkase.

Kaiso Showkase 2K will open on Wednesday, January 12 at 8.00 p.m. The tent will be housed at Palms Club situated on Pointe a Pierre Road in San Fernando. The tent will operate at the same venue each week from Wednesday to Saturdays until March 4, 2000. The admission per ticket is $20 advance and $25 at the door on the night. Tickets can be obtained at the following venues in San Fernando: TUCO South Central Zone Office (653-5732) on Harris Promenade RIK Services on High Street and Crosby's on Pointe a Pierre Road. The tent is hoping to take the show on the road to many smaller communities in the South of Trinidad but the details have not been completed.

Palms Club is on the same road where calypso used to be staged in the sixties and seventies. Here it was that Black Stalin came into his own, first as an accomplished Master of ceremonies, then as a calypsonian of stature. The venue was called the Thunderbird Terrace and was adjacent to a well known watering known as The Rock.

The tent features both seasoned performers like Shortpants, Squibby, and Companero as well as younger artists. Two of them made it to the national semi- finals in 1999, Ras Kommanda and Lecturer. Ras Kommanda went on to the monarchy finals for the first time. But more is expected of our cast of twenty-five this year. There are four females in the line up, one of whom is still attending secondary school, while Abbi Blackman is back with the tent again. The Ibo Family will provide backup singing while the Showkase International Band will provide musical accompaniment. The cast is full of distinct personalities.

Abbi Blackman is the oldest daughter of the Ras Shorty I's family of many talented children. She has been singing calypso, R&B and pop for many years and participated in the Caribbean Song festival on numerous occasions. She started professionally singing calypso in 1979 and won the Calypso Queen contest that year. In the 1991 Independence competition, she sang her father's composition The Youths of Today and This Land is Mine. In 1992, she was in the calypso monarchy competition and featured This Land is Mine. She was third in the 1994 queen competition with Doh Mess With Me and Stop Degrading Me. She is managed by Kalid Thornhill, her husband.

Mighty Companero (Reginald Best) is a long time calypso warrior. He is from Claxton Bay, debuted in 1968 at Wanderer's Roving Brigade with "Saltfish Price" which he recorded as a single for Telco. He recorded three more singles on Telco, Mr Nohorm/Pork, Games/Pitch Lake, and Go Back to School/Why The Poor Man Complain. He made the semifinals out of the Calypso Revue in 1969, switched to the Original Young Brigade the next year, and sang Curfew in 1971. He has been in and out of the tents ever since. He participated in the December 1994 Night of Vintage Kaiso with Tie Yuh Pork With a Twine Footsie.

Shortpants (Lewellyn MacIntosh) is a teacher by profession and currently Principal of Trinity College in Port of Spain. His sobriquet defines the kind of clothes he wears on stage. His calypsos are sunny, inventive and focus on topical issues of every kind. His daughter is seriously involved in the school calypso competitions as a performer for many years as were his sons while in school. He started singing calypso in 1975 at the CDC Calypso Theatre tent. He appeared in the 1978 Calypso Revue tent. In 1984 Master's Den. In 1985 made the semis with The Hall Pretty/The Saga of Accru. He sang Leh We Show/Tribute at the 1987 Independence competition. He was in the 1989 semi-finals with Change the Name. He made the 1979 and 1993 monarchy finals. In 1985, he published an anthology of lyrics for his first ten years as a calypsonian, Things Going Thru Mih Mind. In 1992 he toured England, Germany and Scotland with the Skiffle Bunch Steel Orchestra. In September of 1994, he won first place in the Buy Caribbean, Buy Quality Calypso Competition and first place in the Talkalypso Competition. He often participates in extempo competitions and has appeared in the finals on several occasions.

Trevy (Trevor Warner) is well known as the Santa Claus of calypso, simply because he has, for a number of years, been playing this part during Christmas time, appearing at shows, on TV and singing soca parang songs with a local Christams flavour across the country. Trevy is trying to give up smoking, loves chocolates, and is a stickler for doing the right thing. He was a finalist in the 1999 edition of the national Soca Parang competition. Trevy is also the chairman of TUCO South Central Zone. He is slow to take decisions, but believes in the policy that the more people can share in the decision making, the better for the growth of such people.

Ras Kommanda (Steve Pascall), the young star of the tent was in 1995 calypso semifinals and in Young Kings with Love Up TT/Me eh See Last year was his most successful ever making it to the monarchy finals.

Natural (Cecil McDavid) is the clown in Kaiso Showkase tent, but has a philosophical approach to life and all he does. He is a traditionalist and believes in the music he creates. Natural is an old pan beater and masquerader who is well known in the San Fernando community. He has served as Master of Ceremonies in Kaiso Showkase tent on a number of occasions. Natural also serves as the Welfare Officer for the tent along with Lecturer. They sort out domestic and personal problems affecting the cast, both in and outside of Carnival season. They aim to look after the well being of the singers attached to the organization in the South Central part of Trinidad.

Kaiso Nobby (Carl Barrington), short and dark, creates calypsos with verve and bounce and moves the audience to laughter and dancing. A retiree of the national oil company known as Petrotrin, Kaiso Nobby was a four time winner of the annual Petrotrin sponsored calypso competition for its employees.

Kinte (Carey Stephens) styles himself after Superblue and loves to sign about women and his meetings with them. He is a Mandingo man and keeps strong ties with his African roots. He always performs in traditional African dress on stage.

Tall and gangly, C B (Lester Holder) is a performer who takes nation building seriously and singing as a medium for creating effective social change in the society. A good performer on any night, he loves a good rum, has a sense of humor and can be a keen contender in competitions. He was crowned winner of the Steel Workers Union calypso competition about two years ago.

Rando (Carlos Andrews) comes from Point Fortin, home to Duke, Superblue, Preacher and Iwer George. He loves to prance and wine. In his own inimitable way on stage and he does the night's closing uptempo rave to send the crowd on its way. He works as a gas station attendant.

Dyno (Hubert Huggins) has been in and out of Kaiso Showkase over the years. Good voice and stage presence, he is a love child of the National Joint Action Committee, who annually have been sponsoring the Young Kings competition. Dyno has sung with some of the tents in Port of Spain. He is an exciting talent to watch.

Singing Angie (Angela Stoute-Mitchell) is a faithful Showkase member who is a trained nurse by profession and works at San Fernando General Hospital, looks after a husband and a clutch of children, but sings her ditties with a big heart on stage. She entered the TUCO South Central Zone Queen competition on two occassions.

Breed (Felix Joseph), what manner of dreadlocked man is this who came to Showkase two seasons ago! He is an unconventional singer with a stance like Spoiler's, deadpan lyrics, but he stirs the hearts and minds of any audience with provocative, incisive social aware lyrics. His 1998 selection Bad Boy was the anthem of local youth. Breed's daughter, Spice, is also singing with Showkase..

Squibby (Stanley Cummings), a pencil thin man, an ex- Trinidad and Tobago Regiment soldier-hence the name Squibby- he made the famous "Ironman" and was always remembered for the percussive element of the tempo, not to mention the idiosyncratic, on stage movements that are incomparable in Showkase's line up. Squibby is likeable and comes from the sugar village of Ste Madeline. He appeared in the Revue for several years in the mid Seventies on into the early Eighties. In 1983, he sang Mr Panman. He participated in the December 1994 Night of Vintage Kaiso with Streaking/Iron Man, his best known songs. He was a good friend of Maestro.

Prospector (Carl Robinson), made his calypso debut at the Southern Brigade in 1969 placing second to Tangler in the first bid for the San Fernando crown. He was in 1972 Kitch's Revue but switched in 1973 to the Veteran's tent and in 1975 was in the Calypso Theatre. He spent eight years in Sparrow's Young Brigade as a singer until it folded. He was Southern Calypso king in 1983. He recorded an album, New York Bound, in the late Eighties.

El Drago (Ainsley Mayers) is the Treasurer of the South Central Zone. He loves to take his clothes off on stage. He always performs in drag and the audience has come to expect the disrobing. A few years ago he had a hit tune entitled, Modelling.

The other members of the cast Brother Kamara (Christopher Joseph), Stamonte (Victor Cardenas), Lecturer (Andrew Bharath), Voice (Alfred Harry), Nicko (Allan Nicholas), Soice (Tamiko Moore), Joseph Adams, Lennox Valentine, and young Kimlyn Harrington.

All thanks to Reynold Bassinet for supplying the information for the portraits for the members of the tent set forth above.

Complete back issues of the Kaiso newsletter can now be found on the web at the excellent on-line world music journal, Musical Traditions. If you missed any, check them out at: http://www.mustrad.org.uk/articles/kaiso.htm

Keep those email messages and news coming to the cold and Frozen North.

Ray Funk - 10.1.00
POBox 72387, Fairbanks, AK 99707, rfunk@ptialaska.com

Part of Article MT044

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