Kaiso No 39 - 5 April 2003

I'm back.  For a variety of reasons, I'd had to discontinue these newsletters during the last few years.  But I've just returned from a great time in Trinidad for Carnival 2003 and feel compelled, driven really, to start these up again.  I will try to issue these every few weeks but offer no guarantees.  There may be another unexpected long or short hiatus.  We'll see.  Rather than starting out with any long detailed piece, I wanted to point to several things on the Net that calypso fans need to know about.

First, my friend Dmitri Subotsky instituted the first major effort in creating a detailed discography of calypso and soca records through the Calypso Archives website using information, that he, I and numerous other folks have contributed.  It offers detailed looks at the discographic information on various calypsonians, record labels, etc. and images of many rare album covers.  It is not complete but he is continually updating and expanding it.  He is hoping people will email him corrections and additions.  Check it out at http://www.calypsoarchives.co.uk  I will mention major changes or additions to the site in future newsletters.  Dmitri lives in London, loves calypso and cricket, and believes Leston Paul is God.  He has been the prime mover in the cricket calypso research we have been doing.  I'll be reporting on the results of that work in later newsletters.

One of the best journalists in Trinidad and one who is devoted to calypso, pan and mas is Terry Joseph.  Terry has his own website that has lots of thoughtful pieces on all aspects of Carnival and which includes a large archive of back articles he has done over the last few years for the Trinidad Express.  Check them out at http://www.trinicenter.com/Terryj/

Crazy had a great year at Carnival this year.  His song Rosie created a lot of controversy.  His new CD, On De Loose, is strong and he seemed to be everywhere for Carnival.  An excellent portrait of him and his new life in California by Michael Goodwin is the feature article in Caribbean Beat, the BWIA flight magazine.  You can also catch it on the web currently at http://www.caribbean-beat.com/beat60/beatprofile.htm  The online edition also has a short piece on the drumming tradition in Carriacou by Simon Lee.  http://www.caribbean-beat.com/beat60/festivalbeat.htm

George Maharaj from Toronto, my first guide in Trinidad and one of the most knowledgable people about calypso has greatly expanded his website,  http://www.rootsofcalypso.com/  He includes a unique variety of very rare photos and important information in the calypsonian portraits section of his website.  George also runs a monthly calypso lime at local restaurant, Sylvan's in Scarborough which is a get together of calypso fans, features live music, a quiz, prizes and a great time.  Contact George at topcalypso@yahoo.com if you d like details of future limes.

A major focus for my research efforts recently has been on a forthcoming exhibit, Calypso: A World Music in conjunction with the Historical Museum of Southern Florida and its curator, Steve Stuempfle.  Many of you know Steve from his ground breaking book, The Steelband Movement.  The exhibit will have a large online component, a small traveling exhibit and a planned series of conferences starting in the fall of 2004 in Brooklyn.  A slightly out of date report on the exhibit is at http://www.casbah.ac.uk/newsreport4.stm.  I'll send full details when they become finalized.

This year marks the 15th annual presentation of the Sunshine Awards which are scheduled for October 25 in New York City.  Each fall, the Sunshine Awards offer a recognition of the best in many fields of calypso, soca, and pan and adds regularly to its special Hall of Fame awards.  Their website offers details of past awards and a series of irregular newsletters.  http://www.sunshineawards.com/

Gil Figaro of the Sunshine Awards is hard at work on a tribute CD dedicated to the recently deceased Young Killer which will feature a number of calypso greats performing Young Killer's song.  Recently, Sparrow had his own contribution to the album and it will feature the work of the wonderful pan soloist Dane Guston.  For more on Young Killer, see the press release issued by the Sunshine Awards shortly after his passing,  http://www.sunshineawards.com/PressRel/pr15.htm  Crazy's new CD contains a tribute to Killer (a version of his Police Doing It Too called The Policeman.)  A detailed discography for Young Killer is at the Calypso Archives at http://www.calypsoarchives.co.uk/maindirectory/Young%20Killer.html

The most exciting calypso project on the musical horizon right now is the ten CD box set spearheaded by Dick Spottswood, which is due to be released by the end of this year from Bear Family Records in Germany.  The box set will include every recording that was made in Trinidad by Decca Records in 1938, 1939 and 1940.  These are all newly re-mastered, a great majority of which have never been heard before even by the most serious calypso fan or collector.  Bear Family Records and its director Richard Weize have the highest standards for the numerous country and other popular music sets they have produced and this set will be no exception, coming with complete lyrics, extended essays and numerous photos and other graphics.  When it gets closer to release, I will provide more details.  But it will be a must have purchase and an important picture of the calypso scene on the eve of World War II.


A computer crash caused me to lose the original mailing list for these Kaiso newsletters and I apologize to anyone who is not getting this as a result.  Also, I am mailing it out to a large untried list and anyone who doesn't want it just say and I'll drop you from the list.  As with anything on the web, the links I've mentioned above may be there today but not tomorrow.

What has been on the web for several years are the complete set of back issues of the Kaiso Newsletter on the excellent on-line world music journal, Musical Traditions.  http://www.mustrad.org.uk/articles/kaiso.htm

Feel free to contact me ...

Ray Funk - 10.5.03
POBox 72387, Fairbanks, AK 99707, rfunk@ptialaska.net

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