Kaiso No 43 - September 21, 2003

Mystic Prowler, RIP

It is with more sadness that I start this newsletter.  Mystic Prowler (Roy Lewis) died yesterday at the age of 59 collapsing in a cab in Trinidad.  He was the Calypso Monarch of 1998 and an active performer every year in the tents.  Regularly a serious contender for the monarchy, he was a gracious man whose voice had a piercing clarity that combined with his diction made it easy for foreigners to understand his calypsos. 

Originally from St Vincent, he had worked many years as a messenger for a bank.  He started his professional career in calypso in 1966 at the Calypso Caravan, wearing red suits and saying Jerry Lewis was his idol, and singing "I Like Hindustani", "Thanks to Doctor Williams" and "School Days."  The next year started a long run at the Original Young Brigade tent and later at Sparrow’s Young Brigade in Petit Valley.  The first year he sang Mad People on the Train.

He won the Buy Local competitions from 1967 to 1969, a special competition set up by the PNM to have calypsonians sing about the need to support the local economy.  His 1969 winning composition was "Stop the Dollar Drain" which was one of his first singles and issued with a picture sleeve showing him holding his trophy. 

He had another side to his personality.  He is reputed to be one of the first to sing gospelypso when in 1971 at the OYB he was sang A man is a man when he thinking clean.  Just a few years ago he issued a CD of Spiritual Songs

In the last several years he was a leading artist in the Kaiso House tent at the Deluxe Theatre.  He teamed up with songwriter G B, Gregory Ballantine, several years ago and it was a winning combination for both humorous and serious songs each year.  In 1997, he featured the hilarious song using computer terminology, PC Man Good To Go.  He returned the next year to take the monarchy with Look Below the Surface the hard work behind successful people and Vision of T&T in 2010.

In recent years it was easy to find him both as the smiling but busy host of his small bar at the City Gate bus station, De Mystic Inn, where he would regularly perform as well as a long running Friday night spot at the Mas Camp Pub.  He had a wide repretorie of older calypsos from many calypsonians that he would perform.  He issued a popular cassette several years ago of X-Rated Vintage Calypsos and more recently a CD called Vintage Kaiso.  He participated in various tributes to other calypsonians and does three songs on the excellent Tribute to Spoiler CD that Alvin Daniel put together.  He was part of the Living Legends of Calypso concert that Dawad Phillip put together in New York City and the resulting CD. 

He had another side to his personality.  He is reputed to be one of the first to sing 'gospelypso' when in 1971 at the OYB he was sang A man is a man when he thinking clean.  Just a few years ago he issued a CD of Spiritual Songs.  In honor of Elle Mannette being awarded National Heritage Fellowship in 2000, he recorded the fine Jam One for Elle

This year he placed tenth in the monarchy with Mr Indian and Balance.  He also came in second at Calypso Fiesta with the latter in the Humorous Calypso category.  He is also featured in the forthcoming Calypso Dreams film.  His sudden and unexpected death in his prime has struck the calypso community hard. 

Dmitri Subotsky has put together his discography at the Calypso Archives site at: www.calypsoarchives.co.uk/maindirectory/Mystic%20Prowler.html

On a happier note, the Fifteen Anniversary of the Sunshine Awards takes place next Saturday, September 27th in New York City at the New York Sheraton.  Sparrow will be there as will Paul Keans-Douglas.  There is a special tribute to the Haitian Revolution and the great Haitian band, Tabou Combo will perform.  There will a tribute to three calypso pioneers, Caruso, Dougla and Creator. 

Chalkdust reports his book From the Horse's Mouth, based on his interviews with many of the greats of calypso is now with the printer and due to be launched by the Minister of Community Development on October 6, 2003 at the National Library in Port-of-Spain.

With the Women’s World Cup starting today it is worth noting that the wonderful British film Bend it Like Beckham features a delightful, what could almost be called chutney version of Arrow’s Hot Hot Hot by Bina Mistry over the end credits of the film.  Born in Tanzania of Indian parents, Bina Mistry was raised in London, became a banker, then a radio DJ, record producer, and TV show anchor.  The life of Hot Hot Hot continues to amaze me as it keeps popping up everywhere.

Feel free to contact me and tell me the calypso news.  Also I am happy to get email addresses for additional people who might be interested in these occasional newsletters.

Ray Funk - 21.9.03
POBox 72387, Fairbanks, AK 99707, rfunk@ptialaska.net

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