Kaiso No 45 - October 20, 2004

Calypso in New York and the Atlantic World

Brooklyn College’s Institute for Studies in American Music in conjunction with the Historical Museum of Southern Florida are hosting a free public all day conference on calypso music and its spread to the rest on Saturday, 30 October 2004.  It will be followed by a free concert by the 2004 Calypso Monarch the Mighty Chalkdust AKA Dr. Hollis Liverpool of the University of the Virgin Islands.  The conference brings together leading calypso scholars and artists to explore the multifaceted history and aesthetics of calypso from the early twentieth century to the present.  There will a full day of panel discussions, film screenings and performances that will examine the far-reaching influence of calypso on the cultural traditions of New York and the Atlantic world.  The conference will be at Brooklyn College Library Auditorium and Levenson Recital Hall at Nostrand Ave. & Campus Rd. in Brooklyn.

The conference is in conjunction with the Calypso: A World Music, which is both a traveling exhibit and an on line exhibit.  The exhibits were co-curated by Ray Funk, the judge from Alaska who has been reseaching calypso for many years and the Historical Museum of Southern Florida’s chief curator Steve Stuempfle, author of The Steelband Movement.  The traveling exhibit opened in early August at Brooklyn Public Library to strong positive response and has recently moved to Brooklyn College’s library where it will be until December 12 before it moves to the Historical Museum of Southern Florida in the Spring.  The on-line exhibit can be viewed at www.calypsoworld.org

This Brooklyn conference is the first of a series, the next will be in Miami in conjunction with the University of Miami on March 17 to 19, see http//scholar.library.miami.edu/cls/conference2005.html.  Next fall the exhibit travels to England and there is a conference entitled Comings and Goings’ Calypso A Moment and Movement Concerning Memory, Migration and Displacement hosted by the Centre for Cultural Analysis, History and Theory at the University of Leeds from November 3 to 5, 2005.  Plans are beginning to bring the traveling exhibit to Trinidad in the Spring of 2006 and have a conference in conjunction with the exhibit.

Steve Stuempfle along with Ray Allen of the Institute for Studies in American Music have put together a varied program that begins at 10 am with a first panel discussion.  It features Kenneth Bilby, Guggenheim Fellow, on 'Pan-Atlantic Music Currents Interpreting Calypso as World Music', Professor from UWI on 'America and Americans in Trinidadian Calypsos, 1920-1960' and Professor Jocelyne Guilbault from University of California, Berkeley on 'Soca as World Music Recent Trends in Calypso in the Caribbean and the United States'.  A second panel starts after lunch with Professor Donald Hill of State University of New York, Oneonta on 'Calypso Performance in New York Nightclubs and Concert Halls, 1935-1955', Ray Funk on 'Harry Belafonte and the Calypso Craze in the 1950s', Les Slater of the Trinidad and Tobago Folk Arts Institute in New York on 'Calypso in New York Carnival, Fetes and Tents since 1970'.

A special feature of this panel is an appearance by the Mighty Wrangler, Kenneth Wynne.  Wrangler an active calypsonian in Trinidad in the Fifties and Sixties with hits such as Bongo Man, Limbo Teacher and Neighbor Jacqueline and was a regulart for several years at the Young Brigade tent.  In 1968 and 1969, he ran his own Wrangler's Roving Brigade tent, on Eastern Main Road near the railway station.  He recorded several singles for Cook Caribbean and was on a couple Cook anthologies.  Boys Town Steel Orchestra recorded Bongo Man and the Tropical Harmony Steel Band recorded Limbo Teacher as well.

Wrangler moved to New York in 1969 and for over a year was a strolling calypso minstrel at Jamaica Arms Restaurant, Second Ave and 69th Avenue for over a year before giving up a career as a calypsonian and going into security work.  For over thirty years, he has been a security guard at Columbia University.  Most recently, two of his recordings were chosen for the Smithsonian Folkways CD that Ken Bilby and Keith Warner put together, Calypso Awakening.

The last presentation of the conference is a presentation of film and television clips from Ray Funk’s collection on calypso in the movies and television with presentations by Keith Warner of George Mason University on 'Calypso on Screen Imagining the Caribbean on Film and Television' and Professor Geraldine Connor of the University College of Leeds, though best known as the creator of Carnival Messiah on 'Media Representations of Caribbean Arts in Britain'.

The day’s activities end with the free concert, An Evening with Dr Hollis 'Chalkdust' Liverpool at 800 pm, Levenson Recital Hall, Brooklyn College.  The conference, concert and exhibition are all free and the public especially calypso fans are encouraged to come.  For more information, call (718) 951-5655 or e-mail isam@brooklyn.cuny.edu   Visit http//depthome.brooklyn.cuny.edu/isam

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 - 21.7.03
POBox 72387, Fairbanks, AK 99707, rfunk@ptialaska.net

Part of Article MT044

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