With relatively very good weather – and the temperature in the Dynamite Calypso Tent just right, unlike last year when it was sweltering hot – Vincentian calypsonians in North America last Saturday night/Sunday morning clearly demonstrated that they were quite ready to take VincyMas 2014 by storm.
The artistes and die-hard fans were also not deterred by any flash floods warnings, as was the case last month, when the New York Dynamite Calypso Tent was launched.
A dozen calypsonians showed up last weekend at Café Omar in Brooklyn to compete in the preliminary round judging for VincyMas 2014. Only half that number had participated in the launch at the Matrix Lounge, on Ave. H, in Brooklyn.
The lyrics, melody, rendition, presentation, originality and crowd response were described as very impressive, as calypsonians gave calypso fans their “money’s worth” during the judging segment of the four-hour-plus long show, which began around 12:30 Sunday morning.
Three judges from the local Calypso association – Earl Paynter, Eustace Maloney and Aubry Gould – as well as the association’s Canouan-born president, Ann Miller, were on hand to eventually determine who will compete in the semifinal round in VincyMas, on June 27, dubbed “Fantastic Friday.”
An admixture of calypso veterans and relative newcomers provided long-anticipated entertainment to the very appreciative crowd, as they vied for a coveted place in the “semis.”
Former national calypso monarch De Man Age (Errol Rose), Exposer (Earl Isle), Rejector (Carlos Providence), Groovy D (Vincent Kennedy), Dennis Bowman, John Dougan, Jose Juan (Ramon Diaz), Detector (Delano Joseph), Chang I (David Morgan), Bob MC (Mervin Bobb), Singing Della (Delanti Isle) and Jakie (Kenroy Jack) raised the bar, at least by a notch, according to Ainsley Primus, president of the Dynamite Calypso Tent.
“The standard this year went up a notch compared to last year,” he told Caribbean Life in a post-show interview.
“The calypsonians, their attire, their standards, were very high,” he added. “They set the standard about how they portrayed themselves. The crowd responded very well.
“Some fans believe we definitely have at least five (calypsonians) in the semifinals,” Primus continued. “Others think we will get between five and seven.”
Paynter told Caribbean Life that the semifinal picks will be determined after adjudication of the four local tents earlier this week.
He said a total of 22 calypsonians, with two reserves, will be chosen for “Fantastic Friday” at Carnival City, Victoria Park.
Three-time national calypso monarch De Man Age urged that it was time to “Tek Back We Country”, claiming “they treating we like step child”; Exposer, rendering “Yankee Man,” said “the corruption I seeing/You have to agree/ All yo more Yankee than me” ; Rejector said he was delighted that there would be “No Excess Baggage”, when the Argyle International Airport becomes fully operational, adding: “the airport is for all ah we”; and Groovy D, who suffered a stroke last year and performed with a cane, said “You Never Know” what can happen in life.
Dennis Bowman, winner of the New York New Song Calypso Competition 2014, with “To Build Airport,” repeated the virtues of constructing the international airport, adding that “it’s the spirit of Chatoyer (Vincentian national hero) why we’re having an airport today” ; John Dougan expanded on the “Key to Success”, while lamenting the dearth of jobs, even on completion of academic subjects; Jose Juan paid tribute to “South East Burning,” with Trinidadian Ricardo Jerome on tenor pan; Detector said it was time to “Prove Them Wrong”; and Chang I, who resides in Toronto, noted that a “friend in need is a friend, indeed,” while asking: “Who is a Friend?”
For Bob Mc, it was nice to “Go Back in Dey,” claiming it was all “Sugar and Spice”; Singing Della, Exposer’s eldest child, said it was paramount to maintain “Human Rights,” stating that it was “the Nation’s Obligation;” and Jakie wanted to “Plant Fire” in the place.
“I feel pretty good,” Dougan, who began singing calypso with the Dynamite Calypso Tent 14 years ago, told Caribbean Life afterwards.
“Everybody told me I gone through (made the semifinals),” added Dougan, who made the finals last year for the first time. “It’s up to the judges.
“My message, ‘Education is the Key to Success’ – a lot of people have the qualification but can’t find a job,” he bemoaned.”
De Man Age was adamant, in a Caribbean Life interview, that we “Tek Back We Country.”
“We put we county in the hands of some real heartless ‘politrickians,’” said the ex-school teacher at home, repeating the lyrics of his rendition. “They promise they will take care of it. [It] really shows they don’t care one bit.”