Though many of them are declining to predict the number of calypsonians who will be selected from the Dynamite Calypso Tent in Brooklyn for the semifinal round in the National Calypso Competition in Vincy Mas 2015, most calypsonians from the tent have expressed confidence that they will be selected.
“I think it was one of the better years in terms of the quality and standard of the calypsos,” said Dennis Bowman, a frequent National Calypso finalist from the Dynamite Calypso Tent, in an exclusive Caribbean Life interview, referring to the preliminary judging of the Brooklyn-based tent last Saturday night at Café Omar in Brooklyn.
Bowman said he expects at least five of the 14 calypsonians, including himself, who participated in the preliminary round, to be selected for the semifinal round next Saturday at Carnival City, Victoria Park, Kingstown, the Vincentian capital.
He declined to identify the others, saying only: “Everybody performed very good.”
Ainsley Primus, the president of the Dynamite Calypso Tent, declined to predict the number of calypsonians who will be selected, reiterating his disappointment with last year’s selection.
“I stop predicting,” he told Caribbean Life. “Last year, I predicted five, and they give us three.
“The way the judging is set up, the Dynamite Calypso Tent is at a disadvantage,” he added. “The guys (calypsonians) live up here; they don’t have to face them [the judges at home] every day.”
In addition, he said calypsonians from his tent are judged earlier than their counterparts at home and that there is a two-week gap before the local judging.
“It should not be two weeks, and it just leaves four days [from the announcement of the semifinal results] for the guys here to practice,” Primus said. “Last year, we protested it, and they [the local Calypso Association] go back and do the same thing.
“We have jobs up here, where we have to put in for time off [in advance],” he added. “You [calypsonians] have family, you have to arrange for certain things, you have to buy airline tickets. It’s ridiculous.
“We’re doing something for our country in the Diaspora,” Primus continued. “We just want a level playing field. We’re looking for the same rights as anybody (calypsonian) down there.”
Nevertheless, Primus said he was very delighted with the performance of his calypsonians on Preliminary Night.
“Overall, it was a very successful night,” he said. “All the guys performed well. They delivered the songs nice, and the people responded well.”
New York City Councilman Jumaane Williams, a Grenadian American who represents the 45th Council District in Brooklyn, on Preliminary Night presented the Dynamite Calypso Tent with a proclamation for the tent’s work in the community.
Primus, who received the award on behalf of the tent, said Gailene Windsor, the tent’s treasurer, had initially communicated with Williams’ office for the recognition.
Besides Bowman, who sang “Calypso Best Friend”, calypsonians who performed on Preliminary Night were: John “The Truth” Dougan (“Secret Weapon”); Bob MC (“Comrade”); Brother Don (“Poor People Tired”); Phil Patch (“Jamming”); Fabulous T (“Change is Coming”); D Man Age (“Changes”); Navel String (Come out and Vote); Exposer (“Ah Hear What Me Mother Say”); Stryker (“Calypsonians Nah Rich”); Oscar James (“Argyle International Airport”); Jakie (“Don’t Sing About That”); Rejector (“That Is Why”); and I Madd (“I Love This Land”).
Bob MC and Navel String created a stir, among the sell-out audience, with their respective political numbers.
With election fever much in the air, Bob MC, whose real name is Mervin Bobb, sang that it was time for “De Comrade,” referring to Prime Minister Dr. Ralph E. Gonsalves, “to go.”
But Navel String, whose real name is Joel Bartholomew, of Union Island, got the largely Unity Labor Party (ULP) supporters jumping with “Come out and Vote.”
The three-time Union Island Calypso Monarch sang that “Ralphie” (Prime Minister Gonsalves) “is the man / so let’s vote his again.”
Five-time National Calypso Monarch De Man Age (real name Errol Rose) told Caribbean Life that, while some nationals may be looking for changes in the next general elections, constitutionally due early next year, “change should come from within.”
De Man Age said, while “Changes” was philosophical, some national may not like another song, “You Overstay Your Welcome”, which he plans to release next week.
“It [Preliminary Night] was well attended,” said Dougan, who is also the tent’s public relations officer. “The guys (calypsonians) performed well. We had songs for the NDP [main opposition New Democratic Party] and the ULP.
“Everybody is saying we have six or seven picks [for the semifinal round],” he added. “Things went down well. I’m thinking about six picks. I’m not calling any names, though.”