Five judges from the homeland were on hand Saturday night at Café Omar in Brooklyn for the preliminary round of adjudication in the Dynamite Calypso Tent, the sole Vincentian-owned calypso tent in North America.
The judges — Earl Paynter, Roddy Dowers, Marla Nanton, Daniel Hall and Kenlem Beach — were the first to begin duties in the National Calypso Competition for Vincy Mas 2017.
Eleven calypsonians — among them veterans D Man Age (“Can’t Take No Break”); Denis Bowman (“Don’t Spear the Rod”); John Dougan (“God Help Us”); Jose Juan (“Kaiso Man”); and Rejector (“Pan Movement Victory”) — vied for a place in the semifinals to take place at Carnival City, Victoria Park, in capital Kingstown, on June 30.
Others were: Hilford Hurst (“Iron Man”); Lady Hibiscus (“Things Not So Bad”); Stryker (“Sweet Mother Earth”); Navel String (“In Style”); Jakie (“Jaming Non-Stop”); and D-Tecta (“Lead Us”).
Ainsley Primus, the Arnos Vale-born president of the Brooklyn-based Dynamite Calypso Tent, said the competition, broadcast live on NBC and Nice FM radios in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, was very keen.
“Everybody was good,” said Primus in a post-show Caribbean Life interview. “It was a variety of topics — from social commentary to up-tempo calypso.
“Those guys (calypsonians) were consistent,” he added. “For the tent that got judged, we set a good standard for those in St. Vincent and the Grenadines to follow.”
Primus declined to predict how many calypsonians will be picked from his tent to compete in the semifinal round, stressing, however, that “everybody was positive.
“It was a good show,” he said. “Everybody loves it.”
Errol “D Man Age” Rose, former National Calypso Monarch, told Caribbean Life that he competed this year just for the sake of his fans.
“Last year, when I went home, my fans were angry that I stayed out [of competition],” said the former elementary school teacher in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. “So, I decided to write this song (‘Can’t Take No Break’), and be more frequent.”
“Can’t Take No Break” alludes to the fans’ desire that D Man Age continue competing.
“Even though I don’t compete frequently, I still want to do something and keep my fans happy, and deal with the issues that affect people’s lives,” said D Man Age, who won the Calypso crown in 1978, 1999 and 2000.
He said that since he does not sing “Party Songs,” vying for a place in calypso competitions “gives my fans a chance to see me.”
Bowman, who has made the semifinal round 13 times and the grand finale 10-11 times, said he “did enough to get into the semifinals.
“The band (Grenadian-owned Lambert and the Matadores) had problems with the horns, but I think this has nothing to do with my song,” he said. “The song was very powerful.
“The song (‘Don’t Spear the Rod’) was about disciplining your kids from a tender age, for they’ll get out of control,” added Bowman, whose highest position in the finals in the National Calypso Competition was third in 2008. “Don’t’ let the children just run through and do what they want. And, if it means beating them, then so be it.”
Former Junior Calypso Monarch Kemmie “Man Kemmie” Christopher, Edson “Lively” McDonald, Prizzie Don and Garfield Palmer were among other artistes, who augmented the show that ended in the wee hours Sunday.
The Dynamite Calypso Tent also recognized D Man Age, as well as Rejector, Groovey D (Vincent Kennedy), Jose Juan and Exposer, for their longevity in competing in the tent over the years.
Primus said this year has been “a good year,” disclosing that the tent received assistance, from among others, the National Calypsonian Association, the Carnival Development Committee, as well as the Diaspora Committee of New York.
He lauded Gideon “Fessy” Yorke, owner of the Brooklyn-based Standard Shippers, and the Chill Spot restaurant in St. Vincent and the Grenadines for sponsoring the live broadcast of the preliminary competition on local radio.
Primus also thanked Sports Ambassador Gailene Windsor, who recently returned home, after residing in New York for several years, “for getting a lot of things done down theresuch as helping with the sponsors and radio interviews.
“So, a lot of folks heard Dynamite for a long time,” he said. “A lot of people called to say they heard the tent and that we’re sounding good.”