Battle of the best
Thanks and praises to the Most High.
What a week of kaiso it has been! Yeah, people, it’s on to finals now and what a blast I’m having. Lissen, semis was real sweet, fuh real.
The prospect of singing at No. 17, two before the final contestant, might have been daunting in other circumstances but this time it was no problem, since Bag and Gabby went right before me, in that order.
That was significant to me for two reasons. Firstly, it guaranteed that there would be none of the usual sleepiness in the audience at that point in the programme. I knew everybody would be wide awake and attentive, to hear the two nine-crown singers. Secondly, it meant that the songs preceding mine were familiar since I heard them every tent night and I would be occupying a familiar musical space when they were finished.
The latter comment might not seem important but it is. If you sing after an unfamiliar song it can be as if you are in a sense coming in cold but there is a warmth that comes with musical familiarity. One friend of mine who lives in Canada wrote and urged me not to let Gabs and Bag “shake” me. I understand his concern, since people can react to appearing after big names in two distinctly different ways.
You can either get totally discombobulated and catspraddled or you can ride on the wave they have created. A good and experienced performer does the latter. I remember one night years ago when I did Session Ram in House of Soca and created pandemonium, with every single person getting up and dancing. The performer after me, when the people finally let me off stage, asked me “wuh you lef me to do now”? “Just go and ride it,” was my response and this is what he did, to good effect. It’s something like the slipstreaming that vehicles use in racing, when you use the power of the driver in front to create currents for you to move faster.
So I had no problem at all singing after Bag and Gabby and I really enjoyed my time on stage. What has been really amusing is how people have reacted to my “ital wine”, as I understand one commentator termed it. Now Bajan and Caribbean kaiso fans know that being a “winer boy” or any kind of boy, for that matter, has never been my persona on stage or off.
Except it is a family function or I really feel “freed up”, the chances of anybody seeing me wining are very small. Some things are better reserved for private occasions, I believe, and I’m not an exhibitionist. I’m not the man everybody is watching on the dance floor. Also, I know if I show off my prowess in the department, I gine attract attention and dah is problems, bosie, so usually I don’t do it.
This year, for the first time in 31 years, I have written a song that calls for it. Yuh can’ sing a song sayin’ you got nuff in de bottle and wid de line wine, wine, wine, and not pelt in a little wine; it’s absolutely necessary. So I don’t have a problem at all. If anyone does, sorry B, but that’s your problem.
Of course, it has attracted all kinds of comments, most of which are cracking me up. On FB, I have been seeing all kinds of things, including Carol Roberts questioning the size of my cork. On radio, she has also been asking what size my bottle is, and hummuch it got in. The girl won’ lef’ me. Dat Ronnie Clarke jump in de brew too. All I got to tell dem is dat dis bottle big, got in nuff and is one of the unbreakables! Check it at finals, den.
I passed through Party Monarch rehearsals on Monday and saw Lil Rick, or Hit Rick as he is known this season. Has there ever been an entertainer with more aliases? Hypa Dawg, Chihuahua Biznessman, Boardmout, Ricky Minaj. Hit Rick… De man got nearly as many names as hits, den. I went up to him and asked him for a crash course in wines, which he and Santia Bradshaw found very funny. They obviously thought I was joking, which I only half was. On Thursday night I will see him again when Celebration Time and De Big Show clash at The Plantation and I will ask him again. Den again, I got wines from as far back as bossa nova days dat en come out yet, so I may not need the Rickster.
Look, I am enjoying this so much, people. This is kaiso season, my time, and I’m honestly having a ball. Dah don’ mean I wouldn’t like to win, doh. It just means that I’m enjoying the musical experience, loving the music, which comes for me before the competition vibe. I just feel blessed and very happy to be in the middle of so much good music. As I’ve said before, the Festival Band plays so sweet that sometimes I’m tempted to make them haul and pull up, just to play it again. Somehow I don’t think that would go down too well on finals night, though.
Of course I will not comment on my fellow calypsonians’ performances or songs; that would not be fair, although the journalist in me is itching to say some things. Since I have easier access to the media than my peers it wouldn’t be right. Also, I can’ afford fuh nuhbody to tear off my shirt, boh. What I will say is that I enjoyed semis tremendously. My congratulations to all who participated. Only nine could have been sent through but all 19 of us gave a good show.
On the matter of a good show, I think it would serve the purpose best if presentations were not allowed. As it is, no points are given for it at semis but when someone comes like Fabee and rocks the place with a good presentation it creates problems. The judges and audience know there are no points given but the atmosphere created can cause a sense of expectancy which may be misplaced. The best thing to do, since there are no points, is to exclude presentations at semis. Finals, where points are awarded, is the place for that. Plus, it gives people something to look forward to when they wonder how the calypsonians will present their songs at finals.
So two Fridays from now, August 3, will be the mother of all kaiso battles at Kensington Oval, as two former kings try to be the first to reach ten crowns in Barbados, the reigning king tries to hold on to his crown and seven others, including me, try to come through on the inside and take it home.
Jah’s blessings on all. See you at Kensington!