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Jealousy and envy

I may be wrong, and I usually am, but today I will continue with my presentation, started yesterday, on the way certain things appear never to change in Barbados!

In yesterday’s edition I wrote of my experience upon arriving in St. Kitts to “represent” Barbados at the Caribbean Calypso World Cup and the many doubts that were raised about the show and the organiser prior to the arrival of the defending monarch Karen Asche, especially since it had been rumoured that no one from the previous contest had received their prize monies.

So what was Asche doing in St. Kitts?

I now continue my discourse. I wondered about the other competitors’ (including Asche’s) participation if they had evidence of the stated dubious character of the promoter. I later heard from the horse’s mouth that the promoter had the temerity to request Asche’s presence to defend her monarchy. Apparently she and she alone finally received her prize money from the previous competition around year end 2012. On this trip she was accompanied by a manager known for her no-nonsense approach.

It would be all in vain as many of the kaisonians came in the day before and on the day of the event and thus would have performed without a rehearsal; something which about five or six of us had. There were many things that the promoter didn’t live up to, including going out of contact for an entire day! The Trini manager was able to get all competing artistes to come together as one in order to get certain conditions met before the actual event; I told her that in my opinion we would capitulate once our individual concerns were met and she agreed!

On the night of the event we were all sitting around waiting for the promoter to at least honour his promise to pay the participation fee on or before the start of the show and we stuck to our guns. However, once that money, paid in cash, was in our pockets, the single mindedness of calypsonians rose to the fore!

Calypsonians rushed off to get their already packed garment bags to be thus transported to the venue. It’s not only Bajan calypsonians who cannot stick to an agreed plan for their benefit folks. It’s most calypsonians!

We arrived at the venue over 90 minutes past the advertised starting time to be greeted by partial darkness and the sight of the musicians disassembling their equipment. Apparently the owner of the generator decided he was there long enough and cut its power; the band with half of its fee paid could do nothing without the generator thus their disassembling.

Also, during the lull with just short of 1,000 persons seated and quite a few more outside waiting for signs of a start, the unpaid MC from the previous year walked on stage to announce that the show was cancelled!? Deserved sabotage?

We were told that once this unofficial announcement was made, persons rushed the gates for instant refunds. A lot of that money had been already used paying us and so not everyone got their money back!

There was the obvious embarrassment of those Kittitians involved, including the judges and they were shouting matches going on all over the place. Some were imploring the promoter to say something to those who were still in their seats, which he steadfastly refused to do. His claim was that he never cancelled the show.

Eventually the police came and so he was then forced to say something to the crowd. He was subsequently taken to the nearby police station, ostensibly for his safety as the remaining persons became menacing! Apparently he spent the night at the station with hundreds of patrons waiting outside for their money, their pound of flesh or to pound his flesh!

The next day, the radio stations all had screaming going on as nationals bemoaned the embarrassment that the promoter had wrought upon St. Kitts; even the promoter himself tried in vain to quell the resultant discord that emanated from the said radio stations.

I left without any problem at the hotel except that those who had breakfast the morning after the “show”, were told that we could no longer sign as the credit once extended was now at an end. Thus cash had to be paid. The owner of the hotel lamented the thousands of dollars that he would never collect.

Part of my return flight plans dictated that I would overnight in Antigua, something which the promoter had previously assured me (verbally of course) was in order; it was to his credit he told me just before I left St. Kitts that he had not yet booked me in to the hotel at the Antigua airport and that he obviously could not afford to at the time. He asked if I could pay for it myself, then at some point in the future he would remit the funds to me!

The LIAT flight was late arriving in St. Kitts and so we reached Antigua long after originally scheduled. The competing calypsonian from Antigua offered his living room couch (he had relatives from another island boarding at the time) and I accepted; after all, it would have been a mere couple of hours before I would be heading back to the airport to await another late LIAT flight to Barbados.

My take on the whole situation is a follows:

If the show had come off and I had placed outside of the top 3, the furor would still be going on.

All went as I had predicted except maybe for the actual ending!

The promoter called me to ask about my availability for next year’s show!!? No he’s not a comedian!

I was able to obtain some PR out of it as I was offered a gig (not yet sanctioned by any written contract) in Barbuda later in the year with the request that I include my stand-up routine as part of my act! How did they know?

I heard a calypsonian from St. Lucia with the most amazing pipes; sounds a lot like our Adrian Clarke.

Under the very same circumstances, I would re-visit!

Whilst entertainment in Barbados seems to be at a standstill now, its service providers had better find something else to do other than their continuous and tenacious attention to petty jealousy and envy.

— Smokey Burke

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