Holding back

by Kimberley Cummins

Calypsonian Popsicle tending to some of his plants today.
Calypsonian Popsicle tending to some of his plants today.

The late release of social commentary in the Crop-Over season is not by chance.

Rather one calypsonian admits is a strategic move.

In an interview with Bajan Vibes this morning former Pic-O-De-Crop monarch, David Popsicle Hall emphasised he wasn’t speaking on behalf all calypsonians but he said he does not release his songs too early in the season because he wanted to keep an element of surprise in his music and generate more patronage for his tent.

In the 1980’s and early 1990’s calypso tents were packed with audiences wanting to hear biting social commentaries however in recent years, the number of people in attendance at tents continue to dwindle. The number of tents registered this year are 13 and there is often debate about whether some of these tents should merge since the patronage is so scanty.

Speaking from his mobile business, David’s Landscape Creations in Warrens St. Michael, the House of Soca member who already has two social commentaries: Crime Stoppers and Entrepreneur as well as a party tune, Party Animals which was recorded by Airborne Studios, said that his remedy for this trend was the late release of music. He stated that when people heard the music for the first time it would have a much greater effect on the audience, unable to contain themselves, he hoped they would tell others who in turn would have to pay to go into the tent to hear it, resulting in income for the tent management.

“People may say ‘I can hear this on the radio I don’t have to go in the tent’ and it affects the income the tent is expecting. You have to look at the tent being able to actually pay the performers in the tent, we need to find ways to increase revenue, so if this strategy works for me,” he said.

”I don’t know if my strategy is the same as other people but I found, last year for example, songs that were very, very good when released too early can be killed by disc jocks. It is going to be played over and over and when competition times come around, it is not going to have that first time effect that you would expect it to have. People will sit down and they will just wait till the individual finishes the song, he would have to do something spectacular with his performance to get your attention because you done know the song word for word so there is nothing to expect any more. So it is better to at least bring that song out close to the judging process rather than bring that song out months before and have it played right up to that point.”

Though the judging process is done at the time of the performance and crowd response is not counted, Hall said he believed audience reaction had a greater effect than what people thought.

”If you look at the response the audience gives you after

you perform a song if it has been playing on the radio for two to three months earlier– it is not energetic. So my strategy is to hold back a little longer so their song would have that greater effect at that judging process.

”Patronise the tents so that the rest of artists would be able to be paid, once the tent gets that revenue they will

be able to meet their expenses. We hear a lot of artistes tend to say they sing a whole season and don’t get paid and they can only get paid if the tent makes money because sponsorship is something that is very hard to obtain,” said Hall.

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