All Stars had much to offer
If Aziza fails to make the semifinal of the Pic-O-De-Crop competition, there are many who would have a great case if they argued that the judging panel was affected by collective dementia Sunday night as Cave Shepherd All Stars Calypso Tent faced judgment at The Plantation Garden Theatre.
Aziza delivered two riveting performances that were strong in lyrics, rendition, and melody. Her anthemic One People, One Nation was one of the highlights of the night and made doubly so by the confidently flawless manner in which she performed it.
Her second number Bring Back Respect was almost equally strong, if not with the same infectious flavor. It was a theme that has been covered before but treatment still counts, and she rendered it quite effectively. Later in the night, in a piece of picong during his performance, De Announcer predicted her lifting the crown on the night of the competition final. If she reaches there that eventuality should surprise no one.
Wit in Bajan kaiso is often a scarce commodity with similar themes repeated annually and the treatment of such rather straitlaced. While the jury might be out on They Write The Book, Shawnee’s Forgive You or [Eff you], an idea taken from a sermon delivered by Pastor R A Vernon of the Word Church in Cleveland, Ohio, was a terrific deviation from the déjà vu. It was cleverly constructed and well rendered. Now it is up to the judges.
The All stars Calypso Tent is well represented by female calypsonians and another doing her chances of advancing no harm was the highly talented Ah-dee-lah with I Now Land and Barbados, Your Mother. In the first she sang of breaking the drought of females not winning the crown while asking whether there were different criteria being set for the two genders. Her second selection continued along the same vein that many are singing in 2016 in Barbados’ 50th year of Independence.
Kinky Star made a long overdue return to the Pic-O-De-Crop stage and delivered two commendable pieces entitled Bring Back The Furniture and The Art. There aren’t, and perhaps never were, many local vocalists better than this throwback to the 1960s, 1970s, and of Springer and the Barons fame. He is a wonderful singer/entertainer but whether he will ever bridge the gap between singing for a competition and performing to entertain the crowd will be discovered in just over a week when the judges name their semifinalists. His clear audibility was sometimes affected by his deliberate vocal theatrics and modulations.
Hee Haw looked to have booked a place in the semifinals with his Despair and Disunity. Listening to last year’s finalist is like reading his lyrics on paper – his diction is that clear – and he should have scored well on rendition. Though both songs were strong lyrically, they were thematically not too dissimilar and Hee Haw must guard against becoming clichéd. Colin Spencer was solid with both No Trusting and Toilet Paper, keeping faithful to the traditional style of the art form in terms of lyrical structure and tempo. Whether it was an aberration or an actual misstep between the band and the stage veteran, there appeared to be some minor glitch as far as timing
was concerned as the second selection reached its end.
Donella sizzled where rendition was concerned. Both De Criteria and Division in particular were effective. In the former number she sang about some of the wrong criteria used, or asked of persons, as they try to get ahead in life. The second selection was very melodic and beautifully arranged and called for a better division of societal wealth and opportunities, among other things.
It is difficult to tell a performer that he might need to reinvent himself. After all, one’s style is one’s style. But judging from the comments and reaction to many in the crowd, they thought they deserved a bit more from four-time calypso king Kid Site. His Massa Still Ruing We and They Got To Be Drunk were adequate without the punch of a Kid Site of yesteryear.
De Announcer was classy with the melodic Mic Check and acerbic with the self-deprecating Rabba, Babba, Shabba. He added two verses on the former song when recalled for an encore and left the Plantation in stitches. Semifinals material? Why not!
Ishiaka McNeil performed Hard To Celebrate and the up-tempo Water Shortage. He did his reputation no harm in either.
Miguel’s gift is his excellent vocal ability and this stood out in both Calypso and Lawless. It would not be a surprise if he makes the semifinal but once again, like too many of the artistes, his themes seemed repetitive of himself and others in the tent, and indeed the entire competition. But that voice!
Others facing the judges and giving food for thought, and advancement, were Charisma with Selfie and Never Number Two, Jael with Stop Blame The Men and De Home, and Dijah with Fat Tax and Still Standing, Opening the show was junior monarch contestant Sparkle T with Happy Birthday and closing it was Screw Face with the infectious Banana Republic which has strangely been receiving limited airplay
The pairing of Queen Archibald Cox (Eric Lewis) and Jennifer Walker has been one of the comedic coups of the season and they were delightful once more as emcees last night before the full house.
The backing band, again, was excellent.