Kaiso's alive and well
Yes fans of this column, I just want to start off by supporting Dice on his questioning the consistency of the Dominica Calypso Association (DCA) in allowing a runner-up to be granted similar considerations of any King or Calypso Monarch far less one of the quality of Dice. It was my view at that time that rules must not be bent for King Dice and to be consistent it should not be bent for Sandy whether she is dubbed unofficially as Dominica's calypso queen having made the monarch finals more than any female (6 times) and placing 1st runner-up to King Hunter some years ago.
Though I must say the cases are slightly different because it was deemed that King Dice was still in Dominica (not Guadeloupe) and the arguments which were raised that time was that a king of such stature should not be made to suffer the indignity or disrespect of starting at eliminations stage.
In fact, this was a provision made only for past kings, during my stewardship as President of the DCA in 2001. It was felt, and requested by some calypsonians who resided in the USA, that there were certain work constraints which made it impossible to compete since it would mean being present in Dominica for a minimum of 10 weeks to go through eliminations and, if possible, to the finals.
Due consideration was given because there were kings such as Shakey, Ventura, Wizard, NC, Rabbit and of course Tronada and Jahlee who happened to be the only crowned calypso king and queen to take advantage of the clause. This matter was brought to the general body at a meeting and was not only (and should not only be) an Executive decision, for obvious reasons. Note the clause was not instituted for nominal monarchs but for those who were actually crowned as such.
While I respect the talent and contribution of Sandy, still our foremost female calypsonian, notwithstanding Tasha P having the title of the first female monarch (a seven-time finalist and having penned her first song in the finals "Take Back"), I am not so sure that she would have been so easily discomforted by "irate calypso fans" if her 2014 calypso was enjoying the prominence of a 'BABY MACHINE'! At the same time, I cry foul on those persons who made disparaging remarks to and about her as she certainly does not deserve this.
Moving on, I place on record the efforts of the DCA and in particular Daryl Bobb and VF Inc. for staging two workshops on calypso judging and the other on song writing. The former was well-attended though the presence of calypsonians, whom I think was given another opportunity to understand the judges' language, plus so-called analysts and other talk-show enthusiasts, were again wanting.
If one did not hear about the workshops… well, I don't blame you because neither English and music teachers nor any one received letters, nor was there sufficient advertisement of the programme. One can only hope that there will be some follow- up if the DCA is really serious about widening its pool of judges.
At the symposium, executive member Ras Kelly, former 'chief judge' Pembo and Monsignor Eustace Thomas were thought- provoking in their delivery on what makes good lyrics, qualities/ attributes of a calypso judge and rendition, respectively. But it was Father Branker Brakes' delivery on the presentation of calypso, but more so, trained classical musician and music educator Tyson Johnson, on melody, who was really stimulating. Lack of organization, tardiness and general commitment of the organizers of the song writing workshop was responsible for a low turn out to the Sunday workshop. However, the participants seemed quite enthused.
In conclusion, it is my view that this year quite a few of the "veterans" have not lived up (a part from the Bobb and a couple others) to their reputation. There is some evidence of the changing of the old guard. But, as we are so often reminded, one must not be adopt positions before the actual performance; calypso is an all-inclusive art where presentation can provide the cure for every technical or theoretical weakness in lyrics, inappropriateness, weak rendition or plagiarised melody.
Notwithstanding the above I can understand the beautiful melodic structure of "calypso is my cure" and at the same time acknowledge that there are structure and development needs. Four-line verses just don't cut it in today's calypso.
Secondly, the Wave, on the other hand, looks promising in both melody and lyrical content as does Jay Dee. However, it's Leona's "Baby Machine" and Chris B's "Fans Advice" (Just Come) which seems to be leading the new comers.
Some basic evaluation, just from what one hears, would suggest that the songs mentioned, from calypsonians who have only 1-2 years in the business their composition are, to my mind, more formidable that most veterans. Hence, it will be interesting two weeks from now.
Still, Black Diamond, another "just come" artist, only three years in the business, looks good ... while Beno has his best chance this year with a wonderfully arranged calypso befitting his vocal excellence although there is nothing original in the approach to the lyrics.
Nonetheless, regardless of my views, this article is written long before the quarters and who knows the pendulum may just swing in another direction forcing me to retract my words but...I doubt!
Meanwhile, mighty Omi and Wuk-suck continue to compete for possible Road March supremacy if they are not too early and get burnt out by Carnival Monday and Tuesday.