Lord Nelson performs at From Tuco to Tobago with Love on Monday. Photo by David Reid
It was billed as a pre-Valentine’s Day show.
And Monday night’s Kaiso Extravaganza at the Parade Grounds, Dwight Yorke Stadium, Bacolet, surpassed expectations.
Organised by Trinbago Unified Calypsonians Organisation, the free show, titled To Tobago With Love, got off to an exceptionally late start but the stellar cast, comprising a mixture of veteran entertainers and budding artistes, more than made up for it.
Veteran calypsonian Lord Nelson (Robert Alphonso Nelson), one of the night’s headliners, had the crowd dancing and singing to his timeless hits Meh Lover, Disco Daddy and others.
Dressed in a red, complete with beret, Nelson, 91, began his set with a cane but quickly dispensed with it as he got into his performance. Many seemed mesmerised by his wit and energy.
“I am not a Tobagonian. I am a ‘bagonian,’” he declared.
“I don’t have to be nothing. I am something.”
Nelson was the guest of honour at a concert series, hosted by the Tobago Music Arts and Culture, during last year’s October Carnival. The series celebrated Tobago’s Nigerian ancestry.
On Monday, Nelson recalled being bestowed with the title Bobagunwa of Iwo-Ate, Nigeria, Africa, on September 27.
He told the audience he wears many hats.
“I am doctor, chief, meh lover, family…I just got back from Nigeria. I represent all of you.”
The Plymouth native, who lives in New York, said he was glad to be back in the island.
“I am so proud that I want to leggo, and I will leggo myself so you could see me. So leh we do we thing. Leh we go.”
Timothy “Baron” Watkins performs at From Tuco to Tobago with Love at Dwight Yorke Stadium, Bacolet, Monday. Photo by David Reid
Calypso legend Baron (Timothy Watkins), also had the crowd eating out of his hands as he belted out classics from his impressive repertoire. These included Tell Me Why, Ah Feelin It and Sweet Soca Man.
Equally impressive was soca artiste Benjai (Rodney Le Blanc), who sang his popular tune Phenomenal, among others.
Benjai hailed Tobago’s adherence to its culture.
“Tobago is the heritage of Trinidad and Tobago. I don’t care what nobody say, all the culture is here,” he said.
“If the youths and them want to know about Trinidad and Tobago culture, I does tell them, take a plane.”
Soca artiste Rodney “Benjai” Le Blanc sings some of his hits at From Tuco to Tobago with Love. Photo by David Reid
Earlier, entertainers Nigel and Marvin Lewis performed their hits I Get The Urge, Take That And Cool It and Moving (To The Left).
The show was hosted by well-known Tobago-born singers Oscar Benjamin (Oscar B) and Michael Baker.
The men shared great chemistry so much so that Oscar B jokingly recalled Baker’s days as a lifeguard at Store Bay.
He had the crowd in stitches as he recalled how Baker once walked along the beach, dressed in a “tight two-piece” seemingly to impress female tourists.
Oscar B said back then Baker also attempted to speak with an American accent.
Baker, who is remembered for the 1970s nation-building tune, Come Discover Us, responded, “Oscar, drink water and mind yuh business.”
Oscar B, originally from Signal Hill, kept the pace moving with a series of soca tracks that left the audience wanting more.
Calypso veteran Tobago Crusoe entertains the audience with his humorous calypsoes at Tuco to Tobago with Love event at Dwight Yorke Stadium, Bacolet, Monday. Photo by David Reid
These included Soca Bogle; Soca Tatie; Girlie-Girlie; Butterfly; Give Me Soca and Tiny Winey.
National Carnival Commission chairman Winston “Gypsy” Peters, who had a brief extempo battle with Baker, later sang his smutty selection For Cane.
The crowd roared.
Among those performing were Sharlan Bailey, Turner, Johnny King and Culture B (Roston Simon), who won the inaugural Tobago Stars of Soca competition on October 26, 2022, with his song, Strong Rum.
Assistant Secretary in the THA Division of Tourism, Culture, Antiquities and Transportation Megan Morrison attended the event.