Calypso tent manager calls for political balance to draw audiences

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Steve “Ras Kommanda” Pascall pays tribute to Leroy “Black Stallin” Calliste during the opening of Kaiso Showkase at Palms Club, San Fernando. – Photo by Ayanna Kinsale

AS calypso tents prepare for a short and intense season, a south-based tent is appealing to patrons, “Don’t beg for free tickets in 2024.”

Steve “Ras Kommanda” Pascall, manager of Kaiso Showkase pleaded, “Oh gosh, pay your money and come support the kaiso. Stop asking for free tickets.”

Kaiso Showkase starts on January 12 at its regular base, Palms Club, San Fernando, with a cast which includes reigning and former Young King monarchs, Haven “Snakey” Charles, Addelon “Banjela” Braveboy, and South calypso monarch Victoria Cooper (Queen Victoria).

“I just want the show to be nice. I want people to come out and support Kaiso Showkase and calypso in general,” Kommanda told Newsday in an interview.

“We are facing a time like never before. We are not getting support from disc jockeys or radio stations for the indigenous art form, which has spawned other genres that are all doing well. So why are you destroying the mother?” he asked.

“There was a time when the songs were played on the mainstream radio stations, so people heard and liked a song and headed down to the tents to see the artiste do a live performance.

“Now everybody rushing to parties to see the girl who singing the market song because that is what is being played. The monster lyrics and rhyming styles of calypso not working.”

He said, “The country has become divided by niche markets. Everyone has their niche. Soca has its niche, Chutney/Soca has its niche, Trini Bad has its niche, Reggae has its niche, and calypso must fight up with all of these styles just to survive.

“This is a great discourtesy to this great art form,” the calypsonian said, dismissing the notion that calypso is dead.

“It is not the kaiso is dead, it is our love for an art form that was born and bred in TT, and gave birth to many other styles that is dead.

“Ras Kommanda is telling the people of TT your love for the art of calypso is dead.”

During the last season, calypsonians performed to sparse audiences on many nights at the tents. Kommanda attributed to the waning support for calypso.

He admitted to supporters of calypso being of a certain vintage, many loyalists who have since died.

“The people who would have supported calypso tents over the years never brought their children with them. Their children are now focused on a new style of music.

“We must find a way to bring back people to the tents.”

One suggestion, he offered, is for balance in the political commentary category.

“We must have songs hitting political parties and players on both sides of the fence. You can’t sing on one side only.

“We want to hear songs hitting Rowley (Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley) and beating Gary Griffith, with equal gusto.”

In the past, calypsonians have felt the wrath of supporters when they sing against the ruling government in office. The political imbalance has been identified as one of the factors which caused supporters from the opposing parties to stay away from these tents.