TUCO: Humorous/party calypsoes to reignite tents

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

From left: singers Issac Blackman, Kernel Roberts, Sharlan Bailey, fifth from right and Keevan Calliste, pose with TUCO executive members, Karen Ashe, Rondell Donawa, Shirlane Hendrickson, Ras Kommanda, Judy Benicourt, Melissa Williams and Devon Seales at the launch of the Legends of Legacy Concert Media Launch, Hyatt Hotel on Thursday. – Photo by Angelo Marcelle

The Trinbago Unified Calypsonians’ Organisation (TUCO) is hoping to draw people back to the tents with an injection of more humorous and party calypsoes when Carnival comes around next year.

A discussion about what would be done to bring back the crowds – which have dwindled over the years – took place as TUCO launched its Legends Legacy Concert, set to take place during Calypso History Month. The month runs from October 4-November 12. The month is observed in October but usually extends to accommodate some events owing to its growth.

The launch was held at the Hyatt Regency Trinidad’s Jade Room, Wrightson Road, Port of Spain on Thursday. TUCO’s PRO Rondell Donawa, general secretary Shirlane Hendrickson and marketing manager Devon Seale led the proceedings.

Black Stalin’s widow, Patsy Calliste, who also celebrated her birthday on Thursday, also attended, along with Ruthlyn Dickson Boxill (Sekon Sta’s mother), Isaac Blackman, Kernal Roberts and Kevan Calliste.

The Legends Legacy Concert will be held on October 21 and November 11. The first concert will be held at Shaw Park, Tobago and will feature the sons and grandson of the late Winston “Shadow” Bailey (Sharlan Bailey), Aldwyn “Kitchener” Roberts (Kernal Roberts), Garfield “Ras Shorty I” Blackman (Isaac Blackman), Dennis “The Merchant” Franklyn Williams and Kevan Calliste, grandson of the late Leroy “Black Stalin” Calliste.

The other concert will be held at the Hyatt Regency on November 12.

The concert is one of several events for Calypso History Month and the organisation hopes it will become a staple on its calendar of events for the month.

Reignite the Calypso Magic is its theme for both Calypso History Month and Carnival 2024.

Asked about getting people back into the tents, Donawa said that was a conversation TUCO’s general council and the calypso industry as a whole was having.

“What we have realised is, obviously, the style of calypso is changing, and sometimes we may have recognised that we need to go back to that particular long-time style that will allow the tents to continue growing, rather than the same old social commentary.”

Donawa spoke about getting humorous calypsoes into the tents and competitions.

He added that party calypsoes did not necessarily mean “wine and jam,” but there were party calypsoes from the artform’s early days such as Kitchener and Merchant that carried messages.

He added this was a discussion that was needed from TUCO’s perspective to ensure that when tents were screening singers, they ensured that it was efficiently to include all forms of calypso.

Ruthlyn Dickson Boxill (Sekon Sta’s mother) said there were too many “lamentations” in the finals of calypso competitions, and suggested changing judges.

Hendrickson replied that the organisation intended to take a little of the “old school” methodology and blend it with new-wave technology and create a new system.

She added that during auditions for calypso tents, organisers were responsible for outlining what they wanted such, as a mixture of party, humour and social and political commentary.

Legends Legacy Concert

The organisation would usually host a gala, but that will not be done this year. Hendrickson said there will be one next year, but this year TUCO wanted to host the Legends Legacy Concert.

Donawa said it will “shine a spotlight on the talented offspring of some of the most iconic calypso legends in the country’s history, the children and grandchild of our icons.”

He added that the concert will serve as a testament to the continuation of the icons’ musical traditions through their gifted descendants.

In Tobago, the concert is scheduled to start at 7 pm and in Trinidad at 5 pm.

Tickets will be sold at TUCO’s offices. Early-bird tickets are available for $200.

Other Calypso History Month events:

October 7: Live and Direct in White Concert series, sixth edition – Kafe Blue, Wrightson Road, Port of Spain

October 14: To You with Love: A show of appreciation, Bishop Anstey High School East Auditorium, College Avenue, Millennium Park, Trincity

November 8: Exhibition, TT Carnival Museum, Duke Street, Port of Spain

November 10: Extemporama, TUCO North Zone, Lions’ Civic Centre, Wrightson Road, Port of Spain

November 11: Humour and More, Hamidullah and Ras, Kafe Blue