Veterans, newbies shine on Calypso Fiesta stage

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Nakasa Thatcher-Roberts singing Find Ah Station, with a look-a-like commissioner of police at Calypso Fiesta, Skinner Park San Fernando on Saturday. – Photo by Lincoln Holder

JOANNE BRIGGS

Calypso Fiesta had its share of youngsters going face to face with the more experienced kaisonians who are vying for a spot to take away the crown from defending Calypso Monarch Duane Ta’Zyah O’Connor.

New names like Richard Rajkumar, better known by his hip-hop moniker Chromatics, held strong against seasoned calypsonians including 2010 Calypso Monarch Kurt Allen who was well-received for his composition The First Investigation.

A section of the Calypso Fiesta crowd at Skinner Park, San Fernando on Saturday. – Photo by Lincoln Holder

Chromatics’ 2 Party, a creative piece on politics in Trinidad and Tobago, was a solid performance. Also well received was Slick (Hammond Bruce) whose Trinidad is Not a Real Place hit hard at some of the inefficiencies affecting the country.

Receiving pips was Nakasa Thatcher-Roberts for her ditty on a distress call to the St Joseph Police Station which was recorded and shared on social media. Her humourous presentation included someone disguised as the Commissioner of Police Erla Harewood-Christopher, demanding Thatcher-Roberts, who dressed as the errant officer, to apologise.

While there were engaging performances, some of the contestants had challenges keeping in tune and in rhythm.

Hammond Bruce singing Trinidad Is Not a Real Place at Calypso Fiesta, Skinner Park, San Fernando on Saturday. – Photo by Lincoln Holder

By 4.36 pm, ten contestants graced the Skinner Park stage for Calypso Fiesta, the semifinals of the Calypso Monarch.

Although the sun was bearing down, some of the audience – who make the annual pilgrimage to celebrate or critique the bards on stage – took advantage of the refurbished venue which now hosts sheltered seating. Diehards maintained the tradition of deck chairs and umbrellas on the grass to ensure they were up close and personal. But as the MC teased, “Look at allyuh fading. Hot sun and certain beverages don’t mix.”

Crystal Charles singing Standing My Ground at Calypso Fiesta, Skinner Park, San Fernando on Saturday. – Photo by Lincoln Holder

They were far from faded, however. But they were not as vociferous with the characteristic toilet paper waving crew for which this event is known. Instead, they welcomed each performer with open arms, waving signs like “Big Yard Song.” One group even supported broadcast journalist Caston Cupid, presenting the word K-I-S-O, as he sang on stage. The letter A was notably missing but was substituted by hearts held by a member of the group.

Karene Asche singing No Excuse at Calypso Fiesta, Skinner Park San Fernando, on Saturday. – Photo by Lincoln Holder

From the 2.45 pm start of the event, also fondly dubbed the biggest picnic in the world, the audience heard former calypso monarchs – Karene Asche, and Roderick “Chuck” Gordon. Also included in the early lineup was six-time extempo monarch Myron B, who appeared under the sobriquet Calypso Nite. Among them, they focused on the ongoing issue of youth crime and killings. Poverty is no excuse, colonialism, zesser music, and pleas to citizens to hang tight and hold strong were some of the themes emanating from the compositions. Calypso Monarch 2020 Terri Lyons opted to focus on the pan with ace pannist Dale Gulston enhancing her presentation with his deft skills on the tenor pan.

Alana Sinnette-Khan singing Shopping In Miami at Calypso Fiesta, Skinner Park, San Fernando on Saturday. – Photo by Lincoln Holder

Mical Teja’s appearance as the fourth contestant was received with love and enthusiasm. As soon as the Young King 2024 started singing DNA, Skinner Park buoyed his strained voice with their own, accompanying him throughout the song and singing “Oh Oh” of his chorus long after he exited the stage.

“I felt amazing. It was electrifying. It was good to be back in Skinner Park again,” he said. Teja last appeared in Calypso Fiesta in 2023 with his offering Hall of Fame. This year his runaway hit has brought him again to South Trinidad. As he was walking away from backstage yesterday, he was greeted by Dwayne O’Connor, father of the reigning Calypso Monarch, who offered him words of encouragement for his hopeful performance in the finals.

Giselle Fraser-Washington singing We Going Fighting at Calypso Fiesta, Skinner Park, San Fernando on Saturday. – Photo by Lincoln Holder

“I want this jab in the finals, like (David) Rudder,” the older O’Connor motioned to the young singer.

A total of 40 calypsonians are vying for 10 positions for Dimanche Gras at the Queen’s Park Savannah on February 10. Judges made their final decisions based on lyrics, melody, rendition, and presentation.

Journalist Caston Cupid singing Straight from the Heart at Calypso Fiesta, Skinner Park, San Fernando on Saturday. – Photo by Lincoln Holder

Among the special guests seen at the Calypso Fiesta were Minister of Energy Stuart Young and the Commissioner of Police.

By 6 pm, the show reached the halftime mark with entertainment coming from Kevan Calliste who performed classics written and sung by his grandfather, the late calypso legend Black Stalin.

Richard Raj-Kumar, also known as Chromatics, singing 2 Party at Calypso Fiesta, Skinner Park, San Fernando on Saturday. – Photo by Lincoln Holder

Timothy Watkins, better known as the Baron, who is still going after a hectic Christmas season, switched gears to sing his classics Ah Feelin’ It and Sweet Soca Man. Austin “SuperBlue” Lyons, with roots in Point Fortin, had the crowd waving to his first hit Soca Baptist, then Bacchanal Time, skipping quickly to his tribute to Brian Lara.

In true form, he was on the barrier between the audience and the stage instructing them to signal amidst the confetti and fog.