by Shawn Cumberbatch
Based purely on performance, the cast of Barbados’ oldest calypso tent would have impressed the near capacity audience attending its judgment last night at Queen’s College.
House of Soca calypsonians, young and experienced, exuded energy and enthusiasm before the panel which will decide their 2013 Pic-O-De-Crop fate.
Several singers facing the calypso assessors impressed with their renditions, among them Aziza, Dre, Kid Site, Sir Ruel, Popsicle, Emran, Speedmaster, and Jimmy Dan. The musicians accompanying them played outstandingly all night, with the apparent few communication issues between them and some performers now absent.
The value of having a quality MC in the form of Yolanda Holder, who easily entertained and connected with the audience, was also evident.
All of the above notwithstanding, when the experts assembled by the National Cultural Foundation get down into the nitty-gritty of their task, including criteria like melody and lyrics, last night’s good performances alone might not be enough to get many into the semi-final 18.
Among those trying to get the nod of approval from Washbrook Bayne and company, Dre was as close to flawless as any in his performances of Mr.Humility and Malicious Beatrice.
As on opening night, I still have difficulty reconciling someone using an entire song to brag about how humble they are, but I am not the expert and Dre might have convinced the judges otherwise. Second time around he was also good in laying out his case why a nosy neighbour should be an endangered species.
Aziza is not only tall in stature and natural ability but continues to grow among her seniors on the calypso stage. She received a deserved encore for The Guardians Of Calypso, in which she makes a compelling argument why youngsters like her deserve respect from the more experienced folks in and out of the art form, and completed a good night with Barbados I Pray.
Say what you like about Kid Site’s melodies – and as is usually the case there are some who will say plenty – but when it comes to delivering a calypso the four time monarch is not superseded by many. Such was the case with Don’t Worry Bout It and A Better Tomorrow, a mixture of politics other topical issues from someone who, based on his frequent trips to the latter stages of Pic-O-De-Crop contest, clearly knows what the judges are expecting.
Sir Ruel is a personal favourite who impresses every year. He sung his heart out in Sir and Wha Dum Want, hailing those who have made outstanding contributions in various spheres and rebuking those trying to lower the standards of young calypsonians like him.
Last night Popsicle was Popsicle, examining the topics Entrepreneur and Crime Stoppers in his own unique style. Time and the judges opinions will tell if his strong story telling ability will be enough to match his melodies, which are weaker in comparison.
Like their counterparts Emran (The Rock and Wake Me Up), Speedmaster (War and God Is A Bajan), and Jimmy Dan (Allegiance and The Sound Of Pan) would hope that they convinced those who mattered that their songs were worthy of more than tent-goers. None of them could be faulted for their performances, especially of The Rock, War and The Sound Of Pan, and obviously will be balanced against their tent mates and calypsonians from other tents. Also facing judgment and representing themselves adequately without wowing were Shaki-K (No Man In De House and Rita Bring Back De Crown), Adrenalin (My Bajan Dream and Living In The Shadow Of Evil), GQ (Abuse and The Tunnel), Delight (The Next Side Of Me and But Uh Dancing), and Franswa (Prophecy and The Promise).
Other performers on the night included impressive juniors Sammy G (Successful Sammy), Small One (Pull We Back), veteran Malik (Mary), crowd favourite Sharky (Potential and If De BLP), Gallon (Wuk Yuh Body and The Big C), Callie (Wuk Up De Bumpa), and Mikard (Fat Pork).
One negative was the long show, with the tent starting promptly but ending just past 1 a.m., including a longer than promised intermission. It threatened to cross that thin line from being something you enjoyed to something you endured. [email protected]