by Latoya Burnham
Something’s still lef’ in de bottle.
It might be last year’s refrain, but it definitely applies this year to veteran kaisoman Adonijah, who despite respiratory trouble is determined to face the judges on Friday night at The Plantation Garden Theatre.
Ado, as he is affectionately known, was today at the doctors where he was told he has “chronic bronchitis”, a condition that would put most on pause given the exertion that a live performance calls for – but not so for the man who is celebrating his 32nd year.
“It means that I have to make myself able to sing Friday night, that’s what it means. I was okay on Sunday night. According to the doctor I should look sick but I don’t look sick, but I was feeling very flu-ey and thing, but anyway I gine be good.
“I will be good for Friday night. I will make myself good for Friday night. I have no choice,” said Adonijah.
While he noted that his two songs, De Magic Spray and Riddim and Tempo have not been getting “tumultuous applause” in De First Citizens/Digicel Big Show calypso tent, the reception has been good, he said.
Riddim and Tempo, which he wrote just days before he first performed it, has been the stronger of the two gaining popularity each time he performs it, said Adonijah. He said it touched on the fact that Joshua used rhythm and tempo to bring down the walls of Jericho and similarly these were times when people relied on the music to get them through and ease the suffering.
He had originally intended to perform a song called Santa Claus that he had been writing for a while, Adonijah said, but then found it difficult to finish.
“That song [Santa Claus] was fighting me real serious. I never had a song fight me so yet. I said you see dis? Some songs have personality, you know what I mean and this one definitely ain’t greeing wid me, so I gine put it down and I gine come back to it… So I did this one Riddim and Tempo which has been going down really, really well. Both [De Magic Spray and Riddim and Tempo] have been well but [Riddim and Tempo] has been smoother. The guys really like it,” he said.
De Magic Spray, he added, used the analogy of the spray used on injuries in cricket to take away pain and how that would apply if one could purchase that spray at the supermarket to apply to other aspects of life. For example he said the magic spray could be applied to the Trinidad businessmen to get Bajans to own their own bank again.
“I had the concept of De Magic Spray from last year. It came to me after watching cricket and watching a guy get hit and I thought if they had de spray they could spray everybody… and Riddim and Tempo, we were opening on the Sunday and rehearsing on the Tuesday before when it became clear to me that this song Santa Claus was fighting me. So I went home the Tuesday night and Wednesday morning I wrote the song Riddim and Tempo, carried it to Roger Gittens the next day and he brought it to me the Thursday night. So I started singing it from the Thursday night, but I had the concept for about a year or so.”
He said overall though he was happy with his songs this year, and was determined that his health would not be an issue.
“I had the same bronchitis on Sunday night, well from Saturday and it was actually worse because I had a fever then and everything, but some lemon grass and bay leaf got rid of the fever. I gine be cool because I haven’t had any constriction in my chest. I haven’t had problems with breathing or anything so. It is just that when I speak and breath that my chest kinda rattling.
“I gine get that sort out in time though, so I gine be ready to go. In fact, I ready to go all now. I told my doctor that I have this thing on Friday night, so let’s start from there and work around it,” he said, adding he was on medication for the next two days ahead of Friday’s tent judging.
Adonijah said too that he thought his comrades in the tent were very well prepared for the judging and they had a good mixture of solid social commentary and party.
“We don’t have Gabby, we don’t have Bag, yes, but I think that will create opportunities for other people. We have Miguel who’s having a good season; Miss B, Margaret Bovell, she’s been having a really good season as well. Mr. Dale, his social commentary and Biggie, with his social commentary, they have been really good. All the guys are doing well.
“I’m not going to say you are not going to miss some people, you know? But at the same time, we are more than doing enough. We will be alright. De Big Show will not be a disappointment this year as far as judging is concerned, I don’t think,” said Adonijah.
While he acknowledged that fellow calypsonian Smokey Burke had received some flack for his song I Wid De NCF Dis Year in which he examines some of the controversy surrounding the competition last year and the numerous meetings of calypsonians and the Foundation. While he has not called names in the song, some of the inferences have earned Smokey some challenges, though Adonijah maintained that the comments were unfounded.
He suggested that unless Smokey’s song was factually flawed, then those opposing really had no case, because singing about each other is a part of what ole kaiso was.
“I really don’t understand what de whole issue is. From what I heard in de tent, what Smokey did was to recount something that happened last year. He didn’t accuse anybody of anything, he didn’t say anyone had done anything to him, he didn’t say anyone was a bad person, he simply recounted what happened. So if someone recounts what happened and someone has a problem with it, then the person has to be upset about what happened.
“The song doesn’t make any charges… he simply says this is what happened last year and so far I have not heard anyone say that his account was faulty or wrong. So I don’t understand what the problem is about,” said Adonijah.
“Lord Melody sang and called Sparrow’s wife a Belmont Jackass. In fact, that was the name of the song and Sparrow sang back and called Melody’s wife, Madame Dracula, and since Melody died, Sparrow sang at his funeral. That’s kaiso… de men were good friends. That’s what kaiso is, that’s de nature of the game.
“Ras Shorty told Iwer George he should compose in de bathroom; de men used to get serious. So this thing has me a bit annoyed because within the concept of what kaiso is, this [Smokey’s song] is not unusual. In fact, it is very tame,” Ado said.