There might have been an exodus of performers from the All Stars this year. But those patrons who attended the calypso tent’s judging night at the Garfield Sobers Sports Complex on Sunday could hardly have missed those dearly departed minstrels.
In arguably the finest first-half display seen in the tents this year, Hee Haw led some special performances that included contributions from the likes of Miguel, Aziza, Shae, Announcer and Dijah. If some of the second-half offerings dropped slightly below the heady first half, a number of the performers would have done enough to recommend themselves to the Pic-O-De-Crop judging panel.
Hee Haw was simply a treat with his This Is Not America.The lyrics should be required reading for prospective idiots on the verge of walking around the island exposing soiled, dingy underwear beneath their dropped trousers; or those who would de-emphasize religious instructions in schools; or those who would seek to bully others into accepting their sexual orientation; or those who believe there is something unholy in a relationship between church and state. Hee Haw didn’t preach, but rendered a riveting selection carried on a beautiful melody. He completed an excellent night with Light Of The World in the second half.
The youthful Aziza also had a good night before the judges with her Tighten Your Belt and Live Your Dream.In the former, another of the sweet melodies that were the rule rather than the exception during the night, Aziza advised that given the troubled economic times Bajans should desist from trying to build houses they couldn’t afford, avoid expensive brand-name apparel, and generally leave out a champagne lifestyle while living from mauby pockets. Her second selection advised people not to be discouraged or influenced by negativity but always to pursue their dreams.
Announcer got two encores for his The Man They Love To Hate and completed what looked like a certain invitation for the semi-finals with The Second Song. He pulled no punches in the first selection in which he defended himself against his detractors and had some advice for the likes of former monarch Adrian Clarke, as well as a local personality who defends homosexuality with uncompromising passion, among others. He was again in defence mode in his other number, this time preaching the virtues of tent manager Eleanor Rice, and the tent generally, while sprinkling the song with a number of topical issues of the day. He has reached the semi-finals and finals with far inferior material to his 2014 package. If he doesn’t make it this year it could be a case of someone, somewhere, somehow, feeling offended.
Miguel’s strength has always been his vocal ability and finally this year he has two songs, one in particular, that do not come over as long-winded theses. His Gun Town about the prevalence of illegal weapons in the island, and the failure of authorities at our points of entry to keep them out of the island, was one of the many sweet melodies performed during the show. Though his De Jury was not in the same league, it was still potent enough for the judges to at least give him more than an initial thought. This song suggested that perhaps a jury should replace judges in coming to decisions in the calypso competition.
Dijah impressed with Allergies which looked at some of the vices in the society that were intolerable and then really lit up the second half with the up-tempo, Latino Calypso,which as the title suggested was a fusion of Latin sounds and traditional calypso. The rhythm was simply sweet and Dijah performed it with much aplomb.
Kid Site’sThe Missing Plane where he compared the still missing Malaysian air-carrier to Barbados having neither pilot nor captain was a solid enough effort, without being spectacular. His Cut Back which gave some advice to Bajans on some of the things they could “cut back” on in these economically depressed times was similarly commendable.
Cher excelled in the first-half with Till Woman Is King where her rendition stood out. The melodic number which preached the virtues of the female gender and posited that “yuh can’t treat me like I am nothing” earned her a deserved encore, though some men in the audience queried the logic of the lyrics and wondered why as she suggested, she would keep on singing “until woman is king”. Her second song was Contribution which looked at the importance of agriculture as well as the scourge of praedial thieves. She could feel pleased with
her night’s work.
Also appearing on the night were Shawnee with Sexy Barbados and Serve Wunnuh Right;an impressive Donella Come For Your Pan Getting Away With Murder; Dapper with the party song Juck Down; Ronnie Morris, seemingly lost in transition between phrasing ballads and calypsos in his From The CryptCome For Your Award.
The musical accompaniment from the band was outstanding and the emcee was Jennifer Walker.