A few sound glitches on opening night could not detract from an overall successful pitching of the Cave Shepherd All Stars Calypso Tent at the Barbados Defence Force’s St Ann’s Fort on Saturday night.
In undoubtedly the safest venue for patrons in the island, proceedings got under way with a touch of class, with the cast entering the mess hall from the rear of the room and warmly greeting patrons, and thanking them for their attendance and continued support.
As he has been in previous years, Hee Haw was in excellent voice, musical content and stage performance with two quality numbers in Respect The Man and Not Me Liver Gall. He was in similar great form last year, but fell victim to the vagaries that can often accompany Pic-O-De-Crop judging.
His first selection carried a pleasingly flowing melody, and urged that more respect be given men. He suggested society was often highly critical of its males but noted that not all were “beaters and bruisers”, poor fathers and miscreants. He got an encore for the song, as much for its lyrical strength as for the manner in which it was delivered.
Hee Haw raised the tempo in his second selection, which challenged people to stay away from alcohol. He suggested alcohol did nothing for one’s stomach other than to threaten the liver, and should therefore be shunned.
He will hardly find favour among local distilleries and distributors of those favoured spirits, but his message was well put together and beautifully rendered. Hee Haw also got an encore call for this number.
Donella was the second performer for the night to impress with both her selections –– Rise and Let He Go. Her strength is her vocals, and she too was in excellent voice on the night.
Rise, which really showcased her singing quality, was a timely reminder for prophets of doom and political propagandists that Barbados has faced and emerged from perilous times before, and would do so again.
Her second song looked at parents who would seek to protect their children from the law, even though being aware of their criminality. It was her treatment of the subject, though, that gave it that particular oomph.
She begged the police to release her son because when he broke into her neighbour’s home, no one was there to see him. And she rebuked the law for indicating they possessed a gun which he used in a crime, with the explanation that she still had his gun under her bed. Donella was class personified.
Perhaps Announcer should consider changing his stage name to Narcissus. Admittedly, Bridgetown is some distance from Thespiae, but it seems the oft-times Pic-O-De-Crop finalist is stuck in self-love mode lyrically. His No Apology was the annual déjà vu deification of self and denigration of everyone else. He is not winning the crown, or, perhaps, even placing higher than first, because he is Public Enemy –– as he described himself.
Announcer compared those other calypsonians who found greater favour among the judges than he did to Liberace, Meatloaf, Notorious BIG and Barry Manilow. He accompanied that musical tirade with Politically Correct.
The promising Nika, who formerly performed in the Junior Monarch Competition as Cher, acquitted herself very well with the Eric Lewis-penned A Massy Trini and Voice Of Calypso. She received warm applause and an encore for the former selection that looked at the “Trinidadization” of Barbados and suggested Bajans should learn the anthem of the twin-island republic, since its rendition could soon become mandatory. Like most performers who come through the Junior Monarch Competition, Nika’s diction was spot on.
Shawnee performed High-Class Robbery, which looked at some of the ways Barbadians were being robbed, whether through mergers, or Government’s failure or tardiness in making statutory payments to them. He received an encore call for this selection.
He also rendered Politicians Too Lying, applauded at the end by former Prime Minister Sir Lloyd Erskine Sandiford sitting in the front row. The song, though, was overly repetitive and could have benefited from a tad more lyrics.
Stalker’s Too Much Acting dealt with a problem that is endemic in Barbados –– acting appointments in Government. Somewhat tongue-in-cheek, Stalker also sang about a man (not necessarily a member of Government) who, on being confronted by his lover’s husband, gave the excuse that his dalliance with the wife was due to “acting for the husband”. The veteran calypsonian also rendered I Shall March.
Also performing on the night were last year’s finalist Miguel with a ballad entitled Change; the highly promising Dijah with Toni The Tigress and Sing About That; Richard Antonio with Bajan-Only Calypso Show and Free; Sweet Soca with Boisterous; four-time monarch Kid Site with Life Ain’t Fair; Hypasounds with Sugar Up; and Camera Man with Wining On Anything.
Trinidadian guest performer Johnny King brought the show to an end with some of his more popular songs.
The emcee was Jennifer Walker whose easy conversational style –– replete with numerous Bajanisms –– endears her to audiences, but she is noticeably underutilized, if used at all, by the National Cultural Foundation. The NCF should consider correcting that this year.