There was much to recommend the Cave Shepherd All Stars as they pitched tent for the first time this season at Solidarity House on Saturday night.
Much has been previously said about the talent and promise of Aziza, and on the weekend she reinforced the hype with two sterling renditions of One People, One Nation in the first half and Bring Back Respect in her second appearance. Every so often a song is performed that truly combines excellent lyrics, quality arrangement and sweet melody, and the Ewatt Viper Green-written song scored well in those criteria. It was one of the top renditions of the night.
Aziza sang of the diverse religions and many complexions to be found on the island, but the reality still of a singular people. She implored Barbadians to lift up the country for the world to see. Her second number was similarly potent and she is certain to create a favourable impression among tent-goers as the season progresses.
Shawnie’s I Forgive You was one of the wittier songs performed. In a world where many people might find themselves being treated unkindly by others, victimized, or even marginalized, the veteran calypsonian sang that victims of such acts must be prepared to say F-you, or to the point, “I forgive you”.
He also rendered They Write The Books to complete a pleasing evening.
De Announcer is in excellent shape this year –– especially with his selection Mic Check, one of the highlights of the evening’s entertainment. The song has a sweet melody and was terrifically rendered by the veteran artiste.
If he returned somewhat to his narcissistic ways singing about himself in Rabba, Babba, Shabba –– another with a nice melody –– De Announcer did attempt to be self-deprecating without going into
full explanation of his vitriol in the mirror. He could have felt mightily pleased with his night’s excellent work.
Hee Haw, a finalist last year, rendered Despair and Disunity which were somewhat close thematically. His strength is his usually flawless rendition, and this was evident in both songs that looked at some of the main bugbears that affect citizens and lead to personal despair and friction in communities.
Colin Spencer was in tremendous voice, if not memory, in No Trussing and Toilet Paper. His songs are worthy competition material constructed in the traditional style of the genre. With the latter he had a few memory lapses, but these should be ironed out long before the business end of the Pic-O-De-Crop competition approaches.
Donella called for a better Division of the social pie in her song of that name, singing: “Let every Bajan share the common wealth.”
Last year’s almost-queen completed a terrific showing on Sunday night with The Criteria.
Richard Antonio has not found the transition from party music to social commentary an easy road. In his Unanswered Questions that looked at a number of social infelicities for which citizens get no answers, Antonio tended to “eat” the ultima of many of his words.
He can get away with that in party songs, but not social commentary; and it was noticeable that he chewed the last syllable in several words, affecting his rendition of his first song, as well as Boundaries. He will have to work on that if he is to be taken seriously at competition level.
Jael was impressive with De Home and Stop Blame De Men. The former song should be posted inside every household in the island. Jael sang that if one had the privilege of being a parent, one should be sensitive to the import of that tremendous responsibility. She sang that whatever a parent did could have an impact on society, and dereliction of duty could result
in disaster for communities.
In her second number –– which really resonated with the males in the audience –– she begged women to take responsibility for their present and future, and not point accusatorial fingers at men when things go wrong in their lives.
There were also good performances from the likes of Dijah, Adela, Miguel, Charisma, and Sparkle T. Daba tried his best without being convincing, while as party music goes, Screwface was a total delight with his infectious Banana Republic. He has been off the scene for a bit and it was great to see him back.
Former calypso monarch Kid Site also had a solid showing with his uptempo They Got To Be Drunk.
In terms of musical accompaniment, the All Stars Band was fabulous.
And the icing on the cake was the chemistry and hilarity provided by the emcee team of Jennifer Walker and Eric Lewis’ alter ego –– queen Archibald Cox.