The Super Gladiators Calypso Tent was first out the blocks on Saturday night at the Roy Byer Centre, as more than a dozen calypsonians sought to impress the judges and gain entry into the semi-finals of this year’s Pic-O-De-Crop competition.
Making an excellent case for inclusion was Smokey Burke with Poor Trait and Persona Non Grata. Once again Burke’s strength was the fashioning of his calypsos. For witticism, turn of phrase and general use of language, he has few equals, and this was reflected in the lyrics of both songs.
In the former he played on the title of the song demonstrating a number of “poor traits” that paint a negative “portrait” of Barbados. Apart from being well crafted, it was well rendered and was one of the overall highlights of the occasion. His second selection might rub a few the wrong way, but judged on its own merit, it was a very effective selection with which many could identify.
Julie reached the semifinals last year with material inferior to this year’s, which is no criticism of her 2016 quality. But in Copy And Paste Calypso and Leaders she made a strong case for herself. The former selection was particularly interesting where she suggested technology was being used by many artistes to rehash warmed-over melodies and themes. She generally had a solid night before the judges.
This has been Shirley Stewart’s best year since entering the competition. And his offerings of The Launch, which looked at the island’s 50th Independence anniversary celebrations, and Water, were commendable efforts by the veteran performer. They were both melodic and lyrically interesting while Stewart rendered them well.
Dijah gave a good account of herself with IMF and Advice To The Youth. Many would have been surprised to see her facing the judges in the Super Gladiators Tent since she started the season in the All Stars Tent and has been a part of that organization over the past few years. The reason behind her sudden shift is another story.
Blank was in good voice with both Save We Kaiso and Get Pon That. He continues to grow every year and should feel pleased with his output this year. His first selection was arguably his stronger number where he exhorted those with an interest in the art form to protect it.
The best dressed calypsonian in the island, sweet-singing Kinky Star, lit up the center with They Got To Go, directed at the incumbent Government, and returned in the second half with White Elephants, highlighting some of the structures such as the Public Library and Eagle Hall Market which are either under-utilized or simply abandoned. He had a good night and would have given the judges much food for thought.
For pure melodic sweetness Akola’s Swelling was one of the highlights of the night. There was much double meaning in what he sang and the play on the title was not lost on the audience. But it was the melody that was particularly striking. His second selection was entitled For The Nation, promoting harmony and unity among Barbadians.
Prince Michae, better known as Mike Thompson of that gifted, singing Thompson family, was in good voice with both of his songs, Love Your Fellowman and Advice To Mia.
Others facing the judges on the night and giving worthy performances were the sweet-singing Mr Impact –– whose Missing The Music was one of the most melodic songs for the night –– Honesty, Princess Jan and Night Stalker.
Emcee was the very effective and talented Apollo while a definite highlight of the occasion was the musical accompaniment provided by the band.