Last Saturday evening, for the grand finale of the 3rd annual Bajan Broughtupsy show, New York-based calypsonian and entertainer, Archie “ Killer” Miller, changed from his earlier Independence-inspired kingly outfit into Landship attire.
He ably and royally led King Tuk Rhythms through its routines. As the four-man group performed, some members of the audience stood, clapped or sang along to the Bajan classics — Beautiful Barbados, Island in the Sun, and Endorse The Cou Cou.
The finale of Bajan Broughtupsy also featured a young talented dancing stiltman and encore performances of artists. At one point, during the rendition of Beautiful Barbados, Negus Adeyemi performed his patriotic poem Ode To Los Barbados.
“I is a Bajan, you is Barbados, 166 square miles of flat land rotated 180 degrees replicating Alkebulah but far from flat in all areas,” the poem goes in part. “Your bottom sticks out like Mother Sally…
“Your accent stands out like King Dyal, your pulse sounds like a tuk band, pulsating messages, to captains navigating Landships… When I say your name, my spirit jumps like shaggy bear, bounces like green monkeys … If anyone tries to hold me down, I will just break away like Bussa”
The two-hour presentation which offered a poetic and rhythmic Bajan journey that included American cultural influences, had several tipping points. One of them was the father-son interactive demonstration of the Landship manoeuvre “go down to lowton.”
Truth be told, Negus, the son, outperformed Archie Miller, his father. In limbo style, Negus crept under a lower bar so to speak. Laughter and applause were immediate. Although impromptu, the lesson was complete. Or, maybe it was part of the production.
In the introduction of published programme, co-host Negus Adeyemi and Empress Poetry wrote: “Our intentions are to teach our history, celebrate our progress and promote ideas for an outstanding future.”
Clearly, the theatre setting at the Brooklyn Music School was deliberate with a design as a Bajan mirror.
Former Barbados Consul-General in New York, General Lennox Price, commended the effort. “ Archie Miller continues to make a contribution. It was really good. I thoroughly enjoyed myself”
Eugene Felix, without hesitation said: “Very, very good.” Mark Classic added: “Marvelous. I loved the poetry. Each poet was different. I left Barbados some time ago. It brought back memories.”
Another patron, who preferred to remain anonymous, agreed that the show was extremely good but believed a few adjustments could make it excellent. She explained: “ In today’s world, one must always have plan A, B and C. Technical difficulties will always occur, and you cannot stop lateness but you must plan for it.”
She went on: “I don’t know the details, but starting on time removes excuses and sells your next show. Secondly, a three-minute video documentary giving the history or origins of the Tuk Band will help the audience to enjoy the performance more. But that is just me.”
That said, the organizers and cast deserve three cheers and a New York Independence award, if only because inherent in the show’s weaknesses is the space for wider collaboration and leadership and a more diverse programme that reaches out to Bajan roots wherever they may be.
Other performers and contributors included Dynasty International, Sam Clarke, Jackie Brathwaite, Shante Cozier, Portia Ann Bradley, Parlay Luing, Mark Cox, Philip Pilgrim, Rue Osageto, Roger Smith, The Shakasis Dancers and Brandon Valery. A representative of the Consulate also attended.