Sunday’s night opening of the Cave Shepherd All Stars Tent at St Gabriel’s School was not the spectacular affair it has been in previous years. Still, there was much to recommend and to enjoy for the many patrons in attendance.
One of the most impressive on the night was former Junior Monarch competitor Raheem with both of his selections De Bus Ride and Why Vote receiving very warm and encouraging response. The former song delivered at medium tempo was an object lesson for those inclined towards deviancy. He sang that the only way he would ever be on a prison bus was if he was the driver. His second song looked at a number of social issues and the reasons why an 18-year-old should go the polls. He delivered his songs well and was a picture of confidence in both of his appearances.
Jude Clarke – who seems to have dropped his sobriquet Hee Haw – was also among those who impressed. His two selections Great and How Wrong Things Get Right were delivered with his usual high-quality rendition. The former song, in particular, looked to inform Barbadians that the process of nation-building was a collective effort. He sang that despite “the potholes in the economy” and that “nobody wants to lend we money” Barbadians were in the prevailing situation together and could only get out of it if they pulled together. Clarke is a class act.
Making a return to the local calypso stage was Structure. The veteran calypsonian who is now resident in Canada delivered two numbers entitled Stenton Master and the lyrically strong Work. However, in both songs Structure and the band had difficulties keeping on the same page and in the latter in particular, they went their separate ways on a few occasions. However, Structure is a quality performer and it is anticipated that as he gets deeper into the season there will be greater cohesion between himself and the band.
Donella was in excellent voice as usual with her selections We Aint Changing and Pray For The Children. She sang that despite the changes which might be made in Barbados across the political landscape there were some things that would never change such as Bajans’ propensity to litter, argue and eat pork. The songs were not outstanding lyrically but Donella’s beautiful vocals would make Baa Baa Black Sheep inviting.
Colin Spencer was also in fine voice with Come Back Dear Father, a sweet entreaty to the Almighty to return to these shores. His treatment of the subject was well conceived. He gave a snippet from a song that is a Democratic Labour Party (DLP) apology and from the verse which he delivered there is every indication that it will be worth returning to the tent to hear the remainder. He quipped that he had to scrap a song which he intended to perform celebrating the DLP’s victory at the polls on May 24. He might have to keep that one under wraps for about another decade at least.
De Slayer has shown promise for several years but seems not to be progressing and most of this stems from the fact that he is yet to turn up for the Crop Over festival with two strong songs. With his better than average vocal ability, the first time Slayer gets two solid songs he will go places. He won’t be this year with Trojan Horse and Peace.
De Announcer’s ode to the festival entitled Crop Over was somewhat lacklustre both lyrically and in rendition. He ended the show in the second-half with the up-tempo Glad which was among other things a celebration of the DLP’s demise at the polls. This was marginally better than his first-half offering.
Also performing on the night were Charisma who accredited herself well, Franswaa, Niqa, Sandman, Jael and Lynchie.
The backing band was generally on point and emcee duties were shared by the comedic team of Jennifer Walker and Eric “Queen” Lewis.