June 18, 2004
Kaiso – that yearly ritual

The Calypso season is fully with the judging of the preliminaries all this week long.
That process had started in Brooklyn, that adopted North American Caribbean borough, where judges Williams (Garth), Williams (Blazer) and Cummings (Alban) had the unenviable task of journeying to judge the Dynamites Tent, at a show that reportedly went until 5 a.m. {{more}}Nothing strange for Brooklynites, but certainly hard on the judges, who had to deal with jet lag and heading back home to a gruelling week of night after night of concentrating on allocating points to compositions that could range from the sublime to the ridiculous; no easy task.
But this has been a year that thus far has been far from inspiring as regards the standard of the material presented. While there have been some excellent examples of political satire, at times one gets the impression that the bards have been struggling to find issues that really resonate deeply with their audiences.
Lacking has been genuine humour, either from masters of ceremony at calypso tents or from the calypsonians themselves. The craft of presenting great humour seems to be on the wane with the presenters often becoming the objects of derision rather than being the manufacturers of humour.
The most encouraging sign, among our calypsonians, has been the emergence of a crop of female exponents of the art who have brought a renewed elegance, sense of melody and superb delivery to the genre. These females have been showing their male counterparts that one does not have to debase the opposite sex to get a message across. In fact many applaud the quality of the Queen of Calypso show that attracted perhaps record numbers this year.
On the downside this year, are the Soca artistes who, on one side of the aisle are so intent for quick popularity that the finer points of the art of calypso or composition totally elude them. Vulgarity seems to be the order of the day, with little or no attempt at masking their intent through double entendre. A lot of the Soca material frankly should not be played on national radio. But these days almost anything goes so they receive much airplay in some quarters.
Amidst this mix the tents have been complaining -once more- that they have not been receiving adequate support from audiences and sponsors. Attendance has been dismal and both the tent leaders and the Carnival Development Corporation may be forced back to the drawing board to plan strategies meant to lure persons out of their homes and back to the tents that they once used to support.
The yearly ritual of composing, presenting, listening and analyzing our productions is with us again and will continue, but at the end of the day the question we must ask ourselves is, are we improving. You be the jury.
We, however, encourage you all to continue to support our calypsonians, the semis and finals promise to be great competitive shows this year.