Our Readers' Opinions
August 6, 2010
Concerns about Vincy kaiso and J’Ouvert

Fri, Aug 6, 2010

Editor: I am under no illusion that Vincy Mas is the greatest Caribbean summer festival. The rhythm, colour and gaiety displayed cannot be matched elsewhere. However, this status is threatened unless speedy action is taken to enhance its Calypso and J’Ouvert components.{{more}}

Recent observations reveal that Vincy Kaiso is aging. This was mirrored in the average age (52 years) of this year’s eleven Dimanche Gras Finalists. It was a final in which nine angry old men and a talented young man were defeated by a granny in a wheelchair! Surely, Vincy Kaiso must reinvent itself and stimulate the infusion of young blood in order to bring back crowds to Carnival City. The cycle of geriatrics with their monotonous political theme will not win new converts.

Variation in themes was craftily exploited last weekend during the Barbado’ Pick of the Crop finals. On the contrary, the lack of content creativity and versatility in Vincy Kaiso is haemorrhaging the local art-form. Satire and double entendre have become rarities as calypsonians limit their scope to an archaic political theme. Yet we ponder the reason for the fall in gate receipts at all calypso shows within recent years. Similarly, the melody has not evolved with the passage of time, as kaisonians continue to restrict themselves to slow two chord calypsos. Who says that a good calypso has to be slow and boring? What happened to up-tempo calypso?

Shouldn’t measures be put in place to encourage up-tempo calypsos in competitions? The Black Ebou dared to be different in 1987 when he successfully performed the up-tempo hit “Do weh yo like” en route to his first calypso crown. The myopic purists viewed such an intrusion with scorn, oblivious to the fact that the Black Ebou was ahead of his time. Their short-sightedness is still felt today where Vincy Kaiso remains stagnant as its up-tempo sibling Soca evolves into a fresher and more attractive genre.

It is vital that calypso be kept alive since it is an effective medium to transmit political and social commentary. However, calypsonians need to expand their scope and produce music that will attract a younger market. To do so, versatility is necessary in order to present a richer blend of traditional and up-tempo calypsos that transcend ages. This is necessary since the younger audience is turned off by the boring two-chord-type calypso.

Vincy J’Ouvert has retrogressed to a spectacle of glorified hooliganism. This is mainly due to corporate greed and our copycat mentality. There must be a method to the madness of mud, oil and paint frenzy. Shouldn’t there be a theme or storyline portrayed in this massive mass of body confusion? Instead of the random body painting couldn’t the faces and skin be painted to depict aspects of life? The CDC needs to seek creative ways in which this aspect of Vincy Mas can be modelled into a more civilized expression of our people. Kudos to the Jouvert Fanatics for keeping it real.

In closing, I wish to recommend major changes to the final weekend of the 12-day Vincy Mas Calendar.

1. Friday—Calypso Finals and Queen of the bands;

2. Saturday—Soca Monarch and King of the bands;

3. Sunday—Carnival Callalou (showcase the crème de la crème-1st, 2nd and 3rd places in all competitions);

4. Bring forward the Miss Carival Pageant to the preceding Sunday.

I am convinced that such bold and visionary adjustments are necessary in an effort to resuscitate Vincy Mas as an entire cultural package.

Collin CA$H Haywood