Our Readers' Opinions
February 21, 2017
Vincy soca future assured

by Dexter Rose

Saturday night’s VINCY ALL STARS SHOW was a showcase of pure unadulterated quality Vincy Soca! This, as the Carnival Development Corporation (CDC) staged the first of what they have said would be a series of spectacles leading up to the 40th anniversary of our move to June July Vincy Mas. And for this, the new CDC chair and his corporation must take a well-deserved bow.

The venue chosen was the tarmac of the recently decommissioned ET Joshua Airport an one believes that our first Chief Minister would have approved of the jamming on his facility because of the sheer excellent quality of this event.

Those who, like me, wandered in late missed a lot. I am told that the first segment featured great performances by artistes such as Bomani, Lexi, Scakes and CP, among others, who glorified the first set, emceed by the Master E Bernard John, very elegantly clad over his slim frame. The ALL STARS show had to have one of the best as Master of Ceremonies.

When I got there the first issue was parking. As if you don’t know, we simply have too many vehicles for a small island nation where space is not going to expand anytime soon and where nobody seems to be dealing with this issue. I got lucky and squeezed in between two horizontally parked cars. I fitted in vertically. Hint, hint!!! Can this be done all over town and country? Saves space methinks and is done in many countries where, like us, congestion is a problem. But I was talking about the show.

I was impressed by the ticket booths at the former taxi stand. But a bit of queuing and having an usher guiding the process would have made it easier. Many went straight to the entrance where security checks were being done. I, however, got there so late that the extra three minutes did not matter, because by then, most of the patrons were already on the tarmac jamming.

Cyril ‘Scorcher’ Thomas was onstage, while the usually conservative Vincy public was just barely chipping, with very little applause. Yes, Vincies show their appreciation by not booing at best, but applause is not always evident and hard to evoke.

Scorcher the veteran grooved through his set, which included a potpourri of his very familiar hits of yesteryear and seemed to elicit most reaction when he reminded that “all kind ah wood dey up Sion Hill”. Strange thing, cause Sion Hill is not a forested area.

Where he really moved the crowd was with his performance of his monumental “Party Fever,” which in the early eighties had stormed the soca world, including the mecca Trinidad and Tobago with this Granville Straker produced, Frankie McIntosh arranged mega hit, recorded and mixed in Manhattan. I know cause I accompanied the legendary Straker to the studios during the mastering.

This show flowed smoothly and welcomed the young Chewale, who has been breaking down doors locally and seems set to do the same regionally. This dreadlocked, charismatic performer began his set, a tribute to the venerable songwriting and singing combination of Professor Cornwall as singer and Tanny Peters, the writer, with one stanza of the memorable “I am a King,” before charging into “Mas in the Hospital, Block-o in the Cemetery,” complete with dancers between several tombs.

Denis Bowman was up next and really did heat up the place with his explosive throwback to Blaksand, including “Jump like an African” and his “Sketel Coming”. He had the crowd really dancing and waving hands and rags under his command. Great act.

The Man Stone, this novelty artiste, whose folksy compositions and off melody singing have always been favourites, did not disappoint and ended with his “Licks with Posey” to great reception. But the night belonged to the Crowd Motivator Rondy Luta McIntosh, who demonstrated why he is so successful. Nattily clad in a retro outfit of bell-bottomed trousers, sleeves, bow tie and fedora hat ran through a medley of hits by other popular artistes of yesteryear with great aplomb. Luta dug into his Signal band vocalist experience during this performance, including “Behind a bumpa,” ending with “Just for she to see” and the audience could have climbed a mountain behind this Pied Piper, as he commanded his followers.

Next up was Shaunelle, who took the audience fully in hand. How does a young woman become deemed a veteran? She has certainly honed her vocal and stage skills since she first graced the public stage as a schoolgirl and it showed. Her performance of the venerable Rasum Shallow’s “Perseverance”, arguably one of the best calypsos ever written anywhere, deserved being recorded for posterity. Since we were remembering X-A-DUS of yesteryear, Shaunelle recalled Rasum’s sidekick Ken ‘Whizzy’ Wiseman with a rendition of “Baila Sanka”.

Then it was time to go back to the authentic superstars and on came the Rolls Royce, whose energy and vocal quality, after so many decades, continues to amaze me. Winston Soso’s performance really had most of the audience dancing; some so overenthusiastically that they kept running over the bevy of cameramen and videographers front stage. He cruised through several of his major hits in his smooth style and was a lesson to would-be performers on the use of stage and coordination with the accompanying musicians, under the direction of young Andrew James on keyboards.

An aside here. Major kudus to the members of the accompanying ensemble Kinetic. Their steady confident and efficient bassist Arby on counterpoint with guitarist Zan George kept a steady rhythm, while the keyboardists provided smooth melodic overlays for the very sharp horn section which was on cue at every stage. This efficiency warms my heart, while the Vincy Angels trio of accompanying vocalists did a superb job throughout, as they danced in a choreographed manner, even as their voices remarkably held up over the entire evening’s performances.

It was left to the North Leeward star Cornelius “Poorsah” Williams to be more than warm-up for Becket and he excited with his classics “Mouth inna me momma” among others, before coming back onstage to introduce the ABC.

I have to bow to Alston Becket Cyrus’ characterization of this show as the best ever he had even seen in SVG. It was saying a lot and I could not disagree. Becket has been around, has done it all and if he says so, it’s simply so.

And then he did not disappoint. A friend commented to me that it was admirable the way Scorcher, and I add Winston Soso and also Becket performed, conserving energy while wowing their audiences. All these gentlemen are over 60, but their performances do not suggest it. The quality of their performances stamped an authority that none can question; truly they were ALL STARS.

The ABC sailed through his calypso and soca hits from “Hezekiah to “Don’t Look down on a man” to “10 years,” where he included a chorus of “40 years” before ending with his internationally acclaimed mega hit “Teaser,” to bring the curtains down on a winner for SVG, for the CDC and for our entertainment future.