THE place to be this Saturday is at Skinner Park, San Fernando, where Calypso Fiesta will unfold, starting at noon and ending around midnight when the after party concludes.
Farmer Nappy and Nadia Batson will headline the list of elite artistes raising the dust in the Park for the after-party. SuperBlue is also coming to raise a Rag Storm, along with Swappi, 3 Canal, Scrunter, Patrice Roberts, Aaron Duncan, Explainer, Johnny King and Poser after the competition.
It has been dubbed the biggest Calypso picnic in the world and, on Saturday, approximately 30,000 people are expected to converge at the place where 40 calypsonians, adjudged to be at the top of their game, would vie for one of 15 places up for grabs in the Calypso Monarch competition. There are also two reserves, Shirlane Hendrickson and Myron “Incredible Myron B” Bruce. The 15 will come up against defending champion, Helon Francis.
Not for the first time, the monarch competition would be excluded from the Carnival Sunday premier Carnival show, Dimanche Gras. It would instead be held on February 28, the Thursday before Carnival in a show dubbed a Night of Champions as it will also double as the finals for the ex-tempo competition.
The calypso monarch was held as a stand-alone event in 1999 and in 2014. President of the Trinbago Unified Calypsonians Organisation (TUCO) Lutalo Masimba said the exclusion from Dimanche Gras gave TUCO better control from preliminary judging to the finals.
He said, while there are people who held to the tradition of crowning the monarch at Dimanche Gras, he subscribed to the majority who were of the opinion that Dimanche Gras should be a big extravaganza and competitions would take away from that.
An interesting mix of young and vintage calypsonians have been selected to do battle on the Skinner Park Stage, including recently crowned Young King Ronaldo London who is looking to secure his second crown for the season. Third and sixth place winners of the Young King’s competition, Addelon “Banjela” Braveboy and Darwren “Pharoah” Greenidge are also on the inside. All three are from the Kaiso Showkase Tent.
Among those trying to dethrone young Francis is Winston “Gypsy” Peters. This veteran is no stranger to controversy, but he will be going into the Calypso Fiesta on Saturday in what some term the disadvantageous number one position, dodged by the hullabaloo over his entry while wearing the hat of National Carnival Commission’s chairman.
Gypsy has been applauded and “toilet-papered” on this southern platform where calypsonians pass or fail the “acid test” set by hardcore fans, rewarding the competitor with placards touting “kaiso, kaiso” or toilet paper to represent the sewage being offered.
While there are no rules debarring Gypsy, a former calypso monarch, from entering the competition, calypso devotees say it is “unethical.” Gypsy has defended his position by saying he was, first and foremost, a calypsonian and people who chaired other bodies continued their craft, his just happened to be as a performer. He is also a contestant in the ex-tempo competition.
TUCO PRO Ras Kommanda said all was in place for the greatest show in the Caribbean.
“We at TUCO are proud to be able to continue this tradition, to deliver the calypso product – the monarch, road march, junior calypso. We have 14 events we are running this Carnival. We will deliver, just give us the funding and we will execute the projects.”
Kommanda said one of the dilemmas they faced at Calypso Fiesta was patrons “storming” the gates without paying. He is calling on the police to help with securing the gates. In terms of reports of vehicles being stolen, he appealed to calypso lovers “to secure your vehicles as best as possible.”
Calypso Monarch semifinalists in order of appearance:
1. Winston “Gypsy” Peters – When Elephants Fight
2. Brian London – Who To Call
3. Heather MacIntosh – Take Over
4. Lesley Ann Ellis – Yuh Wanna Fight
5. Karen Eccles Thomas – She Still Have To Wait
6. Terri Lyons – Woman
7. Alicia Richards – Israel’s Concern
8. Robert “Mighty Trini” Elias – 101 Per cent
9. Victoria “Queen Victoria” Cooper-Rahim –Suspect Band
10. Sheldon Reid – Wey Meh Trinidad
11. Tamika Darius – Oil Cyah Spoil
12. Erphaan Alves – I Am
13. Hollis “Chalkdust” Liverpool – They Put Meh So
14. Jelanie Wells – Ah Tipping
15. Maria Bhola – False Alarm
16. Mark Eastman – Calypso Killers
17. Addelon “Banjela” Braveboy – Bring It Back
18. Karene Asche – Loco and Broco
19. Selvon “Mistah Shak” Noel – J’ouvert Demons
20. Tammico “Spicey” Moore – De Crown
21. Natasha “Sexy Suzie” Nurse – The Wrong Name
22. Devon Seale – Two Face
23. Roger “Bodyguard” Mohammed – Barefoot
24. Dexter “The Stinger” Parsons – Spanish Food
25. Kerine “Tiny” Williams-Figaro – Slipping Away
26. Darwren “Pharoah” Greenidge – Formula
27. Stacey Sobers – Make T&T Great Again
28. Joanne “Tigress” Rowley – Who Feels It Knows It
29. Kurt “The Last Bad John of Calypso” Allen – Wha Yuh Say?
30. Michael “Sugar Aloes" Osouna – Super G
31. Anthony “Allrounder” Hendrickson – Where Are The Footprints
32. Ronaldo London – Man’s Imagination
33. Allison “Warrior Empress” Bernard – The You In You
34. Jerrisha Duncan-Regis – Big Fat Zero
35. Alana Sinnette-Khan – Pressure Does Buss Pipe
36. Duane O’Connor – Respect
37. Kyle “KC” Cowie – The Bigger Picture
38. Alex “Tobago Chalkie” Gift – Travel Advisory
39. Sheldon “Sheldon Nugget” Bullen – Celebrate Them
40. Roderick “Chucky” Gordon – El Muro (The Wall)
1. Shirlane Hendrickson – Post and Position
2. Myron “Incredible Myron B” Bruce – The Rasta In Rasta City