IT was a night of hits and misses from the cast of Kaiso Showkase on opening night, February 2,
at Palms Club, San Fernando.
The show started promptly at 8 pm, with the national anthem played on pan, followed by a rousing dance from the red, white and black-clad Renaissance Dance Group.
In his debut year, Kevan Calliste opened the show with the song Leroy and Roy, a tribute to his grandfather Leroy “Black Stalin” Calliste and music whiz Roy Cape. Front-row supporters, included his grandmother, Patsy Calliste, all wearing T-shirts with pictures of the two icons.
Maybe it was a case of opening night jitters or his vintage, but the oldest calypsonian on the cast, Allan “Nikko” Nicholas, satorially dressed, forgot his lines.
Several attempts were made by the band, Razor Sharp, to accommodate this veteran who has been entertaining as far back as the 70s. His Different Strokes is a social commentary on the treatment of the poor as opposed to the rich in similar circumstance. After a few repetitions of the same lines, Nikko, the third performer of the night, gave up and walked off the stage.
He was not the only one stomped by memory. Kenrick “Black Byrd” Sheen, the fifth performer, suffered a lapse, possibly because of the attire of entertainer Sexy C (Crystal Jeselle Mitchum) who accompanied him for his I’m Not a Player.
There was an absence of the hard-hitting political commentaries, a main staple of this tent, with a few still pounding the opposition United National Congress and its main players. The People’s National Movement was spared any knocks.
Several of the veterans, the main attraction in the tent for many years, including Victor "Mr Mack" MacDonald, who never fails to deliver some good humour with his lyrics and antics, as well as Ainsley "El Drago" Mayers and Carl "Kaiso Nobby" Barrington, fell short of expectations.
Performing Wrong War reigning Calypso Monarch Ronaldo London also failed to ignite the fire as he did last year. This war he sang to the audience, including San Fernando Mayor Junia Regrello, Tourism Minister Randall Mitchell, former culture minister Joan Yuille-Williams and MSJ political leader David Abdulah, is not physical but about principalities and power.
In spite of these shortcomings, emerging from the 28-year-old tent, the second oldest in the country after The Revue, were some bright stars who definitely have a shot at the Calypso Monarch title once their second supporting song is as strong.
Among them, Victoria Cooper-Rahim known in the calypso world as Queen Victoria, with her social commentary Wrong Side of History.
Kerice Pascall, a young and rising star, attorney Rondell Donowa and Addelon “Banjela” Braveboy who, dressed as a Baptist priest, ended the first half of the show with a spirited delivery of Walk the Calypso Road, are strong contenders for Calypso Fiesta on February 15.
So, too, is Darwren “Pharoah” Greenidge who capitalised on the phrase usually used by communities after police killings, “you too wicked,” earning several encores.
Pepper Man sung by Keith “DefPrince” Watson, and Alicia Richards' Woman in Law were what the audience were hungry for – a combination of bacchanal and smut.
DefPrince accompanied by a female portraying his lover, shared about his love for pepper and decision not to eat anything he could not put pepper on. He was called back so many times he had to extempore his last verse.
Richards, a hefty woman, told the audience “when you go fat you can’t go back.” Acting the part of a woman “horned”, Richards related the saga of a friend who was always stealing her men. When her friend wanted to give her back the last man she took, Richards advised, “keep him, you deserve him” because she did not want to be a "woman in law" again.
Being stuck between Def Prince and Richards, Kenny Phillips, in his debut year, could have been lost. But his delivery of Wack dem Kenny, a play on the name of his radio station, WACK 90.1 and what he wanted to do with the vultures destroying the culture, earned him the most encores for the night.
Coming after Phillip, Michael "Protector" Leggerton was placed at a disadvantage with his sober offering of To Be a Pastor, a job which is in demand as it is sure to rake in the millions.
Tent manager and PRO of TUCO Ras Kommanda earned the audience’s approval for a jumpy number about the wealth derived by a man named Lall Kissoon, asking him over and over, “where you get the money Lall?”