MOMENTUM is building as the countdown to the January 27 opening of long-standing Kaiso Showkase tent at its home base, Palms Club, San Fernando, nears.
Although chairman of Trinbago Unified Calypsonians' Association (TUCO) south central region, Ras Kommanda (Steve Pascall) has taken a backseat this season as he cares for his ailing mother, he said there is a buzz of excitement after a two-year absence due to the pandemic.
“I am stepping down to give someone younger a chance,” Kommanda who has held the reigns of the south-central zone and Kaiso Showkase for a long time, told Newsday.
As the management works within a constrained budget, the tent now in existence for 30 years, has selected a smaller cast of newcomers and youngsters, among the veterans, backed by the band Oral Rodriguez and Razor Sharpe, to live up to the boast that 2023 is going to be the “mother of all carnivals.”
Kommanda promised that scaling down the cast will in no way diminish the quality of its offering from veterans such as Lady Gypsy, Lady Adana, El Drago, Mr Mack, reigning Young King, Banjela, Pharoah, one of the lead singers with the Prison Band, reigning South Monarch Nicholas Lucas, Rivaldo London, Tameika Darius and Kerry John,who is making his calypso debut.
Emphasis, Kommanda said, is on the young people.
“Without the youths there is no continuity. People are dying every day, every year,” he said pointing to the deaths of some calypso icons in the last year such as Black Stalin, Blaxx, Explainer, Kenny J, Bomber, Singing Francine, among others.
A special segment of the show will be dedicated to the late master lyricist and performer, Leroy “Black Stalin” Calliste, 81, who died on December 28 after an eight-year battle with a stroke.
“We want to honour the life and legacy of the late Black Stalin on the opening night. I am not on the cast, but I will be doing some cameo appearances for this segment.”
Not only has there been a reduction in cast members, but also in the number of shows in which the tent will be engaged.
“Right now we have about ten shows planned because we understand what is happening with the whole financial situation.
“We have to work within a particular budget, but we are still not sure at this time, what we will be getting. That is really a challenge.”
Kaiso Showkase will take on a roving tent element, as Kommanda explained, “we can’t survive in one venue, especially in the south.
“We have to move. We will be taking the tent to places like Couva, Point Fortin.
“We will also be clashing with a number of tents including the Divas Calypso Cabaret, Klassic Russo and Kaiso Caravan.”
Kommanda said he has a good feeling about the 2023 cast, confident that some will be selected for the semi finals to be held at Skinner Park on February 11, and even bring home the crown.
A release from the tent gave an insight into its genesis and history.
It was during the 1990’s a plan to re-establish a calypso movement that would have as its vision, the development of the art form together with the practitioners of the art, gave birth Kaiso Showkase.
It created a space for exponents of the art form, operating it the south-central region, an opportunity to express themselves, under the umbrella of the national calypso body, Trinbago Unified Calypso Organisation (TUCO). It gave rise to calypsonians such as Kinte, El Drago, Natural, Ras Kommanda, Clive Nunez, to prominence and permanence.
Over the years it has provided a platform for notable artistes such as Machel Montano, Prince Unique, Short Pants, Abbi Blackman, Kenny J, Mighty Trini, Cyclops and the late Felix “Breed” Joseph.
Its “hall of famers” also include, former Chutney-Soca Monarch Heeralal Rampartap, four times South Monarch, 2005 Young King and three-times Dimanche Gras finalist, Brian London, his nephew and 2019 Calypso Monarch for whom he wrote his winning songs, Ronaldo London, as well as six-time Dimanche Gras finalists Victoria Cooper.
The tent opens at 7.30 pm on January 28 at Palms Club, San Fernando.