Kaiso House takes patrons on generational journey

 The Calypso Princess Karene Asche performs No Excuse.  - Photo by Daniel Prentice
The Calypso Princess Karene Asche performs No Excuse. - Photo by Daniel Prentice

The opening of Kaiso House at the Queen's Park Savannah on January 18 took patrons on a journey of calypso through the generations, with a touch of soca.

The four-hour-long show which featured a star-studded cast of calypsonians, was held at the Savannah Grass, a custom-built tent opposite the National Academy for the Performing Arts.

The event was well attended and started promptly at 8 pm. The energetic hosts Omari Ashby and Allan Augustine kept the predominantly mature audience entertained with their offbeat humour and antics.

Phillip Murray (Black Sage) performs Stone. - Photo by Daniel Prentice

One of the standout performances came from veteran calypsonian and National Carnival Commission chairman Winston "Gypsy" Peters, with his song Ungrateful. Peters sang about an ungrateful boy named James who gave his single mother a world of troubles. The song included the cheeky refrain "yuh mudder can't believe," which earned Gypsy laughs and loud applause.

Peters told the audience the song is based on a real person they know and if he revealed their identity they would "cringe."

The topic of the crime situation came up in a few calypsoes, among them that of former calypso monarch Karen Asche. In her song she declared that unemployment and financial issues should not be used as excuses for criminal behaviour.

"Poverty ain't no damn excuse for crime," she sang powerfully.

Chuck Gordon (Roderick Gordon), in his catchy Doh Say Nutten, sang that a state of emergency is not a resolution to the crime situation.

"Crime is a social issue that needs a social intervention," he opined.

Ann Marie Parks-Kojo (Twiggy) performs Helter Skelter . - Photo by Daniel Prentice

He also criticised Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar for "promoting war" with her comments on the Guyana/Venezuela conflict.

Sista Ava (Ruth Ava Sam Shallow), in Feel Like Crying, encouraged people to "look in the mirror" to stop crime and urged patrons to tell each other "I love you." Twiggy (Ann Marie Parks-Kojo) sang about the terror of the crime situation in her song Helter Skelter.

Twiggy's daughter Naheelah "Nefta" Kojo also performed. With a bright red wig and wearing a tight black dress, she sang Mix It Up, encouraging women to be adventurous in the bedroom.

"Mix it up! Don't make no man call you boring," she urged.

There were two other intergenerational duos – former calypso monarch Duane O'Connor and his son, reigning Calypso Monarch Duane Ta'zyah O'Connor, and Poser (Sylvester Lockhart) and his son, Young Poser (Vivian Lockhart).

The elder O'Connor lamented the targeting of bank customers in Banking Blues, while the younger sang about the importance of having focus, in his calypso of the same name.

The elder Poser sang both his new tune, Love in De House, and his classic Tonight, which had patrons dancing down memory lane. His son poked fun at politicians in Voter's Voice, saying they seemed to know everything when they are out of office.

"Is best the opposition run the country," he quipped.

Calypsonian Selvon Noel (Mistah Shak) with De Return. - Photo by Daniel Prentice

Akeshia Fannis gave a lusty performance of the artform-celebrating Mother Calypso, which she dedicated to her parents. The song imagined calypso as a mother and she urged people not to be ungrateful or unthankful.

Brother Mudada (Allan Fortune) tackled the controversial topic of teaching children about LGBT issues in Leave We Children Out of It, and received both cheers and some laughs at his politically incorrect antics.

"Don't corrupt our children," he sang.

Mistah Shak (Selvon Noel) brought his "bois" to deliver licks to sycophants, hypocrites and others during his performance of De Return. The audience cheered as he performed.

There were two tent debutantes – former junior calypso monarch and Junior Soca Monarch Marq Pierre, who sang the morality call Morality in Public Affairs, and Travelling Man (Clayton Marcano) who tickled the audience with his plastic-surgery-skewering comedic kaiso Body Parts and Accessories, which he sang while dressed in maroon scrubs and medical gloves.

Calypsonian Vivian Lockhart (Young Poser) performs Voter’s Voice. - Photo by Daniel Prentice

Also bringing the laughs was Brown Boy (Knolly Brown) with his song De Palm Reader, and Bunny B (Neville Brown) who did a TikTok wine while performing The Classroom Bullies.

Also performing were Aaron Duncan, Black Sage, Brother Valentino (Anthony Emrold Phillip), Rondell Donawa, Queen Aye, Gary Cordner, Lady Aiesha and Calypso Kerr.

Technically, the show was smooth, though some patrons complained the band was too loud.

In the audience enjoying the kaiso were soca superstar Machel Montano, Port of Spain mayor Chinua Alleyne and veteran comedian and calypsonian Bill Trotman who was celebrating his 90th birthday.

The show closed off with soca star Mical Teja electifying the tent and pulling patrons to their feet with his runaway hit DNA.

Earlier in the evening, n his opening remarks tent manager Brother Valentino said after singing for more than 60 years, he felt he could contribute something and play a "special role."

Sister Ava sings Feel Like Crying. - Photo by Daniel Prentice

"Thanks for coming. Have a wonderful time. I hope you enjoy the calypsoes. Tell your friends and tell your friends."

Trinbago Unified Calypsonians' Organisation (TUCO) president and chair of the Kaiso House House Management Committee Ainsley King also spoke.

"It is truly an honour to welcome each and every one of you to this spectacular event that celebrates the heart and soul of our beloved calypso."

He said as TUCO president he was thrilled to witness the "combination of their collective efforts and engagement in bringing forth an extraordinary showcase of talent here tonight...

"Creativity and the rich cultural heritage that defines our nation."

King said the night not only marked the start of a new season but the promise of a future of innovation, growth and a difference in how calypso is perceived and cherished.

Calypsonian Emrold "Brother Valentino" Phillip performs It's a Mad World. - Photo by Daniel Prentice

"In the journey that lies ahead we are eagerly anticipating the unfolding of new chapters and the exploration of uncharted territories in our beloved artform here tonight."

He pledged TUCO's unwavering commitment to the development of the artform.

"The enthusiasm surrounding Kaiso House 2024 is a testament to the awakening of the consciousness and the sacrifice on the value of calypso.

"People from all walks of life are recognising the power, the strength that is embedded in this artform."

He said, "It is heartening to see the growing realisation that calypso is not just merely entertainment, but a mirror that reflects the essence of our society. Its challenges, its triumphs and its very soul's purpose."

He called on the society to appreciate the profound impact calypso can have on the cultural landscape and the lives of those who embrace it.

Members of the audience enjoy the show at the opening night of Kaiso House. - Photo by Daniel Prentice

"Together, as we unite as a united community of artistes, enthusiasts and supporters, we will continue to foster the environment where creativity flourishes and the true essence of calypso is celebrated."

Shows at Kaiso House will continue until February 9. For more information contact the TUCO Business Unit at 623-9660 or 625-1629 or e-mail either kaisohouse@gmail.com or tucocalypsott@yahoo.com.


"Kaiso House takes patrons on generational journey"

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