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Trinidad and Tobago Carnival

Bally shows 'em at Calypso Revue

By Terry Joseph
February 04, 2006

It wasn't the first barb targeting Prime Minister Patrick Manning's Vision 2020 and there's a more than even chance it won't be the last but, in terms of objective political commentary, Bally's biting critique of the long-term manifesto rescued the integrity of the very art when the Calypso Revue opened on Thursday night.

Given the opening declaration by Culture Minister Joan Yuille-Williams, who made public the Government's part sponsorship of Calypso Revue's 2006 production, candour on issues involving the State was not among my expectations and indeed, the more popular performers predictably pandered to the supplier of their weekly wages.

But Bally, whose "Party Time" remains one of the best calypsos ever, went for the jugular, calling his own tune, defying the concept derived from "who pays the piper", was rewarded with the night's most genuine encores, as the Revue premiered its Port of Spain campaign before a well-heeled audience at the SWWTU Hall.

Among other notables in the house were MP Eulalie James, Olympian Hasely Crawford, former Defence Force chief Brigadier Carl Alfonso, Police Commissioner Trevor Paul, his predecessor Everald Snaggs, seven-time Carnival King Peter Samuel Jnr, Fire Chief Lennox Alfred and Diana Rosteing, mother of Canada-born International Soca-DJ champ Dr J.

Like the rest of us, they too were forced to sit through an unexplained 30-minute wait for the opening, after which a prayer and welcome remarks from Yuille-Williams were followed by a brief moment of silence for Kitchener and Jazzy, co-founders of The Revue some 45 years earlier.

First up was Astro, whose "TnT Still a Paradise" demonstrated complete unfamiliarity with the latest news. Tenille Cooper, daughter of (the late) Poody, then sang "Land of Mysteries". "Calypso Stock", rendered by Miranda Joseph, daughter of Marvelous Marva, went way too far back in time in it obituaries of the art's legends, stretching our imagination beyond empathy.

Then there was Bally, who not only made his audience sit bolt upright to take in every syllable but delivered with exemplary diction, Dimanche Gras style, and was in no way cowered by PNM politicians present or their well-advertised financial support of the production.

Wendell Etienne, who co-hosted the show with Supa-Lou, donned his hat to become Boldface Presenter, singing a raucous piece, littered with predictable puns called "The Dentist", predicated on advice that the lady patient should brush three times daily.

Lady Tallish (daughter of Tallish), in an anti-abortion pleading, cited some greats in support of that argument but deliberately omitted the likes of Hitler and Jack the Ripper; products of the same philosophy.

Devon Seale's "Jack Strikes Back" leaned heavily on Jack Warner's speech impairment and largely echoed popular mauvais-langue, twisting hearsay well past the outer limits of poetic licence, before Denyse Plummer offered two social commentary songs, "Joy Cometh in the Morning" and "They Reach", a David Rudder composition. Skatie's "Picture of Trinidad and Tobago" was a crowd pleaser, earning sincere encores, while Ajamu, seven-time monarch of Grenada, did well in "Up to You" but did not enjoy a call for reprise. Sexy Susie played the Tobago ferry pun in a song called "The Cat", making way for Organiser, whose "Trini Yankees" was riddled with good, ol'-fashioned humour, examining the variance in hospitality between local residents and émigrés to the US.

Baron, dressed in shrimp-coloured suit over black body-fitting jersey, rendered "100 Years" and Ninja described in graphic terms how he "T'ief a Wine"; signalling intermission at 11.10 p.m. but ushering a 48-minute wait for half-time hospitality, before pannist Noel la Pierre performed Kitchener's "Mas in Germany".