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HomeNewsArchivesCALYPSO REVUES: A LITTLE NOSTALGIA, A LOT OF SONG

CALYPSO REVUES: A LITTLE NOSTALGIA, A LOT OF SONG

April 21, 2002 – A host of calypso legends kept a throng of music fans wrapped around the Lionel Roberts Stadium stage for more than six hours at Saturday night's Calypso Revue II.
The show, like Calypso I on Friday night, featured singing stars whose careers span the 50 years that modern-day Carnival has been celebrated in the Virgin Islands. Fans cheered the dry wit of Trinidad's Mighty Bomber, danced with female pioneer Calypso Rose and witnessed the return of Lord Nelson, one of the first artists to make calypso music part of St. Thomas Carnival.
Whadablee, the V.I. king for the last three years, led a group of local performers singing in the show. Although he has distinguished himself as an artist in his own right Whadablee said he still looks forward to a chance to appear with some of the people who inspired him. "You don't know the kind of honor it is to perform on stage with these guys, especially King Short Shirt, who has been my idol since I was a youth," he said.
Unlike the V.I. Calypso Monarch Competition coming up Thursday night, the revues present calypso for sheer entertainment, not for judging to select a winner. This year's lyrical themes spanned the topics of today. St. Croix's reigning king, the Mighty Pat, warned those who dared "Don't Mess with America." Whadablee paid a salute to the golden anniversary with "50 Years of Mas," and Bomber painted some humorous hard-luck scenarios with "Mr. Unfortunate."
Composer/playwright/calypsonian Black Stalin sang about unity in his tune, "Caribbean Man," singing of "One race, same place; one trip, same ship." The theme was shared by local artist Super T, who urged greater regional cooperation in his song, "Networking."
There was room for lighter subjects, though. In his song, "Clean-up Man," Richie Buntin warned husbands and boyfriends to take care of business at home. "He cleaning your house, he wearin' your clothes, he givin' you blows. He all in your stew, he lickin' his tongue in your kallaloo," Buntin sang.
The crowd of about 4,000 ate it up and stayed for more, many sitting and others standing on the perimeter of the field throughout the performances, which went past 2 a.m.
Sharing master of ceremonies duties, Trinidadian comic Tommy Joseph has become as much a stalwart of the show as the performers who return to St. Thomas year after year. Joseph is known for his sharp suit, his bawdy repartee and his manner of gliding between the end of the last act and the start of the next, keeping the audience charged and ready. It was a tougher job on Saturday night, when intermittent light rains kept umbrellas popping up like fresh mushrooms throughout the show.
As he peered at the audience through a hole in the wall backstage, trying to remember some of his better jokes, Joseph said he's been hosting shows like this back home and at St. Thomas and other venues for more than 28 years. "I look forward to the show and coming to spend some time on a holiday island," he said. "The people here are very friendly."
Out on stage, Calypso Rose made some new friends of her own, flinging off her shoes and launching herself into the audience to sing some of her more famous numbers. She stopped to share the rhythms with a tourist from Chicago, a beauty queen and Gov. Charles W. Turnbull, who happily obliged her.
The audience laughed as Rose and co-host Irvin "Brownie" Brown recalled how 34 years ago she fell through a hole in the stage while singing her hit "Fire, Fire." Brownie said she kept singing even as she fell and came out from under the stage through an opening in the side, still singing.
As he rose from a chair after his performance, Bomber — who at age 74 is called "the Evergreen" — also recalled the first time he played the V.I. Carnival scene — with the legendary Mighty Sparrow in 1965. "I used to come for Carnival but they didn't play Carnival in the streets," he said. "They used to play it in little music houses."
He said he had promised himself to quit the business next year when he turns 75, but the desire for one more go in the tent back home in Trinidad changed his mind.
As he listened to the new style of songs of a new generation singers including the Mighty Pat, Zachari, Waggy, Super T, Buntin and Hunter, Bomber said he welcomes their music but hopes they remember those who have gone before them. "I feel they should do a little of what they're doing, but they should try to hold on to the authentic thing," he said.

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