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Sparrow thrills

By Joan Rampersad Friday, February 14 2014

click on pic to zoom in
Bravo and the Birdie...West Indies and Trinidad and Tobago cricket captain Dwayne Bravo (L) meets the Calypso King of the World, Slinger Francisco kno...
Bravo and the Birdie...West Indies and Trinidad and Tobago cricket captain Dwayne Bravo (L) meets the Calypso King of the World, Slinger Francisco kno...

The show was billed “Doctors on Call” featuring the Mighty Sparrow (Dr Slinger Francisco), the Mighty Chalkdust (Dr Hollis Liverpool) and the Black Stalin (Dr Leroy Calliste), and for one hour, the man who a packed De Nu Pub came out to see, had them fully entertained.

Sparrow, 78, dressed in a dark blue suit and sitting on a stool, opened with a moving rendition of “The Lord’s Prayer” that he ended with a powerful note leaving patrons no doubt in their minds that they were in for a treat at the popular cultural spot on Ariapita Avenue, Woodbrook on Wednesday night. Sparrow, also known as the Birdie, returned home on Monday after recovering from a stroke and a coma at a New York hospital last year.

After his opening number he went on to sing “Congo Man”, but with microphone problems, the crowd helped out by singing the entire first verse and chorus. He picked up after the microphone was fixed and moved on to “Saltfish” and “Sparrow Dead” that brought roars from the crowd. He then began taking requests from the audience, and delivered “Lying Excuses” and “Only A Fool Breaks His Own Heart” in the sweetest melodious voice that made extra music to everyone’s ears, even when he imitated the voice of Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong. The crowd just loved it. He then quipped, “Last month I was singing this one,” before striking up Frank Sinatra’s “I Did It My Way”. Again the crowd roared.

Taking requests again the Calypso King of the World obliged with “Mae Mae”, after which he did a 2014 number “Plenty Madness”, a song about what this country has come to.

Sparrow wrapped up with a medley of some of his past hits including “Jean & Dinah”, “Ten to One is Murder” and “Royal Jail”. Just then a woman from the crowd went up to him and put $100 in his hand. He immediately extempoed on. Needless to say a number of other women repeated the gesture, while Sparrow moved on to “Phillip My Dear”.

As a lagniappe Sparrow gave patrons “El Reloj” both in Spanish and English, after which he received a standing ovation.

He was then ushered into the Pub’s office, filled with fans, moving in and out taking pictures with him, until his wife Margaret noted that it was time for him to take his medication and to rest. She left the pub with him.

A few hours earlier, Sparrow was a guest at a special tribute lecture hosted by Canboulay Productions at the Central Bank Auditorium, Port-of-Spain in a series of fund-raising discussions on his life’s work to help raise funds for his medical expenses.

Later at the Nu Pub, the show began late at about 8.50 pm when the band Kelly Green and Friends struck up with the late Lord Kitchener’s (Aldwyn Roberts) “Sugar Bum Bum”, then De Alberto (Winston Albert) opened the programme calling on patorns to “Blow Your Whistle”, to blow away corruption and crime in the country.

Chalkdust was the first “Doctor on Call” to grace the stage dressed in a white suit and hat, black and white shirt and black shoes. He began his stint on stage with his popular 1972 calypso “Ah Fraid Karl”, a song about former Attorney General Karl Hudson-Phillips who passed away last month at age 80. (Sparrow had also paid tribute to Hudson-Phillips when he sang the “Lord’s Prayer” at a show in New York).

After receiving appreciative applause, Chalkdust then expressed the hope that the show was recorded as patrons may never see it again. He continued with “Juba Dubai” (1977) that he dedicated to Sparrow who the latter thought was Chalkdust’s best song.

After the first verse, Chalkdust was lustily applauded, and again at the end of the song. He followed with “The Prodigal Son” and had the crowd keeling over with punch lines... “I came back home to drink rum with Colin Partap” and “to help Aloes before the PNM kill him with blows”, then went into another tickler “CNN Society”.

Chalkdust also paid tribute to the late Mighty Duke (Kelvin Pope) via his delivery of “One Caribbean” before closing his act with a 2014 composition “Ah Miss The Bards”. Then came the Black Stalin, backed by Roy Cape musicians with whom he has been working for the past 20 years, to deliver “We Could Make It If We Try”, “Bun Dem”, “Wait Dorothy”, and “We Can’t Turn Back Now”.

But it was his rendition of his “Shining Star” and a trumpet solo by Clyde Mitchell that thrilled the crowd. And keeping up the momentum Stalin did “Caribbean Man”, Message for Sundar”, “Come With It” and his anthem ‘Black Man Feeling To Party”. All patrons were left to do was get up and dance, and that they did.

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