3 KAISO KINGS
By SEAN DOUGLAS Saturday, March 1 2014
THREE contenders in tomorrow’s Dimanche Gras Calypso Monarch Competition each won a crown at Thursday’s Kaisorama held by the Trinbago Unified Calypsonians Organisation (TUCO) in the ambience of NAPA, Port-of-Spain.
Brian London convincingly won the Extempo Monarch crown, while in the Categories Competition the political commentary title was won by Selvon “Mistah Shak” Noel, singing “Bois”, and the social category was won by Kurt Allen singing “Sweet sizzling summer”.
In the political category it was not easy to pick a winner between Noel, London, also a competitor here, singing, “Call them out” and Neville “Bunny B” Brown singing “Milk”.
Dressed as a stick fighter, Noel vowed to deliver some “political bois” to certain political targets, including Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, television host Ian Alleyne; and Chaguanas West MP Jack Warner.
London, who came third, dressed as a humble janitor cleaning an MP’s office, lamented how hard it is for the ordinary citizen to get in touch with their local MP for help. He called the names of several politicians, one of whom he said you could only see if you are a lagahoo (werewolf).
Brown, placing second, was perhaps the most witty in his attacks on politicians as he spoke of the milking of the Treasury. Alluding that politicians were growing fat, he asked if Works Minister, Dr Suruj Rambachan, is having triplets; alleged that Housing Minister, Dr Roodal Moonilal, would choke if he were to wear a tie; and said that Minister of Foreign Affairs, Winston Dookeran has been cured of his habit of vigorously shaking his head.
In the social category, each singer commented on the state of the country.
Leslie-Ann Ellis draped in the TT flag sang “Blessed with beauty”, where she took stock of all the wonderful things TT has to offer. She earned third place.
Placing second, Heather Mac Intosh in “Nutten eh good” lamented that TT nationals often feel the need to get a foreign stamp of approval before they appreciate their own. She lamented that it was only after a Soul Train award that TT nationals appreciated Ian “Bunji Garlin” Alvarez. Likewise, the late Rupert “Lord Invader’s” Grant’s “Rum and Coca Cola” was only appreciated when sung by the American group, The Andrews Sisters.
Allen danced through the crowd leading an entourage including his daughter, Chocolate. His social commentary was delivered at a high-energy, party pace, although the lyrics were a bit inaudible.
With a skit involving a couple of tourists wandering around taking photos, and him sporting a straw hat, Allen contrasted the tourist image of TT to the hardships faced by some citizens, such as accessing water and health care, plus living under the fear of crime. “Our youth, future of the country, cocaine hook some like laglay, reduce them to vagrancy, not to mention HIV, while some study and earn a degree, frying chicken for KFC”. For the social and political categories the prizes are $25,000 (first); $15,000 (second); and $10,000 (third).
In the extempo round, London beat an eight-strong field, including last year’s monarch Lady Africa (Leslie-Ann Bristow), to emerge as a clear crowd favourite in the finals against Phillip “Black Sage” Murray. Bristow is a two-time winner and the only woman to ever cop the title.
In a final with Murray, who himself had done very well in the preliminary and semi-final rounds, London simply got stronger and stronger as the duo battled out each of the six verses in progression. Murray had a good night, but London was simply better. In the finals, London was a clear favourite with the crowd who repeatedly roared their approval. Murray teased London as envious of his nephew (Junior Calypso Monarch, Ronaldo London), but London retorted that the tears he had shed were not of anger but tears of joy.
When each chided the other’s manhood, London sealed his dominance with a witty putdown, saying Murray’s bread has no yeast and so he cannot rise.
Speaking afterwards to reporters, London, speaking of his first national extempo victory, said, “I feel great.” He credited Minister of Community Development, Winston “Gypsy” Peters for encouraging him to stick with extempo even after he (London) had discontinued competing after not being chosen for the preliminary show one year. Peters, a calypsonian, has won the extempo crown eight times.
“Gypsy said, ‘No, Brian you have real talent. You have a natural body language, so come back in. I came back in, made it to the final four twice, and just stuck around it. I was in the finals with Lady Africa two years ago and was in the final four last year. So I’ve just been doing my thing. I told Black Sage that I’m a calypsonian who extempos, and I’m just having fun.” He attributed his success to him keeping a cool head on the night, and from a background of being a composer and reading a lot. London hopes his win would position him well for the Calypso Monarch finals.
The extempo prizes are $150,000 (first); $105,000 (second); $40,000 (third); $30,000 (fourth); and $15,000 for the fifth to eighth places. After London and Murray in first and second places respectively, the third place in the extempo went to Mark “Contender” John and the fourth place went to Joseph “Lingo” Vautor Laplaceliere, also a former winner.
The show included guest performances by Robert “Lord Nelson” Nelson, Nadia Batson, Winston “Explainer” Henry, pannist Annise Hadeed, and the North West Laventille Cultural Movement. Kelly Green and “Harmony” provided backing instrumentals, while the show was masterfully emceed by Wendell Etienne and Omari Ashby.