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Fitting tribute to a true patriot
The audience was larger but some patrons are saying that last month’s Tribute to a Patriot concert, hosted last month by the South Central Zone of Tuco, at the Southern Academy for the Performing Arts (Sapa) for ailing calypsonian De Original De Fosto Himself, was a better production than the one staged by Tuco North Zone last Wednesday night. The Murchison Brown Auditorium of the Port of Spain City Hall was packed to capacity for the occasion, attended by Laventille West MP Fitzgerald Hinds, and the show was a well run production, a fundraiser deserving of the veteran composer/musician/calypsonian.
Following the national anthem and an opening prayer by North Zone secretary Shirlaine Hendrickson, proceedings ran smoothly, Hendrickson partnered in hosting the programme by Tuco East Zone resident emcee Godfrey Pierre. While Hendrickson was endearing, easily communicating with patrons, Pierre was at his hilarious best.
The show started promptly at its advertised 8 pm start, the first performer being Anthony Johnson, rendering the thoughtprovoking Choices, a ditty which prompted Pierre to call him back for an extra stanza of the well crafted calypso. East Zone Kaiso Karavan stalwart Dirty Curty was up next and he surprised most by not performing his very popular Diggy Dig, opting instead to cover Trinidad Rio’s Scrunting Kaisonian.
Well known “pan calypso” female calypsonian Eunice Peters, now the mother of an eight-yearold daughter, sang Failure is no an option and she too was encored.
Up next, veteran Cardinal, always a crowd-pleaser, was just as entertaining as he was when he sang at Calypso Spektakula 40 years ago, singing the late Spoiler’s Talking Backwards.
One of the night’s outstanding performances came from Laventille bard Dee Diamond singing his poignant Eyes on the Hill. Citing Laventille Hill as the nation’s prime real estate, Diamond opined that land developers and real estate tycoons of high valued western suburbs have designs to eventually obtain the Hill, the piece of real estate “with the best view of the nation’s capital.”
LA-based calypsonian Xposer had his audience in his pocket when he sang Ah too old fuh dat. He was followed by Bunny B whose performance many said was the best for the night.
A member of the Kaiso House cast, Bunny B received three encores for his extremely funny My Crystal Ball, a song which “predicts” the lack of energy of today’s popular soca singers when they turn age 80 and are asked to perform their current soca hits.
Explainer, Brian London, Shirlaine Hendrickson, and her father All Rounder rounded off the programme’s first half.
Each was spot on in their delivery and interaction with the audience, but London, encored for his reprise of Black Stalin’s We can make it if we try, returned to treat all to a medley of popular spirituals, a set which had patrons singing at the top of their voices. De Fosto, visibly smaller in stature, appropriately attired in the national colours, addressed the audience, his voice raspy at times. He profusely thanked patrons and distributed copies of some of his numerous CDs, aided by Hendrickson.
An icon of the arts if ever there was one, De Fosto, though never winning a major calypso title, has been a preferred performer for political parties at election time, has guided many a young, aspiring calypsonian and his songs have been among the most popular performed by steelbands at the annual Panorama competition.
Karen Eccles resumed the programme after intermission, rendering a gospel item. The second half of the show also included a lively extempore session between North Zone chairman Contender, Black Sage, Lingo and Dion Diaz.
Of course, Minister Hinds came in for a bit of picong on his recent post-flood experience with Beetham Estate residents.
The show’s second half also saw performances by former national calypso monarch Duane O’Connor, Twiggy, Bally and Johnny King.
Musical accompaniment was tight by Cummings & D Wailers, led by Len Cummings, a musician who is said to have “walked out of the police service to devote his life to music.” Equally good at their night’s work were seasoned chorus singers Ramona and Cathy.
This production was a fitting tribute to De Fosto, one of calypso’s most prolific composers and, while a lot more of his calypso brothers and sisters have been noticably absent from both benefits held for him, even more noticable has been the absence of politicians and sporting personalities, citizens he has composed about and immortalised in song.
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