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Minister of Arts and Multiculturalism Winston “Gypsy” Peters was greeted with a short-lived round of booing when it was announced by MC Sprangalang that the minister had just arrived at the opening of the Kalypso Revue 2011 season at the Arima Velodrome last Friday night.
And on the next night, it was veteran calypsonian Edwin “Crazy” Ayoung,
who felt the displeasure of some members of the audience who booed and walked out on him when the Revue held a show at Palm’s Club, San Fernando. His offence, wearing a T-shirt with a print of Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar as he sang his song “Percy”.
The song refers to the symbolic crossed fists which became popular during the People’s Partnership general election campaign last May, when senior citizen Percy Villafana barred then prime minister and PNM political leader Patrick Manning from entering his home during a walkabout. Crazy also became a front line act on the People’s Partnership (PP) campaign circuit leading supporters in doing “the Percy.” His song, however is not about politics but about a woman who rejects a man’s advances by keeping him at bay with the Percy sign. Revue head, Michael “Sugar Aloes” Osuna, said his cast and the audience are free to express themselves and maintain the tent had good shows on Friday and Saturday nights.
Osuna confirmed Crazy wore a T-shirt with a photograph of the Prime Minister on it for the San Fernando show.
Osuna, an open supporter of the PNM, said he was about to leave Palm’s Club as Crazy went on stage.
“People have their preferences. It is their choice. But I work with him (Crazy) on a professional level. People were shocked that he was still in this tent with me. It was a beautiful show and the turnout was large,” Osuna said. He said 27 calypsonians, among them five women performed at Saturday’s show. Calypsonians and their audiences have been largely pro-PNM, whether the party is in Government or Opposition.
This seemed to be the case at the Revue, where the PP Government did get some “licks” from the cast although some calypsonians did not spare the PNM.
On Friday, the minister, a former calypso monarch and the 2010 extempo monarch, who arrived shortly before the Revue’s intermission, was in time to hear some of the bards blasting the PP Government. However Gypsy the calypsonian proved he was “boo-proof” and was seen joking around with the artistes backstage during the break in the show. As a calypsonian Gypsy is no stranger to boos. Years ago when he joined the UNC and again when he was a Junior Minister in Culture, every calypso tent he opened he was subjected to interludes of booing. At the Calypso Fiesta one year he even received Skinner Park’s now famous rejection statement of toilet paper being tossed at him during his performance.
That apart, the Revue’s traditional Arima opening did not evoke the fireworks as forecast by its organisers. True, there were many songs attacking the performance of the PP Government, but many of these provided good social and political commentary. And while there were some good ones as well as some very good ones, audience reaction was tame when compared to other Arima openings.Two elements which may have contributed to the show not reaching its accustomed high standards were the inclement weather— intermittent short-lived drizzles on several occasions sent patrons scampering for shelter or pulling out their umbrellas.
The other is the untimely death of Revue stalwart Conqueror (Leroy Paul) who was killed in a road accident Thursday evening, less than 24 hours before the Velodrome show, as he was crossing Wrightson Road, Port-of-Spain to participate in the last rehearsal before Friday night’s opening.The proceedings were opened 15 minutes late by Mayor Gassan Youseph and a minute of silence was observed to mark the passing of Conqueror.
While the Government came in for some heavy lyrical tongue lashing, the Opposition did not escape as Ninja (Kenson Neptune) hit out at former Culture Minister Marlene McDonald with his “No respect for Culture.” A sore throat afflicted Chalkdust (Hollis Liverpool) was not able to do justice with his “Manningitis”, but typical of the former Calypso Monarch he will soon find his chords. Bringing down the curtain at the Arima opening was Crazy who followed his daring dial climbing act on Thursday to promote the Revue launch with “Percy” and his nation-building composition “No more we and them.”