Lord Shorty’s “Endless Vibrations” (1974)

Endless Vibrations by Lord Shorty_album coverGarfield Blackman
(“Lord Shorty”, later “Ras Shorty”, 1941 – 2000)
Endless Vibrations (1974)
.
(Hey!)
(Hit the horns!)
(Sexy.)
.
Change the accent of Carnival
to a groovy, groovy Bacchanal.
Wailing, expressing – de old feeling do needs changing.
Wake up, people, examine your minds –
get with it, get with it, the change of the times.
It’s a new generation, endless vibrations
– right on, right on, right on, right on!
.
Lay lay lay lay lay lay lay lay lay (Hey!)
Lay lay lay lay lay lay lay lay lay – (Hit the horns!)
.
Come baby, oh baby, dance with me.
Come baby, oh baby, rock with me.
Wine! It’s Carnival time! Make Bacchanal!
(Groovy.)
.
Change your musical structure, make it super sweeter.
J’ouvert morning, when we wailing, bring on this funky feeling.
Uptight, uptight, feeling so fine
– come on, come on, come on, let the music take your mind.
Get with the feeling, it’s so exciting
– right on, right on, right on, right on!
.
Lay lay lay lay lay lay lay lay lay (Hey!)
Lay lay lay lay lay lay lay lay lay – (Hit the horns!)
.
Come baby, oh baby, jump with me.
Come baby, oh baby, rock with me.
Wine! It’s Carnival time! Make Bacchanal!
(Right on.)
.
A new musical expression to ease today’s frustration.
Move it, come on, groove it.
Endlessly let me feel it.
Come on, people, check out de scene.
Take a side, take a side, de music is mean.
Can you dig it, brudduh? Get it all together?
Right on, right on, right on, right on!
.
Lay lay lay lay lay lay lay lay lay (Hey!)
Lay lay lay lay lay lay lay lay lay – (Hit the horns!)
Wine! It’s Carnival time! Make Bacchanal!
.
Fêtin’ Carnival Sunday night, don’t dig no blues, don’t dig no fight.
Eh, we winin’, lord we prancin’.
Rock your baby, rock your baby, kungfu fightin’.
Music so bad, fuss your hip,
rock your boat, rock your boat, rock your ship.
It’s really outta sight, makes you feel like dynamite
– right on, right on, right on, right on!
.
Lay lay lay lay lay lay lay lay lay (Hey!)
Lay lay lay lay lay lay lay lay lay – (Hit the horns!)
.
Come baby, oh baby, jump with me.
Come baby, oh baby, rock with me.
Wine! It’s Carnival time! Make Bacchanal!
. . .

“Lord Shorty”, born Garfield Blackman in Lengua Village, Princess Town, Trinidad, is credited as one of the innovative calypsonians who modernized the music, picking up the tempo and adding more propulsive rhythms and instrumental arrangements – giving us Soca. During the same period (the mid-1970s) he also experimented with fusing Calypso and Indian music in Om Shanti Om. Though the song lyrics above (Endless Vibrations) may seem dated to us now – with their Hippy-&-Black-American-‘speak’ mixed in with the Trini – the overall sound of this song was fresh and inventive in its day.

A musical blast from the past on this MondayJ’ouvertof Carnival 2016!

Another innovator from the 1970s: The Mighty Shadow

https://zocalopoets.com/2013/08/31/classic-kaiso-bass-man-by-the-mighty-shadow/

. . . . .


Kaiso – Calypso – Soca: Pepper It T&T-Style !

McCartha Linda Sandy-Lewis, better known as Calypso Rose_The greatest of the female Calypsonians, and still going strong in her 70s...

McCartha Linda Sandy-Lewis, better known as Calypso Rose_The greatest of the female Calypsonians, and still going strong in her 70s…

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Through great extemporaneous performers, singers, composers and arrangers, Calypso music has been evolving for more than a century. The Roaring Lion, Lord Invader, Lord Pretender, Lord Kitchener, Calypso Rose, Lord/Ras Shorty, David Rudder – the list could go on and on; so many have been innovators or have deepened the tradition.  Political, social and sexual commentary, as well as a healthy joie-de-vivre for fête-ing, have all characterized Calypso.  The music has branched out into Chutney Soca via Indian pioneers such as Drupatee Ramgoonai;  has voyaged through temporary influences from Ragga and Dancehall;  has even fallen prey to the ghastly Auto-Tune audio processor so rampant in popular music.  Still, Calypso at its best – and it still can be at its best – can’t be beat. (Except maybe by Pan !)

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Julian Whiterose’s “Iron Duke in the Land” – the first-ever Kaiso (Calypso) recording, from 1912:

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Lord Executor’s “I don’t know how de young men livin’” (1937):

http://youtu.be/cD7N5qsPnuQ

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Lord Executor

I don’t know how de young men livin’” (1937)

.

I don’t know how de young men livin’, dey never have a shillin’,

I don’t know how de young men livin’, dey never have a shillin’ –

Tommy, open de door, give me de bottle and lemme go,

Tommy, open de door, give me meh bottle and lemme go.

.

In de day he walk ’bout, only comin’ with his sweet mouth.

Calling for his minou, callin’ pound-plantain and callaloo – Ah,

Tommy, open de door, give me de bottle and lemme go,

Tommy, open de door, give me meh bottle and lemme go.

.

In de night he come an’ peep, only longing for a place to sleep,

And to cast his weary head as a lump of lead on de cosy bed – Ah,

Tommy, open de door, give me de bottle and lemme go,

Tommy, open de door, give me meh bottle and lemme go.

.

You can see dat villain next day, half crazy and toutoulbey.

His watchikong, goodness knows, and half of his feet expose – Ah,

Tommy, open de door, give me de bottle and lemme go,

Tommy, open de door, give me meh bottle and lemme go.

.

Who can measure de human mind when it is uncultured and unrefined?

An impulse of society – and not to be mentioned in history!

Tommy, open de door, give me de bottle and lemme go,

Tommy, open de door, give me meh bottle and lemme go!

.

Frederick Wilmoth Hendricks a.k.a. Wilmoth Houdini (1895-1977)_1939 Calypsos recorded in NYC by the Trinidadian native

Frederick Wilmoth Hendricks a.k.a. Wilmoth Houdini (1895-1977)_1939 Calypsos recorded in NYC by the Trinidadian native

Duke of Iron_1940s

Duke of Iron_1940s

A recording of a 1946 Calypso concert in NYC featuring Lord Invader, Duke of Iron, and MacBeth the Great

A recording of a 1946 Calypso concert in NYC featuring Lord Invader, Duke of Iron, and MacBeth the Great

Lord Invader_1940s

Lord Invader_1940s

Lord Kitchener in 1951

Lord Kitchener in 1951

1962: Lord Kitchener, Lord Superior and Lord Melody_Kitch, Supie and Mel were in Georgetown, Guyana for a calypso show.

1962: Lord Kitchener, Lord Superior and Lord Melody_Kitch, Supie and Mel were in Georgetown, Guyana for a calypso show.

The Mighty Sparrow_early 1960s

The Mighty Sparrow_early 1960s

Your calypso name is given to you by your peers, based on your style. In the old days they tried to emulate British royalty. There was Lord Kitchener, Lord Nelson, Duke. When I started singing, the bands were still using acoustic instruments and the singers would stand flat footed, making a point or accusing someone in the crowd with the pointing of a finger, but mostly they stood motionless. When I sing, I get excited and move around, much like James Brown – and that was new to them. The older singers said “Why don’t you just sing instead of hopping around like a little Sparrow.” It was said as a joke, but the name stuck.” (The Mighty Sparrow, interviewed)

The Mighty Sparrow_Congo Man album from 1965_The calypso single Congo Man itself has been banned in the past for radio play but it demonstrates devilish wit and honesty along with the controversy.  A song of its time, though politically incorrect in the 21st century !

The Mighty Sparrow_Congo Man album from 1965_The calypso single Congo Man itself has been banned in the past for radio play but it demonstrates devilish wit and honesty along with the controversy. A song of its time, though politically incorrect in the 21st century !

The Mighty Sparrow’s “Jean and Dinah” (Yankees Gone) (1956):

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Calypso Rose’s “Palet” (Popsicle) from the 1970s:

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Lord Shorty’s “Endless Vibrations”(1974):

http://youtu.be/FPnsxU3vNRk

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Lord Shorty (later Ras Shorty) with Robin Ramjitsingh and Bisram Moonilal_early 1970s

Lord Shorty (later Ras Shorty) with Robin Ramjitsingh and Bisram Moonilal_early 1970s

Lord Shorty_1974 calypso album

Lord Kitchener record album cover_Hot Pants, from 1972

Lord Kitchener record album cover_Hot Pants, from 1972

Black Stalin (Leroy Calliste, born 1941, San Fernando, Trinidad)

Caribbean Unity” (1979)

.

You try with a federation
De whole ting get in confusion
Caricom and then Carifta
But some how ah smellin disaster
Mister West Indian politician
I mean yuh went to big institution
And how come you cyah unite 7 million?
When ah West Indian unity I know is very easy
If you only rap to yuh people and tell dem like me – dem is:
.
One race (de Caribbean man)
From de same place (de Caribbean man)
Dat make de same trip (de Caribbean man)
On de same ship (de Caribbean
man)
So we must push one common intention
Is for a better life in de region
For we woman, and we children
Dat must be de ambition of de Caribbean man
De Caribbean man, de Caribbean man…
.
You say dat de federation
Was imported quite from England
And you goin and form ah Carifta
With ah true West Indian flavour
But when Carifta started runnin
Morning, noon and night all ah hearin
Is just money-speech dem prime minister givin
Well I say no set ah money could form ah unity
First of all your people need their identity, like:

.

One race (de Caribbean man)
From de same place (de Caribbean man)
Dat make de same trip (de Caribbean man)
On de same ship (de Caribbean man)
So we must push one common intention
Is for a better life in de region
For we woman, and we children
Dat must be de ambition of de Caribbean man
De Caribbean man, de Caribbean man…

.
Caricom is wastin time
De whole Caribbean gone blind
If we doh know from where we comin
Then we cyah plan where we goin
Dats why some want to be communist
But then some want to be socialist
And one set ah religion to add to de foolishness!
Look, ah man who doh know his history
He have brought no unity
How could ah man who doh know his roots form his own ideology? – like:
.

One race (de Caribbean man)
From de same place (de Caribbean man)
Dat make de same trip (de Caribbean man)
On de same ship (de Caribbean man)
So we must push one common intention
Is for a better life in de region
For we woman, and we children.
Dat must be de ambition of de Caribbean man
De Caribbean man, de Caribbean man…

.

De Federation done dead and Carifta goin tuh bed

But de cult of de Rastafarian spreadin through de Caribbean

It have Rastas now in Grenada, it have Rastas now in St. Lucia,

But tuh run Carifta, yes you gettin pressure

If the Rastafari movement spreadin and Carifta dyin slow

Then there’s somethin that Rasta done that dem politician doh know – that we:

.

One race (de Caribbean man)
From de same place (de Caribbean man)
Dat make de same trip (de Caribbean man)
On de same ship (de Caribbean man)
So we must push one common intention
Is for a better life in de region
For we woman, and we children
Dat must be de ambition of de Caribbean man
De Caribbean man, de Caribbean man!

.

Caricom:

The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) is an organization of more than a dozen nations and dependencies, established during the 1970s. Its main purposes have been to promote economic integration and cooperation among its members, to ensure that the benefits of integration are equitably shared, and to coordinate foreign policy.

Carifta:

The Caribbean Free Trade Association was formed in the 1960s among English-speaking Caribbean nations to make economic links more streamlined. Diversifying and liberalizing trade plus ensuring fair competition have all been CARIFTA goals.

.

Black Stalin’s “Caribbean Unity” (1979):

.

Artist Seon Thompson's tribute poster to Black Stalin

Artist Seon Thompson’s tribute poster to Black Stalin

Edwin Ayoung, better known as Crazy_1980s

Edwin Ayoung, better known as Crazy_1980s

Crazy’s “Young Man”(1980):

http://youtu.be/ilr_2UWxUKs

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Explainer’s “Lorraine”(1981):

http://youtu.be/aijYM34KZc4

.

The Mighty Gabby (an honorary Trini!): “Boots”(1983):

http://youtu.be/DZlExF7fP5c

.

Lord Nelson’s “Meh Lover” (1983):

.

The Mighty Shadow’s “Jitters” (1985):

.

David Rudder

David Rudder

David Rudder and Charlie’s Roots:  “The Hammer”(1986):

http://youtu.be/hhvnuuQ2cmQ

.     .     .     .     .


Classic Kaiso: “Bass Man” by The Mighty Shadow

ZP_The Mighty Shadow_photograph by Abigail HadeedZP_The Mighty Shadow_photograph by Abigail Hadeed

.

August 31st is Independence Day in Trinidad and Tobago, and, since “we” [here at Zócalo Poets] have a sentimental attachment to Kaiso, let “us” therefore share the lyrics to an old favourite – “Bassman” by The Mighty Shadow (Winston Anthony Bailey, born 1941, Belmont, Port of Spain) – which, back in 1974, was a strikingly original Calypso tune with a new sound and instrumental arrangement:  bandy-leggéd rhythms + a bunny-hoppity bass-line.

Influenced by the style of The Mighty Spoiler (Theophilus Phillip, 1926-1960), who was a great exponent of humorous and imaginative Calypsos, Shadow has had a propensity for the eccentric and the eery.  Often, he has worn dark clothing with a broad-brimmed hat and regal cape;  and he has the most curious movements – including a minimalist approach – when it comes to his deportment while performing.  Winning first and second places in the contest for Road March 1974 – with his songs “Bassman” and “Ah Come Out To Play” – released as a 7-inch 45rpm single vinyl record the same year – Shadow was the ‘new’ calypsonian to break the stranglehold on Road March Title held for eleven years by “biggies” Kitchener and Sparrow.   While Shadow came very close to winning Calypso Monarch for 1974 certainly he was the crowd favourite – the judges didn’t agree.   He would be denied the crown several seasons over before deciding to just ignore that competition – well, for 17 years, at any rate.   In 1993 he re-entered for Calypso Monarch and, though he was not to win, he would comment afterwards:  I never get no crown, but they can’t touch my music. The Shadow music sweet too bad.”   However, in 2000, he did finally win the Monarch title – something he’d been deserving of for many years.

As regards his musical contribution to the Calypso genre, Shadow told the Trinidad newspaper, TnT Mirror, in 1989, that his claim to fame was in “moving the bottom of the music, and introducing changes in the bass lines…My music is characterized by a lot of energy, because of my emphasis on the foot drums and bass…”   Among The Mighty Shadow‘s famous songs are:   Obeah (1982), Ah Come Out Tuh Party (1983), If I Wine I Wine (1985), The Garden Want Water (1988), and Mr. Brown (1996).

ZP_A 12 year old boy and member of the Tamana Pioneers steel orchestra practises his bass drums_ Arima, Trinidad_ January 2013ZP_A 12 year old boy and member of the Tamana Pioneers steel orchestra practises his bass drums_ Arima, Trinidad_ January 2013

.     .     .

Winston Anthony Bailey a.k.a. The Mighty Shadow

“Bass Man”

(Music and lyrics by Bailey / Arranger: Art de Coteau)

.

I was planning to forget Calypso
And go and plant peas in Tobago
But I am afraid ah cyah make de grade.
Cuz every night I lie down in mih bed
Ah hearing a Bassman in mih head

.

Ah don’t know how dis t’ing get inside me
But e-ve-ry morning, he drivin’ me crazy
Like he takin’ me head for a pan-yard
Morning and evening, like dis fella gone mad.
Pim pom – an’ if ah don’t want to sing
Pim pom – well, he start to do he t’ing
I don’t want to – but ah have to sing
Pim pom – an’ if ah don’t want to dance
Pim pom – he does have me in a trance
I don’t want to – but ah have to prance to his:

pom pom pidi pom, pom, pom pom pidi pom, pom

.

One night I said to de Bassman
Give me your identification
He said “Is me – Farrell –
Your Bassman from hell.
Yuh tell me you singing Calypso
An’ ah come up to pull some notes for you.”

.

Ah don’t know how dis t’ing get inside me
But e-ve-ry morning, he drivin’ me crazy
Like he takin’ me head for a pan-yard
Morning and evening, like dis fella gone mad.
Pim pom – an’ if ah don’t want to sing
Pim pom – well, he start to pull he string
I don’t want to – but ah have to sing
Pim pom – an’ if ah don’t want to dance
Pim pom – he does have me in a trance
I don’t want to – but ah have to prance to his:

pom pom pidi pom, pom, pom pom pidi pom, pom

.

I went and ah tell Dr Lee Yeung
That I want a brain operation
A man in meh head
I want him to dead
He said it’s my imagination
But I know ah hearin’ de Bassman…

Ah don’t know how dis t’ing get inside me
But e-ve-ry morning, he drivin’ me crazy
Like he takin’ me head for a pan-yard

Morning and evening, like dis fella gone mad.

Pim pom – etcetera…..

.     .     .     .     .


Andre Bagoo beats Pan: Five Caribbean Poets inspired by T&T’s unique Drum

ZP_Afropan Steel Orchestra at the Pan Alive competition in Toronto, CanadaAfropan, Toronto’s longest-running steel orchestra, was founded in 1973.  They have won the “Panorama”/Pan Alive competition more than two dozen times over the years.  Currently under the leadership of Earl La Pierre, Jr., Afropan has mentored many young pannists and its player-membership includes a large number of female musicians.

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Today – Simcoe Day Holiday Monday – is the “last lap lime” for Toronto Caribbean Carnival 2013 – more commonly known as Caribana – after two weeks of special events that included a Junior Carnival, King and Queen Competition, Calypso Monarch Finals, The Grand Parade or “Jump Up” – plus Pan Alive.

Pan Alive brings together, through the Ontario Steelpan Association, a dozen or more homegrown steel-pan orchestras from Toronto and elsewhere in Ontario. These perform original compositions or arrangements before pan aficionados and a table of judges. The 2013 winners were Pan Fantasy, under the leadership of Wendy Jones (with arranger Al “Allos” Foster), playing SuperBlue’s “Fantastic Friday”.

Other competing orchestras at Pan Alive 2013 were:  Afropan, Pan Masters, Golden Harps, Panatics, Salah Steelpan Academy, Silhouettes, Hamilton Youth Steel Orchestra, New Dimension, Canadian Caribbean Association of Halton, St.Jamestown Youth Centre, JK Vibrations and Metrotones.

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Our Guest Editor – Trinidadian poet, Andre Bagoo – here takes a look at poetry inspired by the steel-pan in the following selection he has put together for Zócalo Poets.

.     .     .

STEEL-PAN is everywhere in the Caribbean, so much so that some people cannot help but define us by it. We’ve produced Nobel laureates in the arts, economics and sciences; great athletes; contributed so much all over the planet – yet ask the average foreigner about the Caribbean and chances are the first thing they will talk about is steel-pan. But the region has a complex relationship with pan. For us, pan music is not just fun. It is a ritual: an invocation of the pulse of history within our veins; a defiant assertion of individuality against larger global forces; an example of how one man’s trash can become treasure – a sublime subversion of power, economics and art. Trinidad and Tobago, inventor of the pan, prides itself in being the race that created what is said to be the only acoustic instrument invented in the 20th century. Yet, Trinidadian poets, and Caribbean poets generally, have a sophisticated relationship with the instrument. Its hard, silver and lyrical contours are not mere tourist ornament, but loaded symbol. Often, as in my poem ‘Carnival’ (http://www.bostonreview.net/bagoo-carnival), instead of being a symbol of pleasure, the pan becomes a hollow, opposite thing – creating an irony because of our pleasurable expectations.

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Roger Robinson’s ‘Texaco Oil Storage Tanks’ is ostensibly a poem about the materials used to make pans: oil barrels. But he finds the forces of history, power and economics inside them. While the oil storage tanks are large structures, the poem arguably evokes the images of smaller steel pans. Derek Walcott strikingly uses the image of the pan as a kind of psychogeographic tool in the opening of ‘Laventille’, whose first lines invite us to imagine that hill-top region as the arch of a pan. It’s also a device pregnant with meaning since Laventille is regarded as the birthplace of the instrument. In Kamau Brathwaithe’s great poem ‘Calypso’, pan makes an overt appearance but is, in fact, really all over the poem: its rhythm, its materials, its colour. I’ve included David Blackman’s poem ‘Bassman’ because of how far it veers from our romantic associations with that figure. And Lelawattee Manoo-Rahming’s ‘Steelpan in Miami’ is the final, fitting irony: pan exported, becoming a kind of prison of nostalgia, only made possible by migration away from the Caribbean basin.

Andre Bagoo

.     .     .

Roger Robinson:  “Texaco Oil Storage Tanks”

(Trinidad, Pointe-à-Pierre, 1978)

.

You silver gods, with viscous black innards,

skin of iron plates and bones of steel rivets,

.

your Cyclopean eye is a bright red star.

At each entrance stands an armed, khakied guard;

.

they check our passes, though we’ve known them for years,

for though we work here, we don’t belong.

.

A new shift begins, our brown workboots trudge

and the unemployed beg and plead out front

.

in full view, with burning sun on their shame,

but it’s not worse than their child’s hunger pains.

.

Our fingernails are full of tar and dust:

you came for the oil, and left with our blood.

.     .     .

Derek Walcott:  From “Laventille”

[for V.S. Naipaul]

.

To find the Western Path

Through the Gates of Wrath

Blake

.

It huddled there

steel tinkling its blue painted metal air,

tempered in violence, like Rio’s Favelas,

.

with snaking, perilous streets whose edges fell as

its Episcopal turkey-buzzards fall

from its miraculous hilltop

.

shrine,

down the impossible drop

to Belmont, Woodbrook, Maraval, St Clair

.

that shrine

like peddlers’ tin trinkets in the sun.

From a harsh

.

shower, its gutters growled and gargled wash

past the Youth Centre, past the water catchment,

a rigid children’s carousel of cement;

.

We climbed where lank electric

lines and tension cables linked its raw brick

hovels like a complex feud,

.

where the inheritors of the middle passage stewed,

five to a room, still camped below their hatch,

breeding like felonies,

.

whose lived revolve round prison, graveyard, church.

Below bent breadfruit trees

in the flat, coloured city, class

.

escalated into structures still,

merchant, middleman, magistrate, knight. To go downhill

from here was to ascend.

.     .     .

Kamau Brathwaite:  “Calypso”

from The Arrivants

1

The stone had skidded arc’d and bloomed into islands:

Cuba and San Domingo

Jamaica and Puerto Rico

Grenada Guadeloupe Bonaire

.

curved stone hissed into reef

wave teeth fanged into clay

white splash flashed into spray

Bathsheba Montego Bay

.

bloom of the arcing summers…

2

The islands roared into green plantations

ruled by silver sugar cane

sweat and profit

cutlass profit

islands ruled by sugar cane

.

And of course it was a wonderful time

a profitable hospitable well-worth-you-time

when captains carried receipts for rices

letters spices wigs

opera glasses swaggering asses

debtors vices pigs

.

O it was a wonderful time

an elegant benevolent redolent time–

and young Mrs. P.’s quick irrelevant crine

at four o’clock in the morning…

3

But what of black Sam

with the big splayed toes

and the shoe black shiny skin?

.

He carries bucketfulls of water

’cause his Ma’s just had another daughter.

.

And what of John with the European name

who went to school and dreamt of fame

his boss one day called him a fool

and the boss hadn’t even been to school…

4

Steel drum steel drum

hit the hot calypso dancing

hot rum hot rum

who goin’ stop this bacchanalling?

.

For we glance the banjoy

dance the limbo

grow our crops by maljo

.

have loose morals

gather corals

father out neighbour’s quarrels

.

perhaps when they come

with their cameras and straw

hats: sacred pink tourists from the frozen Nawth

.

we should get down to those

white beaches

where if we don’t wear breeches

it becomes an island dance

Some people doin’ well

while others are catchin’ hell

.

o the boss gave our Johnny the sack

though we beg him please

please to take ‘im back

.

so now the boy nigratin’ overseas…

.     .     .

David Jackman:  “Bassman”

.

Now yuh hearing a pain in yuh belly,

Who go provide now?

Who giving yuh room now?

After yuh throw way the costume and

Sleep in yuh vomit from pan fever

After yuh finish consume the liquor

Playing bass in mass

Playing ass in mass

.

You go shadow extravaganza

trying to stretch out the fever

making a las lap

.

trying to get back on the map.

.

But the year face yuh

all yuh have to go by

is Sparrow Miss Mary until

yuh hear

the bass man

in yuh head

Shadow bass man eh boss man nah.

Carnival sickness is the bossman.

Shadow eating good, Sparrow eating good,

CDC eating good.

But who go provide now

Who go provide for the bass pain

in the belly? Who man tell me who?

.     .     .

Lelawattee Manoo-Rahming:  “Steelpan in Miami”

.

Last night I drove

over plain Miami

far in the Southwest

to Miami Pan Symphony

Panyard not under open skies

not bounded by mountain peaks

Cierro del Aripo and El Tucuche

but swallowed in the stomach

of a boxy warehouse

.

Steelpan music cornered

muffled by dense

con crete pre fab walls

not ringing out over

Queen’s Park Savannah

not jingling like running water

in East Dry River

.

Saw the girlchild beating

six bass pans

made one afternoon

not by Spree Simon the Hammer Man

but by Mike Kernahan

Trini in Miami

.

Listened to the boychild

strum the cello pan

heard the manchild

the womanchild

on the chrome tenor pans

carrying the calypso tune

.

Not to Maracas Bay

with coconut fronds

and six foot waves

but to Miami Beach

manmade fringed

with sea oats and coco plums

.

And when the music died

a farewell so warm like Miami heat

a Trini voice bidding

“Drive safe eh”

an incantation from the streets of

Port-of-Spain

a familiar song so strange

in this multilingual

Caribbean city in the frying pan

handle of North America.

.     .     .     .     .

Endnotes:

Roger Robinson’s ‘Texaco Oil Storage Tanks’ appears in his forthcoming collection, The Butterfly Hotel (Peepal Tree Press);   the extract from Derek Walcott’s ‘Laventille’ is taken from his Collected Poems (Faber and Faber, 1986);  Kamau Brathwaite’s ‘Calypso’ is a poem from his The Arrivants;  David Jackman’s ‘Bassman’ is scooped out of 100 Poems from Trinidad and Tobago (Edited by Ian Dieffenthaller & Anson Gonzalez);  and Lelawattee Manoo-Rahming’s ‘Steelpan in Miami’ appears in her collection Curry Flavour (Peepal Tree Press, 2000).

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Andre Bagoo is a poet and journalist, born in 1983, whose first book of poems, Trick Vessels, was published by Shearsman Books (UK) in 2012.   His poetry has appeared in or is forthcoming at:   Almost Island; Boston Review; Cincinnati Review; Caribbean Review of Books; Caribbean Writer; Draconian Switch; Exit Strata PRINT! Vol. 2; Landscapes Journal, St Petersburg Review, Word Riot and elsewhere.   An e-chapbook, From the Undiscovered Country, a collaboration with the artist Luis Vasquez La Roche, was published at The Drunken Boat in 2013.

.     .     .     .     .


“Come, leh we jump up!” The Roots of Toronto Caribbean Carnival (“Caribana”): Calypso from Trinidad and Tobago

 

Today marks the 45th anniversary of Toronto, Canada’s, original Caribbean festival, started in 1967 by a handful of energetic Trinidadians who had settled in the city.  What began as a simple parade of a few hundred on McCaul Street evolved into a massive day-long Jump-Up attracting a million-plus people, where the line between spectator and participant was often invisible – crowds following Charlie’s Roots, Catelli All-Stars or Toronto’s own AfroPan steel orchestra all along the parade route – holding up ‘streetcars’(trams) and causing traffic snarls on the Saturday of the Simcoe Day long weekend.  Brass bands on flatbed trucks playing whichever year’s Road March or Calypso/Soca Top Ten, interspersed with costumed revellers “playing mas”, commenced at Queen’s Park, headed south down University Avenue, under the York Street railway bridge and dispersed at Queen’s Quay and the ferry dock on Lake Ontario – the party then continuing with a picnic and live music on Olympic Island.

Caribana was Toronto’s single biggest cultural event throughout much of the 1980s and up until the mid-1990s when The Jump-Up finally had some real summer competition:  The Gay Pride Parade, The Beaches Jazz Festival, and Taste of the Danforth.

But it was Trinis who brought FUN to this city’s streets FIRST.

Today, Saturday August 4th, the 2012 Jump-Up is winding its way along Lakeshore Boulevard under sunshine and 30 degree Celsius heat – perfect weather for “playing mas”!

*

Mas is short for masquerade, and we feature Trinidad Calypsonian David Rudder’s 1998 Soca lyrics for High Mas (a pun on playing mas and holy mass) to honour the nation which brought a lusty public party spirit to the streets of Toronto away back when…

 

 

David Rudder

High Mas

 

( Give praise, give praise, Children, yeah!

Give praise, give praise, Children! )

Our Father who has given us this art

So that we can all feel like we are a part

Of this earthly heaven – (Amen)

Forgive us this day our daily weakness

As we seek to cast our mortal burdens on your city – (Amen)

Oh merciful Father, in this Bacchanal season

Where men lose their reason

But most of us just want to wine and have a good time

Cuz we looking for a lime,

Because we feeling fine, Lord, – (Amen)

And as we jump up and down in this crazy town

Send us some music for some healing – (Amen)

*

Everybody hand raise

Everybody give praise

Everybody hand raise

And if you know what ah mean – put up your finger

And if you know what ah mean – put up your hand

And if you know what ah mean – put up your finger

And if you know what ah mean then scream:

O O O O O, give Jah his praises

O O O O O, let Jah be praised

O O O O O, the Father in his mercy

He sends a little music to make the vibration raise

So Carnival Day everybody come and celebrate

Everybody come and celebrate

See the ragamuffin congregate, yeah

Everybody come and celebrate

And everybody say:

Eh eh eh eh eh eh, ah love meh country

Eh eh eh eh eh eh, ah feeling irie

Eh eh eh eh eh eh, ah love meh country

Eh eh eh eh eh eh, ah feeling irie

*

Our Father who has given us this art

So that we can all feel a part

Of your heaven – (Amen)

Forgive us this day our daily weakness

As we seek to cast our mortal burdens on your city – (Amen)

On this lovely day when we come out to play and

We come out to sway and we breakin a-way

Some will say what they have to say

But only you know the pain we are feeling – (Amen)

As it was in the beginning of J’ouvert

Goodbye to Carnival Tuesday ending – (Amen)

*

Everybody hand raise

Everybody give praise

Everybody hand raise

And if you know what ah mean – put up your finger

And if you know what ah mean – put up your hand

And if you know what ah mean – put up your finger

And if you know what ah mean then scream:

O O O O O give Jah his praises

O O O O O let Jah be praised

O, the Father in his mercy

He sends a little Soca  to make the vibration raise

So Carnival Day everybody come and celebrate

Everybody come and celebrate

See the ragamuffin congregate, yeah

Everybody come and celebrate

And everybody say:

Eh eh eh eh eh eh ah love meh country

Eh eh eh eh eh eh ah feeling irie

Eh eh eh eh eh eh ah love meh country

Eh eh eh eh eh eh ah feeling irie…..

 

*     *     *

 

Trinidadian glossary:

 

Mas  –  Masquerade;  revellers “play Mas”  when they are in costume

Bacchanal  –  old-time word, still in use, meaning:  festivities, good times, mayhem!

wine  –  verb:  to move sensuously, and it’s all in the waist!

lime  –  noun or verb:  hanging-out with friends;   “chilling”

ah  –  I

Jah  –  God, The Creator, The Father –  in the 20th-century Jamaican religion of Rastafarianism

(which has pan-Caribbean believers  –  including Trinidad’s David Rudder)

Soca  –  contemporary word for Calypso music;  originally coined from Soul+Calypso

meh  –  my

irie  –  a Rastafarian word:  joyful, deep down in your soul

breakin a-way  –  dancing with vitality and confidence;  making a beautiful spectacle of yourself

J’ouvert  –  from the French “Jour ouvert” (Opening day);  the Monday just before Ash Wednesday

(which is the day that Lent begins and Carnival is officially done  –   till the following year!)

 


“Scrunter”: The Cheeky Caroler

_____

 

Home-Made Wine (Aye, Miss Gloria)

Lyrics by the Calypsonian “Scrunter”

(Irwin Reyes Johnson) from Trinidad and Tobago

 

*

 

Note:

“parang” is Trinidad Christmas music,

originally from Venezuela – and

“paranging” is caroling – singers and musicians

going from house to house and given food and

drink for Nativity/Good Will songs sung in Spanish

and English.

 

“wine” is a double-entendre – it means, of course,

the alcoholic drink, but also:  to dance freely, with

vitality and erotic possibility

 

*

 

Leh we go !

Ah went paranging by meh neighbour,

Ah went by Miss Gloria (aye Miss Gloria)
Ah say, madame – what you have to offer?
She said, ah have everyt’ing right here (aye Miss Gloria)
Ah doh buy whiskey – neither strong rum

– it is against my religion (aye Miss Gloria)
Ah have homemade wine in all description

Rude boy, you could sample any one.

 

Pommecité (pom pom pom), Hog Plum, Cashew and Guava
Banana, Five-Finger, Balata and Cane

Ah want some homemade wine, madame Gloria
Gimme some homemade wine, it nice
Ah want some homemade wine, madame Gloria
Gimme some homemade wine, it sweet
Pom pom, pom pom pom pom…….

 

Ah have black cake from Joan already

So right now ah doh want no more (aye Miss Gloria)
But all dem local wine you present me
Ah got to taste some a dem for sure (aye Miss Gloria)
Oh madame, which one is yuh favourite?
Bring it out, quick – lemme taste it (aye Miss Gloria)
Is you who make – and you must know

– Ah want a good head before ah go !
Citrus, Hibicus, Dandyroot, Passionfruit
Temawee, Strawberry, Aloes and Rice wine

 

She say, Cocoa wine does give me short breath

And sometimes it make me upset (aye Miss Gloria)
Maybe de seed does have it so strong
Or ah leave it in de jam too long (aye Miss Gloria)
When it comes to wine ah have de recipe

Go out deh – ask anybody (aye Miss Gloria)
Any function, any party

Dem people does come running-running to me !

 

Cocoa, Long mango, Carili, Temawee,
Guava, Balata, Plantain and Cane wine
Paw-paw, Aloes (aye Miss Gloria)
Corn wine, Ah have cane wine

Fig wine (aye Miss Gloria)
Pom pom, pom pom pom pom,
Coconut wine

Hard wine ! Aye Miss Gloria !

Pom pom, pom pom pom pom,
It sweet, it sweet,
It nice nice nice nice nice…

 

_____

 


Colleen Ella: “ Johnny ”

 

“Johnny”

Trinidadian Soca song from 1987,

composed by Pelham Goddard,

S. Bartholomew and R. Imamshah.

(As sung by the irrepressible Colleen Ella

with the band Taxi)

 

_____

 

Johnny, ah come inside at dis pahtee,

Ah pay meh money to get on wassy,

So why de Hell yuh holdin’ meh damn hand?

Ah mus’ be tell you: Ah lookin’ for man !

Boy, leh meh tell you flat:  Ah ain’t a girl like dat,

Ah duz always be-have mehself.

But when ah hear music play,

Ah duz feel to “break a-way”,

Ah don’t intend to stay on de shelf !

*

Come, leh we go and dance,

And leh we live to prance,

We go wine dong dis fete,

Till ah soakin’ wet.

Ah’m a music lover,

Havin’ Soca fever,

There is music inside me – drivin’ meh crazy.

Go and dance,

And let me live to prance,

We go wine dong dis fete, John-neee !

*

Johnny, ah walkin’ home, wicked hard-hard,

Ah come to pahtee to get on real bad,

When you see ah drink up meh joy-juice,

Leh meh tell yuh, all Hell duz break loose.

Dis mood ah in right now, we go have a big big row,

Cuz yuh behavin’ like a little boy.

Like you doh know what to do,

It would seem as though you bound to,

You going tuh stop meh spreadin’ meh joy !

*

Come, leh we go and dance,

And leh we live to prance,

We go wine dong dis fete,

Till ah soakin’ wet.

Ah’m a music lover,

Havin’ Soca fever,

There is music inside me – drivin’ meh crazy.

Go and dance,

And let me live to prance,

We go wine dong dis fete, John-neee !

*

Johnny, ah getting’ drunk in dis pahtee,

Not a ol’ man like you could stop me,

Ah come tuh drink and “garden” meh whole head,

It’s dat what have meh actin’ so weird.

Ah comin’ here to dance,

Come on, give me a chance,

Cuz ah fed up hearin’ pop songs.

When you see ah in dis mood,

Ah doh even feel fuh food,

All ah want is Soca to get on dong !

*

Come, leh we go and dance,

And leh we live to prance,

We go wine dong dis fete,

Till ah soakin’ wet.

Ah’m a music lover,

Havin’ Soca fever,

There is music inside me – drivin’ meh crazy.

Go and dance,

And let me live to prance,

We go wine dong dis fete, John-neee !

*

Johnny, ah stayin’ inside de pahtee,

Cuz ah love de ban’ dey call “Taxi”,

Ah like de way dem fellas duz real jam,

Make meh feel to shake up meh bam-bam !

When ah come out to fete,

Any man ah could get,

Leh meh tell yuh quite frankly:

Neveh need no tampeh fuh tuh make me frien’ly,

Ah jus’ have tuh buss up on he !

*

Come, leh we go and dance,

And leh we live to prance,

We go wine dong dis fete,

Till ah soakin’ wet.

Ah’m a music lover,

Havin’ Soca fever,

There is music inside me – drivin’ meh crazy

Go and dance,

And let me live to prance,

We go wine dong dis fete, John-neee !

 

 

_____

 

Trinidadian  glossary:

wassy  –   spirited and uninhibited

break a-way  –  to cut loose on the dancefloor,  solo

leh we go  –  let’s go

wine dong dis fete  –  wind down this party/celebration,

stay right till the end (sunrise)

Ah doh  –  I don’t

tampeh  –  marijuana

buss up  –  go crazy on (in a good way),  bust up