Kaiso Karavan flavours A Taste of Carnival

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Johnny King was one of the veteran calypsonians who performed on Thursday at the Kaiso Karavan Tent’s opening night of its Taste of Carnival Season at the Queen’s Hall’s Garden Theatre in St Ann’s. PHOTO BY MELISSA DOUGHTY –

It was the first of A Taste of Carnival’s physical events and even though the audience at the Kaiso Karavan tent was sparse, the Trinbago Unified Calypsonian Organisation (TUCO) president Ainsley King believes patronage at the tents will increase.

It was held at Queen’s Hall Garden Theatre, St Ann’s on February 10 from 7 pm. When the show began at 7.19 pm with its first performer Georgia “The Messenger” Mc Intyre singing a Tribute to Sandra (the late Sandra “Singing Sandra” DesVignes-Millington), there were only six people in the audience. At the end of the event at 10.15 pm, the number was still the same.

The venue was beautifully lit, the open air environment with the trees around creating a nostalgic, almost romantic feeling. It was the perfect setting for a return to Carnival events, the only problem was there was no audience.

Even though the number was small, the people were seen dancing in their seats to Kaiso Karavan’s offerings particularly its vintage section after the intermission.

King said, “I do expect the attendance to increase. As things have been happening, as most people know, the uncertainty that we keep seeing.

“Even the budget we have not finalised budget as yet. The covid situation it has been tough.”

King said as the organisation’s leader he seized the opportunity to create something for the calypsonian.

The significance of the night was that the Taste of Carnival events have started, he added.

“Getting to this point was tough and it is tough. The fact that this show has started tonight, the signal is a very, very valuable symbol. It is signal that we are on the go and this thing is going to work,” he said.

To him, Kaiso Karavan offered a good start to the reopening of the entertainment sector.

He said his reason for saying so was because life has to continue even with covid and TT has to learn to live with the situation and that was what the tent’s organisers did.

“This here is definitely showing that the entertainment sector is making that attempt. Yes there might be challenges but the fact is that the effort here tonight is very positive.”

Asked if more is going to be done to promote and enhance attendance at the tents, King said Kaiso Karavan found themselves in an unfortunate position because the dates were already set and no funding had been given as yet and so the tent’s organisers were unable to advertise.

However, he admired that the organisers went ahead with the show.

King said the world has changed and the country and people had no choice but to try to adapt.

The entertainment industry has changed the industry totally and he does not see it getting back to normal but entertainers and artistes had to find new ways of making it work, he added.

One patron Maigon Eastmen said she came simply because she loves calypso. “I heard this cast is very good. So I came to enjoy it. Even though my friends are not here, some vaccinated and are afraid and some unvaccinated; I felt quite comfortable coming out because I was told the social distancing is still in effect so I feel safe.”

She said she was then enjoying the humorous calypsoes being offered.

The secretary of TUCO’s east zone and part of the management team of the Kaiso Karavan calypso tent Judy Benicourt said while the management team was ecstatic it was also apprehensive about having one of the first live events for A Taste of Carnival.

She said the organisers tried to get as close to some semblance of what is normally held.

Themes at the tent ranged from female empowerment to the importance of culture. Some performers like Natasha “Sexy Suzie” Nurse and Elon “Cardinal” Baggoo had the small group calling for encores. The show ran smoothly and those attending could be seen moving in their seats when performers like Irwin “Scrunter” Johnson and Errol “Bally” Ballantyne came to the stage.

During his performance of his 1980 hit Take the Number, Scrunter told the small group that TT did not make songs like that any more.

The tent also paid tribute to Kitchener and since it is Arima-based and – had Kitchener been alive – he would have celebrated his 100th birthday.

Cardinal honoured the Grandmaster by performing his 2000 hit De Toco Band.

Asked then if she felt that there would be crowd, Benicourt then said she did not think a lot would come out as some of the tent’s usual followers said that they did not want to come out this time around.

She said that they opted to wait and see and indicated that they would be interested in coming out next year.

Benicourt said the organisers tried and tents will endure because it is through calypso that the stories of Trinidad and Tobago are told.

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