Small crowd at opening of Klassic Ruso calypso tent

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Reigning extempo monarch Brian London sings, Ah calypsonian, at the opening of the Klassic Ruso tent on Friday. PHOTO BY ANGELO MARCELLE –

TWO things have been consistent so far since the opening of calypso tents last Friday – solid performances by calypsonians and sparse crowds at the events.

The Klassic Ruso Tent opened its doors to mark its entrance into The Taste of Carnival season at Queen’s Hall in Port of Spain on Friday night and to the immense credit of the calypsonians including Brian London, Hamidullah Wahid, Anthony “All Rounder” Hendrickson and others, they all maintained their concentration amidst a distracting sea of empty white chairs and performed as if they were at Dimanche Gras.

This tent is managed under the Trinbago Unified Calypsonians Organisation (TUCO) North Zone. The show started at 9 pm with just a handful of people who came out to be entertained by their favourite calypsonians.

King Soul performs at the opening of the Klassic Ruso calypso tent on Friday at Queen’s Hall, Port of Spain. PHOTO BY ANGELO MARCELLE

Other than an occasional drizzle, the starry night at The Garden Theatre made it perfect for entertainment. However, there was a sombre air among the singers as word filtered in that both the Calypso Monarch and the Extempo Monarch competitions are now in jeopardy as Tuco deemed the $1.5 million allocation insufficient to hold these two marquee events.

London, the reigning extempo monarch, was carded to sing his new song Strain, but opted for his 12-year old song, Ah Calypsonian. In true London fashion, the calypsonian’s performance of the now vintage ditty received several shouts of approval and even an encore.

The show was so poorly attended that the largest gathering in any one area of the venue was a seven-strong set of patrons.

Calypsonian Hamidullah Wahid had the sparse crowd in stitches with his song, Hole. PHOTO BY ANGELO MARCELLE

Asked why he decided to change his song, London said, “I can’t say much because I too am waiting but earlier today the calypso preliminaries at the Queen’s Park Savannah were abruptly ended.

“So far we are hearing that there won’t be a competition again. My concern is that if I sing my new song and there isn’t a competition, I won’t be able to sing it again next year. The rules of the competition state if you make a song public at the tent, you won’t be able to sing it in a competition in any other year after that. So I had to make a business decision not to sing the new song.”

In an updated release on Sunday, TUCO stated that both the National Calypso Monarch and Extempo Monarch competitions were temporarily halted until further discussions. A meeting of stakeholders is expected to take place on Monday at which a final, firm decision will be taken on the fate of these two competitions.

Commenting on the cancellation of the preliminary judging, acting Tuco president Ainsley King said on Saturday, “The negotiation between Tuco and the NCC (National Carnival Commission ) is unsettled, leaving us in a position where there won’t be enough money to possibly cover expenses for the competitions. Sixty-seven persons registered for the preliminaries.”

The significant drop in registrants for the competition (from 500), also affected the cast at Klassic Russo.

The usually loaded cast was cut down to 15 singers. The Newsday counted 30 people at the Klassic Ruso tent show with five of them being tourists from Canada.

Patrons enjoy the entertainmenr at the opening of Klassic Ruso tent, Queenś Hall, Port of Spaiin on Friday night. PHOTO BY ANGELO MARCELLE

Despite his increasing physical challenges, 82-year-old veteran calypsonian All Rounder gave a high-energy performance with his song, Leave We Pepper Spray.

The singer performed with his two daughters who helped him on and off the stage. Mark Eastman, Naheelah Ńefta Kojo, Carlton “Manchild” Collins, Robert “Robbie G” Deene, Lloyd Cupidore and Edwin “Crazy” Ayoung also performed during opening night.

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