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Bare Bacchanal

Wade Gibbons

Bare Bacchanal

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A NEW PHENOMENON has hit the Crop-Over Festival.The calypso cabaret (minus the individual dining tables) has quietly replaced some traditional calypso tents, and this was no more evident than at Bacchanal Time’s judging night at the Party Stand, Princess Alice Highway, on Wednesday.The crowd lapped up the entertaining fare, and the judges probably did too, but it was an occasion where the latter had very little work on their hands and just a few to consider seriously for the National Cultural Foundation’s premier competitions.Amid the comedic skits and other side attractions, Shawnee, Classic, Kid Site and Eric Lewis stood out of those attempting to get the judges’ nod for advancement to the Pic-O-De-Crop semi-finals.In many ways Classic – without being spectacular – was the outstanding performer on the night. His medium-tempo social commentary I Don’t Think, which looked at a number of issues to which not much thought has been given, was well rendered. He raised the tempo somewhat with Smut that dealt with criticisms coming in from various quarters about the quality of this year’s calypsos.Kid Site has been better in previous years and might have to depend on his name – along with his material – to get him out of the tent this year. To his credit both Change The Name and I Gine Get On Bad were humorous, which was a major plus. In the former he suggested a change of name for a number of things, including the Eagle Hall Market to the Eagle Hall Mystery, and Dr David Estwick’s ministry to Defence and Security. But the absolute surety which one usually has with Site’s performances just wasn’t there.Shawnee, one of the most underrated calypsonians around, acquitted himself well with Commentary Dying and Frustration. The strength of the former was in its lyrics and the latter’s melody was one of the sweetest for the night and a tribute to the arranger.Shawnee echoed the fears of many in his first song: that the present lyrical bacchanalia was killing social commentary. He suggested that without the calypso genre, Li’l Rick wouldn’t be able to construct a mansion, Peter Ram wouldn’t be driving a SUV, and Statement would still be driving a ZR van.Lewis returned to competition with the melodic Put The Lord In Front and the title was self-explanatory. In terms of freshness and treatment, though, this has been trumpeted long before the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.His tongue-in-cheek Abolish It went down well with the audience and though he, ostensibly, was singing about things that needed to be abolished, fans changed the two-word title of the song to four, and still adequately captured the import of what he was saying with their pun.Supa D did himself no harm with the uptempo Pit Bull On Fire, an apparent ode to a fellow “Philipian”, and Come Back, a song done with similar intent to John King’s I’m Back of a few years ago.Of those trying to impress in the party vein, Peach was the most noteworthy with I Love Crop-Over. An energetic soca session featuring Statement, Justin King, Hypa Sounds, Timmy, Peach and Grenada’s Nika Francis added to the party atmosphere.Also in the mix were Peter Ram, Lyrical, Cynna Bunzz, Most Wanted and Captain Sawyer. However, one could not but reflect on Chalkdust’s classic Quacks And Invalids during some of these performances. There was also the comic input of Odds And Ends (Rachel Thorne, Leon Philips and Levi King). Kevin Hinds did a great job as emcee. The inimitable Trevor Eastmond made an impromptu appearance and his presence always enhances any show.