Wil and Jean’s interview

 

Sophie: Erm so would you just like to maybe, yeah introduce yourselves and just, erm, give a bit of a background?

 

Wil Joseph: My name is Wil, my full name is Wilhelmina Joseph Lowenthal, and i live in the Ladbroke Grove area, and i’ve been going to the Calypso tent for about thirty years, on and off probably.

 

Jean Joseph: Yes my name is Jean Joseph, I’m Wil’s sister, well I’ve been going to the Calypso tent, well originally at YAA Centre, for i’m not sure as long as thirty years, but i think it was since the – was it 80’s? I’m not sure when i first started to go. It was when you all introduced me first, isn’t it? You know.

 

WJ: It was when Alex started going.

 

JJ: Yeah, yes

 

WJ: When Alex became involved.

 

JJ: Yes that’s probably it, around that time. Yeah, so i was a regular at YAA Centre already anyway because of the, um, other events that took place there in the arts, theatre mostly, and, um, other music, but i wasn’t as familiar with, um,  the Calypso Tent. Calypso of course which is the JAA in the Caribbean, we grew up with that. So I knew the greats, just like Olel Hotel so…. Wil Wilson, and like Sparrow, and Lord Kitchener, and a few others, and um she will also relate to the fact that we used to sing Calypso, a lot of the Radda Bordie Calypso that um we grew up, innocently, completely unaware of what the meanings were. So it’s only when you grow up we might know something, was it like Jean and Diners, was that Lord Kitchener’s?

 

WJ: mm-mm (shakes head)

 

JJ: Spiros.That’s right, yes. Being Jean, i used to sing that song all the time, but i didn’t really know there was a naughty side, to the song, because of the double entendres (laughs) of Calypso. So i grew up singing that for quite a long time, you know, i was into adulthood before i realised, oh i didn’t realise the song was was a bit rude! (laughs)

 

S: So what, what kind of things were they singing about?

 

JJ: It was during the time in Trinidad, in those days, when there were a lot of Americans around, you know, probably roughly around the same time of the Americans in Cuba, Americans were around the Caribbean, especially in Trinidad, which was a very industrialised country.

 

WJ: Servicemen.

 

JJ: Servicemen there, servicemen needed to meet ladies, (laughs), casually, say no more!

 

WJ: (laughs)

 

JJ: Jean and Diner, was…

 

WJ: They were working girls! (laughs)

 

JJ: (laughs) So, so the song, told you about them, but, um, as a child, it’s, Calypso is a way of shielding children from the truth behind some of the rude songs. (laughs) so we didn’t know what it was about.

 

S: (laughs)

 

JJ: (laughs) so that sort of thing, and um, i found the tent, esp – YAA at the time, you know, needed a lot of refurbishment and so on – the building had a certain buzz to it because a lot of the community used to go there for all of the activities. I found the tent really buzzing, it was lively atmosphere, a lot of expectation, it was you know, just like being in the Caribbean.

 

S: Really?

 

JJ: It was just like being in the Caribbean, wasn’t it?

 

WJ: Yeah,

 

JJ: You know

 

WJ: And the thing about it, before the tent, before the show started, and during the interval, and at the end of the show, um, people would hang around, outside in the yard, which is traditionally called Liming. Trinidadians call it Liming; and liming just means hanging out with your mates really, and chatting nonsense, all the good things really, just hanging out and chatting, and um,  especially when it was warm in the evenings it was wonderful – as Jean says, it was like being in the Caribbean, and there would be a lot of Trinidadians there, obviously, but many different people from different islands, and from different backgrounds, and –

 

WJ: And the local people

 

JJ: Yeah, and you, know, Black, White, English, Asian (laughs), Chinese, (laughs), all the different people, made out the Caribbean, and in London, and surrounding area as well.

 

WJ: Yeah

 

JJ: And all the usual, the Notting Hill people, it’s just everybody, you know, it’s a lovely atmosphere, it’s such a build up, to see the space filling up, people came in and, you know, all the banter, and all the various Calypsonians, you see them they’ve got their – their really elaborate costumes on, because the idea is to be really elaborate, isn’t it? The names are elaborate, and the costumes are elaborate. You know, here’s so and so, here’s so and so, and the MCs were very funny, like…

 

WJ: Coco P

 

JJ: Coco P and all the funny… oh they really really know how to engage their audience and there’d be a lot of um, heckling things – it was very, very funny

 

WJ: My favourite, my favourite part, my favourite element, of the tent, um, is, um actually, because the tent is, only once a year, um you get to meet and greet people, you haven’t seen for a while

 

JJ: Yes

 

WJ: That’s my favourite element – you never know who you’re going to see,

 

JJ: Yeah

 

WJ: And from across the room – you can see somebody across the room – oh, there’s so and so! Oh my gosh, there’s so and so – and you rush across the room, and you greet them with a big hug and a kiss, so it’s not just, not just, not just  an entertainment

 

JJ: No, it’s –

 

WJ: The social element is really…

 

JJ: It’s social

 

WJ…important too

 

JJ: It’s like a funeral which i went to yesterday, and people meet up, you know, weddings, funerals, calypso tents (laughs), meeting up with people, and meeting new people as well, you know, and getting to meet the musicians, and people behind it, and you know and all the regulars, and, and um the regulars would include, um, actors like, um Rudolph Walker who was a real devotee, he used to come every time, didn’t he?

 

WJ: Yeah, yeah

 

JJ: He was always there…

 

WJ: Yeah

 

JJ:  Corinne Skin Carter was there,

 

WJ: She still comes, she’s one of the interviewees

 

JJ: Yes, the actors,

 

WJ: Yeah

 

JJ: Yes so they, they, used to come regularly, we used to spot them,

 

WJ: And also Colin Salmon is a regular, with his wife, ???? Hawthorne he comes quite regularly as well

 

JJ: Yeah, but not – i didn’t remember him from the YAA Centre…

 

WJ: Not the YAA, but from the Tabernacle

 

JJ…but from the Tabernacle days, from here. Tabernacle days, yeah. It was very good. Um, i used to, used to be amazed by some of the, the older Calypsonians, you know like, um, Peace and Love

 

WJ: Peace and Love

 

JJ…and people like that. And his, his performance, he has to jump continuously – like how did he find his energy, you know?! He used to wear this woolly knitted hat, like a Scandinavian, one of those Scandinavian  woolly hats

 

WJ: Yeah like a balaclava, yeah

 

JJ: And he wore that, very colourful, and he would jump the entire time during his performance, and i said how did he keep that up?! (laughs)

 

WJ: Yeah…and, and the thing about the Calypsonians, was, was back in the days of the YAA Centre before the women started, um, there were mostly, if probably, elderly men, um so until the women, the women began, that’s what the tent was actually made of. And there was one, i think the oldest man i remember, um back in the days when they first started, was of a gentleman called the Golden Cockerel, and um he was so old, i mean he must have been about ninety! And um he came one year, wearing a gold lame bodysuit (laughs)

 

WJ, JJ & S: (laughs)

 

WJ: And i nearly cried, and i mean people just fell about laughing, and i thought, i mean, i’m still laughing now, and that was twenty years ago! And um, so you never knew what they were going to do because they, they tried to outdo each other, in terms of their costumes. So people would actually go along, just to see what the Calypsonians were going to be wearing, and because each Calypsonian actually sings two songs, um, for each song they changed into a different costume. So they’d wear, not so much now, but back in those days, that was the standard thing, you bought two costumes, and you bought them in, in the, in the suitcase, but not, not in the suitcase you carry, but one of those folding things, that you put your suit in, so you, so the other Calypsonians couldn’t see what they were going to wear, until it was unveiled, when they put it on

 

JJ: (laughs)

 

WJ: So that, so, so the competition wasn’t just in the, in the performance, it was in the costume, as well, albeit it was informal but it was so much that went into that costume. And sometimes they would have their costumes specially made, especially the Calypsonians who came from Trinidad or from other places, um, i remember one year Mighty Duke came, and he must have been about seven feet tall, and he came in coat and tails, you know but not the traditional coat and tails; they were multi coloured coat and tails, you know – vivid pink, and bright orange (laughs) you know, so they just went absolutely out of the way to make their costumes as really powerful as possible. The costumes were actually as much of a statement as their songs.

 

JJ:What about the ladies outfits?

 

WJ: Oh god!

 

JJ: The ladies outfits! Wooh! Oh my goodness

 

WJ: Yeah

 

S: Were they, what were the ladies outfits like compared to the mens?

 

WJ: Well the ladies went into competition with the men,

 

JJ: (laughs)

 

WJ: If the men were being as, as extravagant as possible, then the ladies, there was one year, where literally,i think it was the year where, um Brown Sugar joined, um so we had Brown Sugar, um, Wendy

 

JJ: What about Cleopatra?

 

WJ: Total Little Liba(?), um Cleopatra joined the year after…

 

JJ: Ok

 

WJ: …and Singing Sandra…

 

JJ: OK

 

WJ: I think that year, they all came out in Afriko (?) as we call, we say it, all in the traditional African costumes with the big headdresses, and the embroidery,  so they all came out as African Queens, that year, you know? (laughs) So they all tried to outdo each other!

 

JJ: And the other, and the reverse as well, where they were wearing skimpier outfits as possible, and the men used to be gawping…like this

 

WJ,JJ, S: (laughs)

 

JJ:…didn’t know where to look! Then men in the audience – you’d have ladies, you know, that close to them,  and their eyes were popping like this! (laughs)

 

WJ: Sometimes the ladies would come, the, the bolder ladies would come off the stage, and into the audience, and select a poor gentleman to sit on his lap or something (laughs) or to sing to, or to make him get up and dance with her on the stage, you know, so there was always a secondary show going on as well you know…

 

JJ: Yes, yes

 

WJ: …so you never know what to expect. And the last few years, we’ve had a lady called

Sherlayne Hendrickson…

 

JJ: Oh my

 

WJ:.. um, with a very very very, um, famous performing family, in Trinidad, and she’s been coming as a guest from Trinidad for the last two or three years i think. And the last two years, anyway she’s brought her sister, and her father, who are also Calypsonians, her father’s a very very well known, elderly statesman  Calypsonian. And Sherlayne does this act with her, what’s it called again Jean? A cassava!

 

JJ: Oh yes, yes, yes

 

WJ: A cassava is a large root vegetable, a bit like a yam, and it’s very very suggestive

 

WJ, JJ: (laughs)

 

WJ: And no-one knows where to put their face!

 

JJ: And she goes out into the audience..

 

WJ: She goes, and she climbs over people!

 

JJ:…and the poor men! The poor men

 

WJ: (laughs)

 

JJ: She just grab a man, that’s it! You know, you’ve got to perform, and she, they would be so embarrassed, it was, it was a bit like, it’s a bit like one of the, stag, stag outings, you know, the men, and they’ve suddenly the poor, you know, bridegroom to be didn’t know WHAT was coming, you know? And before you know it, there was this lady there, you know, and she’s wearing a skimpy outfit, and, it was very funny, because i remember i went to that tent where she was, she came last time…

 

WJ: Was it, the – she’s been…

 

JJ: Was it last year’s one?

 

WJ: Last year was the third year, that she came.

 

JJ: Yes, yes, yeah i was at that performance, and um, my son and his wife and their little daughter were in the audience he was covering her eyes! (laughs)

 

WJ: (laughs)

 

JJ: He was covering her eyes! (laughs)

 

WJ: (laughs) I didn’t – but she, but how old was she then? Five?

 

JJ: No, she was seven.

 

WJ: She was seven already?

 

JJ: Yeah she was seven in 2017, yes

 

WJ: Oh really? Oh my god

 

JJ: Yes, yes, she was taking part in everything!

 

WJ: She was enjoying it so much!

 

JJ: She was enjoying everything, the seven year old, oh she was doing the dancing and everything, and you know, she was so excited, she loved it.

 

WJ: And that’s the other thing about it, there were always – not so much these days, but back in the days of the YAA Centre there were hundreds of children!

 

JJ: Yes

 

WJ: Children were not excluded. You just bought your child along, you didn’t pay for children, obviously, so the children there were very very young, and of course, it was, it was good grounding for future Calypsonians so we had many of our future juniors start off as, um children, um, of the offspring, of their parents, who were also Calypsonians. And also of people – members of the audience too. I remember my own son, Felix, his first, um exposure, to the Calypso tent, he was five days old, (laughs)

 

S: Oh wow, wow

 

WJ: He’s been every year, up until two years ago, where um his, this is his seventeenth year now, so, um

 

JJ: Teens have kicked in

 

WJ: Yeah, he’s stopped coming, yeah he prefers grime (laughs) yeah, you know

 

JJ: But the thing is, they come back to it, because then the young ones, there are quite a few young  – we’ve had a few young Calypsonians, now aren’t they, very popular –

 

WJ: Yeah we had  a long season, of um of junior, Calypso Monarchs, um, and um, that lasted about ten years, i think, where we would have um workshops with young people. And yeah it was from about seven or eight years old and upwards. Um, we’d have, and we would enable them, facilitate them in writing their own music, their own Calypsos, and then they would have Junior Competitions, and then there would be a Junior Monarch for the year, um very much based on the adult competition, you know, um, and even for several years, right up to the beginning of when they moved to the Tabernacle, um we bought brought a Junior Monarch from Trinidad, um, to perform in the tent here. Um, that hasn’t happened for many years now, since the funding was cut they haven’t

been able to, to do that. But it was great because  the Trinidadian Junior Monarchs were massive role models to the children here, because they, the class and the poise of these young musicians from Trinidad was absolutely astonishing. I mean we had to um, one young girl, um Corrinne Ashay who came when she was, i think she was sixteen – and um i couldn’t believe her voice, um she was an absolute diva (laughs) at sixteen! She had the poise, and the performance, everything, down to an absolute tee.Um but only when you go to Trinidad, and you look around you, and you see how many young people actually have that poise-

 

JJ: Yes

 

WJ:…when they’re performing, there are hundreds of them –

 

JJ: Yeah they’re the full package, aren’t they?

 

WJ: Yeah

 

JJ: Yeah, they have the presence, they have the voice, the way that they deliver the lyrics, the way they perform, they’re so confident! They’re so mature (laughs)

 

WJ: The only, the only thing, the only difference, i think between the Juniors here and the Juniors in Trinidad, is that mainly um the Juniors in Trinidad don’t write their own material, somebody else writes it for them. Um and whereas the Juniors in the UK mostly write their own material and maybe it’s arranged by somebody else, the music is arranged, but generally they write their own. Yeah, that’s the difference.

 

JJ: Which was the, you know, which was the most remarkable year you think?

 

WJ: I never remember years (laughs) i don’t know a year from a year – I can’t tell one from the other

 

JJ: I don’t remember years either but it was very, it was very good when, which, which um song was it um that Alex won the first Monarch for?

 

WJ: It was Haiti wasn’t it? Haiti?

 

JJ: Yes Haiti and then the next year it was, with Debbie wasn’t it?

 

WJ: Debbie, yes, about a woman on trial, it was 2010, 2011, yeah. Yeah, it was 2010. 2011.

 

JJ: Yeah that was very popular, it was very popular, because we tried to come as family to support as well, as well as for the enjoyment, but there are certain things i still miss about the old building (laughs) which, you know –

 

S: What was the old building like?

 

JJ: It was run down (laughs)

 

WJ: It was actually an old factory that made taxometers, and um for black cabs. And um, and during the second world war, they used it as a mortuary, yeah

 

JJ: So it’s had lots of, various lives, you know, it was called a factory first, cos of that, then it was YAA Centre, now it’s YAA Centre it was YAA Centre, there was so much going on there, so much theatre as well, because it’s all the theatre, the performance you know, the Carnival, building, creating carnival costumes for the next carnival, because it’s a whole year thing, it’s an entire village, for, for Carnival, you know, so all these things happen.

 

WJ: Then there were the guys upstairs, that formed themselves into an Association, they call themselves The West Indian something association, but they were just young men, young Caribbean men, it was a social club, basically, and they got themselves together into a football team, and they used to thrash everybody else (laughs) ???? Sunday team, Sunday league, yeah, um and then there were people coming into do all kinds of things you know,  martial arts, and drumming, i used to do, um, my steel band was based there as well, so i used to go there for steel pan. And there was always something going on, there were dancers going in there, um all different things

 

S: It sounds like a great place, is it still open now, or is it..?

 

JJ: Yes, it is but not in the same, not in the same guise, because, um, you know, i think, most of those, you know know more about that than me, and how that is structured

 

WJ: It’s just the building to the Tabernacle, its the other half of Carnival village –

 

JJ: Yeah, It’s structured differently

 

WJ: – yeah so they practically ripped out the building, and when they refurbished it, they tore the heart out of it, as well and um it doesn’t have half the traffic going on in there at all, so it’s very sad and, and i actually avoid it as much as possible, because um, because it actually breaks my heart, when i go in there now. Just to go round and yeah –

 

JJ: It’s almost like it’s been, it’s had some sort of lobotomy (laughs) there’s clinicalness around it, you know

 

S:  It’s heart and soul has been –

 

JJ: Yeah, that’s what it is as well, you know i go to events there but i miss the tent not being there as well,  but this is a beautiful space for the tent absolutely, it’s gorgeous for the tent but it had a certain rawness to it –

 

WJ: Yeah

 

JJ: -like being back in Trinidad (laughs) you get on the streets, you know, it had that feel to it as well, you know

 

WJ: And um, it’s,- we had to gradually get used to the Tabernacle, people, when we first moved in people complained and moaned and there was a certain drop off as well, um the regulars, um, we lost some of our regulars that used to come to the tent at the YAA Centre, we lost some of the regulars, probably lost about 20% of those regulars, um because they just couldn’t get used to this building, but most people, um were loyal and continued to come, and the people that continued to come gradually brought more people with them, and people come and were really impressed with the building, the setting and the visitors we have from overseas are  really impressed with the building, you know, and i just think, wow

 

JJ: It’s a gorgeous building!

 

WJ: Beautiful building

 

JJ: It’s a stunning building

 

WJ: You know, and the performance space is a really wonderful space, as well

 

JJ: Yeah

 

WJ: So um, yeah

 

JJ: And it’s, what i think is amazing for the, for the tent, is one) The performances, the amount of works that goes into the lyrics, the lyrics are so cleverly constructed, whether it’s political, or it’s something social, or something naughty, but it’s all really well done, really clever and the backing musicians and erm the backing singers are so professional, they are so good and you think wow, to be listening to live music in this space is not something you get often, you know and everything is so, um artificial now, you get live musicians, you get amazing performances, you get great acoustics, you’ve got some amazing Soca ???? – Wil loves them

 

WJ: Yeah absolutely, i’m their number one fan

 

JJ: They are so, you know you think, this is too small for them, they need to be global, they are so good –

 

WJ: They do , they do, outside of the tent

 

JJ: They are so good – I know they do a lot of things, but you think to be able to enjoy them in a setting like this, you know, this is a you know, still a kind of almost um, local, at the same time, although people are coming in from everywhere, and you’ll still be able to come and enjoy this kind of quality of music, you know, the sound is good, because you know, you hear people talking, if they complain if the sound isn’t quite right, or the acoustics because, i’m not a music person, i’m a visual arts person, but to be able to get that perfect and just right, oh the PS system, and they’re sorting this out, and they’re getting the technology right, and it just sounds absolutely brilliant, you know, so it’s really fascinating, wow,  to be able to you know, hear this, you know, the auditorium is perfect for it, and you know everyone puts in so much effort to do that, you know, so i’m always really happy to come once i’m here. And i think, this is so amazing.

 

WJ: Yeah, and the thing that for me, has really raised the quality of the tent, from something that was really quite, i don’t know,  at the very beginning, people might have taken it as something quite comical, really, to something that is really absolutely world class, and i can say that it’s actually world class now.

 

JJ: It is world class.

 

WJ: It’s the band, for me, how you can tell that there is a huge improvement in the quality of the music is the fact that, back in the old days, the members of the band, if they were offered a gig on the Tent night they would put a Dep in, a Deputy in to do their slot at the tent and go off and do their other gig. Whereas now, it’s usually the other way around (laughs) people actually want to do this

 

JJ: Yeah

 

WJ: You know, and they, the musicians now are fighting each other, so we most of the time have regular musicians that come in year after year after year and those are our Tent musicians, you know. The drummer, and the keyboardist Shaun, and Shaun does most of the arrangements for most of the Calypsonians in fact. Alex [de Great] does his, and he writes for Helen The Bee. So he does those arrangements. But Shaun does most of the arrangements, and you would think he’s doing the arrangements for ten, twelve, fifteen people, that it would be really quick and shoddy -no not at  You know they are smashing!. And they don’t sound alike at all because once you’re doing one after the other, you’d think that they would sound alike, but not at all. So everyone is absolutely top class, you know, and that’s the difference, here between people back in the old days, saying ‘Oh i’m not going to the Tent because it’s rubbish’, you know so now people are fighting, and on competition nights the place is packed with people! I mean people are standing up, all over the place, you know so –

 

JJ: I think they have more respect for the genre because of the professionalism, when you show professionalism people are going to be able to appreciate it aren’t they, you know, so you get that as  well so like the, not saying everything is perfect, but you know, you invited me to the birthday party for Cyril, who’s just turned 86, who participates, doesn’t he? You know, he’s a long term Calypsonian. It’s just a respect they have for their elders you know and the appreciation for the elders for their craft and i think that is just so good. It doesn’t matter how elderly they get, they are still respected, even if they have never play again! They have so much respect for them you know. And they’re lourded, you treat them with respect, the  younger ones look up to them. I think that’s amazing.

 

WJ: Do you remember that show that we came to see of Sparrow about two, three years ago?

 

JJ: Yes

 

WJ: It was here, at the Tabernacle! And when we came, practically all the Calypso tent audience were in the show for Sparrow as well. And it was

actually even more packed, the Sparrow show –

 

JJ: Because it’s legendary!

 

WJ: He’s a legend, you see, i mean he’s a very old man, you know –

 

JJ: He still – he still kicks a punch! He can really get the audience and, you know the engagement is just the same, you know, i was shocked actually.

i thought he’d be a doddery old man –

 

WJ: He came onto the stage to trick people, he came on to the stage doddering with a stick, trembling, and literally threw the stick away, stood up

straight and started belting out songs! (laughs) But yeah there is an element of deep respect for Calypsonians, and when they’re out and about on the street

and stuff, and people stop and talk to them, and greet them –

 

JJ: I did that just yesterday, because i was at Paddington Arts for that reception,  and i saw Lord Cloak, in his normal street clothes, and i’m thinking,

is that Lord Cloak or not? Sometimes out of their costume, you think is that Lord Cloak, or it’s not? Yes, it is Lord Cloak! I say ‘Hello!’ ,

‘Hello Mr Cloak!’, i say (laughs) it’s really funny!

 

WJ: Yeah and Jean reminds me of something else, I’m aware of time too. Backstage, most backstages you go to in any , backstage is actually out of bounds,

you can’t go backstage. Here, because the auditorium is built on a circle, in order to get to the toilets, literally you have to walk past the dressing rooms,

to go to the toilet. So you can knock on the door and drop in and just say hi to people, and hold onto their clothes while they’re dressing, literally.

So everyone is very accessible. There’s no element of fussiness or they’re somehow better, or higher up or whatever –

 

JJ: No, there’s none of that

 

WJ: Although we revere age, and experience, there’s no ‘them’ and ‘us’. When they come off the stage and back into their ordinary clothes again,

they actually come back into the audience and watch the show. So that’s the difference.

 

JJ: They go back into their normal lives. (laughs)

 

WJ: They just come off the stage, Brown Sugar particularly, she’s a real belter, she’ll belt out a song, sort of a voice like, she’s a real diva on

stage and she’s got poise and everything, but when she comes off the stage she’s so shy, (laughs) and she’ll sit next to you in the audience and watch the

show, you know. So that’s the really great thing about the Calypso Tent. it’s just different to anything else.

 

S: You feel part – you feel everyone is part of everything, you’re all sort of equal? Sounds amazing.

 

JJ: Yeah it’s a great atmosphere. It’s why i like to go, you know. Really, i try to go as often as i can, yeah at least to one or two each year – how many weeks is

it, built up to?

 

WJ: It used to be five weeks, but it’s four weeks, four weeks now. Actually it used to be the last week of July and four weeks in August. Ending in

Carnival Week. But now it’s just four weeks in August, because the funding was cut so they can’t afford to run it. Then after, then during Carnival,

 

the Sunday and the Monday of Carnival, they actually take the whole of the Calypso show, well not all of it, as many performers as possible,

out across the road into Powys Square, into the gardens and have the World Music Tent. So the ACUK are hosts for the World Music Stage at the

LOndon Notting Hill Carnival. So they actually run the show, and they put on a show, a mini Calypso Tent, for as many performers that want to

do it. Sometimes they get paid if there’s funding and other times they don’t get paid, but they still do it. Yeah, so it’s fun. And the days it

doesn’t rain is brilliant! Last year 2017 it didn’t rain so it was a gorgeous show (31:10)

 

JJ: It was a good audience

 

WJ: Yeah fantastic,

 

J; Wasn’t it? It was a good audience? Some real great international guests, performers you know, it was good. It was nice, it was a really lovely nice mixed audience

and a lot of them it’s their first introduction to Calypso or even to Carnival. So they want to really enjoy it, because it’s a little microcosm there because

everything is going on around them but being on the microcosm there is like being one of the separate festivals within the festival.

 

WJ: Because Carnival is going on around you and you’re in this little mini festival just in the square across the road, it’s exactly – it’s a very festival

like atmosphere. And that’s when the Calypsonians tend to put on the more dancy sort of performances, rather than looking for the deep social commentary in their

songs, they tend to go for lighter hearted songs and more dancy arrangements. So they can get the crowd up and dancing. But i like the social commentary,

you know, there’s some fantastic social commentary in the tent depending on who you’re looking at, theres Sheldon Skeet, Sheldon writes amazing Calypsos

and it’s not any wonder, i think he won four years in a row, i think he probably would have continued to win, if he hadn’t had to pull out

because he was in the RAF, and then we have G String and his name sounds comical but he has the most amazing lyrics, stunning social commentary

and of course there’s Alexander D Great, and other ones as well. But those are the ones that tend to sort of focus on really really serious issues.

From war in Afghanistan, Sheldon Skeet, to the earthquake in Haiti, to the kidnapping of those girls in Nigeria, was G String, so they talk about all kinds

of things.

 

S: We’ve just come up to half an hour, i’m bearing in mind that Alex doesn’t want it to be too long, is there anything else, anything else specifically

you wanted to talk about before i stop the recording?

 

WJ: Let me just think about this, i can’t think of anything else,  is there anything particular Jean? We talked about young people, we talked about the two different buildings, the vibe, we talked about the band, costumes, that change in, loss of -JJ: The food and drink

 

WJ: The only problem with this building is that the costs are quite high so you’re paying almost west end prices here, that’s the only problem. People have had to dig deep to keep coming, you know

 

JJ: Yeah it’s good that they do still try to come, and you get a good audience, and i thought the food was an important part of it because you’ve got, it’s mostly Trinny food, isn’t it you know? You can’t have Calypso tent without Roti, which is a traditional snack – is it a snack? Would you refer to it as a snack?

 

WJ: No it’s huge! It’s not a snack, it’s a meal! It’s two meals!

 

JJ:I have to take half home if I have one of those

 

WJ: Quite often you can’t eat the whole thing, you have to take half of it home; what’s been happening over the last few years is, we can’t say it loud because the chef is there, is because one of the Calypsonians, i won’t mention who, has a family who makes Roti and they usually bring it and park outside the gate at the interval and everyone rushes out to get their Roti from this particular Calypsonians family. And it’s so popular, that  you actually have to reserve your Roti before the show starts, by the time you go down at the interval it’s just run out!

JJ: It’s gone!

 

WJ: (laughs)

 

JJ: Are they still doing it?

 

WJ: Yes! Every year, They tried to stop it one year but people objected, because the Roti that they were selling here were nothing like it at all.

 

JJ: Not authentic (35.55)

 

WJ: Not authentic yeah (laughs), So yeah, that’s the food. You have to cater for everything, and people need to know that if they’re going to go to a Caribbean thing, they need to have Caribbean amenities around them. Food and drink, and –

 

JJ: The trappings of the tent

 

WJ: The trappings that go with them – yeah.

 

JJ: Yeah, goes with the food, drink, joviality, and a performance, it’s all part of the whole thing, isn’t it? There’s no point giving them cold up sandwiches, that certainly won’t do! You have to have proper Roti and other little snacks,

as a friend of ours, Curtis, calls them Caribbean De-Lights! (laughs). Caribbean Delights!

 

WJ: And the venue has proven that it’s really important, where the venue is; i can’t see the Calypso tent being transferred to somewhere like, i don’t know, the Royal Festival Hall, or somewhere like that –

 

JJ: No. It wouldn’t work

 

WJ: Wouldn’t work.

 

JJ: Yeah, Yeah, it’s a bit like transferring Carnival, it wouldn’t work, it’s embedded itself well here. This is a

historical place, for it, yes. So it works.

 

WJ: Yeah, indeed, that’s it

 

JJ: I can’t think of anything else

 

S: OK, no that’s great, thank you very much, i’ll stop the recording now.

 

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