Tapas on the Bay deserves top marks for being innovative and serving diners with a musical repast of Calypso and Extempo. On Friday 8th July the restaurant, already renowned for its superior food and service, was the host venue for an evening of live music in tribute to Lucian Carnival. The artistes, selected for their skill in their particular genres, made the occasion a night to remember as they regaled the audience with songs, some impromptu lyrics, wit and laughter.
Gene Lawrence is a maestro of story telling, string instruments and Calypso. In his trademark white outfit with hat, he perched on his stool and explained the origins of this song style, mentioning evidence of the link between slavery and Calypso, the influence that African culture has had on the New World, and the development of Calypso and Pan over the decades and across the islands.
Gene’s mellifluous voice is a joy to hear even when he is just talking but add a guitar and a tune and he is one of the best entertainers in the Caribbean, a fact not lost on the appreciative crowd.
The mood of the night then switched to Extempo, which, for those unfamiliar with this style, was described as ‘The Art of Composing’. First up was veteran Calypso and Soca Monarch “Papa Vada” who emphasised: “It’s all about being spontaneous.” To prove his point he invited a group of all-female diners to suggest a topic on which he should simultaneously compose lyrics and sing. Their choice: Too many women!
Joined on stage by “The Mighty Prince” and “Ezi” Hall, the fun continued as the trio cleverly improvised on the topic of Carnival versus Jazz and on the phenomena of Donald Trump. The audience was in stitches!
In a post-performance debriefing with The Star, the artistes agreed that the venue was novel yet a success. The Extempo aficionados commented that the unconventional audience of diners was less rowdy than some of the crowds they have encountered but nevertheless the reaction from patrons was positive and uplifting. “Papa Vader” spoke for all when he explained, “An artist feeds off the audience so the more responsive they are, the better the performance.”
Congratulations to the artistes on their scintillating acts with side-splitting lyrics and innuendo; to Rosie Joinvillle, co-owner of Taoas in the Bay, for hosting this memorable event (and responding to “Papa Vader’s” lyrical imploring of “Is I hungry!”), and to Ronald “Boo” Hinkson for his collaboration in the project. All who experienced it hope that it will be repeated soon.