Dat Was We Time A review of Kaiso Headquarters

Safety and security are keywords to success in relation to KAISO HEADQUARTERS 9 ….DATS WE TIME and its renewed possibilities.

Sabrina “SIWO” Mangal winner of Kaiso Headquarters.

Sabrina “SIWO” Mangal winner of Kaiso Headquarters.

A remarkable vision in demonstrating what will turn out to be a welcome venue for our Saint Lucian community of artistes. Commissioner Vernon Francois who serves as Chairman of the Planning Committee disclosed, “ the new venue is expected to improve the overall product as it provides more space and better ambience.”

I have been a big fan of Kaiso Headquarters from the first competition and always felt the space where it evolved, to be cramped and inadequate, for what was a brilliant idea in respect of the development of the musicians of the Royal St. Lucia Police Band, who recently celebrated 67 years of existence with just one CD to its credit.

When I heard of the change of venue I was elated like a flying dolphin.  For eight years a lot of great music had been presented in the space in front of the canteen. I could never understand how they had done it but they did. Just barely strong enough on my feet to climb the hill that led to Chesterfield, I went to see that the view from the hill was exacting.

The first time I entered Chesterfield House, the late Paula St. Helene had ran the place as a Guest House and given the high escalating costs of maintenance and lack of clients, the family would soon give up their dream house. Next time I walked into Chesterfield House the building had become the Police Headquarters under the Broughton regime.

I was half way up the hillock at 8:30 pm that Saturday night and everyone stopped as the National Anthem was played and I said to the officer at the third check point, “You know you got to stand at attention for the National Anthem”.

I heard the MC’s voice as I waded through the crowd at the lower level. It was Donnerville. He had his groundings in the Micoud State Theatre playing in Moliere’s Doctor in Spite of himself. Great masterpiece of French Theatre.  He had made a daunting debut under the floodlights with the South Calypso tent, many moons ago. This evening had to be safe. And then I ran into another MC. Ezi Hall.

The first three performers were juniors, Monarchs from the nestling 2014 RC Jam, another great cultural achievement that has outgrown its performing space. The crowd was seated above the lower level and there was a flight of five steps to get to that section which was fully occupied. There had never been any seating at KAISO HEADQUARTERS. Calypso King Mighty Sizzler, Groovy King Ramin and Soca Monarch Mighty Minim were excellent in the execution of their performances.

“So none of you guys couldn’t think of using that ampitheatre setting before”? asked Carlton Ishmael sometime MC and founder of defunct Petite St. Lucie Dance Troupe. From my vantage point the screen could be viewed from back and front, a wonderful perspective. You could converse and watch the show. Excellent, there were well stocked food and drinks bars. I choose water in the still hot air, while my friend expressed his concern about aging and I expressed mine about dying.

I ventured up the stairs after saying goodbye to Carlton and the view was excellent. The higher you went the better the view of the show. You had the live action and the projection on the screen. I braced myself with support of an arm rest and took in the presentations one after another until I had listened to Round One, which I was sure would produce the winner. Coming on at five, I liked Siwo and thought  this could be a winner. One of the performers had forgotten his lyrics and surely, here is where you need Ezi and Invader to inculcate the nuance of improvisation and extempo into the fabric of the performer, notwithstanding the in house Jason Joseph workshop, preceding the show.

Almost all the performers had the great benefit of performing  compositions by our top lyricists. Among them; Walstun Alfred, our 2014 Calypso Monarch; twice former monarch Jason Joseph, O’Neil Fontenelle wrote three songs , Nahum Jn Baptiste, Ezi Hall, Mc Stephen Aubertin among others; the arrangers were well represented, Tony Wilkinson, Gregory Piper, Clarence Joseph, Peter Simeon, Deland St. Jules, Dyson Imbert, Francis Delice, Errol  Fontenelle, Martin James, in the vein, musicians from the Royal St. Lucia Police Band. So if and when you mess up as with eating words, the writers and arrangers do not forget and forgive that easily. This is a conjunction between writer/arranger and performer. You got to get it right. Everytime.

Intermission came and my legs recalled the old Kaiso Headquarters, there was three times the normal audience capacity and every one was having a candid Kaiso Headquarters experience. Life as a Police has its misfortunes, challenges and these parameters were brought under the microscope by the craft of the writers and performers with the supporting cast of the presentations. So I sat on a tree stump and pondered on the performers to date shifting through to pick my winner.

The twenty minutes of intermission announced by Donnerville was more like forty but no body seemed to care since in this kind of in house confirmation, everyone is a winner. Kaiso Headquarters has been an opportunity for reflection on the relationship between the Police and the Community it serves and protects. We must always realize that it is our sons and daughters who are the Police of St. Lucia. We used to import Police from Barbados because Bajans thought they were the Police of the Caribbean Region like America feels it is the Universal Police. No society can function in chaos and disorder.Therefore Kaiso Headquarters has become a forensic, psychological and research laboratory for the work of the Royal St. Lucia Police Force.

Round two presented another eight performers in addition to the nine who performed in Round One, each representing a division of the workforce. Lord Zack who brought up the rear, was such an exemplar entertainer that he had me dancing with his lyrics, antics and burlesque presentation.

I was worried that he might sway the judges had he been able to reflect on a more serious theme. But it was a consummative effort having written the song himself with a bouncy arrangement by Marin James which had the large audience dancing. So the competitive edge wrapped up on a high and the team of entertainers who soothed the judges headaches delivered the right prescription. Soca Psycho was infectious and contagious; Ambi was big brother bringing on Dickie and J Mouse, who seemed on an exuberant enervating planet having been given the nod to win the Road March on that Saturday morning while Kakal, the veteran surgeon stitched the wounds of the bruised and battered Royal St. Lucia Police Force.

Congrats to  Kaiso Headquarters 9. DAts We Time Winners: TELL ME WHY 1st place by SIWO,  WPC Sabrina Mangal of CID Vieux Fort, writer Cassius Randolphe, arranger Tony Wilkinson;  Human Wrongs 2nd place Slayer Melissa James of CID Castries, writer Gilroy Hall arranger Francis Delice;  I BELIEVE 3rd place Mooshi, Nyasa Francis, written by O’Neil Fontenelle, arranged by Gregory Piper.

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