by Sir Lawrence A Joseph
When I thought that last year’s 12th Hubbard’s Legends in Concert was the best ever, I was pleasantly surprised to see this year’s 13th outclassed it. As scheduled, the show started at exactly 7:30 pm on Saturday, 9 July last at the Trade Centre. The indefatigable comedian, Robert Whyte “emcied” the show and the “Back in times Band” together with 3 back-up singers ably supported the artistes. Our own singing star, Emily Rapier opened up with a magnificent rendition of our national anthem. Then in her own smooth velvety voice, she sang the legendary ‘I Will Survive’ song which was made popular by American singing legend, Gloria Gaynor. She then ended her performance with an up-beat African tempo. She was followed by recently discovered local calypsonian “Baracka” who sang ‘Reach Out’, ‘We give them the Power’ and ‘We living in Slavery.’
Guitar-playing vintage Trinidadian Lord Relator was the one who really set the tone for the night’s entertainment. He began with the old-time cricket song ‘Gavaskar, the real Master’ then followed with a medley of old-time calypsos which included: ‘Sly Mongoose’, ‘Lizard’, ‘Melda’, ‘Mr Walker’, Blakie’s ‘Maria’, ‘Hold the Pussy Cat’, ‘Husband and Wife Business’, ‘Ice in Your Ice’, ‘Look the Devil Dey’, ‘When the 2 Bands Clash’, 2 versions of ‘Saltfish’, ‘Hurricane Janet’ and ‘Mama Look a Boo Boo.’ He also gave impersonations of international singers singing calypsos. These included Edmundo Ross, Dean Martin, Billy Eckstein and Louis Armstrong. Relator then finished up his most entertaining performance interspersed with comedy with ‘Old Time Remedies’, ‘Chinese Children calling me Daddy’ and ‘Jonah you take a Bake hyah.’ The fully packed trade centre audience sang along with him and loved him immensely.
Grenadian calypsonian, Val Adams, presently based in the “Big Apple” came onto the scene and delivered 5 renditions, which included ‘Take a Bow’, ‘Jackie’ and ‘Not leaving this Boomsie behind.’ I expected more from Val Adams. He forgot some of his words and seemed to have been a bit out of touch. Despite all of this, he performed reasonably well. Following a short intermission, the show continued with a most entertaining competition between former local ex-tempo king, Powder and Lingo from Trinidad. In fact, the ex-tempo renditions contributed significantly to the night’s entertainment. Later on during the programme, there was an ex-tempo showdown between former local ex-tempo king, Bernstein and the ex-tempo stalwart from Trinidad, Gypsy. All 4 ex-tempo artistes then finished that part of the programme with a ‘shoot-out’ amongst themselves.
Previous to the ‘shoot-out’, Gypsy, in his own inimitable head-nodding style and illustrious body movements, delivered a number of his vintage calypsos. These included, ‘Sing a Happy Song’, ‘Western Rodeo’, ‘Yesterday’s Children.’ This particular song was dedicated to cultural icon from Carriacou, Winston Fleary who Gypsy revealed made valuable contributions towards the establishment of Mas in Washington, DC over 30 years ago. Gypsy then sang ‘Little Black Boy’, ‘Chikambo’, ‘Captain the Ship is Sinking’ and ‘She gone for Cane.’
Local calypsonian Scholar came on and sang some of his 2016 songs, ‘I need no Wings to Fly’, ‘Vomitting’ and ‘Take Jab.’ He is a natural calypso singer. The songs went down well with the massive audience. Indeed Scholar would be a hard one to beat in the 2016 Calypso Monarch Competition. He was followed by Marvellous Marva from Trinidad, an original singer in the now defunk women’s group which was called ‘The United Sisters.’ This group comprised herself, Tigress, Singing Sandra and Lady B. The group became extremely popular in the 1990’s especially with their songs, ‘Ambataila Woman’ and ‘Whoa Donkey.’ Marva’s renditions which included those two songs were quite entertaining. However it was obvious that the lustre of yesteryear is fading.
Wendy Alleyne, originally from Barbados, but now based in Chicago in the US, was perhaps Barbados’s first Rihanna. Over the years, she really entertained the whole Caribbean with her “spooge” and other genre renditions. She brought back nostalgia to many who sang along with her renditions comprising, ‘If you love me let it show,’ ‘Hey Mr Blues’, Put your Arms around Me’, ‘He is so fine’, ‘Come back to me’, ‘All I want is Music’, ‘I have a Thing about You’, ‘Not going to be your Stand-by Love’, and “Midnight Blues.’ Wendy’s voice is still very much musically appealing as the one I grew accustomed to in years gone by. The audience really loved her, a legend in her own right.
The 13th Hubbard’s Legends in Concert would be very much remembered for its diversity. Relator, Gypsy, and Wendy Alleyne were the night’s top performers and the ex-tempo programme was an artistic intervention that should be continued. Altogether the Legends Concert surpassed my expectations. Well done Godfrey!!