Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Ready to float, bounce, fog...


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"Aye, ya, yi, de party start, Fantastic Friday, sincerely from the heart, thank God it's Friday...de bouncing start, de bouncing start..."

SuperBlue, Fantastic Friday

Keith boy, it's Carnival Friday and I can only imagine that where you are, TJ and yourself must be looking on with interest at all the developments.

I know that you would have been thrilled to see your old friend SuperBlue back in the Soca Monarch competition. Like you, I was there in the tent the first night he performed "Soca Baptist" as Blue Boy, barefoot and ringing a bell, dressed like a Baptist and all in blue and from there he went to incredible heights of fame in the soca arena, winning those early Soca Monarch competitions... "Blue Fever", remember? You agonised, too, over how "Blue" seemed to lose his way as he went through "hell" on earth, but he always performed eh, to which faithful patrons of Smokey and Bunty's in St James can attest.

Now the thing has come full circle. "Blue" is trying and I know you're smiling, the effort pleases you tremendously. I also want to say that the real reason I don't know "Fantastic Friday" by heart is because you are not here in the office playing it repeatedly, until...

Keith, I remember too, that both TJ and yourself were early champions of the Soca Monarch writing countless articles, maybe even hundreds, about the worth and potential of this competition, that has become a gateway for so many careers in soca.

As was per usual, for Carnival Friday morning, we would have already exchanged our early morning call on the highs and lows of the festival. Just think, Keith, that we could have seen a Soca Monarch competition tonight with three members of the "royal family of soca" competing for this crown (you coined that phrase). You too, were an early champion of Bunji Garlin's music and you were like a proud father when you realised that Bunji was going to marry Fay-Ann Lyons, the daughter of SuperBlue. You kept shaking your head and chuckling with Smithian pleasure. The lineage and all the implications for soca music, was always a topic. I remember you painstakingly explaining to me, too, why Fantastic Friday was the best title that could ever be given to the day on which the Soca Monarch competition takes place, why to merely call it Carnival Friday, just would not suffice.

So Fantastic Friday it remains, despite declarations to the contrary by the reigning Soca and Groovy Monarch Machel Montano that after tonight it's Float Friday, so named after his "Float", with its declaration "we not staying down...we getting off the ground"...so much to consider in that one, you might have said. But just think too, what a battle royale it would have been for the title tonight with father, daughter and son-in-law in the line-up. Maybe you sent them a little zeppo from where you are...

But now it's Carnival Friday, and last weekend a salmon-coloured full moon hung so low in the sky that it hurt just to see the beauty of it, and so low, that just maybe, you could do like Machel and float to it, and no, you are not here. But I know you would have loved the music of Carnival 2013. There have been so many potential road marches and Groovy and Power Soca Monarch contenders, that this season will no doubt go down as one of the best as far as the music went. In fact, Keith, this column pays tribute to you and the generosity of your pen with which you noted the start of, and helped to encourage, so many careers in soca.

So here is Machel Montano with his clever use of Carnival imagery in his "Fog".... "this year we feteing with powder...this is how we celebrate..." The call would have gone something like this, "Girl, you hear that song Machel come with?" Because every year, ever since the start of Montano's career from when he sang "Too Young To Soca", we've discussed whatever he was singing, the good and the bad of it.

You would have liked Blaxx's "Leggo". It was something to see, this year, Keith, the reaction in the fetes whenever Roy Cape and the band struck up the opening bars and the charismatic Blaxx came on stage, urging the crowd to just "raise you hands and leggo", pure joy, pure niceness, in every fete wise enough to hire Roy Cape All Stars for the season.

Remember how you liked the use of local parlance in Cassie's "Town Ting".... "when las' you take a wine on ah tong ting", that was 2011, but you had a little time before that to appreciate it and shake your head with pleasure over the use of "tong ting"... that would have been one of the last come to think of it.. well, Cassie has done it again with "Whistle and Horn"... "ah done tell meh girl, is whistle and horn, and if she call meh phone, tell she ah gorn"... the young man has brought back a calypso feel with this soca hit, in fact, you could just close your eyes and imagine Sparrow singing this.

And we would not have left Denise Belfon out of this discussion. This year she has fine-tuned her particular genre of soca with the song "Wining Queen", again that chuckle and Smithian shake of the head.

Gosh, Keith, I almost want to ask how you could miss this, but where you are I know that you are hearing the sound track, it's Carnival Friday or if you will, Fantastic Friday.... "we ready, we ready, we ready, we ready..."