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Calypso moving forward
Posted: Tuesday, January 6, 2009

By Derren Joseph
January 06, 2009

New Year's Day, we went to the usual lime by my uncle and aunt in St Ann's. New Year's Day is my grandmother's birthday, as well as their wedding anniversary. After a while, the talk turned to Carnival, and how expensive fetes and costumes were for 2009. I suggested that a more conscious Carnival diet could consist of a healthy dose of tents. Nothing wrong with fetes, mind you—I am just looking for a little change. After all, when was the last time we went to a calypso tent? Some had the view that tents could be a bit "too political."

Tent over fete

Someone actually suggested that tents were in decline, partly because they alienated part of their customer base and partly because of the switch in consumer taste to soca.

I am no calypso tent expert, so I just listened to these points of view. But I am still going to visit my share of tents this season. I feel inspired to try something different for carnival. Rather than consuming my normal diet of "all-inclusive" fetes, I think I will cut back a bit, and instead take in more calypso tents. I have been watching what Tuco has been up to recently, and it seems that President Eric Taylor has a new vision for the organisation.

A few weeks ago, Tuco held a media launch for its new Web site— Since it is a project that positions itself at the nexus of culture and technology—my two loves—it is of special interest to me. The Web site comes at exactly the right time. Tuco's members now have another platform to take their product to both local and international markets.

This is due to an online collaboration between and Tuco, which enables Tuco members to easily load their music onto the Web site and enables consumers to buy tracks at US99 cents. O'Brian Haynes from Trinihits was at the launch, and was quite pleased by the new relationship with Tuco. The music functionality is user-friendly, as potential customers can hear music samples (say ten seconds or so), before actually purchasing.

From what I can see, the Web site also serves as a cultural archive of sorts. Many artistes already have their biographies available, and Webmaster Hayden Roberts from Zenon Designs tells me that by the end of this week, there should be a large photo gallery on the site. Hayden says he has about 20 CDs of images to upload, which means there are thousands of pictures. The Web site promises to be a resource not just for students of the art form, both locally and internationally, but also a reference for future generations.

Although they represent, at least to me, part of the cultural "foundation," Taylor, has been the driving force behind this new Web site, and Brother Resistance (Tuco general secretary) is not just a supporter of going "online," but has his own Web site and is also on Facebook himself.
So it looks to me like Tuco is embracing change. Anyway, I have noted the schedule at, so we are still planning to check out some of the tents.

Influence change

I have a deep respect for the role of the calypsonian in shaping, while reflecting, who we are today. Hopefully, by the end of the season, I would also have a better perspective on this calypso tent debate.

The Vision 2020 document recognises the critical role our cultural activists. The document notes: "Artists, musicians, writers and poets form our creative arts and cultural groups. They help shape our emotional states of being by adding heart, spirit, energy and identity, thereby fostering and building an inclusive culture, where multiple identities springing from ethnicity, language, religion and race converge to create a single citizen of Trinidad and Tobago.

"Their lot is to influence change." Part of me finds it hard to believe that it is 2009 already. Time, is indeed, moving ever so quickly. I wish everyone God's richest blessings in 2009. As always, I end by saying that despite our challenges, we are so blessed to live in this beautiful country. We need to remember and acknowledge just how much uplifting work is being done all around us. Let us continue to have the audacity of hope in our country, as we move towards Vision 2020.

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