The Kaiso Bards Calypso Tent is looking to have an early start for the 2016 Carnival Season.
Leader of the 21-year old Calypso Tent which is based in St. Andrew’s, Elwin “Black Wizard” McQuilkin told THE NEW TODAY Newspaper management has its eyes set on the first week in June to have its first show for the season.
However, Wizard said that prior to the start of the tent, they will be having an audition for new Calypsonians on April 16 before rehearsal commences in the first week of May.
The tent leader pointed out that Kaiso Bards already has a core cast of Calypsonians, but they are interested in having an additional number of artistes.
Last year, the tent had a cast of 12, but according to Wizard, this year they are hoping to have the number increased to 16 Calypsonians.
Wizard said they realise that calypso tents in Grenada start too late, facilitating just two shows before judging for national competitions begin. This, he said does not give the artistes sufficient time to practise their songs.
The veteran Calypsonian believes cost plays a major part in some tents not being able to operate for a longer duration of time during the Carnival Season.
He spoke of tents now having to pay for sound systems than in earlier years when the band would be able to provide the required sounds, but today, the sound system is separate from the band rehearsal is another area where cost kicks in at $75.00 per person a night.
Wizard said this can negatively affect the number of rehearsal a tent can have, and the readiness of the artistes based on the sum of money that is available. “Before you open your calypso tent, you might be owing $5,000 for rehearsals,” he remarked.
The venue for the show is another cost factor which can run up to $1,500.00 for one show, and the use of the band another $2,500.00, plus $2000.00 for the sound system. “So it could cost you in the region of $6,000 to $7,000 to put on a show,” he said.
Wizard who has won the National Calypso Monarch Title on three occasions is convinced that government’s subvention is critical to the operation of a calypso tent.
However, he quickly indicated that Grenada should not have more than four calypso tents in order to maintain the standard of the artform.
Wizard said the money his tent would receive from the business community, and his share of the subvention will go towards paying for rehearsals, and to pay the calypsonians.
On the issue of returning to competition this year, the former calypsonian said he will first monitor how the season unfolds before he decides if he will become actively involve. He said he values his work and will want to see who are the people given the task to judge the product.
Out of the 21 years since it began operating as a calypso tent, a singer from Kaiso Bards has won the National Calypso Monarch Title on 16 occasions. “When it comes to success rate, we have had a great success rate in terms of competition, and in terms of support for the tent,” Wizard said.