My faith in the Calypso artform was restored following my visit to Trinidad and Tobago’s newest calypso tent ‘Back to Basics’ Kaiso Tent last weekend. Now who in heaven’s name would want to give a calypso tent such a nomenclature? The tent is being managed by veteran calypsonian Winston ‘Gypsy’ Peters and his crew of cultural protagonists.
The times have been many, over the past decade or so, that I believed that we were looking at the demise of a great storytelling artform. The lyrics, biting or double entendre, were becoming less and less, and repetition and noise becoming more and more. ‘Back to Basics’ put to bed my fears of losing Calypso.
It did not take me long to find out how the tent’s name came into being. Gypsy contacted Daniel ‘Trinidad Rio’ Brown about appearing in his, Peter’s, calypso tent. Rio agreed but Gypsy was tormented about a proper name for the tent. Rio said, “That’s simple—Back to basics.” And so, the name was born. We may quibble about it, but in Rio’s mind the tent was in fact going back to basics—back to real Calypso to save that genre of our cultural past.