Here’s to a wonderful Carnival 2023 (Part I)

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The late, great Calypso Joe summed up the mood and atmosphere of our Carnival when he sang this sweet refrain in BUM BUM, “I tink I hear a bum-bum, lemme go leh-me bum-bum / All around is bum bum, now fire in meh bum bum . . .” He was singing about the intoxicating rhythms that infuse, and enchant us at this most enjoyable time of the year – the melodious, shake-a-leg strains of steelbands practicing, hi-fi’s jamming, party bands striking up de music, back then. And not surprisingly, the sounds of music all around are still punctuating the air, still putting fire in our bum-bums. Sings Joe, in what was to become Antigua’s first Road March tune in 1970, “Ella Leggo meh hand / Lemme jump in de band /Don’t tell me is a band so sweet coming down Market Street / You know she hold on to me, and wriggle-up like a coon / Dis time she started movin’ well to dis popular tune . . .  Well dis time ah start to move, ah really get in de groove . . . / When she start to wine like a beast / Well, what ah see ah so frighten, ah had to call for police . . . Well all de bands up in tong, dey start playin dis new song / And de women dem goin wild, playin mas in dis new style / Ah say you wheel yuh hands in de air, and you play yuh mas like a brute, dis year is a brand new style, playin mas in yuh born-in suit.”  Ah, yes! (Ah, yes. Bum-bum is music and other things)

That’s the essence of Carnival in Antigua, when, according to the aforementioned Calypso Joe in ANTIGUA ON FIRE, “Seventy-thousand people like a mighty choir / Carnival time, good lawd, Antigua on fire. . . .” Indeed! This whole island is consumed with the winkin-up and the winin-up, young and old “Jumpin-up in dey raw sole / Wailin in dey raw sole / Jammin in dey raw sole / Canaval in dey raw sole.” [RAW SOLE by Red Hot Flames]. It’s a thing of beauty, a joy forever. And the return home of family members and friends add that fun, frolic and fellowship-feel to our bacchanalian orgy. Just imagine, some revelers will be in their raw soles, whilst others will be in their born-in suits.

King Short, in J’OUVERT RHYTHM exclaims, “For j’ouvert mornin, ah jammin with desire / Ah got de feelin, meh whole body on fire . . . ah doan warn go home, leave me alone.” Yes, folks. Some men will be suggesting to their wives or girlfriends that it is time to go home, and vice versa, and the answer will be the same, be it man or woman, “Leave me alone!” Consider, if you will, how King Obstinate had to beg for pardon from Monica. After a session of dancing, he exclaimed, “Ah can’t take it no longer / Soca fever got me shivering all over / Yuh gyal meh weary, meh warn foo siddong, meh foot swell / Meh nuh able wid you, gyal / You tek she back over, Frankie (Mcintosh) / Come Frankie, you dance wid she . . . .” [MONICA].  .    

And the early king of sweet road-march tunes and party music, the late, great King Swallow concurs. Says he in DANCE ANY STYLE,  I dancing soca, I dancing rhumba, I dancing shango, no dance is special, in any dance hall / Grab a woman roun she waist, when you break away / If yuh body not in pace, when de music play / You could shango, we dancing any style / You could bongo, we dancing any style / You could soca, we dancing any style / You could rhumba, we dancing any style / You could samba, we dancing any style / Bossa nova, we dancing any style . . . “ Especially older folks like The Mighty Serpent, Dave Lester Payne andI, we will be dancing any style. We can no longer do all the fancy steps, and the twerking and those sorts of things. (Ooops! There I said it. I just might get fired) (Smile)

And whilst on the question of twerking, it is important to note that King Short Shirt advised Jennifer, in PUSH BACK YUH BAM BAM, “Push back yuh bam bam, Jennifer, if you want a man / Push back yuh bam bam, Jennifer, show dem dat you could jam / Shake is what you have to do, for man to look at you / Shake, while you in dis band . . .” Indeed, That’s what’s up! Folks will have to “Wine, wine, wine, wine, roll, roll, roll, roll . . .,” as did the pretty little Yankee tourist, she of Short Shirt’s, TOURIST LEGGO fame. Seems, much like the calypsonian, Lion as he declares in BAD GYAL, “Ah want ah bad gyal for Canaval / We go jump up and make bacchanal / We go party all night for party’s sake / We go jump up all night until daybreak . . . .”

Interestingly, Lion goes on to cite a long list of bad girls, but we here at NEWSCO will not follow his lead. After all, we wish to protect their innocence, their ‘plausible deniability.’ (Smile) (Wink, wink). But then again, at Antigua’s Carnival celebrations, appropriately called, “The Caribbean’s most colorful summer festival,” [SUMMER FESTIVAL, sung by King Short Shirt, written by Stanley Humphreys], who cares about being prim and proper? Humphreys and Short Shirt declare that women will be out in their “half-slips and nighties.” So there!

At this time of the year, women will be shouting, LAWN OM DONG [Calypso Jim], what with all the rain that we’ve been experiencing recently. (Wink, wink) Some of us fellas will be declaring that we want PIG TAIL AND PIG MOUT [Red Hot Flames], and others will, after a session of jumping-up in town, take a long drive, / “ . . . To look mangoes one Sunday morning / Brother Man, this was really something  / She climb a mango tree, fall dong and bruk she knee / Meh tell she jump up pon meh back, leh me carry she / Call for help, meh too heavy / Call for help, Jim yuh cyarn manage me / Call for help, you-ah-go bruk yuh spine, den yuh will fail to wine / Julie heavy, Julie heavy, Julie heavy, Julie heavy / Meh tell she jump up, I ain’t makin fun / But when she jump up / Uncle Jim fall dong / She pon top, Jim underneath / She pon top, Uncle Jim ah-get squeeze .. . . .” [Calypso Jim, CALYPSO MEDLEY].

Folks, with all of the above-mentioned action, it appears as though we will be in for a treat this Carnival 2023. Here’s to a most delightful and enjoyable one. [To be continued]

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