4. Calypso spirit
Finding people in Trinidad was very easy, everybody seemed to know each other or at least they were able to pinpoint you to the right direction or person. It became bizarrely apparent when one day we wanted to visit Winsford „The Joker” Devine
. The Joker
is a legendary calypso writer that had penned quite a number of the hits that propelled The Mighty Sparrow
into stardom and all in all is responsible for some 600 calypso lyrics. We were struggling to think of what to bring as a present. Edo and I started considering our options in the street when a vendor of one of the stalls approached us and asked what we were looking for. And we explained we needed something for somebody we didn’t know, he asked us who we were going to visit he simply replied: „ooh Winsford, well he’s a grape guy you know, you need to bring him grapes”. Although it seemed like a handy sales trick we didn’t question for a second that he was joking. This random street vendor knew that Winsford Devine likes grapes. We were baffled and delighted at the same time. It was simple but telling example of the tightly woven social fabric of a small Island community.
Devine, a true Trinidad legend and his house was filled with numerous decorations, prizes and other trophies…but besides all the honors he never really got any financial reward for his songwriting efforts. He was the true man in the shadow. Often he wasn’t credited for his songs and rarely received any money from copyrights, it’s something he got to be bitter about but that and a series of strokes never really got him down. He took us up to his creative room and even though he had difficulties with talking and walking Devine was still composing. Always reflecting about unconventional themes (he was currently working on some UFO lyrics) angles and jokes. It was an honor to see the pleasure and inventiveness at work of the man that had singlehandedly propelled calypso culture over several decades.
I found the same drive with Carl Beaver Henderson
. Henderson is another legend and credited as one of the people responsible for the creation of Soca, a genre that took the Caribbean by storm. It originated when they tried to fuse Indian music with Caribbean music. Henderson had managed the royalties from his numerous hits or productions quite well and he now showed me his brand new studio, which was just about to be finished. A state of the art affair where „Beaver” was scheming on yet another new genre: a mixture of Euro dance and Caribbean music, something his gut feeling told him that it was going to be gold once again! I didn’t quite feel it but then Euro house is the stuff my nightmares are made of.
All in all the month in Trinidad was quite amazing and the willingness to jump in the deep and discover the music of a place I didn’t quite knew and had never tempted me before was very much worth it. We took some amazing music home and whenever I feel the need to relax I remember my Trinidadian liming lessons, play a calypso tune and all is good and sweet once again.
The Wild has been Dj'ing for over 14 years. As a digger he has traveled some remote parts of the globe to unearth rare and beautiful music: from Korea to Trinidad, from Brazil to Indonesia. Some of that music is now being released on his micro label Out There Records, which produces small press, hand made, high quality musical pearls. He is also part of the Finders Keepers / B Music collective for which he does research He has also collaborated with Jazzman records for licensing and research. Besides these activities he has run a 10 year radioshow on Urgent.fm and now has a radio show on the national radio Fm Brussels. He is the booker of Bonnefooi, one of Brussels' most vibrant music venues.