I was reading Paul Pearson’s highly enjoyable piece on freeform radio a couple nights ago, and he makes mention of the recent KEXP post quips that called for more Trinidadian calypso on the station. Unable to take the joke at face value at that point (it was late) and harboring a strong obsession with Googling obscure topics, I spent the rest of the night searching for Trinidadian calypso resources and factoids. I now share with you my results, not because I think most of you will actually have interest in the topic, but because I have to get this out of my system. I’ve had calypso in my head since I looked it up, and I’m hoping this can clear it out.
Introduction to the Form
It’s not hard to find a history of calypso. Wikipedia and its links are ok, but this piece is one of the better written ones out there, with a conversational tone and lots of quotes that exhibit real enthusiasm for the music and its players.
Hear Some Calypso (free)
I started my search assuming that it would be trivial to find a streaming radio station of some sort that was “all calypso all the time.” I was mistaken, and while I found a station that does play calypso, it wasn’t free, so forget that. Here’s what I did manage to come up with.
Kaiso: This site has artist profiles and its own history, but they have archived audio that provides a good overview of the calypso sound. Furthering the cultural education, the archived audio isn’t just calypso, it’s specifically calypsoes about cricket. There are only a few hours until the weekend, and you could do worse than starting it by giving this a listen.
The Mashup Show: For the more podcast-inclined, this show features Caribbean music, and as such features a heavy dose of calypso and soca (a calypso descendant). Here’s a trick to make that link more useful: If you click the Odeo link on the left of the page, Odeo has archives that go farther back (and the embedded player will help those of you not allowed to download music).
The Calypso Archives: This site looks like it’s right out of 1994, but it’s got some great information. It’s from a radio show. Currently they’re posting an interview with calypso legend The Mighty Duke which features some of his classics.
Carnival and calypso in the shadow of copyright: life lessons from Trinidad and Tobago: “Pirating and copying was part of everyday life in the small island state of Trinidad and Tobago until 1996. The effect of new laws was to disturb its distinctive calypso and carnival traditions and to threaten its educational system. For a young engineering student, there was only one way to go: adapt and survive.”
Dancehall Not the Dead End: This essay only mentions calypso, but is a pretty good read from a blog that makes no apologies about stealing its content.
Here’s a local group of guys that are willing to play calypso at your next party. If the Genius Awards party isn’t all booked up, maybe this is just what you’re looking for…
Not Musical At All
I couldn’t quite figure out why this research project is called Calypso. I choose to think that the lead researcher is a calypso fan, and they see their research into creating metacomputers from distributed systems as analogous to the cultural fusion that brought about the musical form. That idea seems far too romantic to be true.
Best Link For Last
Did you know that Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan used to sing calypso under the name “The Charmer?” Well, now you do, and there’s audio to boot.
Did you get yourself a similar itch? If so, post your favorite calypso links in the comments.