Sparrow going strong at 79

(Trinidad Guardian) Sparrow turned 79 on Wednesday but also turned back the hands of time with a riveting performance when his milestone was celebrated with a concert at De Nu Pub (The Mas Camp) in Woodbrook. The event featured performances by popular calypsonians and the cake-sticking tradition, and was attended by several calypsonians and calypso afficionadoes. Maybe it was the lure of Sparrow and his iconic guest performers but from the moment the show was announced most available seating at the venue was pre-booked by patrons calling to make reservations so the concert became a standing-room-only event. Although he had a seat with his wife Sharon, Opposition leader Keith Rowley opted to stand at the bar with friends, dancing and singing along with patrons to every Sparrow item. Apparently catching his ear, one exuberant patron tried taxing Rowley’s knowledge of old Sparrow songs, loudly singing the lyrics of some of Sparrow’s lesser known past hits.

Also enjoying the performances were 82-year-old Woodbrook resident Marilyn Moze, one of the oldest stalwart supporters of CAL Invaders steel orchestra. She too stood and danced to the music of the Birdie. Describing herself as “a diehard fan of Sparrow and calypso,” one 70-year-old Nu Pub regular enthusiastically cheered on all the performers. But it was not only elderly Sparrow fans who turned up to share his birthday. Paulette, who claimed to be “30-something,” sang every lyric of every Sparrow selection. She said: “This is the music I grew up with from birth as my father played Sparrow music at our home all the time.” Seen in the packed audience were Arts and Multiculturalism minister Dr Lincoln Douglas, RC priest Fr Clyde Harvey, veteran journalists Lennox Grant and Errol Pilgrim, Mervyn Telfer and two of his sons, Derek and Stephen; 2014 National Calypso Monarch Chucky, TUCO chairman Bro Resistance (Lutalo Masimba), former national monarch Duane O’Connor, Twiggy, Bro Superior, Bro Mudada, Wizard of ID, former Kalypso Revue director Wilton Howell, and Errol Ince, the only surviving member of the studio band which recorded Sparrow’s Jean and Dinah in 1956.

The concert, emceed by Sprangalang and featuring the music of Cummings and D Wailers, strengthened by Soca Unit bassist Vincent Rivers, was opened by Tinaj Smith. Also performing were Baron, Chalkdust and Black Stalin. Prior to his performance an animated Sparrow said with a chuckle: “I’m not 79, but 16. If you add seven to nine, what do you get? I am very grateful to Father God for bringing me here.” He appropriately opened his set with The Lord’s Payer and sang for well over an hour, offering many of his well known calypso classics of yesteryear, including Jean and Dinah, Drunk and Disorderly, Congo Man, Lying Excuses, Saltfish and Philip my dear. A horde of media photographers thronged the apron of the stage throughout Sparrow’s performance, especially when he stuck his birthday cake with granddaughter Prizzie, daughter of Gina, who resides in the US. Sprangalang also volunteered to sing the birthday song urging patrons to accompany he him as he quipped, “allyuh, I cyar sing.”

Sparrow and his grandaughter Prezzie enjoy the cake cutting during the celebration of his 79th birthday at the Nu Pub on Wednesday evening.

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