Whither chutney

Last week saw the height of carnival in Trinidad and Tobago: J’ouvert, Ol’ Mas, Carnival Mon-day and the end of the festival on Carnival Tuesday. In Guyana things had wound down the previous week.

During that week, several of the main events in Trinidad were completed: Panorama (steel band finals), Soca Monarch, Calypso Monarch, Stick Fight finals and the Junior competitions. Tuesday – called Carnival Tues-day or Shrove Tuesday, saw the Band of the Year (the winner of the costumed bands contest), King and Queen of the Bands and the Road March (the most played tune among the parading bands, which declares the most popular soca. Years ago, it was the most popular calypso).

However, a number of strange questions have been raised in Trinidad about two of the musical traditions – chutney and calypso. One is really the opinion of a few expressed in the newspaper letter columns – that Trinidad has forgotten the importance of the humour in calypso. That calypso is for entertainment, that political commentary dominates the finals and humorous songs are no longer favoured by judges…..