Around these parts, it's rare to see a collection of calypso artists like the group that performed at Kilimanjaro for Saturday's "Barbados Cropover" calypso festival. Taking turns at the mike were four Barbadian vocalists, all sharing the same backup band, Boston's Arturo and the New Impressions.
Starting things off was the diminutive Youngblood, whose voice couldn't compete with the music's delightful din of pulsating rhythms, lightning guitars and slippery horns. It was Red Plastic Bag who first got the crowd dancing, to the irresistible sweets of "Ting-a-Ling."
Mac Fingal, a man with a loud laugh and nearly as many outfits as jokes, cut the yocks long enough to get serious, singing "Too Nine," about recent East Indian immigrants to Barbados taking over black businesses. The Devil, a short and hefty fellow with a booming voice, performed only one number, "Doing Dixie," but he pulled it off in grand style as he leaped about and gyrated barefoot in a grass skirt.
If there was any competition, headliner Ras Iley was the star of the evening. Compact and charismatic, he climbed down from the stage to dance to the reggae-influenced "Rub-a-Dub Soca." The temperature was rising when he later returned for "Spring Garden on Fire."
Then the entire group came out for a delirious finale: There was general pandemonium as Iley sang while riding piggy-back on Fingal, scaling the heights of hubris as he chanted his own name.