Cahuita festival features unique calypso a la Tico

Cahuita on the Caribbean coast goes Calypso today through Saturday with the Ist Festival Internacional de Calipsonian Walter “Gavitt” Ferguson.

The festival, which has support from the culture ministry, promises up to 20 national and international artists. The festival carries the name of a Cahuita resident who is known as the king of calypso. The bulk of the event is in the park of Cahuita.

The event also has the support of the Embassy of  Trinidad y Tobago and the Asociación de Desarrollo Integral de Cahuita.

The three-day event is the product of the  Programa Corredor Cultural Caribe of the Minsterio de Cultura y Juventud.

The kickoff today is a parade of bands at 1:30 p.m. and a series of calypso singers through 7 p.m. Included is a Cahuita calypso group.

Friday is a full day starting at 11 a.m. with exhibitions of paintings and discussions about the music. The performances start at 4 p.m. 

Hollis Urban Lester Liverpool, known as  ChalkDust, from Trinidad and Tobago closes the event at 8:30 p.m. Friday and 9 p.m. Saturday. A full schedule is HERE! 

Ferguson, who was born in 1919, is the country’s major proponent of its unique style of calypso Limonense, said the ministry, which calls it intangible heritage.

Calypso, itself, has had a long and controversial history. The technique of musical story telling is believed to have been introduced in the West Indies by African slaves in the19th century. The songs carry stories which frequently are critical of social conditions, such as corruption and prostitution.

The music spread into white culture with the efforts of the Andrew Sisters during World War II and later with Harry Belafonte.

The Web site cites Ferguson in writing that the genre came to Costa Rica in the 1870s with the arrival of persons from Jamaica, Barbados and Saint Kitts. The music seems to have influenced many other types and has been itself heavily influenced by contacts here.

The best example of the protest and social criticism message that is readily available online is the song “Rum and Coca Cola” by the Andrews Sisters. It described activities of U.S. servicemen in Trinidad where mothers and daughters there were prostituting themselves for the Yankee dollar.

The Web site provides a detailed historical look at the music in Spanish HERE!

For the Caribbean coast, the festival is a much-needed tourism draw, but it has not been promoted heavily.

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