By Dave Douglas
By the time Kenrick ‘Professor’ Philmore was about to hit the stage last Saturday at the Annual Christmas Classic Show held at Armenian Centre, the hall had a packed audience, all in a partying mood.
DJ Bandit was all cued up and ready to go but the live rhythm section jamming at the rear kept on playing. The atmosphere had vibes, as Bunji Garlin would say. Men chipping, ladies’ hips swaying; just a whole lot of happy people moving and grooving everywhere.
MC Earl La Pierre Jr. tried to commence with the program but the revelers carried on.
“We want to ask the rhythm section in the back to cool down the noise for a li’l bit,” he said. “It look like they want to take over de party!”
Eventually, after a couple of minutes reprieve, pan virtuoso Philmore was able to go onstage where he delivered a brilliant performance worthy of his name.
His repertoire consisted of a variety of soca and parang soca hits such as, Black Cake, Woman on the Bass and even some R&B oldies like Spinners, Could it be we’re Falling in Love, and Smokey Robinson, My Girl were added for the lovers in the house.
His amazing skill and mastery of improvising on the tenor pan during his solos kept the audience in awe, especially the members of TO’s pan community, some of whom were up front and centre cheering him on.
Up to that point, Philmore had hit the high point for the evening and now with the crowd pumped and ready for the headliner, Michael Anthony Osuana a.k.a. Sugar Aloes, they were ready to meet who gave them I love Being Me. He opened with one of his popular hits Roti & Talkari.
“We want to do this one for unity,” he said. “I see a lot of Indians in here and this one is for you.” He went on to give a splendid performance for the rest of his segment and the crowd loved it.
Aloes took a pause to recollect and share with the audience that the last time he was here was when he won the Calypso Monarch in 2002. He won it again in 2008.
As to his plans for 2015 the dandily clad Sugar Aloes said, “It’s now nine years since I took over the calypso tent in Trinidad known as The Calypso Review, after the passing of Jazzy Pantin. So right now we are preparing for the 2015 carnival season.
“I am also in the studio finishing my calypso production for Carnival 2015 and also working on completing my gospel album which hopefully will be released for Easter 2015.Tonight you all were privileged to hear a bit from the There is no Secret medley gospel album.”
Earlier in the show, the Queen of Soca Parang, Marcia Miranda had graced the stage. This beautiful, sexy and talented artist is a true parang soca warrior and is no stranger to the battle for hearts and minds.
Miranda wasted no time connecting and interacting with her audience as she took them through the paces of her dance routine. She sang hit after hit from Bring out the Ham to I Honestly Love You to Letter to Mama to Thiefing Parang Band, much to the pleasure of her fans.
After her performance, I met up with the Tobago-born songstress and in conversation let her know that it was greatly appreciated to have had her as one of the two female artists on the list of foreign entertainers that came to Toronto for the 2014 Parang Season, the other being Fuki, the New York Queen of Parang.
Miranda replied, “I’m the Soca Parang Queen! It was wonderful being here and I just want to wish everyone a happy, peaceful and holy Christmas and hopefully I will see you all again soon and let’s keep our culture alive.”
She added, “The warmth of Trinidad and Tobago and the love shown here by Trinidadian and other Caribbean people, in the cold, that is such an important aspect of who we are as Caribbean people, sharing the warmth and all that. So I love it! I love being up here in TO!”
The show was like a Christmas package filled with the audience’s favourite artists brought to you by promoter “Santa” Curtis Eustace.
The remaining artists, Tommy Joseph, Rome, Jay Martin, Mark Mosca and Connector all gave excellent performances during the night including our own local parranderos, Los Pajaros, Los Amigos and especially Maestre and friends who took it up a notch by giving an outstanding performance and LA Rhythms who kept the spirit alive during setup.
Photos by Peter Tang