Keeping parang soca alive in Canada
Whoever said that parang soca is a dying art form, should have attended the 19th annual Lime put on by Joan Alexander and Friends on Sunday at the Metropolitan Centre in Scarborough.
Hundreds filled the hall for what is arguably the biggest annual parang soca show in Canada.
And if this art form is dying, well it’s certainly not going out with a whimper.
True, the majority of persons at the show seemed to be eligible for membership in the 50-plus club but the high voltage performance of the artistes onstage and the energy from the live audience gave no indication that parang soca is on its way out.Not in Canada where Joan Alexander and Friends are certainly keeping it alive.
After a stirring pan rendition of the national anthems of Canada and Trinidad and Tobago by 12-year old Rachael Walcott of Pan Fantasy, the Pennsylvania -based artiste,The Quiet Prince (Lloyd Cupido) came onstage to delight parang soca fans with several tunes, most of them not well known.
Hower, the Trinidad-born artiste was well received by the audience.
Then came two local ensembles – Los Amigos and Los Parajos- which both put on stellar performances, taking the audience on a nostalgic journey to places in Trinidad such as Sangre Grande, Arima and Siparia where there is no Christmas without parang,
Los Pajaros, a big favourite at the annual Lime, is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, and was greeted on Sunday with wild applause.
The show climaxed with a selection of popular numbers by Trinidad-based calypsonian Scrunter (Irwin Reyes Johnson) who has been described as the uncrowned king of parang soca.
Scrunter started out with some calypsoes of yesteryear and then switched to parang soca.
As he started singing one of his old favourites – “Ah piece of pork ” – parang fans went wild.
Then they took over.
And Scrunter simply held the microphone as they belted out the lyrics for him.
In brief remarks onstage, promoter Joan Alexander who has been running the show for nearly two decades, noted the recent passing of two well known parag soca devotees who had been attending the Lime ” from the very start” -Dr. Harry St. Clair Williams, a medical doctor, and Human Resources Officer Patrick Thomas.
Their wives were present at the show on Sunday.
Alexander is looking ahead to the 20th annual Lime next year and as parang fans were leaving the Metropolitan Centre on Sunday night, many of them agreed that she deserves a national medal for ” keeping parang soca alive in Canada.”