Keeping Soca Parang alive in Canada

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.”