I Want To Go Where the Music Lives

*title taken from "On My Way" by Machel Montano

Dr. Jay's Return Fete in Toronto

“Deanna, why are you heading to Canada in February?”

Most people do not understand why I feel compelled to head to Toronto so many times a year.  This time it was easily explained: Dr. Jay and Machel!  How is that not worth booking a flight, finding a hotel, and buying new fleece-lined earmuffs?  Okay, maybe it’s just me.

Since I arrived two days prior to the fete, I figured why not fit in another party on Friday night.  I met up with Toronto's it-girl, Darling Nicky, for a yummy meal at Spring Sushi (you must try the Cherry Blossom) before heading to Tattoo for Touch Down: The After Carnival Pump.  This was my first time hearing D’Enforcas live in Toronto and I was not disappointed.  Although the fliers advertised a performance by the 2015 Groovy Soca Monarch, Olatunji was not able to get his visa in time for the show.  However, the crowd seemed just as excited to see Brooklyn's own Lyrikal perform instead. 

My weekend was off to a great start and I could not wait for Return Fete the next night.

To begin, I have to say that Sound Academy is no Kool Haus.  I had been to this location before, but I have never been here for a sold out event.  The line of cars waiting for parking was so long that cab drivers let people out at the end of the block without even bothering to turn on to Polson Street.  The security line was efficient but not as cordial (this could have been due to the fact that it was about 14° F and, as one security person said, she did not want to be standing out there either).  

Mug from VIP goody bag

Once inside, I immediately felt warmer.  I wanted to check my coat and was told the coat check was to my left.  There was a cluster of people standing there muttering epithets of frustration.  I was informed that this was the coat check…line?  Exasperated people left the line with coats in hand and found other places to stash them: by the stage, near the retail booth, even by the bar.  The VIP section had its own coat check so this was not an issue for those people. 

I went to the bar downstairs where there was also a delay.  With my neon blue drink in hand (someone else placed an order for me after seeing my annoyed face so I don't know what I was drinking), I was able to finally move to the dance floor.  The sea of bodies jumped and swayed as the KOS team kept the music flowing.  Before an artist even touched the stage, I was having a good time.  

I failed to make my way to the front of the stage before the honey-voiced Flipo opened the show.  When Advokit’s Kan Kan riddim began and Flipo started to sing, I put a wicked wine on the nearest man who sadly had no room to escape.   Agent 009, Ricardo Drue turned up the energy when he performed his hit song, Vagabond.  I jumped so high and with such vigor that I forgot my age and have been paying for the lapse in judgment ever since.

The headliner, Machel Montano, shut down the place when he touched the stage.  With thirty-three years in the soca industry, Machel has more than enough music to keep a crowd entertained, but as this was his first time in Toronto after Trinidad Carnival, he kicked off the show with his Road March "Like Ah Boss." 

Machel is not only known for his amazing solo tunes, but for his collaborations.  Every socaholic knows "It's Carnival" with Destra Garcia, "Oil & Music" with David Rudder, and "Congo Man" with the Mighty Sparrow.  That's why, although he could have easily made it an epic night on his own, it was only natural that he bring out his "Party Done" duet partner, the Grammy winning songwriter, Angela Hunte.  No, there is no video of that part -- I was caught up.  I cannot describe how much my abdomen and back hurt by the end of the night.  Talk about endless wuk.  

The only way to top that was to make a huge announcement that would especially please Torontonians.  Machel Montano will be bringing out a section in Saldenah Mas this year for Caribana and the costumes will be designed by Trinidadian designer Anya Ayoung-Chee!  I wonder if Toronto will see more tourists due to the Pan Am Games or due to Caribana this year.  Either way, this time I am coming with mi friend and dem.  

So book your flights, rent your cars, or hop on board Supa Roy's annual bus ride and leh we go!  Caribana 2015 is definitely going on my list of can't-miss events