Steelpan Classes

I have a fantastic time instructing the kids & youth on Saturdays. Here is some info for anyone, including adults, who are looking to try something new and have fun!

Black History Month Family Fun Day!

Today I had a FANTASTIC time at DeSantos Martial Arts Studio for a Black History Month Family Fun Day for LGBTQ families with kids of colour & allies. There was story telling, yoga & martial arts demonstations, a dance, djembe and steelpan workshop. I love introducing the steelpan to children especially for the first time. #FamilyFunDay

Reel World Film Festival

ReelWorld Announces Markham Films to be Screened on March 8, 2015

Walk For Memories

Team BeLEEve came out to participate in the annual fundraiser #WalkForMemories in support of Alzheimer's Disease. 
It is always a great day of entertainment, education as well as an opportunity to connect with people and hear their stories of how the disease has affected them.

  INFRARED CALYPSO TRIO was one of the best bands (my favourite) that performed during the morning walk. They had everyone dancing. I HAD to taking a "knock" on Lester's double tenor pan.   #WalkForMemories   #InfraRedCalypsoBand     #NeverTooEarlyForPan

INFRARED CALYPSO TRIO was one of the best bands (my favourite) that performed during the morning walk. They had everyone dancing. I HAD to taking a "knock" on Lester's double tenor pan. #WalkForMemories #InfraRedCalypsoBand #NeverTooEarlyForPan

Snowflakes On Steel 2015

Snowflakes On Steel's 18th Annual Steelband Showcase was exceptional! Toronto's top steelbands, community groups and singers came out and rocked the night away. Special awards were given to outstanding members of the Toronto steelpan community.
‪#‎SnowflakesOnSteel‬ # SFOS2015 ‪#‎PanArtsNetwork‬

Black Men Loving Movie Screening

 The YMCA of Greater Toronto’s will be having a Black History Month initiative - a screening of a Toronto-made short documentary entitled ‘Black Men Loving’. 

The documentary addresses stories of fatherhood, relationships and love in our community with a particular focus on breaking the stereotypes surrounding black fathers in the media. 

This free event will take place on the evening of Friday February 6th. After the screening of the film, we will be hosting a panel discussion followed by a performance by Dwayne Morgan and a steelpan performance by Suzette Vidale.

Toronto International Boat Show VIP Night

Special Preview Night of the Toronto International Boat Show. First time ever at the show "East Caribbean Village" Caribbean booths encompassing the islands of the Eastern Caribbean States (Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, British Virgin Islands, Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, St Lucia, and St. Vincent & the Grenadines). It was a night of fun and fundraising for charities such as Toronto Star Fresh Air Fund, Able Sailing - Access BOOM Program and CNIB Lake Joe Summer Camp.


Hollywood Glama NYE at Pearl King

Brought in the New Year with friends, family and my one and only steelpan at the elegant Pearl King in Toronto. It was a fantastic evening with delicious eats, tasty drinks and music that we danced into the new year.

Steelpan at Ripley's Aquarium

Another great weekend playing this illustrious instrument in the city of Toronto. This time I had the opportunity to perform at Ripley's Aquarium. This might be the closest I will be getting to tropical fish anytime soon.

Shaw Media was celebrating their annual holiday party for their employees and decided to host it at the Aquarium. Why not right?

There we fish everywhere, I saw a couple of sharks too but there was one tank that had me mesmerized. It was so serene, I felt a calmness come over me. 

The entertainment was a lot of fun. In addition to steelpan, I saw Moko Jumbie Jelly Fish (Stilt Walkers), a mermaid, and there was a caribbean dance troupe that did limbo and had the guests dancing as well. I need to go back to this place and really spend some time checking out the undersea life. 

When I retire I definitely want PAN!

Afternoon performance with the one and only talented Roger Gibbs.

We played for a gentleman who had given over 30 years in his industry and his company wanted to give him a memorable farewell. 

Pan | Parang | Comedy

Looking for a fantastic weekend? Make sure you check out The Christmas Classic!

Pan lovers, if you haven't heard Trinidadian pannist Ken "Professor" Philmore perform, NOW is the time to get on board!

Building community with parang music

By Dave Douglas

“If the mountain won’t come to Muhammad then Muhammad must go to the mountain.” So Last Sunday, Joan Alexander and the Trinidad and Tobago Heritage Group took the advice of the old proverb.

They brought the tradition and culture of the Afro/Hispanic parang music of Trinidad & Tobago under one roof at the Metropolitan Centre in Scarborough.

“This is not a show this is a lime! It’s amazing that I started it in 2000 and it’s still going strong like Johnny Walker. On this journey, I have met so many people and made a lot of friends but tonight I have dedicated the event to Sylvia Rampersad who passed away two weeks ago. She was from my hometown, San Juan, in Trinidad,” said Alexander.

Over 700 supporters attended the 14th Annual Parang Lime and the lineup of artists included parranderos Los Pajaros, Los Amigos and La Petite Musicale. Other acts consisted of Soca Vibes, Dr. Jay, DJ Slim, SKF and Earl la Pierre Jr. and Jerry Jerome.

From serenal, aguinaldo to parang soca, the parranderos serenaded the audience to their heart’s content and had them up on their feet, dancing in front the stage and in every hallway. The evening’s message was all about peace on Earth and goodwill to everybody.

By the time headliner Willard ‘Lord Relator’ Harris came on stage, the crowd was primed and pumped by the superb performance of Los Pajaros, filling the room with their sweet music and high energy.

Accompanying himself on guitar, Relator opened his set with a medley that began with Nap Hepburn’s Listen Mama, the audience instantly joining in a sing-a-long. Further into the set, the vintage calypso troubadour touched on some of his most popular impersonations including Dean Martin and Louis ‘Satchmo’ Armstrong, much to the delight of the audience clapping and cheering in appreciation.

At the evening climax, The Caribbean Camera had an opportunity to discuss with Relator what his thoughts were on the event and the growth of parang culture in Toronto.

“It was a good venture by Tantie Joan and sons and other members of her group and I like what I have seen here. If I have to compare what happens in Brooklyn, New York, I think Toronto is in front and in the right direction,” says Relator.

“The Trinidad & Tobago Heritage Group must get a plug, because their hearts are in the right place in trying to promote the culture and stay rooted in what is happening. This is an encouraging sign that I see and the support that I saw Saturday is very encouraging as well. The standard that I see here … Trinidad is not very far in front.”

Nearing the close of the evening, Joan Alexander said she felt good that people came out and had a grand time, even though it was cold. She also disclosed that 25% of the event proceeds go to Trinidad & Tobago Heritage Group, a small bursary goes to Oshawa Caribbean Cultural Group run by Lydia and Sylvester Francis, and the West End Club will also get a donation towards their scholarship fund.

Some of the funds along with the things that people have donated go to the island of Cuba; it’s all part of supporting Spanish heritage.

“First, I want to thank God because without him, there’s really no success. I want to thank everybody, all those that supported me over the years. Some have been coming for the 14 years since we’ve started in 2000 and for that I am very gratefull,” Alexander said.

“And, of course, this could not happen without the help of my children, Kolin (Soca Vibes), Nigel and Albert who is out in Alberta.”


Photos by Peter Tang

St. Aiden's Variety Show

This Saturday I will be participating in St. Aiden's Variety Show. This event is a fundraiser to help support their youth group's service/learning trip to Nicaragua.

I had the opportunity to ask program facilitator Lucy Reid, some questions to learn more about this project:

Would you mind telling me a little bit more about the youth group? How long has it been in existence? 

At St Aidan's our youth don't have regular meetings, but we do periodic special activities with them, and the big one is the service/learning trip to Nicaragua.  In 2013 we did this for the first time (although I'd led other groups), so our 2015 trip will be our second venture. 

What is the mission/vision of the trip?

The goal is to help our youth learn about another culture and contribute in some way by serving the needs outlined by the host community. It isn't a mission in the traditional sense, because we're going to learn and serve, and we'll be receiving as much as we give.  

How many youth will be a part of the project this year? 

8 young people will be going aged 13 to 24. They will be accompanied by four adults.

Why was Nicaragua chosen for this project? 

We're going to Nicaragua because of the organization that works there, Companeros. It's based in Managua, though its founder is a Canadian. Its philosophy of fair trade service and learning based on respectful collaboration with local communities is a great model for teaching youth about cross-cultural partnerships and volunteer service.

What activities will the youth be a part of while there? 

After a couple of days of orientation we'll spend 5 days living on a coffee farm, working with the local people to improve their school building and community space. Poverty forces families to put their children to work picking coffee beans in the harvest season, but with decent school facilities they can at least continue their education and break the cycle of poverty.

How can someone get involved? 

The best way for people to get involved at this stage is by supporting our fundraising efforts!  We depend on a wide circle of support from those who help us with our fundraising, so that no potential youth participant is excluding for financial reasons. 

The Companeros website is at, and gives lots of details about the organization and the sorts of projects it facilitates. 

Thank you Lucy for helping us to understand more about this endeavor.

Pan! Our Music Odyssey Trailer

I can't wait to see this film by Jerome Guiot & Thierry Teston and written by Kim Johnson. I had been hearing about its development for a few months now and have am ecstatic for its release. Can't wait for it to come to Toronto. The cinematic release was on November 5th. Let me know what you think.

St. Aiden's Variety Show & Silent Auction

I will be participating in an upcoming fundraiser by St. Aiden's Church. They will be raising funds for their youth group who will be traveling to Nicaragua to participate in a group project. All are encouraged to show support by attending this upcoming function. Click image to see larger.

Atos Markham Pan Am/Parapan Centre welcomes thousands for sneak peek

I had the wonderful opportunity to be a part of this great celebration.

By Brea Bartholet

It was certainly a sight to be seen.

Hundreds of people anxiously waited in line Sunday afternoon for a first-hand look at the newly built Atos Markham Pan Am/Parapan Centre on Main Street South in Unionville.

The brand-new, $78.5-million multi-purpose aquatics centre and field house will host badminton, water polo and table tennis during the upcoming 2015 Pan Am Games.

As more than 2,000 guests were ushered into the venue, they were treated to live entertainment, face painting and tours of the grand facility.

In addition to all of the excitement, families were invited to take part in Markham’s largest pool party, held in the building’s 50-metre Olympic-sized swimming pool, after an official grand opening ceremony held in the triple gymnasium.

“Today, you are part of Markham’s history,” Mayor Frank Scarpitti said as he addressed a crowd of onlookers. “This is a great example of how all three levels of government can achieve great things.”

Other special guests to the ceremony included Pan Am/Parapan Games CEO Saad Rafi, Minister of State Bal Gosal, the minister responsible for the Pan Am/Parapan Games Michael Coteau, Markham-Unionville MPP Michael Chan and Canadian water polo player Christine Robinson.

The opening of the centre not only signifies the upcoming Pan Am Games, but also the new beginning for athletes who would normally have to travel for training.

“We are not only doing this for the athletes of today like Christine, but we are doing this for our athletes of the future,” said Coteau.

Watching from the sidelines as each dignitary spoke was Brittany Tam, a 17-year-old Markham student who hopes to qualify for the games next spring.

Tam, who is a straight A student at Bill Crothers Secondary School, is eyeing a spot to represent her country in badminton.

Playing since she was six years old, she now attends classes each week from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m., finishing her day off with two to three hours of training.

“It’s already tough to qualify, so I’d be very grateful just to accomplish that goal and be part of the Pan Am Games,” she said.

Tam still has multiple national and international competitions to take part in before she finds out if she’s made the cut.

She, like many other athletes, are looking forward to the chance of competing in front of a home crowd, representing not only Markham, but Canada as well.

Shortly after a ribbon was cut, indicating that the centre was officially open for business, Scarpitti asked guests to make their way to the poolside so the real fun could begin.

“Five, four, three, two, one,” said Scarpitti, signaling young swimmers who were eagerly waiting at the water’s edge to jump in.

“We want to welcome the community and the world to our city,” he said.

Though this afternoon marked the grand opening of the centre, an international badminton competition was recently held at the facility, where Markham resident Michelle Li tasted victory on her home court.

The Pan Am/Parapan Games are funded by the government of Canada, the Province of Ontario and lead partner CIBC, as well as various other sponsors.

General ticket sales for the Pan Am Games will begin Dec. 8 on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Tickets for the Parapan Games will go on sale in spring of 2015.

For more information, visit