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Soca in the park!

FUN IN THE SUN: Crowd parties it up on stage at Ipswich Arts Festival's Caribbean Exposé

THE HIGH Commissioner for the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, London hailed the 2012 Ipswich Caribbean Expose as a success, and I see why.

When on a bright and sunny Saturday afternoon on June 30th his Excellency, Garvin Nicholas, came on stage to thank the people of Ipswich for 'embracing Trinidadian and Tobagonian culture' in the way that they have, after enjoying a full day of soca, steelpan and calypso at Christchurch Park.

The event marked the second time that the Trinidad and Tobago High Commission has sponsored the Caribbean Exposé during the Ipswich Arts Festival.

After a very successful 2011, the High Commissioner promised that this year’s event would be even bigger and better than before. Very early during the day it was clear to all present the objective had been met.

The performance roster for Caribbean Exposé included steelpan virtuoso Adrian Jaikaran. Using steel-pans and other traditional instruments, he seamlessly switched between them during his performance much to the delight of the crowd.

Another crowd favourite was the CSI Steelband, a community-based group from Hammersmith and Fulham which is lead by Trinidadian Brent Holder and features pan players from all ages. The youngest member of the CSI pan side is three years old.

CSI steelband has the support of the actor Colin Salmon, who starred in Season 1 of the VH1 series Single Ladies. He showed off his flag waving skills with the National Flag of Trinidad and Tobago, while hailing the National Instrument as being the perfect tool with which to bring hope to the hopeless.

Veteran soca artiste Lima Calbio had the crowd in stitches with her antics. UK soca stars Scrappy and the Tropical Storm band were among the first to interact with the audience. The band boasts two lead-singers, so while one was on stage conducting the crowd, the other was in the audience getting up close and personal with the fans.

When 5-time Road March champion Shurwayne Winchester came on stage one could not have been faulted for expecting the crowd to have been exhausted from the previous acts. But that was not the case. Mere seconds after he had stepped on that stage he had the people of Ipswich eating out of his hands.

Proving himself to be a dynamic and versatile performer, Shurwayne had the diverse crowd dancing and singing throughout his set. At one point he jumped into the crowd to form a conga-line with his fans.

The High Commissioner spent the entire day at Ipswich, making note of the crowd and their reaction. As he noted in his address to the audience, it was gratifying to see such an enthusiastic response to Trinidadian and Tobagonian culture so far outside of London.

He invited all present to the Trinidad and Tobago Culture Fest at Kilburn’s Tricycle Theatre, London, which runs from the 26th July to the 25th August to experience even more of our food, music and art.

His Excellency thanked the Honourable Mark Burke, the Mayor of Ipswich for supporting the Caribbean Exposé. He also singled out the festival’s organiser Bevan Garcia for all the hard work that he did behind the scenes to make the day a success.

He invited all to be on the lookout for next year’s event which he said would continue to grow.

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