In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “The Transporter.”
Soca, Soca, Soca Man!!
Pan music -play de Pan.
Jump Up! Jump Up! Jump Up Man!
Car-ni-val is the plan …
Steel drums (pan music) & Soca music are synonymous with putting me in a dancing mood and transporting me instantly back to home sweet home, Grenada (Gra-NAY-da)! Soca & Pan music styles of music but both are synonymous with ‘Jump Up’ (crowds of people in the street dancing to Carnival music).
Carnival time in the Caribbean is dancing time. As a child the Carnival was all about steel drum bands being pushed and pulled through the streets with elaborately costumed dancers accompanying them. The dancers gave enough separation between bands so you could hear what the preceding band was playing. The days and weeks prior to carnival were full of anticipation and excitement. Party was in the air; even as a child we could all feel the mood change at Carnival time.
J’ouvert (from the French jour ouvert, meaning day break or morning) Monday would start the Carnival festivities and I have to say that was the day the most of us kids got a good scare from the Jab Jabs! Jab Jabs were men who coated their bodies in back oil and sometimes smeared red paint on their bodies as well. The Jab Jabs would go through the streets all day Monday and into the night dancing and drinking and trying to smear the black oil from their body on any unsuspecting tourist or passerby. As a kid they sure did look scary! I never wanted to go out on J’ouvert Monday. I was scared of the Jab Jabs with their big horns and black oil and sometimes snakes. It was all in good fun and no one got hurt or anything.
Tuesday would be the parade of the Steel Bands and the Costumes. This was Carnival to me – seeing those bands and the costumes it was amazing. As an adult now, I can’t imagine how they managed. Grenada was formed by a volcano and there are practically no flat surfaces on the island almost all the roads are winding, steep and narrow. The Steel Drum musicians never seemed to lose a beat. Their drums were suspended on metal racks with spaces for the musicians to walk within the framework of the steel drum supports and a group of men would pull and push these steel drum supports up and down hills till the end of the Carnival route was reached. Everyone was dancing. Standing still was virtually impossible with the music. (Imagine seeing song number 5 in the YouTube playlist below being performed by musicians as they danced along, up and down the streets with their drums in tow on a rack made of pipes)
Every time I hear Steel Drum/Pan music or Soca I can picture the beautiful blue Caribbean Sea, feel the tropical trade winds and imagine myself back in the Isle of Spice. It doesn’t take much to take me home in thought. Soca and Pan Music are always an instant remedy for ‘feeling the blues’.
I love all virtually all types of music but only the Pan Music and the Soca music have the ability to snap me out of any duldrom I might be imagining. I love Reggae too and it certainly brings back the memories as well but the big difference between Reggae and Soca music is, Reggae music is played all year round. Soca music – well it’s meant to be Carnival music. It is dancing music!
For a taste of the music -check out this YouTube Playlist I made of some of my favourites!
1.) Peter Humphrey – Miss Daisy(Doh Come so Fast)
2.) Mighty Sparrow Big Bamboo
3.) Ajamu Sweet Mother
4.) Steel drum band – Shake shake shake sonora
5.) Exodus Steel Orchestra Panorama Semi Final 2013 — imagine these guys being pushed through the streets and playing like this -they used to march in addition to playing and dancing like they are in this competition
6.)Bacchanal Lady – David Rudder (one of my favourite tunes)