With Caribana (Toronto Caribbean Carnival), can never get used to saying that, so it will always be Caribana to me, approaching, I thought it was fitting to review a different genre of music that has been part of the Toronto music scene for decades, that being Soca, and a new band in Toronto that plays that style, Miguel Maestre Band.
Originally from the country of Trinidad and Tobago, this Soca music was brought here by the immigrants from the Caribbean islands. Mostly noticed during the annual festival, it does get airplay on college radio and a couple of the urban radio stations. Suffice it to say Reggae is not the only music from the Caribbean. There is Calypso, (not defunct, but the father to Soca) Rapso, Parang, Zouk, Spooge, Chutney, Compas, Dancehall and Mento just to name a few of the many genres. There have been many bands that play this sort of music in Toronto, and it would be worth it to check them out when you get a chance. With what is going on in the world these days, now is the time to explore the diversity that is Toronto.
This article is about a new band that is trying to make an impact, “Miguel Maestre Band”. The band consists of five members;
- Miguel Maestre – lead singer
- Bayete Williams – keyboards
- Keron Robinson – drum machine
- Brian Huntley – base guitar
- Denver – drummer
Most of the band members have performed with Ossie Gurley a Toronto-based, and well-known arranger and producer of Caribbean music and other styles over the last few decades. In fact, Ossie Gurley was the arranger of the song, “Who Let The Dogs Out”, originally sung by Anslem Douglas and then later made popular by Baha Men. So these band members know a thing or two about music.
They intend to cover many of the genres of music during their performances, so be prepared to hear any type of music from Soca, Calypso, Reggae, R&B and Pop.
Miguel Maestre was born in Toronto to Trinidadian parents and got his musical influence from them. He learned to play the Cuatro, (a four-string Spanish instrument) as a four-year old and he also plays the drums, guitar and little piano, although he says he mostly “gets by” on the keys.
The venue for this launch was the Krave, 55 Nugget Avenue, Scarborough ON. A nice venue, I had never been there before, however, when something else is happening there I will try and find my feet on their dancefloor.
This was the first time the band came together to play in front a crowd and it was this time they chose to launch Miguel’s latest single for the summer of 2019, “Always”. You can listen below to the YouTube audio of song. By the end of August beginning of September there should be an actual video as well.
The track has been in rotation on a couple of stations that caters to this genre of music and has been getting great feedback. DJs have also been playing it as part of their sessions at various events.
A little more on the track, “Always”. Apparently, it came together quite quickly while Miguel was on a cruise called Uber Soca Cruise, a cruise that lasts a few days in the Caribbean where Soca artists and DJs perform hit after hit to adoring fans… (I hear it is a blast, will make it some time). There Miguel met with a producer called “Skorch Bun It”, believe me that is not his real name, and a local Toronto DJ that goes by the name of Dr. J de Soca Prince, one of the top Soca DJ for the past couple decades; and once he is involved you know it should be good cause he knows his music. Dr. J is the executive producer for the track.
Pertaining to their performance, the band put on an exciting show, with two beautiful female dancers to balance the testosterone on the stage. The music was loud and at times drowned out Miguel’s vocals, however, when he did get through and was heard, he sounded great. I would chalk this up to first performance jitters for them and the sound man/system. The session went for more than an hour and covered some of the present day Soca hits as well as those from the past including from my favourite Soca artist, “Blue Boy”, so you know I was in my glee.
You can check out a sample of their performance below:
The band is seeking to do something that has never been done in Toronto before. According to band member Bayete Williams:
“I consider this a new project that I would like to invest my time and expertise into, with Miguel’s ability and talent he decided to put together a team that would meet his vision and take it to the next level; so, this is the beginnings of some interesting new things to come in terms of the approach to Soca music in Toronto. I am seeking to do something that has never been done in Toronto and my goal is evolve this group along with the emerging technologies to keep the sound at the cutting edge of what is happening in terms of the international band circuit. I do not have the inhibitions of sticking to the old ways, I am willing to take risks to make sure Soca music evolves and grows. I am determined to not do things the way other Soca musicians have done them in the past. This band is my way of breaking the mold.”
Another band member, Keron stated:
“We have been musicians for a long time and we are willing to work with the younger musicians that are up and coming to get fresh ideas out there.”
Here are a few images from Miguel Maestre Band’s performance:
Right now, the band does not have any sponsors yet, so if you would like to align yourselves with an up and coming band, check them out. They are seeking gigs of all types, from corporate events, to parties, weddings etc.
You can contact them via the email address: firstname.lastname@example.org. A website, Facebook Page, YouTube channel and other Social Media handles will be coming soon, so stay tuned for more from the Miguel Maestre Band.