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Kings of parang, soca reign over Woodford Café

Saturday, December 31, 2011
His name is Bunji Garlin (Ian Alvarez) but on the night he was hailed as Mr Bacchanal.

There was no question whether patrons attending the December 20 installment of Unplugged Tuesdays, held at Woodford Café, located at the Fiesta Plaza, MovieTowne, were joyous and making merry, citing their euphoric state, to the royal entertainment on the night’s playbill. Scenes of gaiety filled the popular establishment as they sang and danced to the music of soca parang king Scrunter (Irwin Reyes Johnson) and Bunji Garlin (Ian Alvarez), the undisputed Ragga Soca Monarch and former International Power Soca Monarch. The top entertainers successfully merged the Christmas and Carnival seasons with rhythm and rhyme, respectively. It was truly a musical gift to the Unplugged Tuesdays faithful who, all year through, had been filing into the venue to receive and cheer the intimate performances of top notch and emerging entertainers alike.

So when the two kings in the local music arena took the spotlight individually, to offer more than 100 minutes of non-stop high energy entertainment, altogether, the masses came prepped for the offerings. Patrons relished in the hearty servings of Yuletide goodies presented in Scrunter’s repertoire. But little did he know that the young and enthusiastic audience had gifts of sorts for him, too. The presents, however, took the form of their knowledge of his musical works. With enormous ease, they recited the lyrics to almost every soca parang hit delivered, but even more interesting was the fact that the young upwardly mobile adults—who it seemed subscribed religiously to the rules of jump and wave—also knew the select dance moves that complemented some of the ditties in Scrunter’s music chest. The elder statesman of song seemed visibly impressed as was telegraphed by his facial expression. Then came an element of shock, when young audience member Joseph Ryan took the stage and microphone at the start of his (Scrunter’s) performance of That Ain’t Wukking Here Tonight!

Even with the sudden vocal transfer, there was no disconnect in that performance, as Ryan, to his credit, continued belting out lyrics to the popular numbers, seamlessly and sweetly. The audience roared. Bunji Garlin entered the spotlight as the massive audience was already in a euphoric state from Scrunter’s more than generous offerings. So the former entertainer’s ability to heighten that atmosphere of jollity was tested and he, not unexpectedly, prevailed. While there was no advertised competition of the night, no one could deny that Scrunter and Bunji were out to secure audience affection. When the results were in both emerged winners. Dance, as you would recall was a big feature during Scrunter’s time slot, but when Bunji took over command, hysteria was the norm, on a night where two kings presided over the same kingdom to the unmistakable joy of their subjects.


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