Interview with Mr Timothy Gervais and Mr. Peter Diaz
On Sunday 12th September, 2010 we visited the band "Gervais Mello Strings" at one of their practice sessions as they were preparing for the upcoming Parang season. Their manager and member of the band, Mr Timothy Gervais had lots to tell us about Parang, its history and what it is today.
Mr. Gervais grew up in a family who worked hard planting rice, corn, peas and plantains. The village was a close knit one. He remembers his past as though it was just yesterday. He talks of how they made cuatros and violins out of tree trunks/branches that they would carve out to make the shape of the instrument. Mr. Gervais has been a parrandero for most of his life, having bben introduced to it as a boy in his home town of Erin, in south Trinidad.
He has worked alongside NPATT for several decades and was once its President. He is pleased with the progress of the association and with the return of Mr. Errol mohammed to the executive. As a past president, we sat down to spaek with him about the changing face of parang, having grown up with the traditional and practicing both but more of the contemporary.Gervais Mello Strings is known as a 'town' band. Their place of meeting is at a school in the capital city of port of Spain, not at the community centre or the home of another member which is what happens in the villages. According to capture the attention of others not inclined to the traditional parang up in the city, the band does infusions with other forms of music as for example, soca, and he wants to include latin and rap. This he says is expanding the listening audience and is keeping the art form alive.
We also had the pleasure of sitting down with Trinidad and Tobaog's most famous flagman and prolific chac chac player, Mr.Peter Diaz, anothe rmember of the band, to hear his views on what he would like to see done to advance parang locally.