Goa's A26 to take Goan music to Canadian shores

The ensemble band from Goa will perform at two events in Canada - 'Summer Fiesta' (July 13) and 'The Night at the Movies' (July 20) - organised by Global Goans Association of Canada (GGAC)
THE BAND FROM GOA: The Goan band A26 will enthral Canadian Goans on July 13 and July 20. (From L to R) Grayston Vaz, Joe Pereira, Marwino Antonio Da Costa, Chrystall Farrell, Ignatius Rodrigues, Lester Rodrigues and Alfin Fernandes.
THE BAND FROM GOA: The Goan band A26 will enthral Canadian Goans on July 13 and July 20. (From L to R) Grayston Vaz, Joe Pereira, Marwino Antonio Da Costa, Chrystall Farrell, Ignatius Rodrigues, Lester Rodrigues and Alfin Fernandes.Photo: Global Goans Association of Canada (GGAC)

There’s a joke that goes around in Goan circles; go to the remotest part of the world and you’ll find a Goan. And, not just the Planet Earth. If moon were inhabitable, in all probability, you would find a Goan settlement there too.

And, wherever they go their heart throbs for everything Goan. Having a good inkling of this, Trevorlyn Menezes, who heads the Global Goans Association of Canada (GGAC), decided to take a piece of Goa to Goans in Canada.

THE BAND FROM GOA: The Goan band A26 will enthral Canadian Goans on July 13 and July 20. (From L to R) Grayston Vaz, Joe Pereira, Marwino Antonio Da Costa, Chrystall Farrell, Ignatius Rodrigues, Lester Rodrigues and Alfin Fernandes.
These Goan Bands will rock Carnival nights at Samba Square

What is the one thing that bonds Goans together like nothing else. Of course, fish-curry-rice and pork vindaloo unbeatably win hands down. But music gives the two Goan staples a tough fight. The lively and lilting music of Goa can effortlessly pull out the repressed Goan in them anywhere in the world.

Menezes wants to tug at the Canadian Goans' heartstrings with music. And, who better to do that than the Goa-based ensemble band A26, led by founder, manager and lead vocalist Lester Rodrigues.

Menezes wants to tug at the Canadian Goans' heartstrings with music. And, who better to do that than the Goa-based ensemble band A26, led by founder, manager and lead vocalist Lester Rodrigues

The whole thing came together serendipitously, when the GGAC founder Menezes met up with Goan musicians during his business trip to Goa in 2023.

“I met many talented Goan musicians, including Colin D’Cruz and Hema Sardesai, who all have families in Canada but still miss the Goan food, culture, and music. Colin suggested inviting Goan bands to Canada to share the love and spirit of Goa through music. He recommended meeting Lester from A26, India's most sought-after band with an international reputation,” recalls Menezes.

Heeding D’Cruz’s suggestion, the GGAC chief landed at Cohiba, a pub in Candolim, to watch the Goan band’s performance.

THE GOAN IN CANADA: Trevorlyn Menezes, founder of Global Goan Association of Canada (GGAC), wants to preserve the Goan culture in Canada through events centred around Goa’s vibrant heritage.
THE GOAN IN CANADA: Trevorlyn Menezes, founder of Global Goan Association of Canada (GGAC), wants to preserve the Goan culture in Canada through events centred around Goa’s vibrant heritage.Photo: Global Goans Association of Canada (GGAC)

“I was impressed by their (A26) talent and humility. Lester mentioned that the band had never performed in Canada or the USA and was hoping for an invitation. Realising their potential to be Goan Canadian music ambassadors, I invited them to perform in Canada during the summer of 2024, marking the start of this journey,” says Menezes.

From thereon, things began rolling fast, and quickly fell in place. Menezes, Rodrigues and another Goan band Jazz Junction furiously brainstormed and came up with 'Summer Fiesta' and 'The Night at the Movies' that musically packages Goa for Goan Canadians on July 13 and July 20.

From thereon, things began rolling fast, and quickly fell in place. Menezes, Rodrigues and another Goan band Jazz Junction furiously brainstormed and came up with 'Summer Fiesta' and 'The Night at the Movies' that musically packages Goa for Goan Canadians.

This perfectly fits into the GGAC’s initiative that aims to unite the Goan and South Indian communities in Canada through a series of vibrant cultural events. Close to 40,000 Goans live in Canada across various cities, with the largest concentration in Toronto, followed by Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, and Quebec.

“The younger generation in Canada is somewhat disconnected from Goa and its history, from the Portuguese era to its integration into India. I felt the need to bring Goa's essence here and engage the community through my vision and mission focusing on four pillars: education, arts and culture, sports, and community,” quips the Canada's Goan body chief.

I felt the need to bring Goa's essence here and engage the community through my vision and mission focusing on four pillars: education, arts and culture, sports, and community.

, Trevorlyn Menezes, founder of Global Goans Association of Canada (GGAC).

Disclosing how events unravelled and concluded in plans for performance in Canada, lead vocalist of A26, says; “He (Menezes) proposed taking A26 and the band Jazz Junction, to Canada to perform at two Goa-themed events – ‘Summer Fiesta’ and ‘The Night at the Movies’. The interesting part is that nobody has ever taken a full band from Goa to Canada before; we have only seen duos and trios being taken, as it is quite far and expensive. So, this is quite a novel experience for us”.

As the date of performance draws closer, Rodrigues and his band have immersed themselves in practice. They are acutely aware they are being taken to Canada as ambassadors of Goan music, a weighty responsibility resting on their delicate shoulders.  

They (A26) are acutely aware they are being taken to Canada as ambassadors of Goan music, a weighty responsibility resting on their delicate shoulders.  

“Goan music has moved far ahead compared to what used to be produced in the eighties and the nineties when I first started playing in a band. We've gone to the Gulf, the United Kingdom and other international territories. However, the Canadian Goans have never heard us play before. So, we are very excited to bring our music to them,” says Rodrigues excitedly.

The band has been practising non-stop for the last one month; “we stopped taking shows at Cohiba in Candolim and Copa Cabana in Cavelossim, only so that we could practice for these two gigs in Canada”.

We want our music to unite people and make them happy. We want people who come for our shows to forget their worries and just have a good time.

Lester Rodrigues, founder of A26.

It’s the ‘The Night at the Movies’ – which mixes audio and visuals – that is proving to be a challenge for them. They have culled out soundtracks from 25 movies for it.

“The visuals will be playing in the background, so everything is time-coded. So, for us, this has been a brand-new adventure” informs the lead vocalist. And, if it’s about Goa then Konkani songs cannot be left out. It's the peppy beats of Konkani songs that add the distinct note to Goan music.

“We want our music to unite people and make them happy. We want people who come for our shows to forget their worries and just have a good time,” sums up Rodrigues.

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