A Review by Mark Loquan, Musical Director, Perth Pandemix
What happens when you have a lot of pan enthusiasts from players, tuners, Carnival mas players, arrangers, and pan supporters in one place? You get lots of music, but more than that, you get another step in the development of pan, this time in Brisbane, Queensland, in Australia, where steelbands appeared from all over Australia and New Zealand for the 2nd Australian Steelpan Festival held at West End State School grounds. The festival represented a significant milestone for PANZ, an association of steelbands across Australia and New Zealand, formed in 2013, following the 1st Australian Steelpan Festival in Marysville, Victoria held in April 2013. In fact, it was immediately after the first festival where the decision was made to form the association, PANZ, to act as a catalyst to develop pan in the region. A strategic plan was developed, with a central point being the planning of a biennial event where all bands could work towards.
While the 1st Steelpan Festival was produced on a grander scale, enabled by significant grants and the involvement the entire community of Marysville, the 2nd Festival faced challenges of funding, and competing events in Brisbane (Brisbane Festival). The event was scaled down from the original plans, but the spirit and love for the pan was just as strong or even stronger. This is because people had already established a connection with each other from the first Festival, and a good sign of development were new bands joining in the event. The new bands were: