Rise of the Steelband in Guyana
Submitted by and published with the express permission of the author - the late Godfrey Chin
Tribute to steelbands before Mash 1970 - By Godfrey Chin
By 1953 local bands sprouted throughout the mudland from Bartica to NA, and these included Quo Vadis (at Robb St off Bourda Market); Invaders (Federation Yard, Regent and Wellington); Pagans; Chicago; Sun Valley; Casablanca – all defending our ‘steelbandship’ against boasting, bragging Trinidadians, in regular competitions.
I must mention here the initiation of a young Roy Geddes into pan in Casablanca, a panyard at High and Harel Streets. Roy mastered every facet of the steelband – playing, tuning, arranging, and formed the Silvertones in 1964. He is today a revered icon, who after 56 years is the grand professor of pan in Guyana. His Steelband Museum in Roxanne Burnham Gardens is a shrine, and he received the Medal of Honour in 1971 and the Arrow of Achievement in 1996 for his commitment and dedication.
Our top Road Band for Queen Elizabeth’s coronation, June 1953 was Quo Vadis, which played that Christmas a Roman ‘mas’ and assumed the name from the MGM Roman epic, which opened at the Astor. I remember Cedric Williams (Pemya) spending long hours heating/tuning pan under the huge samaan trees on Bourda Green with Woodman Ellis the arranger.