When Steel Talks

Everything Related to the Steelpan Instrument and Music

Hate it, Love it, but - you can’t ignore it.  Panorama in Trinidad & Tobago has produced some of the greatest musical moments and pieces of our time. 


When Steel Talks takes a look at 50 Years of Panorama Music, Life & Culture.


Share here, your favorite and greatest Trinbago Panorama moments, the highs and lows, with the global steelpan community...


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Playing the pan Panorama nite,or any nite is the most unique,surreal,dynamic,and most beautiful experience a musician or any one can have. Knowing what we have given this world should inspire great pride and patriotism in all Trinis.Kitch said Pan Here To Stay and he was absolutely right. At this 50th year point in its history ,I say bless and keep all those past and present who gave the time ,focus and energy to play those pans the right way to please the world.We are truly an unique place in time.May god always bless T+T. Combined Yearwood,+Olivieri gave more than 100years to the steelband movement. How can we ever thank them. Thanks is not enough.

In 1972 we played  Wum Pum by Sparrow and when we started to play the police asked us to stop playing because their horses went out of control, we were told that the pans have an effect on the horses. [The pans were tuned by Leo Coker]

I have been enjoying the beautiful sounds of Panorama since 1963, actually listening on the radio until 1967 when I ventured into the savannah for my first Panorama experience.  And while I grew, and discovered and developed myself in the art of loving and playing the pan, I also came to appreciate its wonderful, masterful sound and have never wavered in my appreciation. I still  look forward each year to the musical contributions of the various bands. Each year when the winners are announced, there is always this euphoric vibe that sends waves of joy through my being. I REALLY DO NOT KNOW WHAT I WOULD DO IF PANORAMA WERE TO EVER BE STOPPED, so to speak. In the past 50 years it has become a major part of the cultural landscape of Trinidad and Tobago, even to the extent where locals adore the homage paid to the pan by the foreigners who come to our island to revel in the sights and sounds of this precious instrument.Nothing will be able to fill that void. In addition, the Steelpan has contributed handsomely to many a man's opportunity at making a living for himself.

Where the highs and lows of Panorama are concerned, who can argue the quality of music that has emanated from this instrument, courtesy the efforts of knowledgeable and skilled musical masters such as  Bradley, Boogsie, Greenidge, Bobby Mohammed, Jit Samaroo, Pelham Goddard and Bev Griffith, and Ray Holman to name a few. No lows really, only highs.

I have in mind a number of performances that, even though they were good enough to win Panorama, didn't. Among them are Starlift's 'Jane', 'Tenor Bass',and ' Oh Trinidad', Third World's 'Gold', Desperadoes'  'No Pan', Phase 11's 'I Music' and ' Birthday Party', Tokyo's 'Pan in Danger',  Pandemonium's 'Sugar for Pan', 'Sing in she Party' and 'Sailing', and All Stars' 'Curry Tabanca'. Those and some others I have not mentioned remain etched in my memory forever, regardless of the results at the time.

I think my most striking memory was the night of the 1985 Finals when I predicted that there would be a tie between Despers and Renegades, both playing 'Pan Night and Day'. I spent quite a bit of energy giving guys my reasons why and was "spot on" when the results were announced. The same guys told me I was a seer man. One even asked me to predict his future, which I could not and did not try to do. He was not music. My prediction was based on music and its attendant factors.

What about the Steelpan Music Festivals when Steelbands had to play a "Test Piece', when Pan Am North Stars ruled.

With due respect Hameed, we talking bout Panorama, Music Festivals are a diffefent TOPIC

excellent memory....I still hear Syncopators revelling with "Poets and Peasants" in the 1966 festival final at Queens' Hall....I still shiver at the goosebumps created when North Stars and Synco were fighting for first. Oh, what a night....Thank you Shaqq for the memory.

Steelpan ed, Since you bring up that subject, Syncopators was the best Steelband I have ever heard to  play "Poet & Peasants", such a mello tone, and played it so beautiful, and in those days they did not have the other pans like the Quads, and different sections as now. Credit goes out to the little unknown arranger LYNCH (deceased) bless his soul. 

1964 - Lord Kitchener - Mama Dis Is MasNorth Stars Steel Orchestra (winners) - Anthony "Tony" Williams (arranger)

North Stars may have won with Mama Dis Is Mas but everyone remembers Desperadoes version.

In 1966, Solo Harmonites made their spectacular debut into the Panorama Arena.  At that time, the judges for the preliminary were placed along the route because the bands were judged on their performances whilst playing on the move.  During Harmonites performance, the rain fell continuously.  if we did not have our pans fully covered with well built canopies, as we were well prepared, we may not have been able to make the kind of impact that we did with our rendition of "The Man In The Pyjama Suit" as sung by King Fighter and arranged by Knolly Bobb.  We were not the first band to cover our pans, but we were the first to do so elaborately for both the acoustical value and for the protection from the elements.

In the finals of 1968,  when it was Harmonites time to perform on stage, the vehicle carrying the drum kit had not yet arrived in the savannah.  We began to move the pans aside to make room for the next band.  Then suddenly a small van appeared through the crowd.  That van belonged to Mr. Angard, a gentleman who lived across the street from our Panyard on 2nd Caledonia Road, Barataria.  He had to be roped in at the last minute to avert the crisis of great proportion.  The rest is history.  We delivered as promised with Kitchener's "The Wrecker" as arranged by Earl Rodney and became one of the yougest bands ever to win a National Panorama. 

Remembar, our debut in 1966 with a win in 1968.  That was talent of the highest level.  We worked assiduously and deligently during that period that we now term our glory days.  The Captain was Winston Flemming, Vincent Hughloi Lila, the Manager and Joseph Renaud, Secretary/Treasurer.  Don't forget Road Runners No. 1.

Maybe it's because we were young then, but my fondest panorama memories were from  the drag in the sixties , when the bands were judged on the move.

I'll always remember 1966 as the panorama "in de rain".

I remember being introduced to Solo Harmonites with their canopies.The band was big and powerful, and the canopies made them even more impressive.

I remember our young band from Marabella, Scarlet Symphony, going down the drag playing Kitch's "Licks in 66".

I remember the power of Guinness Cavaliers with Kitch's "My brother, Your Sister", and the sweetness of Despers with Sparrow's "Obeah Woman".

Down the drag again in 1967with Guinness playing a powerful version of Kitch's "Sixty seven".

1967 was also my first experience at beating pan in a Panorama, since that year I played tenor bass with Scarlet Symphony, also playing Kitch's "Sixty Seven..

My memory of 1968 is filled with Solo Harmonites "The Wrecker", probably one of the most powerful panorama performances I've ever experienced.

Memories of many panoramas have melded together over the years, but those of the sixties stand out, and remain fresh.


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