When Steel Talks

Everything Related to the Steelpan Instrument and Music



Sandra L Blood

(Active member of Renegades)


Maybe not Renegades’ year…the Creator sends messages

(An international educational piece)


Crash landed, put out, not their season, ‘robbed’, ‘humbled’, disturbed or committed suicide; whichever the thought, description or reality…Renegades’ spirit battles with its Panorama fatality in the wake of the lethal bomb dropped on the competition semi-finals’ night. In its wake, shrapnel and dust to take toll, while, Pan Trinbago apologized and promised better conditions from 2012…and life continues!


The old adage: “Be careful what you wish for”, the title of one of the 2011 Calypso Monarch winner’s renditions; did Renegades ‘wish’ for bad when they dabbled in “…deadly, lethal and fatal? Were we ready but voluntarily walked into an open line of fire, or?


Mindful that a competition Finals is owned by no one, the fact remains, the band came to compete to expectation, not to compete against any dilatory tactics, or simultaneous music.


At a particular time of a particular night, in rapt attention, supporters, enemies, critics, aficionados – worldwide – and fellow competitors were locked into the strains of perfect harmony, that a few hours following, beliefs, perceptions, facts and fictions, all made imperfect harmony, as tongues wagged, trying to decipher what really caused the band in front East Dry River, Port of Spain, to experience its first, real Panorama failure for over two decades…resulting in a legal battle; an ‘indictment’ against the world governing body for Pan?


In retrospect, it was on February 20th, when Pan Trinbago proudly hosted their first Carnival 2011 savannah showing of pan greats called the semi-finals rounds, when five adjudicators set out to look for a serial killer – disturbance or no disturbance.

‘Who we think will destroy this place tonight?’ ‘Lethal weapons and murders already on an all-time high; we don’t want any of that in our ‘party’; nothing to mash up this Savannah except “Advantage”.


A serial killer, another “Buffalo Bill” on the loose – Renegades! As if to revisit “The Silence of the Lamb”, where “Buffalo Bill” will slaughter his victims whose “bodies will eventually turn up floating in the river.”….nine musical bodies of slaughtered Panorama victims to be found floating in the East Dry River, maybe, should they make it to finals?


Mash up indeed, as with high miscibility, the combination: Renegades and “their Panorama tune, How we coming”, was a musical combustion and detonator. Pan lovers that evening, from Memorial Park, to the “greens” to the Stands, went crazy. Local and foreign expert musicians and world renowned adjudicators as well, even former Panorama judges, echoing similar thoughts on the well-orchestrated, well-thought-out and executed composition. Bemused…how in the name of peace, did the in-house adjudicators interpret and weigh the various works that night?


Doing their personal adjudicating, from the Grand, North Stands and television, respectively, apart from the laid-down criteria (of which they are familiar), they took into account the performance errors, and the flaws of the arrangements within the simplistic works and compared them to those similarly heard within Renegades’ intricate work, measuring against the adverse effect of their involuntary lengthy delay and the unauthorized musical intervention. They drew comparisons, reaching an impressive score.

 So powerful is the priceless antique – sixty-three year old, nine-time Panorama champs, only band to win a hat-trick and only band where its junior band, historically, wears the crown for two hat-tricks. A

band feared, a band to be reckoned with, a band continuously watched and scrutinized from all quarters of the globe with eagle eye – Renegades!

With that artillery load, the possibility exists where, at any cost, it’s time to ‘take them down!’

Take in front, before in front take us! Judges are powerful beings. They can lead you anywhere.

Perusing the performance remarks, I pondered: how can five astute experts reach such different concepts of the same composition all using the same laid-down criteria? My best guess is that it all boils down to environmental conditions, interpretation, preferences, where the mind was at the given moment. Conflicting remarks raised concerns: ■Just when “some work” was said to be needed to ‘motivic’ development”, it is “good use of motifs.” ■“V. Good development of melodic fragment.” “Perhaps more use of melodic fragments could have been made.” ■“a pretty short intro.” “Quite an appropriate introduction.” ■”Need some more work on the actual engine room…”, “The engine room was well explored to add to the excitement of your interpretation.” Explanations sought!

Many viewed Renegades as “sore losers” and “sour grapes”, but in recognizing Respect in its entirety, the burning question lingers: Who were those treacherous patrons at the savannah?

Renegades’ recourse:

As cited in the newspaper, the plea is: “Pan Trinbago failed to ensure that any competing sounds were silenced or sufficiently silenced before or while the orchestra was performing.” This prompted a series of fruitless discussions with Pan Trinbago, fueling an injunction that also proved fruitless, seeing Judge Maureen Rajnauth-Lee throwing out the plea on the eve of Panorama finals.

Beyond a reasonable doubt – a reality:

To win any legal battle, especially on technicalities, speaks to acquiring the appropriate representation and providing substantiating evidence beyond a reasonable doubt, but the battle continues.

Pan Trinbago’s Justifications, Reasons, Excuses, Plans:

In “Renegades stay out”, March 5, 2011, Jada Loutoo reports on Pan Trinbago’s vice president, Bryon Serrette: “…this year since the erection of the North and Grand Stands were still a work in progress up to the semi-finals, there were security issues and although persons were not allowed to enter the venue with equipment, some managed to sneak in.”

“On the night of semi-finals, persons playing music were asked to stop playing when they saw a band approach the stage, but as the night drew on they appeared to have disregarded those instructions.”

“This has happened for the first time and it will not happen again. Stringent measures will be put in place so we do not have the situation next year.”

Cited in March 14th Newsday’s “Pan Trinbago reviews DJs”: “Over time we allowed certain things to happen. Next year we want to ensure no unwanted persons would be allowed to enter the venue. The only DJ that is supposed to be at the venue is the DJ to play the *selection of the bands.” said Pan Trinbago’s secretary, Richard Forteau. (*the bands’ selections)

“We have a product and people have grown accustomed to enjoying themselves in a certain way. But it is a steel pan competition and we want patrons to appreciate this. While we want them to enjoy themselves, we also do not want them to impede on the competition.”

Being interviewed on CNMG’s First Up, early-morning talk show on March 23rd, president Keith Diaz claimed to be “not one hundred percent happy with how ‘things’ went at the Savannah for Panorama” when questioned about how he felt with regards “a band or some bands’ ” unhappiness over disturbances during their performance.“Panorama is a big lime and all over the world, people

saying they are coming to Trinidad to Panorama….that’s where the lime is. What should we do…change the lime?”

Out of bad cometh good:

Having viewed the experience open-mindedly and objectively, I realize that there is a bright, educational panscape that awaits the world. Respective stakeholders have taken stock of many areas that were either taken for granted or escaped them. The Renegades dilemma actually evolved into a school of behavioural science causing people to look at themselves and how they do things. Stakeholders realize there is dire need to improve upon social, professional and strategic practices. The court matter, which is still on the way, ought to prove a most empowering tool.

Taking all the negative fallouts into account, in an attempt to help all and sundry, internationally, who are paining, disappointed, angry, grieving or wishing ill, to move forward stronger and positively, the following are provided.

Renegades…getting over the hump (Reflection and Motivation):

1)      From a natural standpoint: As similar to the earth’s rotation on its axis – daylight, twilight, night and dawn are experienced. Some parts of the universe, however, experience longer daylights than other parts.

Education…in life, everyone and everything experiences similar and so to, does Renegades.

The band is proud to apprise of its daylight days. It has experienced twilight having now moved to night. With proper self-actualization, proper planning and good structure, daylight will be quickly seen on the horizon.

2)      The heart line: As similar to the heart line; levels or situations in life fluctuate up and down, and so will Renegades. It signifies being alive.                

Education …the eagle: Before soaring higher it descends to gain momentum for upward mobility, and the indicators that validate a dead state, whether from a high or low point, are complacency and remaining at one level…stagnation.

3)      Failure, humiliation, embarrassment or pain: These ills are deliberately designed to help generate renewed strength and power. We need to tap in to our willpower.

Education …out of pain, failure, humiliation or embarrassment, comes grit and strength, and that lack of willpower or its presence determines whether we will fail or accomplish our desires and ambitions and attain success. It is imperative to take care of our well-being.

4)      Selflessness and appreciation:  Integral lessons coming out of the Renegades dilemma were the power and advantages of being selfless and appreciative…thank God for the mercies he bestowed upon us, and wish the finalists well.

Education …it takes a big and powerful mind to live and let live. Allow others to enjoy, even if it’s once, the pleasure of victory. Think clean thoughts and say nice words for there are great rewards to follow.

5)      Moving forward - Closure:  True champions stand up for their Rights, but usually take the bitter with the sweet once thought to be well justified. Renegades hosted a beautiful Panorama Finals lime at the yard and enjoyed the show, with a view, to bring closure to and acceptance of its position.

The band has done its post mortem with findings to be worked on.

Education…..Members were motivated and guided upon some key principles to dealing with success, failure and readying self for returned success these, to be built upon.


Pan Trinbago: 

1)      Competition:  “Competition impacts on economic, well-being and social life”. There are times when we host, engage and/or participate in competitions without a clue as to how it impacts life or relationships with others….sacrifices and compromises are made.

Extracted from “On Competition and Well-Being (October 2006)”:

Education … “There are several reasons why it is important to investigate the relationship between competition and well-being. Well-being and happiness are undoubtedly central goals in human life. “Beyond direct consequences of competition on well-being there are potentially also derived consequences. As argued by Bowles (1998), the experience of competition may have an effect on people’s social values. More specifically, interacting under competition may change people’s disposition towards others and, in particular, towards those individuals they have encountered in the interaction (and may meet again in the future).”

2)      Guidance and motivation: It is big, it is nice, and always helps to accept good guidance and motivation.

Six weeks following Panorama semi-finals – February 20th, 2011 – Renegades and others, worldwide, are still reeling from something that could have been avoided, given better management for which, your organization has publicly apologized. We have taken note!

Not only did Renegades experience a wrath, but also did the National Carnival Committee, innocently.

As caregivers to the artform, it is imperative that we make concerted efforts to right the wrongs and continue functioning on a right path, no matter the event.

We know it is hard work, it is challenging, but whereby, every steelband will not qualify to a higher round of the competition, we must be mindful to not have any non-competing physical or human aspect of the venue be viewed as a contributor to a competitor’s disquiet or failure.

The competition is undoubtedly, one of the best musical events in the world. We want it to grow from strength to strength, and produce as many champions as possible, but Renegades comes with its share of mental and psychological strains, being cognizant of its position as record-holder of second highest first place wins and only hat-trick champs. As such, you are hereby urged, as president of the World’s Governing Body for Pan, to ensure your support system ‘has your back’ in everything that is done, as lack of control or proper management serves a heavy blow to reputation, brand and legacy.

If they care, they will respect! So too will patrons.

As cited in Raffique Shah’s piece “Thanks for the Panorama music” February 27, 2011, Guardian with reference to the respect or lack there-of DJs have for pan: “They (DJs) “are pushing them off the road, now they are pushing them off the stage.”

While, Theodore Guerra argued before Her Worship Maureen Jagnauth-Lee on Renegades’ behalf saying …“even Pan Trinbago admitted there was bedlam and chaos in the Savannah for the semis.”

These are comments that must never be repeated as long as pan competitions exist. We feel confident that you are capable!

Professionalism and Accountability: Panorama is a huge costly event and as such, a high level of professionalism and accountability should be practiced – at all times. I offer the following simple but effective proposal that will aid in avoiding tarnishing of reputation and brand.


Proposal… All bands performing at the savannah for Panorama competitions should sign a contract with Pan Trinbago to ensure conditions are conducive. Pan Trinbago should post their conditions in the media – local, and international websites; at panyards and entrances to the savannah. Content and design of forms to be worked on for 2012.


Comic relief:

Just when I thought I couldn’t find a spare funny bone in my body after Panorama semi-finals, there it was. Something must give…

F’eau pax after f’eau pax presented themselves on television from Carnival Saturday pertaining to Renegades. I laughed heartily! Not that the situations were actually humourous, but they were extremely ludicrous. I said wow, maybe it’s not Renegades’ year; look how the Creator sends messages!


  • Children’s Carnival, Carnival Saturday, Queens Park Savannah:

Between 3 – 3:45pm with broadcast on Channel 4, beautiful bands and then alas…a “micro, mini band” the announcer said – “Harps of the harp, a tribute to bpRenegades”. I said well, this is interesting; at least the community cares, but just as the junior masqueraders were making their appearance on stage, in the wink of an eye, an advertisement began which, upon completion, with returned coverage, the presentation had gone.


  • Children’s Carnival, Carnival Saturday, Queens Park Savannah:

D’Midas’ Carnival is Colour presented a section “Bees Melody”. Quite impressive! Somehow the television presenter remembered Kitchener (deceased) to be the calpysonian, but failed miserably to recall the band that heated up the Savannah Panorama 1992 – Amoco (at the time) Renegades.


  • Panorama Finals:

Even more hilarious and ridiculous – Silver Stars Steel Orchestra delivered a sterling rendition of “Showtime” which was somewhat speedy as the television presenters recognized, but amazing as it were, they were discussing the rate of play and claimed that Silver Stars introduced speed in Panorama.

Hilarious, as they were devoid of Renegades having impressed the world with its flawless execution of intricate and speedy Panorama tunes. Winners nine times!

  • Carnival Coverage:

Two presenters – during their television coverage – included in their discussions, the issue of Renegades when the band was making its way on stage. In trying to ascertain what the hoorah was all about that spurred a filed injunction, evidently, not quite conceptualizing its basis, they commented: “…all bands experienced music being played in between renditions during Panorama Semis.” It remains sketchy what they meant.


Four critical tips:

  • Whether it points to reputation, brand or competition, “when you lose, and you will lose, make sure you don’t lose the lesson!” – Dr. Rhadi Ferguson PhD
  • Practice makes perfect…if you practice it perfectly
  • Listen
  • Respect

In looking forward:

Pan Trinbago – I look forward to your new and improved plans and healthier partnerships 2012 and beyond.


True Winners:

Renegades –.true winners understand the power of success and the power of failure; dust self off and come again……bigger and better!


In appreciation: Renegades says thanks to its sponsor, arranger, tuner/s, supporters, critics and well-wishers.


In closing: We reflect on best practices, respect, decision-making, strength and moving forward.

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Lovely article Sandra, well said and well done!

Thank you JKF.


Correction by writer: 3rd paragraph should read Panorama is owed to no one instead of "Panorama is owned by....."


Well put Sandra............well structured.......objective....educational........guiding..........thanks!!!!

Attempt made to help all and sundry, whether in Tnt or other. Thanks bro. What's the next step prey tell?


Perhaps we women are the only ones concerned with the essence of pan and panorama. All I keep hearing from the males involved are money, money, more money, we can't do that, why should we change, and other negative comments.

Get more women involved in the organization and orchestras and perhaps, again I say perhaps, the national instrument will reach its potential.


I hear you Dianne. And I think it's so easy to be accomplished. An overhauling of the pan education and a map of its potential are needed! When we view that map, maybe it will yield a better mindset of what is needed to get there.

Your response is well appreciated!

This is the first time that I am choosing to make a comment on a WST story in spite of the fact that this particular issue has been on the radar for more than a month.  A few years ago when there was a steelband competition in Madison Square Garden—big, big one at that—would it have been possible for a dudup side from Brooklyn to muster in the lobby and carry on like if they were in the North stand?  Absolutely not.  It is appalling that Trinis have so little respect for the instrument, and I guess these are the types that when the National Anthem is being played, will walk with their hand in their pocket as if nutting is happening.  The President of Pan Trinbago, and nobody else, should have gone over to these fools and read them the riot act, and if they did not stop the foolishness, the Police service should have been called to exercise some civility.  Let’s hope that a lesson has been learned, and that something like this will never happen again.

@i am a steelpan admirer:  I totally agree with you and I was most present as a performer at the same said steelband compeition to which you refer which took place at Madison Square Garden a few years ago.  Everyone adhered to the rules and regulations and were totally cognizant of the fact that they had to exercise sterling measures of civility.  Thank you for your post and continue to speak up and let your voice be heard!
re: the '05 festival in new york. i actually disagree. i attended and sat in the rear-middle of the crowd, and there was plenty of crowd noise, chitchat, cell phones etc. during the bands' performances. maybe not the same level as a DJ or a fete, but in an acoustically-sensitive setting (the bands were not amplified) where highly dynamic music is being played, i found it atrocious all the same.


Renegades has earned its place in the pan firmament. But nothing in life may be taken for granted. The Creator giveth, and the Creator taketh away. Sometimes we need a setback the better to go forward.

Only those within the Renegades family will know the "message" that the Creator was sending, because the message being sent is tailored to whatever Renegades as a family may be going through. 

All that said, you have come a long way since the initial response ... and I'm sure that Renegades has the fortitude to do whatever self-examination is necessary, and come back even stronger next year.

The whole pan world is watching, and will be rooting for you.

- Big Sid

@Noah, I was there as a performer and having some measure of insight about the behind the scenes and from my perspective, being on the stage, we were not disturbed by the cell phones, chit chat and the like.  I respect your position however as you were the one in the audience to know what would have occurred. We were more concerned with the MSq G staff not dropping our instruments while they tried to set up the orchestra for us.......then we took over and told them not to worry, we won't put them in the industrial court as their main concern was industrial action for free/uninsured labour. We were not supposed to lift a finger but we had to take control!

I only went into the audience after my performance, up in the seats higher up with my band mates. We were very happy to be there and at that time we came from Trinidad and didn't have US cell phones. So from where we sat, we didn't have that type of disturbance.  I played with T.C.L Group Skiffle Bunch at the time.

@S.F. Thomas, indeed and agreed! I especially agree with your point that only the members of the Renegades family would know what "message" that the Creator was sending. Being a member of the Renegades family myself I can see clearly what Sandra has been alluding to.

Warm regards,





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