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Setting the record straight on Sundowners by Steve Regis

by Steve Regis

Let me fill in the missing pieces and some clarification of Sundowners.

The original Sundowners was captained by Selwyn Dayal and I was the music arranger. The address was at Purcell Street in a garage which belonged to Selwyn's family. After Selwyn left for the U.S.A., the band was moved to my yard at 7 Panco Lane and I became both Captain and Arranger. My next door neighbour Henry Hart who was an employee of Texaco, became our manager and he was able to obtain a great contract from Texaco to sponsor the band so we became Texaco Sundowners.

In 1965 while I was away in England, Scotland and Wales with The Trinidad and Tobago National Steelband, a very ambitious young member (whom I will not name as I do not wish to start something that was 48 years ago and long forgotten) formed a mutiny and removed all the pans from my residence to Vistabella. With some of the members of the band, they formed a pan side and even had the gall to call the band Sundowners.

Thew were however, not able to use the name Texaco as the contract was signed by me and Texaco would not deal with any one but myself. After my return, I was called in by Texaco for some clarification and I informed them as to what had transpired. They gave me two options.

(1) They could handle it legally and recover the pans.

I did not like that idea as it would have made enemies with friends that I had grew up and played with for several years. I would not have been able to accept them back into the band as I would not have been able to trust them anymore.   

(2) They offered to have a full new set of pans made and I could start a new band.

That was a good offer except that it took me many years to get Sundowners to where they were and I did not think that I could have started from scratch again to teach new people to play. Also at that time, I had seen a bit of foreign countries and I was getting the itch to live abroad.

Around that same time, my younger brother Raphael Passey, ( now deceased) had started to teach a young group of kids from the area. I had given them a few pans to start and they were making progress. The name of the group was West Stars and I asked Texaco if they would be willing to give the sponsership to this group. They said that they would on condition that I would be a member of that band. West Stars was extremely happy with that as it meant getting one  of the biggest sponsors and also an experienced arranger who had been around the block, and so Texaco West Stars was born and Texaco Sundowners died peacefully.

The Sundowners  that went to Vistabella, never really made it into the big times. They did get a sponser called Schlomberger for a while, but after I left Trinidad in 1968, I could not really say what happened to that band.

In the 90's, the original captain of Sundowners, returned to Trinidad for some time and he started a single pan  band which he again called Sundowners. I don't think that they lasted very long as Selwyn again returned to the U.S.A.

The only Sundowners that was a powerhouse in San Fernando, was the one mentioned above called Texaco Sundowners.This was my band which placed second in the first ever Panaroma, and also placed third in the Music Festival. We also produced a first place winner in the Tenor Solo competition in the Music Festival (Ralph Ryce)

The band also performed in the movie Eighteen on Steel with Invaders and the American Naval Steelband. The band's name also appears in the book 40 Years of the Steelband, written by George Goddard.

Sorry for the long drawn history but it was necessary in order to clarify as to which Sundowners  was the successful band that came out of south.

Steve Regis 

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Useful info.

Set the record straight.

Steve, I had some good days playing with you and Raphie in Melotones.

It was not drawn out -(the history u just set it straight )

Very interesting history Mr. Regis. You mentioned the name Ralph Ryce. I have spoken to him on the phone from Canada and tuned and shipped him a pair of double tenors last year. I am looking forward to meeting him in July. He said when I come for the Caribana, the guys will know him as "Belvie"....not sure if I got that spelling right.

Good to have detailed history like this, Steve Regis.  Thank you.

Peter

 

......Live and direct, from he who truly knows Sundowners' history.

Thanks Mr. Regis.

A very good clarification. By Mr Regis

Still do not explain the "Question Asked"  why PanTrinbago has two Sundowners Steelbands on their list

for Recognition or Consideration.

Maybe Pantrinbago can answer.

Steve could you say what year Sundowners was formed ? To know that I moved from Pan puller to Pan Player during that era  with the "Downers" and West Stars has provided me with lots of very happy memories for I am still either whistling or humming many of those tunes we played . My favorite is still " Wedding Day " which the band played on the road for Carnival 1964 and the record that we made in 1966 is amongst my treasures. Thanks for your tremendous contributions for those bands brought us great pride and joy and they united our community into a peaceful and happy family.

Well said Steve ,I was surprise when Iwas told of two Sundownders I told them there was only on Sundowners I know of in the pan movement,Igave the Award to George Maharaj to give you on his return to Canada.    WIRE.

Steve, I was soo glad to be reminded of the ol days watching you and the Downers on Panco Ln when ever I  visited my aunt with Uncle Sterling (Parris). You were one of my idols along with Nerlin and Bobby and Wire.I played mas in Sando up to '66 when I left for Canada.

Are there any music from your playing days on When Steel talks? All the best to you 

Vernon

Vernon the Vid "18 0n Steel" is on WST and YouTube featuring Sundowners. Invaders and The Naval SteelBand and there is an entire record from 1966 " Texaco on Steel" featuring Texaco West Stars . As you know Steve was the Musical Arranger for both these bands. So it's there for your enjoyment. Thanks.

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