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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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Thanks Mr. Steve Regis for history.  This is what we need; speculation and hearsay must be replaced in our pan world (lol).  I am curious, your 85 points and Mr. Beverly Griffith's 84 placed 2nd and 3rd respectively at the first Panorama in 1963. Were you ever contacted by Pan Trinbago for any sort of recognition 50 years later.

This was not drawn out at all.  It was quite interesting.  I always wondered what became of the band called Sundowners that came second in the first Panorama. 

@Garvin Adams. Hello Garvin, I am back in Florida. Yes, I Knew which Selwyn Mr. Regis was talking about.

By the way, how is Selwyn? I see that you placed 1st and 6th (lol)

Later, Ian

Hi Steve

This is Debbie Espinal, Henry Hart's Daughter, the eldest in the last three girls..  I always boast about Daddy being the Manager of Sundowners but never realized he organized the sponsorship for the band. I've never forgotton crying as a little girl to go on the bus when your'll made it to the finals nor my Father quarreling that they tief allyuh when the bus returned.  Brought back great memories of my Mom, Babsie, saying"ah tired of this ping,ping in my head" when your'll were practicing for Panorama next door.  How fondly I remember Miss Passey and the rest of the Family and i still see Joan sometimes as my Husband and I are great pan lovers. Sadly, Mom died in 2000, Jackie in 2009 and Dad in February 2011. Thanks for the memory.

Awesome story Mrs. Espinal. Thanks for sharing.

bugs

Mr Regis,can you tell me if Milton (squeser ) Lyon was a member of your band, and if he ever won The Tenor solo competation.

Thank you

Terry

@ Terry Greene: I am sometimes impatient when one puts comments, but are slow to respond to asked questions. Many a time we do not return to all postings. As per your question to Mr.Regis About Mr. Milton Lyons, my research says that he won the 1960 Soloist competition and was member of Southern Marines.

Thanks.

Steve,

My name is Dr. Andrew Martin and I am writing a book on the US Navy Steel Band. Can you tell me more about the film 18 on steel and the role you and Sundowners had in it?

Cheers,

Andrew Martin, Ph.D

Associate Professor of Music

Inver Hills College

amartin@inverhills.edu

612-532-6967

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