I received the sad news today of the passing of a pioneering panman from Boisierre Village, Trinidad. So here I'll share a short reflection of Rudy Martin Joseph who resided in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada until his death yesterday.
Rudy at age 84 was still able to play pan skillfully and was a professional steelpan performer who got a lot of paying gigs but had to skip them due to his health. This past summer, he took me along to play at a wedding in Hamilton, Ontario and what an experience that was for me trying to keep up with my mentor. Rudy was winding down due to ill-health but was willing to teach pan tuning in his home, on the phone and to whosoever would listen. It was fascinating to listen when he taught us the history of pan from his perspective as a 14 years old teenage boy taking on a man's role teaching older players in the panyard. He spoke very respectfully of his god brother Tony Williams, but somehow they never played pan together.
Rudy was tutored in music by the great Arthur "Art" DeCoteau. "Bassist and band-leader/arranger Art DeCoteau was one of the leading music makers in Trinidad for decades." Pan Times. May 29, 2012. WST. (web retrieve Dec 2016). Rudy was also well known as a singer, pan player, teacher and tuner. However, he never presented himself as a tuner because of his humility, yet he shared his tuning knowledge with a core of pan people who met regularly at York University, Toronto. His career as an entertainer began with All Aces steelband stage side from Boissiere Village. Every carnival day All Aces would do pan-round the neck from Boissiere Village to Belmont to join up with Casablanca Steel Orchestra, and do the journey back to Boissiere later in the night.
Rudy's special role as a highlight of his career was to play tenor pan during the first independence ceremony for the raising of the Trinidad and Tobago flag midnight on August 31, 1962 in front the Red House. He also played for the Royal visit of Princess Margaret to Trinidad. Another one of his highlights just before leaving Trinidad for the Bahamas circa 1966 was his time teaching Pat Castagne's three daughters to play pan in their home. Of course it was Pat Castagne who wrote our national anthem. Rudy travelled widely carrying pan to some places such as, France, Switzerland and so on. He happily shared his love for pan by producing numerous digital recordings using Band-in-a-Box software. Very soon I'll be posting some raw video of Rudy to share with WST community shortly.
Although Rudy was ailing for the past couple years, he always made time to connect with younger pan people. He was the ultimate steelpan mentor who mentored me while doing my Masters studies at York University, Toronto. He regretted missing the Convocation ceremony last October but I reminded him that he shares my success as a co-researcher with me over the last two years.
Last February a close circle of his steelpan protégés hosted him in a gala event to show appreciation for his contributions to steelpan across the world. Rudy is the inspiration for me to create a TV show called "The Grandmasters of Steelpan". This event really inspired him to fight to recover his health, but his battle ended valiantly yesterday.
RIP my Brother.
Photo below of Gerard Clarke and Rudy July 2016
Hi Pan People,
Here is the tribute video for Rudy Martin Joseph (15 mins). Please share as you see fit. For other videos of Rudy, please of to Youtube Channel and search Rudy Martin Joseph or https://ese4steelpan.tv/2016/12/11/video-tribute-to-rudy-martin-jos...
Thanks Mike, I only just got this news from Nick on the passing of our dear friend and mentor Rudy Joseph. I was honored to be invited as an opening act for the opening of the Ripley's Aquarium at Toronto's CN Tower. Mr Rudy Joseph up with a soprano but as the driver of one of the trio. The gig was for only 3 people, this is how I met Rudy back in 2013. Since then he has been as very inspirational mentor, with over 40 years in the steelpan culrure, he was the first tuner to show us the secrets of tuning a note. Rudy may the good God bless and keep you until we meet again.
The Pan Piper of Toronto.
Well said Hameed. The family has permitted me to post the funeral arrangements to WST.
Viewing is scheduled for Wednesday December 14, 7 to 9pm at Armstrong Funeral Home, 124 King St. E, Oshawa, Ontario, and the Funeral Service is the following day (Thursday Dec 15) at noon in the same location, 124 King St. E., Oshawa.
I'd like to point out that I'm acting as the conduit for the online information, but I don't have decision-making as to the rundown for the memorial program. Out of respect and courtesy, I have asked through Kevin, his niece's husband if we can eulogize with out pans and give short oral tributes. He'll confirm with relatives and get back to me. I will reach out to our pan tuning group when confirmation is given.
PS: Just in case here is what I'm working on, two hymns (verse and chorus only) What a Friend We Have in Jesus; in the key of "G" major and Amazing Grace in the key of "F". This is by no means my suggestions to anyone.