Has Trinidad and Tobago dropped the ball on the steelpan?
Conspiring To Pigeonhole Pan, And That’s Cool?
by Les Slater -
Chairman of the T & T Folk Arts Institute and former Highlanders Steel Orchestra arranger
Global - I don’t know if he remembers making the comment or still is of that view, perhaps more than twenty years later, but no less a pan-world figure than Boogsie Sharpe once said to me that if pan had been invented in Jamaica, it would have made greater progress. The particular reference to Jamaica (or anyplace else, for that matter) in that context might precipitate some spirited give-and-take. But be that as it may, there’s no doubt lots of us have had occasion, over time, to ponder the path pan has traveled, and whether we Trinidadians, as its creators and gatekeepers of record, have come anywhere close to affording ample opportunity for pan to realize its full potential.
If we mass produce the PHI and Epan what type of effect would it have on the local steelpan industry?
Steelbands carry a different vibe altogether this is why in Brooklyn they made j’ouvert a pan only thing.
DJs rule carnival now, they even park up music bands, good or bad this is the change we have to live with. I thank you for the time you took to reply, you shed light on a lot of things about electronics that I didn’t know.
Keep on sharing your knowledge on WST, it is with dialog we get GOOD CHANGE.
Based on the fact that Rhapsody Steel Orchestra performed on the road for J'ouvert and Mas on Carnival Tuesday in Trinidad Carnival, some will disagree with this statement. Unfortunately, we have no video from J'ouvert but check out the link from Carnival Tuesday http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_TWUbREnTs.
If steelbands fail to change their product while the environment they compete in continues to change, then they will not be able to compete with other forms of entertainment.
To address the issue of steel bands making a local "joyful noise" in the streets outside of Panorama:
Trinidad bands could go down the road with much more ease, not only during Carnival but whenever they want, really, if they got some trolleys made instead of using their Panorama racks.
Virgin Islands steel bands have a powerful presence in Carnival parades on all three islands - St Thomas (both Childrens and Adult Parades), St John and St Croix. Using double-decker trolleys, instead of racks, makes going down the road much easier for our bands, which are typically 25-40 members. The Rising Stars Youth Steel Orchestra, with almost 150 members, uses a 'train' of three trolleys.
You can see the Love City Pan Dragons Youth Steel Orchestra on our trolley in the 2011 St Thomas Childrens Parade in three YouTube videos. Check our website, www.pandragons.org, for the featured video and links to several more that our fans have uploaded.
The idea of specially designed vehicles to carry full sized steelbands on the road at Carnival definitely needs to be seriously looked into, even sectional units that could be assembled on site.
This may be a worthwhile investment for the steelband community to consider.
So very well articulated....In reading your article...well!! I tried saying what you have said...but i guess I did not have The Genius as you have.
I am not known by many people in Trinidad and Tobago. But, I have been making My contribution to the Instrument since 1969. I Had a lot of confidence in and was inspired by Mr. George Goddard (snr.) Now deceased, and was happy to Learn of Mr Goddard (junior). If he was alive at this time, I would believe That he would have certainly express your views in the very same way.
I gave up on trying to promote the instrument at home. The hard work did not pay off and i was Loosing my family...after 27 years. 7 days a week in the pan yard...taught a couple hundred people to play....only got one success. A big one though.... Liam Teague. He is now a 'BIG MAN" and he deserves every ounce of success he is having now.
I played the instrument just as you have indicated...along side all other conventional instruments. I was just unable to introduce it into the Watty Watkins Ballroom Orchestra because I was Just attempting to understand My other new instrument the Organ,which was a must in his band. I can certainly say that we as Creative People are Complacent about what we have. I have gained a wealth of experience....tomorrow I celebrate my 58th birthday.....I still Promote the Instrument,but not in T&T In fact I have been making a really decent living from the instrument ....When on one occasion in a Pan Trinbago meeting, I stood up and Made a suggestion of what direction the Instrument should go...I was Laughed at and discredited by some of the more affluent executive members. I was a delegate representing my band at this very important meeting. I used that very same Idea and well!!! I not only spoke of my Ideas, but i had written a document on the Promotion and advancement of the instrument and gave it to the organization. I was the very first person ever to set up a Regional Office. It was located on Cipero Street in San Fernando. I know that there are still a few Good gatekeepers,some at sea and some on Land. I had the privilege and honor to meet Robbie and the Trini Posse at the Tree house in L.A. Selywn Toby in New York,Dennis Smith with whom I perform. it is so good to know that these guys still keep the flag flying. I left a copy of My music at the Bar of the Tree House for their Listening pleasure. Carlyle I Houlder