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Hello WST and Pan on the Net community!
Six years ago, I fell in love with pan. Since then I have dedicated myself to growing as a panist and learning everything I can about the history and culture of Trinidad and Tobago and the steelband movement. I graduated from college last May, and have since founded the Indiana Steel Pan Association to serve and support the pan community in my state. I got a job working nights so I would have time to play five nights a week, in two different steelbands (in two different cities). I teach pan (as a volunteer) two days a week at a community center for students in a particularly rough side of my city. I've read all the books and articles that I can get my hands on, I'm building my record collections... I am, without a doubt and with all the pride in the world, a huge geek for pan, the steelband and Trinidad. Many people use the motto "Pan for Life" - right now mine is Life for Pan!

I'm telling you this because I have just booked the flights for my very first trip to Trinidad to play with Starlift in this year's Panorama. For a guy who has never seen a steelband larger that 40-50 people, for someone who's studied so hard but never experienced Trinidad first hand, and for someone who dreams of studying at NIU's grad program under Liam and Cliff Alexis, this trip is a dream come true! The only problem is that I will be there for two months and I know basically nobody in the whole country. I have a place to stay, but it is much farther from Port of Spain than I would like, and I have no good way of getting from there to a taxi route (much less from the taxi route to Starlift's panyard. Right now, I basically only have an airline ticket... I am hoping that my enthusiasm, politeness, positive attitude and love for pan will be enough to get me some friends when I get there.

The reason I am posting this is to appeal to the online pan community for help with finding people that could potentially show me around a little, people to contact at various panyards so I can find good times to visit, etc. I would love it if anyone could suggest places and things to see, people to try and meet, food to eat, safety, travel, and especially other options for places to stay. I do not have a lot of money, but if anyone can help me get around and to experience the most I can while I'm there, I'll gladly repay the kindness the best I can (I'm OK with doing house chorse, manual labor, errands, etc if that helps...)

 If anyone can help, or if anyone is willing to befriend me when I get there, I would really appreciate it! You can reach me through this discussion or via my email at ericmannweiler@gmail.com. Thanks so much everyone, and hopefully I will meet some of you in Trinidad!

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Dear Eric, It is so nice to hear of your love for the greatest instrument, the Pan.  I refer to pan music as music for the angels.    

Trinidadians and Tobagoians are a very warm and fun loving people and I know that you will enjoy this experience.  Good luck to you. 

Hi Eric......  Starlift's phone number is 1-868-622-9308..... the current Captain of the band if Michael Franco. 


The best time to call might be week nights after 8:00 p.m.      Unfortunately I don't have a private number for him.


You didn't indicate the exact area you'd be staying, that would help a great deal.




Thanks Larry! I have been given Mr. Franko's number, and I will definitely be giving him a call soon. The area I have secured a place to stay is in Santa Cruz, but I am looking for other options now, some in Woodbrook, St. Anne's, and elsewhere... I'm hoping either Mr. Franko can find me lodging close to the panyard or with some other players, or I can find somewhere in either of those locations to make transportation easier. Thanks for all the suggestions though, everyone!

Eric Mannweiler

Good luck with all your "steelpan" adventures in T&T, the Pan Mecca!!!
Look up all the listings for, Starlift Steel Orchestra!!!
Hey thanks again to everyone who has helped me out. I have gone from knowing absolutely nobody to having a number of really exciting contacts and people who are expecting to meet me! I absolutely cannot wait to make my pilgrimage to the Mecca of Pan! For those of you who may still be getting updates on this discussion and who are willing to meet me at some point (whether to lime, to talk pan, to give me some lessons, show me around, or whatever) I just want to touch base again! I hope everyone's holidays were great, and I hope things are well for everyone! Thanks again, and I will talk to each of you soon before I leave next week, and hopefully many times during my stay in Trinidad!
Eric Mannweiler


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