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Lack of recognition came up in a conversation about pan here in Trinidad and Tobago, which prompted me to write this.

Apart from Esso Tripoli aka Trinidad Tripoli holding the record of being the only Steel Band to stay on tour for six years 1967 to 1972, returning to T&T as a full functioning band playing in almost every block-o-rama culminating with classics and carols at Queens Hall December 1972. We, all the members of Tripoli did noteworthy service for this country all those years things like Re introduce carnival to Jamaica in 1967 and 1968 with Byron Lee, performing a pivotal role in the twinning of St Catherine in Canada and Port of Spain, The first steel band to perform on a float in Caribana and Carifesta two years in succession, receiving The Keys to the City of New York, Montreal, and Los Angeles, being nominated for a Grammy and so much more. and to this day it is the best kept secret.

I just had to say this. Thank you again for your time.

If you want more check Michael Kernahan, I was only 15 when the tour started.    

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Casper you will have to explain "Lack of recognition" because most of the pan elders know of Esso Tripoli tour with Fr. Seawell and eventually Liberace.

Most of the "pan elders" are a dying breed, but the story needs to be told. The suppression of pan comes from the suppression of the stories.

Yeah, my first trip outa T&T was to Montreal to see Esso Tripoli perform at Expo '67. Grew up with them. Played with them. Precious memories.

Mr. Durant you guys deserve Public Service Medals as cultural ambassadors of T&T.

I remember having a conversation with Michael many years ago about the tours between your band and Pan Am North Stars; they went to England while Tripoli came to the US. He talked about Miami’s carnival and his bands preparation for the panorama. What he said had me thinking about guys like him who live and breathe PAN, their LOVE and COMMITMENT.  He said he took out a second mortgage on his house to hire a well- known arranger from Trinidad for the panorama. His resume’ speaks volumes.

Michael Kernahan: Leader/Arranger /Tuner

Check out his profile...http://whensteeltalks.ning.com/profile/MichaelKernahan

Thanks for tooting your own horn, that won't be a best kept secret any longer.

I went hear Tripoli and Liberace while living in Toronto in or around 1972. They gave a fantastic show, which was well received by resident Trinis , West Indians and Canadian aficionados. As far as playing on floats for Caribana, the first steel band to do that was Steltones in 1968, as the only steel band operating in Toronto at the time. Patrick Arnold was the captain. I joined them in 1969 and also played on a float at Caribana. Can't remember what transpired in the early 70's except that we, Steltones, played at the CNE at least one year in the summer. I suppose Tripoli might have taken over, being more famous and a heavyweight when compared to Steltones.


I agree with you.  There should be a pan museum profiling every steel band in Trinidad & Tobago.  The lack of appreciation for the steel pan and the pannists in Trinidad is tragic.  Internationally, almost every country has embraced the pan.  The instrument is so unique that it continues to marvel large audiences. 

Presently, I am proposing to introduce pan in the library to youths in the youth hub.  It is such a unifying musical instrument.  There is a library that lends musical instruments to its customers and I have suggested that the pan be included in the list of instruments that could be borrowed.  The pan is adored abroad.

Trinidad & Tobago should be so proud of the pan, the pannists and all the steelbands.  The article "Xcel Steel Band" documents the pan in Nigeria (www.panonthenet.com/spotlight/nigeria/"  "Xcel Steel Band was established in February 2001 and registered with the Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria.  The pan manufacturing, chroming factory and training school is located at Ljanikin, Badagry Express Way, Lagos Nigeria."   Nigerians have even incorporated their music genres "the band now plays our native Juju, Fiji, Highlife, Gospel, Calypso, Jazz, country, reggae and Classical". 

Nigerians are thankful for the pan. The have included their indigenous instruments in the ensemble "Percussion (i.e. - Jazz drum, Conga, Omele, Talking drum and Sekere five (5) players" 

We are the pioneers of this wonderful instrument, we share it with an appreciative world and it is about time that we embrace our indigenous, musical instrument and pannists.  Let us offer the steelband our undying love and concern.  We are freely giving away our invention, our genius and our musical skills, our music and our pannists.   

There is a need to document every movement of the pan and the steelbands and let them know that Trinidad & Tobago care and are committted to highlight and uplift their activities.

I am so proud of the pan and the steelbands.  May they continue to bring peace and stability to T&T.


I wholeheartedly agree with your sentiments , Mr. Durant , and most of us old timers are aware of the contributions of the Tripoli organization to the promotion of the art-form and culture worldwide in the 1960s and 1970s.

Official recognition by the Trinidad Government and its Ministry of Culture should be a no-brainer.

Incidentally , there are other bands who toured and helped to spread the ( musical ) word around the world in the 1960s that are also worthy of special national recognition, so I would add Pan Am North Stars , Desperados , All Stars and Guinness Cavaliers and maybe a few others.

The bands that introduced the world to the full scope and musical potential of the steel-band , as the steelband came of age in 1960s do deserve special recognition.

Looking forward to older Tripoli members confirming Caribana years. My dates with Steltones are firm, and btw, our "float" was the back of a trailer truck. Maybe Boboy or others in Toronto might elucidate .

Yes,I too would like to pay homage to all those bands that flew the Trinidad and Tobago flag keeping the culture alive abroad.I remember Tripoli well.....was going to secondary school in St James and one day they were just gone.I even remember Dixieland...they also are worthy of mention.Let's take our hats off to all of them.


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