Pepe Francis is Chairman of the British Association of Steelbands
by Sharmain Baboolal Sunday, August 16 2015 - Trinidad & Tobago Newsday
Founding member and leader of London’s Ebony Steelband, Pepe Francis, says the International Conference on Pan held two weeks ago in Port-of-Spain “took us down a garden path.” “If we had to do it all over I would cut out the conference and concentrate on the Panorama,” said Francis, who is also the chairman of the NottingHill Carnival Committee.
In an interview before he left Trinidad last week, Francis said: “Too much energy was spent on the conference where everybody was making a presentation. It seemed like they were saying ‘how wonderful we are, how wonderful my organisation is, how wonderful it is,’ yet the issue of standardisation never materialised,” he noted. “Still a final decision on the International Committee on Pan (comprising steelband bodies from all over the world) will take a few months.
Once the Trinidad elections (September 7) are over, there may be another party in power and it is likely they will revisit these projects even though the government is doing a fine job, as it is now,” said Francis.
Ebony Steelband tied for ninth place with Panorama Steel of Japan in the competition.
Current European Champions, the band was born out of the Ebonites in Morvant with a few Trinidadians who had moved to England. It is one of the first bands to start off NottingHill Carnival in 1969 and has developed a reputation for bringing out the biggest mas band on the road. “I would love to see the International Panorama happen again in the next three to four years but good management is lacking in a lot of areas,” said Francis, pointing to a need for more involvement with the overseas bands in the planning stages.
Among problems he identified as being faced by overseas bands was cost of transporting the band members and no budget for accommodation.
“I used my home at Pole #171 Laventille Extension Road, Mon Repos, Morvant and transported everyone to the Valley Harps Pan Yard in Petit Valley for daily practice.
“It all started from the moment we arrived from London; we were stuck at the Piarco International Airport for four hours because nobody knew who was supposed to come and get us. I eventually got two maxi taxis and when we arrived in Morvant we had to pack the pans in the yard, it was not until the the following morning Valley Harps came with two trucks to collect the pans to take to the panyard,” he said. “One of my dreams was to see my band cross the stage at the Panorama and I have also been pushing Pan Trinbago to do something like that, but it should have been better organised.
“There were other issues, for example, we could not get a proper six bass - so Harmonites sent us one, and we had to shift the B and F notes and then we got two G pan nine bass from Skiffle.
“Then there is the issue of how the steel band leaders were treated - a clear lack of hospitality. Players and their band leaders were pushed unto the grounds where the North Stand usually is, Francis said. Overall, Francis believes the experience would benefit the young players because “it’s an experience they might never get in their life again.”
Here are some interesting articles in this post about how some Foreign panmen were treated and where the ICP could improve.
BEDE LOPEZ not only foreign pan-men, but same attitude displayed by members on this very website (a forum with invaluable info. on pan). Many are rude to others. Trinis are not known for courtesy. There is no 'please or thank you, 'I appreciate your response', 'come back again', 'how may I help you'.
Is always 'buff', they think they are always right. Many are stuck with limited education and never try to advance thru education, just re-hashing old bad habits. Whatever was mentioned in the article by London pan-men is nothing new. The very reason BEDE LOPEZ trini pan-men are successful in the United States, Europe and other Asian countries like Japan is discipline and with that comes courtesy.
The ICP is too costly for everybody, it's not a bad idea but steelbands cannot afford it.
Bede and Cecil: So now we have a report from ONE FAN from St. Anns and ONE BANDLEADER from London.
(Of course we also have the mainstream, rose-colored report from Peter Ray Blood.)
Four hours waiting in the airport after that flight from London.
And allyuh tell meh that "accommodation" was part of the FIFTEEEN MILLION DOLLAR BUDGET.
Wouldn't it be great for PAN TRINBAGO to come on the forum and give their side of the story and tell how they plan to make things better next time since Mr. Diaz stated emphatically that the next ICP has to be in TRINIDAD.
Claude.... maybe when PanTrinbago finish building their new headquarters, they could attach a hotel on to it to house all the visiting foreign pan people.
If the conference didn't offer a vision for the future growth and development of the steelband movement worldwide ,but especially in Trinidad , then it would have been a waste of time.
We all know how glorious the instrument is , "musical instrument invented in the twentieth century" , yada , yada , etc. etc.
Its time to stop massaging each other's egos , and , to quote an esteemed panist and arranger, "Do something for Pan".
Personally , I'm looking forward to a full , official report and synopsis of the conference, so I could decide for myself if it was a worthwhile endeavor.
Glenroy Joseph that same pianist/arranger that say "Do something for pan" you notice he don't talk bout that anymore, ah wonder why? Allyuh tell me
You not hearing from him because the media get fed up with his characteristic stupidity, self-centredness and just like that other jackarse on Crime Watch, Ian Alleyne is illiterate and unable to speak in one proper sentence. Other than his talent to beat a pan, that arranger is once more using narcotics on the sly and behind the pan veneer he is an ungrateful, badmouth lousy bitch. A
sk the pan boss.