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.”
Claude, All the bands have to be nice to PT, ah doh think anyone get money as yet, yuh cyah pay for anything with a IOU.
Cecil Hinkson, how you mean them bands aint get paid yet, I thought at least the Foreign bands got paid before they left Trinidad?
PTB waiting to receive the money from the Government?
Bede, yuh know PT doh like to part with money. lol
That is ah lot of Money to gain Interest, they think they fooling people?
What I want to know is why Ebony was hosted by Valley Harps instead of Harmonites? Pepe, a former Ebonites member, seemingly has a good relationship with Harmonites. Further, Harmonites Pan Theater is closer to Piarco Airport, the Queen's Park Savannah and his house in Mon Repos than that of Valley Harps. These factors should have made it more cost effective for Harmonites to host Ebony. Interestingly, Ebony borrowed pans from Harmonites for the panorama plus their rhythm section had at least four players from Harmonites! Maybe there is something else at work here. Remember the host steelbands each received $25,000 from Pan Trinbago. Notice also that the manager of Valley Harps is a member of the Pan Trinbago Executive. (So too is the manager of Sfozarta, which hosted Salah's Pan Academy). I wonder if Pan Trinbago paid for the transportation of pans and players of the foreign bands! If they did, cost effectiveness may not have been a major consideration, especially with host bands in Couva, Sangre Grande, and San Fernando. Or maybe there's more under the bridge!! I am certainly interested in finding out!
And the plot thickens. Interesting...... very interesting.
Jerry, yuh tink it's time to call-in CSI?
Cecil, CSI is usually for dead cases.... dis one not going to be buried for a while yet. We should put Diaz to run FIFA and let uncle Jack look after P.T.
Every single bitch and his sibling in this happiest Indian diaspora has learnt from the Govt that there is money to be had in in any and every undertaking in Trinidajibad. More and more negroes are heralding their new massa and doing it like their indian boss. Pan Trinbago is another foot soldier.
What kinda b.s is this? Indian? Negroes? PAN??
Well, Mr. Nyomba: It seems like we are looking under the same bridge.