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Part Two -- Meet Dave LaBarrie - Panist, Arranger, Educator and Administrator & Member of the famed 1967 T&T National Steelband - UpClose!

Global - He is a scholar, an intellect, a musician and a coach - just to name a few. Indeed, depending on when you crossed his multifaceted life, met or engaged him - the name Dave LaBarrie will ring differently to you. He’s been an assistant high school principal, basketball coach, T&T steelband association and band administrator and New York Panorama winner.

Dave LaBarrie

In an exclusive interview with When Steel Talks, Dave LaBarrie shares his significant and considerable history with Pan and more.
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"Many bands stopped coming on the road for Carnival beginning in 1968."

Interesting comment, eh -- PAN TIMES?

Since so many -- knowledgeable "PAN EXPERTS" on this forum -- have blamed the 1979 BOYCOTT (with extreme authority) over the years on this forum.

Very interesting indeed. LaBarrie seems to be blaming "sponsorship" as the main culprit or turning point in bands not coming out on the road.

I would not agree that sponsorship was was the main culprit for bands not coming out of the road. It help them instead of getting money to build the road stands. In those days steelband used to play good dance music with nice harmonies that it became the battle of the bands. But then came over arrangement and steel bands lost it way,people stop buying records. The steel bands start to arrange for panorama only. Music by Silver Stars,Solo Harmonites, Tripoli were a hit for Dance Music. North Stars, Desperadoes were good classical music. Today with the music called ramajah is not selling.

By 1964 you began playing pan and by 1968 many bands stopped coming on the road for carnival beginning in 1968? Was any data collected, band registrations etc. or just visual observations, very short period to justify.

I have never contested the 1979 BOYCOTT being the BREAKING POINT for PAN ON THE ROAD ... and the opening of the streets for DEE JAYS. I never had enough information to dispute that. But I have stated before (on this forum) that I went back to TRINIDAD for CARNIVAL 1977 and I ended up standing outside the SHELL SAVANNAH CLUB and a DEE JAY was playing THE GHETTO VIBES album by SHORTSHIRT and I was TRANSFIXED. I had never heard such clear and loud recorded CALYPSO being played on CARNIVAL DAY on the streets. It was sort of my idea of heaven. And I am sure I was not the only one -- it being the LAND OF CALYPSO.

So I was always a little leary of that 1979 story. And with all the PAN EXPERTS and HISTORIANS on this forum -- it was a discussion better left alone.

Lo and Behold Mister LaBarrie come and JUK THE JEP NEST. Needless to say: I got a little tingle out of that.

Maybe it is time for the PAN MOVEMENT to commission some RESEARCHERS and HISTORIANS and WRITERS  from among their VAST RESOURCES and start documenting "THE TRUE HISTORY OF THE STEELBAND MOVEMENT" -- especially since man getting old and man losing dey memory and man getting all kinda stroke and all dem man (witnesses to the evolution) from that era dying out real fast.

Patrick: Things were changing very fast between 1964 and 1970!!!

In his resume you left out Thief. As a member of Pan Masters way back when we won the Pan-A-Rama in Brooklyn, Dave

received the Pan-A-Rama money and skipped town. No one got paid (ask Steve Vice Captain,or Bing). Since then I don't

think he ever came back to New York unless it was undercover. aka: Curly, aka: Tahzann

"Many bands stopped coming on the road for Carnival beginning in 1968."

I totally disagree.

The late sixties into the early seventies were the peak years for the steelbands on the road , and I was there.

Even into the mid to late seventies ,most of the steelbands from the sixties with names we remember were still on the road.

As late as 1975 , 76 , there were J'ouvert steelband traffic jams on Harris Promenade in Sando into mid morning , on Carnival Monday.

In the mid seventies , even Marabella had two steelbands bands on the road in Sando, Southern Marines and People's Music (my brother Ian was one of the leaders of this band)

But slowly as panorama got bigger , the bands started focusing on panorama more and more , and masqueraders started complaining of the lack of musical repertoire.

"Allyuh only have one tune " was an exaggeration , but that was heard as bands spent so much time on panorama tunes , their road repertoire became limited.

What the strike of 79 did was it opened the door for the DJs , who seized the opportunity to show that they could be an alternative to the steelbands , and that had the biggest impact , but the decline had already started.

And BTW , when I speak on these subjects , I talk because I was there.

And I'm glad I'm still around so I could challenge the B.S. when it is posted on forums such as WST.




Another important fact is that DJs were charging less money to supply the music then the Steel Bands for the

masqueraders.Masqueraders would rather spend all there money on there costumes then the music. Real Talk!!!

aka: Tahzann

You're right ,Tahzann.

And lets face it. We don't like self criticism , but we must admit that some of us just didn't have a professional approach to providing music for masqueraders , which resulted in lots of complains back in the day.

If we ever get another opportunity , we will definitely have to be prepared.

However , I would bet that few modern steelbands would be prepared to provide quality musical accompaniment to masqueraders for two days , even if we were given the opportunity and were well paid for it. 

I might add , however that we must remember that in the early days , steelbands were very fluid.

For various reasons , bands were often breaking up and new bands were being formed.

So we had new bands coming on the scene that were around for a few years , then disappeared.

Two cultural changes also affected the bands.

In the late sixties and early seventies , job opportunities opened up in places like St. Croix , and young men with industrial skills ( particularly from south because of oil) migrated in search of opportunities to better themselves.

Many of these men were panmen , and that affected steelband communities like ours in Marabella.

But that is also why some of us were quickly able to form a steelband in St. Croix.

The other thing that affected the steelbands back then was touring , which also had negative and positive effects..

Some of our best bands like Cavaliers and Tripoli when on extended international tours. 

While this may have been good for the advancement of the artform, touring was destructive to some bands , and in some cases caused divisions within the bands that affected the bands abilities to maintain a successful presence in the competitive steelband atmosphere of T&T.

And Claude , I was always involved in the culture , I don't just talk , so I had a pretty good idea of what was going on in the north , even back then , I just can't document it as accurately as I can speak of what was happening in Sando at that time.

Glenroy: This was a very flowing and informative passage from you. As I was reading it I felt that you should write a book documenting your LIFETIME INVOLVEMENT IN STEELBAND MUSIC (and email me the passages as you develop them) -- personally, I like reading stories about PAN and CALYPSO.

With all your dedication to the music you could weave a nice thesis full of anecdotes and historical updates.

Just my prejudice: I will always believe a NORTH STORY from a NORTH MAN above a NORTH STORY from a SOUTH MAN. And the same in TRUE going from NORTH TO SOUTH!!!

I KNOW THAT YOU HAVE ALWAYS BEEN INVOLVED IN THE CULTURE. But TRINIDAD may seem like a small island with homogenous neighbourhoods and common experiences and understandings -- however, in reality, that is the farthest thing from the truth.


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