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Meet Salmon Cupid - Panist, Organizer, Arranger, Director, and Innovator

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Salmon Cupid directing Toronto All Stars Steel Orchestra at the Raptors parade in 2019

Toronto, Canada - Recently steelband music history was created on a global scale when the Salmon Cupid-led Toronto All Stars Steel Orchestra participated in the 2019 NBA Champion Toronto Raptors live broadcast celebration parade, as hundreds of thousands watched the group perform directly behind the team’s float.

Salmon Cupid (inventor of the E-Pan) is straightforward, thorough, experienced and completely committed to the success of the steelband artform globally. In an exclusive interview with When Steel Talks, Cupid shares his understanding of the road to success as he sees it and lives it through his experiences, and much more.


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Bravo to Salo & TASSO!!!  Forward-ever, backwards-never!!!  Keep doing your do to take pan to higher heights!!!

Salmon C.: “Steelpan as an ensemble needs to be more portable. It is still too cumbersome and costly to transport. This is especially the case with Double Guitars and other instruments in the low range all the way down to Basses. What is disappointing is that we have been slow to react to positive change that will take care of some of these cost-prohibitive obstacles to moving a band around the world.”

Take your OWN ADVICE SALMON and use your E-PANS for Double Guitars and other instruments in the low range all the way down to Basses.

I have LONG SUGGESTED that inclusion of E-PANS for TOURING BANDS; but PAN PEOPLE are too FIXATED in TRADITION and PAROCHIALISM!!!

BREAK THE CHAINS SALMON CUPID!!! Yuh BIGGER THAN EVERYBODY ELSE -- and you INVENT THE E-PAN ... so USE IT on YOUR TOURS!!!

Claude, you made a good point about making bands portable, eventually it will happen, but for now it look like there is serious push back toward the use of these electronic gizmos, nobody ain't saying it but they are scared to start using them, they could potentially hurt the pan industry. 

Cecil:  Could you also expand as to how precisely electronic "gizmos" could potentially hurt the pan-industry?

I would be inclined to agree with Mr Hinkson's hypothesis sir, considering the technologically advanced age in which we live. We have already witnessed the rapid and phenomenal evolution of the Instrument that first appeared on the streets of Trinidad on VE Day 9th May 1945, and resurfaced as a permanent fixture on VJ Day 15th August 1945, as is evidenced in the invention of The E-Pan™.

Consider that, "The piano is an acoustic, stringed musical instrument invented in Italy by Bartolomeo Cristofori around the year 1700 (the exact year is uncertain)..." wikipedia. Now consider that it took about 220 years before, "The earliest electric pianos were invented in the late 1920s; the 1929 Neo-Bechstein electric grand piano was among the first. Probably the earliest stringless model was Lloyd Loar's Vivi-Tone Clavier." wikipedia.

The E-Pan evolved from the humble beginnings of the modern pan in 70 years.

The following article is just an example of the how the debate can tilt. Will electronic pianos eventually replace Steinway concert grands...

Hello Ms Cupid,  you mentioned ".....We as a people, Trinbagonians, are keeping Steelpan back. The horse wants to bolt and because we’re wearing blinders and using tunnel-vision restraints and opinions we’re holding this art-form back."

Would you care to justify your comment?

Robert: I don't think that SALMON CUPID is coming to THIS FORUM to answer any questions, but you asked a very intriguing question. And just in case he does decide to show up, I would like to hear him EXPAND on this passage:

"What I also learned from this experience is that the Pan community must increase efforts to unite.  If this unity is ever to occur it will make life easy for all of the Steelpan movement.  In the event an enlistment of this magnitude ever is to happen again, with unity, resources can be pooled within the Steelpan circles making a higher level of success attainable."

Mr. Cupid are you saying those in leadership positions are unprepared for success?  And if so, what do recommend should be done?

bugs

Dear Mr Cupid out an abundance of respect for your teacher Andre Moses, I accept your apology, and will leave it there.

Just for the record, my use of the term "gizmos" was not in anyway to disrespect the Epan, PHI, Pankat or any other electronic invention.

Cecil Hinkson: How long ago I suggested a WORLD TOUR by an E-PAN band with One LIVE TENOR -- saving  all the hassles with shipping all dem big heavy OIL DRUMS ... not to mention the aesthetics!!! After all, it is SHOW BUSINESS.

Is ah good thing that WHEN STEEL TALKS doh do like HILLARY CLINTON and erase all the files from the servers. Furthermore, ah doh like people to MISCONSTRUE meh postings that is why as does try to stay away from all dem MULTI-SYLLABIC words and HISTORICAL references that meh PARDNER RUSSELL PROVIDENCE like to INCLUDE.

Reply by Claude Gonzales on July 25, 2015 at 12:06pm

Stephen Howard: You read my mind! I was thinking all  week about putting up a post proposing a world tour by an E-PAN band with ONE REAL PAN included. Six man band total. All the ole talk and we still have to wait for some benevolent organization to INVITE a STEELBAND to come and perform. And after that -- wait again!.

Time to take the PAN MUSIC to the world and the E-PAN is the perfect vehicle for that.

First of all, let me say unequivocally that I am not averse to participating in some (not all) of the discussions here on WST. We all have our own ministries with the same goal of Doing Something For Pan. I would like to remain focused in the field doing what I can in the way I know to do it and I'd like to encourage you to do what you do on WST with this discourse as this is not my ministry.

Now to deal with some of the matter-at-hand which has raised some concerns. Here goes.

Q: ".....We as a people, Trinbagonians, are keeping Steelpan back. The horse wants to bolt and because we’re wearing blinders and using tunnel-vision restraints and opinions we’re holding this art-form back."  Would you care to justify your comment?

A: To answer some of the questions above we need to ask ourselves what the role/purpose of Pan in Trinidad and Tobago is. Is it a social entity or is it a commercial entity? Maybe it's both. However, as I eluded to in the interview, we as people have the social aspect down-pat to a larger degree, but we need to explore the right balance for Pan.

Commercially, however, if we are using the same cookie-cutter recipe from TnT, we will continue to fail, not just in the motherland, but the world over. Many say somebody would have to take it for or away from us. The political and commercial landscape of Trinidad and Tobago is for the most part run by the Elites of the Upper Class in the society-at-large, who own and control most of the wealth.  That horse has left the barn. Can Trinidad and Tobago reverse this?  .com/watch/?v=393659984621607">That is open for debate, as for the most part many of the poor and dispossessed have never benefitted from the promised reparations to level the pl....

 

With the demise of "state-owned" Petrotrin, many welcomed and hailed the accord HADCO has taken with regards to this new model of a relationship (as opposed to and beyond regular sponsorship) with .  But I am still trying to find out who now "owns" that Steelband, to what extent and what it bodes for the future?  Has the Party Start or is the Party Done? Have we started selling off our Steelbands? Who owns HADCO? Everyone in Steelpan communities should remain curious, concerned and inquire about who owns their Steelband. The threat of conglomerates acquiring our community Steelbands should enrage us all. This is our birthright yet we continue to be complacent. Sponsorships are welcome, but conglomerates controlling and buying out our community Steelbands will be the fault of the Steelpan community. In Jamaica, Jamaicans do not have access to some of the most beautiful beaches. In fact, there's a lock that goes on gates. Privatization of our Steelbands will see the same thing occur. After Panorama there is a possibility that the gates are going to be locked taking away the community centre environment that the panyard represents. 

Some may arguably say that we are still in the infancy stages of Steelpan. So, here I am shouting from the mountain tops bringing to the attention again that Steelpan is going down the same route as Trinidad and Tobago's political and commercial landscape. We are not putting things in place for our children where Steelpan is concerned. I enjoy seeing BP Renegades, Phase II Pan Groove, Trinidad All Stars and bands from the southland perform in some block-o style events under some nice fancy tents which they have to rent. Who has the monopoly on the rental of the tents? Not Tropical Tents and Johnny Q? When it's Panorama, who monopolizes with trucks moving the bands? Not Junior Sammy and Ramdeen?  Johnny Q has the monopoly on audio-equipment speakers, mics, etc with Rent-A-Amp also. Do I need to continue? Are you getting the gist of the commercial aspect? None of these owner/controllers of these businesses belong to pan men and women, do they?

 

Isn't this our "own" fault? We are the ones who pick up the phone as band leaders and call them to rent their product. Let me give a simple example of how this can be done within our Pan community. Invaders, can they not take the monopoly on tents and every band go to the Invaders to rent tents? Can't Renegades take the monopoly on amps and speakers and so on and so on?

I have worked for the Toronto District School Board of education for the past twenty-five years. In order for any school to purchase a pencil, piece of paper, book, computer or other, that company has to be on the Toronto Board of Education's vendor's list. To become a vendor with the TDSB you have to be student-friendly. So, you're not selling products containing lead or toxic chemicals. Your services are not harmful to the growth of the students. Pantrinbago, or any Steelpan governing body, could implement the same rule. In order for Steelbands to spend any money, they have to exercise that option by using a company which is a registered vendor with the organization. How do you become a registered vendor? Again, the Steelpan body sets the rules on how a company would become a registered vendor. You're either part of a Steelpan organization or you're steelpan-friendly meaning you give back to the Steelpan community in some form or fashion. Just as the TDSB example, vendors' products or services should not be harmful to the growth of the Steelpan fraternity and they should be contributors to the improvement of the Steelpan movement. Remember, this is just an EXAMPLE. Many scenarios or options can be forged and offered as possibilities. Don't take my example too litterally as the only thing I believe would work. It's just food for thought.

Another example of us wearing blinders and having tunnel-vision is this. As a bandleader, when TASSO are performing in different events across the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), fellow Trinbagonians approach me with sarcastic disgust inquiring as to "Why I'm teaching and giving Anglo-Saxon kids our Trini ting?". My response to this is swift and very dismissive to this ridiculous question. I am certainly aware that these individuals are not speaking on behalf of everyone. Or are they?  Should I go on or do these two examples answer the request for clarification that " ... we're keeping the art-form back"?

The Jamaican Reggae artform has blossomed the world over. It doesn't matter who's singing it, who's playing it. Jamaicans did a good job marketing that product. There is even a category in the Grammy's for Reggae.

In our primary school system in Trinidad and Tobago, we are still asking kids to buy a RECORDER while we claim that our national instrument is the Steelpan. Are we not keeping the artform back? Steelpan should be a MANDATORY subject in schools. Don't blame the government, we put the government there. We vote for them. 

With respect to Claude Gonzales' statement suggesting "Take your OWN ADVICE SALMON and use your E-PANS for Double Guitars and other instruments in the low range all the way down to Basses."

Wearing the hat of CEO of NAPE, Inc., my kids, and family members sometimes ask when are my daughters going to get an E-Pan. My response might throw many readers off, but I say to my kids "As soon as you can afford to buy one". I'm the third child of a very large family. Some of my siblings have expressed to me on numerous occasions that my nieces and nephews want to learn to play Pan and sometimes ask me if I can start them up with an E-Pan. I tell them as it is. "When you can afford to buy one for them they will get one". There is a cost attached to an E-Pan. Simple economics. 

Allow me to change hats for another minute here as the Musical Director of Toronto All Stars Steel Orchestra. Some people are suggesting that TASSO should be outfitted with E-Pans. In order for TASSO as an organization to outfit their orchestra with E-Pans, they have to buy them. If the band is to purchase E-Pans, there's a red flag conflict of interest. I try to stay far from any gray areas.

 

When I spoke about portability in this interview I was not talking about TASSO's ability. What I was referring to was looking at the big picture, a major obstacle for what a Steelband wanting to go on international tours will experience. Shipping companies charge you by volumetric weight. One bass drum carries the same volume as five tenors. An entire set of basses is comprised of six drums. That's the volume of thirty tenors.

With respect to the question by Bugs "Are you saying those in leadership positions are unprepared for success?  And if so, what do recommend should be done?"

We need to elect qualified people in the right positions. In some cases governing bodies like Pantrinbago can hire or subcontract out professional help such as consultants if need be. 

 

I hope this addresses some of the concerns.

 

Respect

 

Salmon Cupid

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