When Steel Talks

Everything Related to the Steelpan Instrument and Music

NEVILLE JULES pioneer, innovator, arranger, & noted leader in an exclusive interview with When Steel Talks

Circa 1934 in Trinidad, when only rhythms were being beaten on the "tamboo bamboo", bottle and spoon, etc. - (the British having banned outright the beating of African drums in 1931), and the Steelpan had not yet come into being, Neville Jules was just seven years old living in the 'hills of Laventille', but already captivated by the hypnotic percussions of these home-made instruments.  These experiences would set the scene for his later involvement with the steelpan when he moved to the Piccadilly Street area in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, where Hell Yard was located in the hollow of "East Dry River".  This area would later become the home of Trinidad All Stars, the steel orchestra Jules founded in later years.

 On his May 13, 2003 visit to the studios of When Steel Talks, Jules, one of the most important and influential figures in the Pan world - a pioneer, innovator, arranger, noted leader and founder of the legendary Trinidad All Stars, shared for the world-wide pan fraternity -  memorable accounts of his beginnings as a young boy in Trinidad,  and his first unforgettable rendezvous with the "Pan" which would become his rhythmic life's call.  With his story, Jules wove a tapestry in time stretching from those days to now.

He paid tribute to his fellow Pan icons giving each his due, and detailed his experimentation and delight in manufacturing different types of pans, which began with him making his own four-note 'Tenor Kittle' one day after another legend "Zigilee" refused to allow Jules to play his own.  Jules was well on his way to "manufacturing" steelpans.  He went on to create the Tune Boom which was the forerunner of the Bass Pan, and a year after he invented it, one of the other 'rival' steelbands had twice as many Tune Booms as Jules' own band!

He then went on to invent the actual Bass Pan itself, as is known today, and is the 'Father' of the Bass Pan.  He fondly remembers that All Stars' approach could be heard (and felt!) from a great distance, because the band was known for the deep grumbling of its Basses.  While he created several other pans, like the Grundig (another type of Bass) and the Trombone, which he utilized only for a couple of years - it was hearing 'Parang' music around Christmas time in Trinidad, (which highlighted the stringed Cuatro instrument), that inspired Jules to invent the Cuatro pan, known today as the Guitar pan.

As a man who could manufacture and tune pans, along with having arranging skills, Jules became leader of Trinidad All Stars, (the eventual 'successor' of Second Fiddle, the original band whose home was Hell Yard).  Most of Second Fiddle's members disbanded during the war years, after the Police banned steelbands.  Second Fiddle's youngest member known as 'Big Head Hamel',  remained and was joined by Neville Jules and Fisheye.  Hamel was eventually the oldest member of the later-formed Trinidad All Stars.  Jules both played and had a leading role in Second Fiddle and the interim steelband known as The Cross of Lorraine.  The next incarnation of the band was known as Trinidad All Stars. 

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