Everything Related to the Steelpan Instrument and Music
By Marcus Ash:
There is a growing misconception that Steelpan isn't a part of the 2019 Carifesta being held in Trinidad and Tobago, which is the reason why "Pan Trinbago is vex with Culture Minister." Let the air now be officially clear that Steelpan is VERY alive and will be part of Carifesta 2019.
However, the air should also be cleared on what is really the issue at hand. The issue of the tension stems from the blatant disrespect shown to Pan Trinbago and the Steelpan body as a whole within the past few months by the line Minister. It was NEVER the intention of the executive of Pan Trinbago to start a war with the Minister of Culture or the Government of Trinidad and Tobago. As a matter of fact, the President of Pan Trinbago was adamant about keeping the peace. There were days when members of the fraternity such as Oswald Alexander and Gregory Lindsay, among others were ready to defend the central executive against the powers that be when Pan Trinbago was going through trying times but again, the President insisted that things could have been resolved peacefully.
So it begs the question; how did we get here?
Well, August has always been an interesting month for Steelpan, afterall August is Steelpan month. An entire month of Steelpan activities can only lead to various versions of excitement in the mecca of Steelpan. We had Emancipation day on the 1st, followed by a memorial for the late Dr. Cliff Alexis on the 2nd, and the daily activities continued. Of course, on Sunday 11th August, World Steelpan Day was recognized, and by Tuesday 13th August came the launch of "Steelpan Bacchanal Day" after an article written by Joan Rampersad of Trinidad Newsday was released entitled "Pan Trinbago vex with Culture Minister."
Now let's take a walk down memory lane...
It was during the Carnival, there was a minor tremor surrounding the infamous issue of the "North Park." The President of Pan Trinbago and the NCC would have exchanged a few opinions about the ability (or rather the inability) of the North Park to accommodate the Steelpan fans for the Semifinals Savannah Party. The President stood strong even with the verbal flogging she endured on behalf of pan men/pan women. While she convinced the membership to not fight, a compromise was made. Well, I guess we all know what happened with the North Park.
It is now almost six (6) months since Carnival has ended and Pan Trinbago has yet to receive their gate receipts in a respectful manner. Again, the President had remained calm and cooperative, keeping the peace bearing in mind the economic state of the country, despite the number of projects Pan Trinbago has on the table to facilitate Education, Youth Development and business ventures that would aid the organization in elevating and moving forward.
Of course, additionally there was the announcement of the change in the Panorama scheduling that made its way viral across both social and print media.
Now let's get to the straw that broke the Camel's back....
While Steelpan do have spaces in the Carifesta schedule, it was clearly evident that the Steelpan is the bastard child of Trinidad and Tobago. It was at the planning meetings between the Carifesta's artistic team and a small delegation from Pan Trinbago (of which I was present) where the idea of the "Pan and Powder" parade was conceived, and is now carded for Wednesday 21st August, 2019. It was at that very same meeting it was AGREED that any Steelbands being used for any activity during Carifesta would be done through Pan Trinbago in light that Carifesta was a national event. That agreement never lasted as long as the Red House fire of 1903 during the Water Riots as it wasn't even a few hours later that I received a call from an official of the Ministry of Community Development, Culture and the Arts inquiring on the cost for my band to perform at the event.
During the month of July, Pan Trinbago was finally able to get an audience with the Minister regarding the change of scheduling for panorama 2020 (after two previous attempts failed). It was at that meeting, two other points were raised:-
i. Why were bands being called behind Pan Trinbago's back to perform at Carifesta?
ii. In light of the "Super Concert" being the largest show, and the grand finale at Carifesta, why were there no Steelbands included?
The latter of the questions was met with astonishment by the minister. "Pan? On the same stage as Shaggy?"
A question from a "never see, come see" might be excused in such a situation who would have possibly missed 2010 when the Silver Stars Steel Orchestra won panorama and was given the opportunity to play the National Anthem and open the show performing "Battle Zone" for Beyonce's "I Am" world tour which concluded in Port of Spain. However, for a sitting Minister to make such a statement after pumping millions of dollars into the Tobago Jazz where both Renegades and Desperadoes performed on the same stage as International artistes is very much vacuous. When George Leacock took over the production of the Tobago Jazz he made it mandatory to have Steelpan which makes one wonder why John Arnold would utter the comment that he's looking for "super artistes" for Carifesta when Tobago Jazz was a comedian's dream under his watch.
But it's OK! Clearly the point has been delivered loud and clear that Steelpan isn't good enough. Those who didn't know where Steelpan stood before can rest assured that apparently one country's garbage is another country's treasure. The same instrument that has now been marginalized in its homeland costs 80-100 Euros to be heard by Germans filling huge venues to listen to the Renegades Steel Orchestra during the same month of Carifesta.
Marginalization of Steelpan has caused the National Steel Symphony Orchestra (N.S.S.O) to be denied a tour to Barbados in July for them to focus on Carifesta, only for their main performance (and only performance) to be in the pit of Napa's Stage accompanying the National Theatre Arts Company with background music for their production. Mind you, the NSSO was featured on the main stage in Carifesta 2008 (Guyana), and 2013 (Suriname). I dare anyone to ask the NSSO members their salary when they started and what it is today. While you are asking, inquire about their contracts, terms and conditions, gratuity, and the major performances that such a premium group of well skilled and qualified players benefit from and you will have various synonyms of marginalization to add to your thesaurus.
Marginalization of the Steelpan has caused the Ministry of Community Development, Culture and the Arts to go behind Pan Trinbago's back to offer bands crumbs to perform along with "exposure" and the opportunity to "give back to country."
Marginalization of Steelpan is the reason why Shaggy will go on stage in the Carifesta and sing "It wasn't me" and it will be dedicated to pan men and pan women when asked if they performed at the "Super Concert" at Carifesta.
For that reason I urge members/fans/friends/family of the Steelpan fraternity to look at our own history and unite, for those who forget it are doomed to repeat it. George Goddard was persecuted while we looked on because he had a different opinion. In 1979 panmen made a stand and got their respect then. It is time to stand and remind the powers that be what we are capable of. In no way are we promoting begging/demanding a handout from the government. Money or no money, it is time for the Steelpan fraternity to right a wrong, put differences aside, unite, respect ourselves and elevate TOGETHER!!!
What has...is, and what is...will be!
As his name was invoked, I call for the Steel Pan Blueprint For Success to be adopted and instituted in memory of George Goddard.
Marcus: when I meet you in Trinidad this year, I told you about my disappointment that pan had not reached further than it has and expressed my surprise at how some things, ie. pan in schools should be a given. If the pan people are not prepared to stand their ground on this, especially in the pan month of August, then it looks like I, a foreigner, is wasting her time.
Andre-Roger, I'm absolutely speechless and so disappointed, truly I am.
Very well said. it is an issue not only for the pan movement in Trinbago but for the entire Caribbean pan movement and for Caribbean culture as a whole. We continue to disrespect our massive contribution to global cultural development.
Time to stand up!
This is such a shame since Pan is Trinidad’s only true form of musical export. Yes, there are Trinidadian entertainers who live at home and abroad who fly the flag, however, the uniqueness of Pan is something that cannot and should not be overlooked.
How could a minister of cultural development and the arts not see this?
I have looked on in amazement when I see the Trinidad Defense Force and Police steel pan perform in Scotland at the annual Edenborough Tattoo in the UK and around the world. No other Caribbean country has a distinctive representation as Trinidad.
https://youtu.be/NJffAlpevH4 This was Edenborough 2007
https://youtu.be/UVMBRVJTvzg This was Sydney Australia 2010!
https://youtu.be/uiCty3ejZCg. This was 2014!
https://youtu.be/EQN-zeqGGdI This is Hamina 2016!
In the world as a whole, no other country has an instrument that is so captivating as Trinidad.
Scotland and Ireland have the bagpipes and Sweden and Germany have the clogs, but Trinidad has the greatest acoustic instrument of the 21st century and should always be the first thing on the list of ANY! show in Trinidad.
The latter of the questions was met with astonishment by the minister. "Pan? On the same stage as Shaggy?"
Well if MARCUS ASH say that DOCTOR DOLLY say that, I can now firmly believe that DOCTOR DOLLY said that and put it in the HISTORY BOOKS.
But it is time for PAN LOVERS to get MORE OBJECTIVE about the LIMITATIONS of STEELBAND MUSIC. As OBJECTIVE as DOCTOR DOLLY was when she made that statement -- which I happen to fully agree with.
Why can't PAN have their own SUPER CONCERT? Time to come off the PANORAMA HEAD!!!
So BEVERLEY went looking for POWER trying to control the world of PAN in T&T -- ah like the END AROUND PLAY that the MINISTRY DID.
But beyond all this BEGGING for a space on somebody else BIG STAGE -- PAN PEOPLE should be thinking about going to the STUDIO and recording some GLOBAL QUALITY PAN MUSIC using the latest TECHNOLOGY and ENHANCING the sound of the INSTRUMENT.
So that I don't have to keep coming on THIS FORUM everyday and ask: WHERE IS THE MUSIC?
The only way that the pan will get respect is boycott panorama and carnival 2020 and show them who is Boss.
But that will never happen not in this times,Because the people in high places love to much money
Only the small man that is talking.People in high places not saying nothing.
Panmen & Women band your belly and boycott the panorama and the carnival 2020,
If the small island could boycott and get respect who are you.Dont forget I said so.
I take note of these esteemed comments from Marcus Ash; a member of the Central Executive of Pan Trinbago and reference to my name as well in the statement in the appropriate context given.
I am deeply humbled by these sentiments expressed by the Education Officer. I will continue to be meek in playing my role vigilantly from within the movement; whilst my executive team led by President Ramsey-Moore continue to articulate what, in their collective ratified wisdom, what exactly is best for the way forward with Prosperity in Pan mantra for the fraternity.
All this fiasco with Carifiesta and de Ministry of Culture, and blowing out de Minister about de participation of pan in de Super Concert;...hmm I hope it bodes well for a proposed Single Pan Panorama 2020 Competition start on 1st November 2019....my granny used to tell me doh bite de hand dat does feed yuh.......whilst bands suffering 4 years now waiting on their appearance fees from Panoramas 2016 - 2019....the one year anniversary of this executive is coming up. Past behaviour being a predictor of future behaviour, we will see how it unfolds
...Food for thought
Gregory, doh take chain up.
The Crimea, who depends on Russian tourism to even have a gdp, Russian gas to keep warm in the harsh winters at those latitudes must be extremely desperate to be asking P. J Patterson (who resigned from office in a small country), and the Dalai Lama (who speaks well but has no country) to engage Russia in a proxy war on their behalf.
Why not ask The USA, Germany, France, The UK, Canada to help them take on Russia?
Don't you understand that the subject of this post defines the substance of the release?
Gregory, doh take chain up!
Easy on GREGORY, MR. RUSSELL PROVIDENCE!!!
Now i thought that GREGORY LINDSAY did RETIRE from the PAN TING, EH!!!
But suddenly THE MAN FRONT AND CENTER in the PAN TRINBAGO ADMINISTRATION.
I will say that the man is slightly susceptible to a little flattery (you call it "CHAIN UP")!!!