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Everything Related to the Steelpan Instrument and Music

by Sharmain Baboolal

Provided by, and republished with, the expressed permission of: the Author

Chronicles of a Panorama

Trinidad & Tobago, W.I. - Acclaimed tuner, master craftsman, “Birch” Kelman, will be out for the carnival season. He’s recovering from surgery.

Who, besides the bands he works with, is taking note? He's one man- but a rare foundation stone.

It’s tough to get quality steel drums in Trinidad & Tobago to even start to make a pan.

At the very heart of the thing- even before you get an instrument for a player- there’s a challenge that is nearing crisis proportions.

For the time being, the most vociferous voices in the steel band community are talking about money. Players’ remittance is the road march. Understandably so. The burden is falling on the shoulders of the people who work the hardest to make the annual Panorama competition a success, not that we can even imagine quantifying the back-breaking and mind-numbing work of all the other stakeholders.

What it is showing up, though, is that Pan Trinbago, as it is constituted is not the right organization to lead the steel band community into the future.

Because in the first place it was created to keep a rein on the explosive energy that always resonated inside the panyards which were stronger communities in days of old.

And it served very little positive purpose because of those shackles. When Pan Trinbago hosts an Extra Ordinary meeting on Sunday to discuss plans for the 2019 Panorama season- as much as the new executive may be better prepared because they are challenged to be so or die a painful death, it will be the same old.

Because even from the floor the people who are likely to speak will get all emotional- and they would be the same voices dating back to that fateful meeting on January 1st 2017 which started the ball rolling to move the former President Keith Diaz out of office.

With that accomplished, some of the voices will now have to speak louder because they realize that the more things seem to change the more they remain the same.

But will they speak louder, saying the same things over and again or bring food for the trough, or fuel for the fire?

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They are all part-and-parcel of any/all steelbands and the pan movement, in whole.

Need to read this thing twice, don't want to miss anything. Sharmain's a professional.

Mercer: After reading this article by Sharmain Baboolal -- like you, I had to read it more than once -- my cynicism has proven to be REALITY. 

PAN PROGRESS will never happen in my lifetime simply because "Pan Trinbago, as it is constituted is not the right organization to lead the steel band community into the future."

And given that people like KEITH DIAZ and BEVERLEY RAMSEY-MOORE are put at the helm of the organization, not even by a FLUKE could PAN PROGRESS come about.

This line really takes me back in time and compounds the futility: "It’s tough to get quality steel drums in T&T to even start to make a pan." Because a few years ago when Lincoln Douglas was the MINISTER OF CULTURE, EXODUS had an event and he was invited. He reach there and telling everybody how much he love the culture and how much he LOVE PAN. So Ainsworth Mohammed pulled him aside at one point and told him: "Minister, ah know how much yuh LOVE PAN but we have a big problem sourcing good steel drums to make the Pans."

Boy, yuh should hear how DR. DOUGLAS jump on he high horse: "I did not know that. That is the definitely a major problem that I will have to take care of. I will be getting back to you on that in a few weeks and together we will solve that problem."

EXODUS never hear another word from THE MINISTER again!!!

Seven years later, Sharmain talking about the same problem. So this is a recurring decimal of administrative incompetence. And when you have a PRESIDENT like BEVERLEY whose primary interest is taking pictures and holding meetings and KISSING UP to DOLLY and GYPSY -- PAN PROGRESS is DOOMED. As much as I would have liked to believe that there was HOPE. Because the thing progressing so fast in America -- this country is already THE MECCA OF THE STEELBAND to anyone who could let go of THE PARTY MINDSET for one minute and look at the picture objectively.

While Is only HOPELESSNESS in TRINIDAD!!!

It eh too late to do an INTERVENTION and bring in LAWFORD DURPES and ROBERT AMAR and KERON VALENTINE.

Long live Mr Birch Kellman Steel-Pan-Tuner Supreme!.....May God continue to direct your steps.......,I would like you to take notice that the Steelband Movement is going through a transition period .....at the end of this exercise,Hopefully pan-players and tuners will get the monetary respect they deserve! .......peace!

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