When Steel Talks

Everything Related to the Steelpan Instrument and Music

“I saw the festival as a great generation point for the steel band.” said Junior, whose band had never won during his captaincy. That role seemed to be tailor-made for Edwin, a younger sibling by 20 years or so.

When he was 10, his mother Carmen would take Edwin to the pan yard on Tragarete Road, she chatting up the night with friends and he soaking up the sounds under a fig tree. Edwin always left the yard in sorrow. “I was blown away by the pan business - by Junior’s leadership. Once or twice he had the whole band laughing when he cracked a joke. Junior has real ole talk.”

With Junior’s stage side under contract in 1968 in Bermuda, and later Los Angeles, Edwin knocked around on a tenor at home. Carmen taught him how to hold the sticks, how to play, everything she knew about the instrument. In 1969, when Edwin expected his father’s approval to venture out on his own, Edgar, a Desperadoes fan, banned him from playing pan in Silver Stars, or elsewhere.

To their horror, mother and son, their ear to the radio, experienced the nightmare of Silver Stars placing dead last in the Panorama because the frontline was out of synch with the background pans the whole journey.

“She cried and cried, and I promised that I’d play the following year to make sure it didn’t happen again.”

But Edgar stood his ground, leaving Carmen to think on her feet to get Edwin to the pan yard. He’d walk out the door in ordinary clothing and she’d throw him steel band gear from upstairs. The session over, she’d open the back door so he could sneak back in.

“I thought I was fooling him,” Edwin recalls, “but on final night I was drinking a cup of tea before I left for the Savannah when he calmly walked up and said, ‘Edwin, you really think you’ll beat Desperadoes tonight?’ I was speechless. Of course, Desperadoes won the Panorama [with Margie, arranged by Clive Bradley].”

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Memories, never to be forgotten. Silver Stars fan win or lose


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