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Sweet Rhapsody ends WeBeat in St James

Originally printed at http://www.trinidadexpress.com/news/Sweet_Rhapsody_ends_WeBeat_in_S...

By Gary Cardinez
June 12, 2011

THE annual St James WeBeat Festival culminated with the traditional pan parade along the Western Main Road on Saturday evening with a smaller crowd than in previous years chipping along to the sound of the national instrument.

However, with the WeBeat committee instructed to close the event by midnight, it proved to be the earliest closing time ever for this street party when it ended just around 12.30 a.m. with the steelband Rhapsody…The Next Generation

This band stole the show with its instruments: a mix of modern technology mixed with traditional pan.

With T-shirts that bore the legend "Making a statement without saying a word", the band's use of Percussive Harmonic instruments (PHI) conveyed its musical message through some of the latest soca songs.

The PHI was invented at the University of the West Indies, St Augustine, and is slowly making its way into mainstream pan sides.

It plays any number of tones, including pan, it also allows the orchestra to use amplification, thereby producing a much more powerful sound.

Rhapsody uses three PHI to produce the bass, cello and a lead tenor alongside the traditional tenors.

When the St James crowd heard 2011 songs like "Wotless", "Town Thing","Ah Coming Again" and "Trini" they exploded in ecstasy dancing in the street.

Before Rhapsody came along, the sound of traditional steel orchestras had people singing and chipping.

Phase II Pan Groove, led by Len "Boogsie" Sharpe, had everybody singing Sparrow's "Saltfish" as the band performed a fantastic arrangement of the timeless classic.

Sagicor Exodus also impressed with SuperBlue's "Unknown Band" while Single Band champ San Juan East Side had a strong following as it played "Nah Going Home" and "Ah Coming Again".

But it was Starlift that impressed with its 1978 Panorama-winning song, Sparrow's "Du Du Yemi (Natasha). Members of the audience were dancing and waving as Starlift's performance brought back memories of a time gone by.

The bands participating in the Parade all chose very interesting songs like "Close To You" by Brimblers, "Now and Forever" by Carib Woodbrook Playboyz, "Thunder" by Old Tech Steel Orchestra, the only band in the Parade from the south, "Pan Down Fifth Avenue" by St James North Stars and "Feeling to Party" by Trinidad Pan Connoisseurs.

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