Everything Related to the Steelpan Instrument and Music
by Sharmain Baboolal
All are mighty. But the heaviness of the badly disorganised Carnival 2020 is weighing on the shoulders of the only people now upholding culture. But whose vision is limited to money. Easily the Panorama is being manipulated now that it is proven to have outlived its usefulness as anything but a means of getting money via gate receipts from the semi-finals round of the competition. The promoters are badly in need of intellect and ideas far more for a vision.
With an unaudited membership which leads to everything else being unaudited, the road was paved for nepotism. Nepotism, indeed, explains the leadership of most steelbands many drawing on the leadership required in the emerging time of the movement when men had to fight for space for the instrument, which evolved in our most civilised form of warfare - raining sweet drink bottles on each other in the streets. It was a groundswell that did not escape the first Prime Minister Dr Eric Williams. Rudolph Charles is often referenced for being dread and no-nonsense leader of Laventille. But he was able to walk through the gates of the Prime Minister's residence unhindered. It was a fruitful relationship. The leaders shared wisdom and the Steelband movement benefited.
Well, Panorama was one solution.. which has now turned into the fatted calf for a few.
For decades the promoters, registered as Pan Trinbago, has manipulated or have been manipulated by judges. There is always a judge who is close to or has the ears of an official or even could be friends with an arranger. And then there is straight-up politics..not necessarily of the kind played by the late Eric Williams. But the politics of returning favours.
Tracing the results of the Panorama thus far how can you think differently. Most people who have been filling my ears with stories even though the full is yet to be told.
Uptown Fascinators of Scarborough won the Small Band Finals. The captain is the Chairman of the Tobago Region who lost the post of PRO of Pan Trinbago by just one vote in the elections which ushered in the Beverley Ramsey Moore executive. The band worked hard and had a nice and cheeky arrangement. Strike one for Duvone Stewart who did not retain the crown with Defence Force. Even though one Pan Trinbago official told me that the band which competed in small band finals was registered as a single pan band. Not that he was ashamed the rules could be so easily compromised.
The past executive manipulated the money. And with no money now the results must be manipulated to return the favours, not so? To get the money to flow in a particular direction.
The Tobago House of Assembly Panorama (THA) landed the Tobago Region on the plush ground. The President's band took one title while a relative's band also won in a category and a friend took another.
For the past year with nothing in the bank account, however, there was rent-free accommodation for the Headquarters of the promoters, government quarters at Flagstaff for the President and a brand new car. A decent standard of living which few panmen have, nevertheless.
The President's mantra for the past year has been the promise or the Medium Band Finals in Tobago as enticing as a free trip to the sister isle to play pan... literally an overseas gig for the hundreds of Trinis who are not already playing for the Tobago bands.
Concurrent with that was NOT the narrative that the Single Pan Finals could have gone to the basketball court in Arima and the Small band finals in South or Central Trinidad where there are large spaces available beyond Skinner Park which is under repair.
Instead, both events were staged at the Queen Park Savannah and were not better than a buss fete given the money spent on infrastructure to accommodate the bands and the number of paying patrons..the small bands' semi-final operated at a loss as well. The logistics of the Medium finals are scary to imagine. It is disrespectfully to be held on a Sunday night not taking into consideration the sacrifices of the Trinidad students and employees who won't get time off for playing pan. The ill planning will be manifest to be written about at another time.
But the medium category is being set up also. Curepe Scherzando got a boost in the name of the Eastern region with a semifinal first place. But the bands poised at second place, Katzenjammers which is the President's band and Couva Joylanders also reveal a story. Was Trinidad Valley Harps allowed in for one woman to make history with a group of children who played with three bands at the expense of Valley Harps, for example? It appeared to be a move to secure the support of the south region which was the swing vote in the last elections.
There is the school of thought that establishing the regional champs before the national semifinals could give the winner an advantage. So it was done with the THA Panorama. Neither North nor South nor East had regional champs, by the way. To win the Medium Crown the President's band even commissioned a champion arranger who was willing but was not allowed ..it will be by any means necessary. Siparia Deltones earned their place, thankfully, but will battle the beast that is Katzenjammers for the Crown.
Please take the above against the backdrop that all bands ..their arrangers and players-- are winners. The competition is just being manipulated. A blind man can feel it, so tangible is the dread.
And so we arrive at the pinnacle. Involved here are two bands with the management structure that would rival the promoters. And one that is suffering, still, the ravages of being homeless. At the top is Renegades. Champions that are seeking a hattrick that the powers that be have ordained will not happen. Members of the Pan Trinbago executive have been saying, publicly, after just a few notes were laid down at 138 Charlotte that he would not get the hattrick. But how can you rob a thoroughbred in this race? It's the way you set it up.
People comment and talk about the results based on the points allocated and few listen to the actual arrangements. And when they do, the audio is often compromised by poor recordings except for the UTT recordings on SoundCloud.
By placing Exodus at the top from the start of the game means it would be accepted by the time they are handed the crown...in the name of politics. Exodus was not half-point better than Renegades. Neither was it the top band in the East after prelim night as the folks who went to Surrey Village after listening to the band from Tunapuna can honestly tell you. Supernovas was.
The half-point is a different story altogether.
But the tables appeared to have turned after semi-finals when Renegades resounded. Giving them the first place was prearranged..even if they earned it.
Was the intention to give then a bligh as Exodus seems to lag behind as the Renegades gallop forward?
For all the work that Ainsworth Mohammed has given to the ruling PNM all he ever wanted was a Panorama victory for Exodus. Which by the way he does not need if he decides to answer the call to contest the Tunapuna seat for the PNM in the elections later this year. He will be a candidate to be reckoned with on his own merit.
With the Prime Minister calling her into the race suggesting to one Presidential Candidate " to go to Tobago and get Beverley Ramsey Moore to be your running mate" in a matter of three days she turned from being a running mate to carrying her own slate which is now falling apart, Mrs Moore will listen when he speaks.
Those who voted for Beverley voted for Rowley, in a manner of speaking.
And it was his instruction to have the THA pay for the medium bands all-inclusive carded for this weekend. Another instalment in panorama at a financial loss.
Was Desperadoes played also?
Like a sleeping giant the band's time on the track was like conserving energy. They knew what they had to do and earned an ovation before the last note was played.
As for the judges, most were chosen by people wanting the East or Tobago to dominate, I am told, some did not go through the process required by attending a specific quota of seminars on judging criterion etc. So they were planted.
As with the current politics of the ruling party, far from the time when a panman was wisdom and not just jam and wine or a means to some money but a movement of a people the Panorama is breeding hate contrary to the mystic of the music.
Exodus may have been promised the crown as it was the fortune of the privileged classes that benefited more from the party in power. The ground was denied even the crumbs. As it is with two beautiful tribes, Desperadoes and Renegades. Emotions were rising the day after semi-finals between the players and supporters of both bands. Desperadoes are anxious for the rank to deny the hattrick which Renegades wants. And Exodus is waiting to grab the best.
These are the top three horses as the politics will dictate it.
Pan Trinbago is being run by a President who has demoted her VP and Asst Secretary in a reshuffle because he refused to resign. The International Relations Officer (IRO) is just around and the Treasurer is there in name as someone behind the scenes is handling the cheques.
Elsewhere in the large category one Port of Spain band was used as an arranger was sabotaged to make way for a Tobago large band to come storming back to the finals. Two Pan Trinbago officials were complicit.
Beverley and her team rode to power on a chariot championing the cause of the panman and now their first fully controlled Panorama is not just a financial bust but a heavy and corrupted affair that has dulled the music.
It must be brought to civility.
The Truth is an offence but not a sin.
I had no, ah mean NO clue. None whatsoever. Claude.
Claude, there are always two sides to a story. I remember my Form 6 English teacher saying; " TWO MEN LOOKED THROUGH PRISON BARS, ONE SAW MUD, THE OTHER STARS." Nothing is perfect, but to say that everything is WRONG or DERELICT does not do justice. The new administration at Pan Trinbago is trying to steer the ship in the right direction and SHARMAIN BABOOLAL does not help by casting aspersions and innuendoes.
I am enjoying this Panorama because events start on time and are completed within a reasonable period. The music is great and for the first time, I am able to understand all the nuances of an arrangement. Listen to RENEGADES WRONG AGAIN SLOW JAM with DUVONE giving a running commentary. One can feel the "PAN JUMBIE", watching the spectator swaying to the music in ALL STARS MORE SOCAH SLOW JAM or the young ladies moving to the rhythm in EXODUS DEAR PROMOTER SLOW JAM.
This to me is what is important not behind the scenes allegations. Trying to stir up animosity between the bands is not an option. Let us wait until Panorama is over and then we can judge the performance of the new Pan Trinbago Committee.
Three sides. I’m multitasking, I’m enjoying both.
EYE suffering from EMOTIONAL BLINDNESS, it's hard to manage multiple PRIORITIES.
Brother Marvin Carnival Time Again (1996)
"The Truth is an offence but not a sin."...Most instructive line the entire article...
I DOH WANT TO HATE ON PAN ... BUT SOMETIMES ah KEEP DEBATING!!!
Look!!! If I were a POLITICAL ADVISER to SHARMAIN BABOOLAL -- I would advise to TO JUST DROP THE TOPIC and stop at EPISODE ONE.
This is a POLITICAL YEAR in TRINIDAD and anybody who has been following CRIME IN TRINIDAD -- will know that the STAKES are really high (AS IS CRIME) and SHARMAIN exposing this ROWLEY-BEVERLEY-AINSWORTH inside politics PANORAMA CORRUPTION could result in MAJOR PHYSICAL HARM to her ... if not DEATH!!!
So, SHARMAIN, leave it ALONE!!!
Jes sit back, relax, and enjoy the music. Why hutt up allyuh head over things allyuh have no control over?
"Why hutt up allyuh head" ... nice use of THE DIALECT!!!
Come ELECTION time, vote for "Q" niceness in de place.
Alphabet Elections. ..Vote for Q (2020 Calypso )