When Steel Talks

Everything Related to the Steelpan Instrument and Music

By Raffique Shah - Trinidad Express

I HAVE been nursing a not-so-quiet anger since last Sunday's Panorama Semi-finals, and no, it has nothing to do with Despers being omitted from the finals, although I feel "a how" about that. I have asked fellow pan-fans, many of whom, like me, no longer make the pilgrimage to the Savannah, but who, nevertheless, do not miss a note, "How could they show total disrespect to pan, to the thousands who labour in panyards to produce one of the world's biggest musical extravaganzas?"

By now readers must have guessed what angered me: the dotishness of Pan Trinbago officials who, in the name of the almighty dollar, sacrificed the sanctity of the art form by allowing well-heeled party animals to stage a big fete on the "Greens" while pannists, most of them teenagers, played with their hearts to impress the judges and real pan-lovers. How could they? As I sat in my living room tuned into what is for me one of the best events in Carnival, I could hear the distant din attempting to drown out the sweet sounds of steel. And I wondered what drove Keith Diaz and his executive, all of whom are or were pannists, to such a desperate distraction?

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i agree with you they were fire works going off during carib dixiland performance on stage

Thanks for putting into such clear and direct words, what I have been feeling. A question I have been mulling over is what can Trinbagonians within and outside of our nation do to rescue our national instrument and music form from the abyss that they seem to be falling into and reclaim the genius that we have?  There needs to be some creative intervention both for pan and calypso. Only my humble opinion.


Totally agree - it's a shame though, to see Pan Trinbago perpetuating the myth that T&T can't respect Pan for what it is.

Is probably some deep-seated self-hate !!!!

Either that or some really short-sighted Neandertal mentality, all apologies to past neandertals. 

We need bold new blood in the Executive - enough of the old-boys self-promotion.


Hurt my heart to see that you folks, still in the homeland of Trinidad & Tobago do not appreciate what you have 

As far as I recall the only new instrument invented in the 20th century is the Steel Pan

I am a T&T Citizen grew up in a foreign country, Spanish speaking one, my grandfather was a Calypso and pan lover and I learned that.

I am 55 years old and still looking forward to go back to San Fernando someday to see a Jouvert and be at the Savannah to hear some live Pan, see pan players and go to a pan yard to see if they still tune a pan with fire and a hammer

 I could remember ROPE played by Shell Invaders, (that was the LP my Grand pa had) besides all the Sparrow´s LP´s from Slave to to wife and boat

I could only download whatever people upload on You Tube with whatever sound they tape and you, having it there does not treasure what you got?

I Live in Peru now but have the common sense to teach my children where I was born , they are Spanish but recognizes a Calypso and enjoy a Steel band either in mp3  downloads from the internet or a You Tube video

They marvel on how music could be made from a empty “pitchoil pan”  and are trying to get me to make one. And I will. I think I have the genes and enough information downloaded from the Internet and a tape in my memory to do so

Would I be rude If I ask the community, from this little space to treasure what you got?

And old Sparrow Calypso called “Steel Band Music” lyrics should be quoted here.Listen to it, maybe it could put some sense back into the youth head and they realize that the National Anthem states that:



Stevenson,  I don't think it's a question of them not treasuring what they have...it's seems more like folks want to protect what they have, which should be applauded. In fact, I dare to say that folks are protesting the lack of respect shown for the national instrument, because they do treasure what they have.

I totally agree with your opinion

Excellent article...sad truths.

I just visited a website that sells wonderful videos of a variety of Carnival activities. I was shocked - when I clicked on to watch their feature video on food & cuisine.

In the first few seconds of the video, a Savannah vendor was shown prominently displaying a Jamaican flag. Later in the video, after spending time emphasizing that a country is defined by it's food, the two hosts decided out of all the vendors to choose from, to buy and eat Jerk chicken on camera.

Yes, this is delicious food, yes, Jamaican's are our bredren...but...I live in the US and was born in the UK...never in either of these places would you see another nation's flag or cuisine so prominently on a feature that is intended to promote the culture of the land. Never at a reggae fest in JA would the video hosts feature the T&T flag...Surely in this 3 minute video they could have featured a roti, doubles and sorrel stand??? They could have enjoyed the jerk off-camera.

Bottom line...if I were a random tourist aiming to select a vacation, the image of the JA flag and the delicious jerk chicken is what would stick in my mind, so guess where I would be booking my holidays when I got to the travel agency?

I was listening to a clip on CTV  online,   the station that gave all of those expats and lover of pan around the world a chance to withness the worlds biggest pan event..

 exactly what was going on behind the northstand at the savannah and the people that was there..

and his question to them was .. '' Now that the northstand is back are you hearing the pan better''.

75% said they were not hearing it any better....    next question  he asked them '' Did you know what band  just finished performing  and what tune they were playing  '',,,,,   about almost all of them could not name either....

so that side of the stage is  not full with pan lover but  full with people that come for   '' De Lime.... De Atmosphere....De show of bodies parading.... and just to say that they were there,,,not to hear pan ...it is a money making event not a competition of the best bands in the land or players that no one else can match,,,,nooooo,,,it's about making money !!

Pantrinbago is running a business  and the workers / ( Player ) are not getting paid as they should ...


what is wrong with pantrinbago is time pan men look to do something  pan pantrinbago is doing nothing more than full there hands and pockets we want some body who will put the pan men and women in a respectable place that they could make a living from it and feed their family all we want is respect.

and Pantrinbago say they LOVE PAN..............yea right......


In this country we follow what is of the day. Meaning that what is happening now, or in style, we follow. So Pantrinbago is no exeption in making foolish mistakes. When they suppose to improve and make shows like these more marketable and professional, it's been changed into another lime and fete. Mad!!!!!!


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