Pan  magazine (the brain child of Dalton Narine and Les Slater) remains simply the finest steelpan music publication ever printed.  WST revisits another article from the magazine originally published in the Fall of 1987.  Thanks again to Dalton Narine and Les Slater for permitting WST to republish these timeless articles.


The Montreal Story

A great factor influencing the development of the art in Montreal has been the visits of some of the top bands from Trinidad. Most memorable were two visits each by Rudolph Charles’ Desperadoes (Despers) and Tripoli, led by Hugh Borde. Despers was the first group to arrive, in February 1964; around 1970 they returned as a much more sophisticated and traveled orchestra. Esso Tripoli played in Montreal during Expo 1967 and again around 1968.

These visits were extremely important for panists in Montreal because they represented in-depth experiences of the state of the art “at that moment.” The Despers’ performance at Moose Hall in February 1964 featured the calypsonian Mighty Robin, and the subtle cello stylings of their leader and charismatic folk hero—”The Dragon,” “Trail”—Rudolph Valentino Charles (now deceased). It also featured their remarkable bass player “Gunga Din,” and the highly regarded Robert Greenidge.

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  • These are all very good stories I agree but people seem to forget that the combination of the Police, Regiment and Coast Guard performed at Expo 67in Montreal during the entire period. The Trinidad and Tobago National Steelband also performed at Expo for about a month during the Festival. This was a very unique band as it comprised of members of all different bands.  One member from each band only. The band included players from North, Central, South, East and Tobago and included players such as  Lennox Bobby Mohommed, Elton Smokey John, Bertrand Kellman and myself, Steve Regis

    I returned to Montreal to live in 1968 and joined a band known as Meletones. This band started in the early 60's and we continued to be a very excellent band playing in Montreal and other Quebec Cities until 1978 when the ever growing differences of English and French caused several members to leave Montreal and  the band broke up.

    Let us also remember that the members of the Regiment, Police, and Coast Gusrd who remained in Montreal after Expo, formed a very good band called The Exponians. Some of these players still continue to live and play in Montreal.

    This is also an added bit of history about the Steelband in Montreal.






    • The first steelband from Trinidad to reach Montreal was Dixie Stars in 1955 as the Esso Steel band, sponsored by Imperial Oil. From there they made a tour across Canada, ending up in Vancouver. They(not all) returned by boat. On reaching Aruba, some took a plane back to Trinidad. Others , including my brother, stayed on board the ship until it reached England. Except for a small side from the band that Rudy Commissiong had taken to Bermuda the year before, that was the end of the band.

      • Mr. Dupres: As your UNOFFICAL AGENT (self-appointed) -- I would really like to see you GENERATE your own PAN STORY in ONE DOCUMENT.

        NUFF RESPECT, SIR!!!

    • Big-up Steve we had some good days with Melotones.
  • Good article and thanks for pointing out that many pannist still take a lackadaisical approach to this art-form.

    Just for the record, Robert Greenidge did not tour with Desperadoes in 1964, but did in 1970.  He joined Desperadoes in 1965.

    • Despers also came to Vancouver after Montreal in 1964. Cobo Jack was with them. Their Tuner, whose name I can't remember, came to the basement where the Moonlighters had their pans and worked on them the best he could. Our drums were pretty old, but he did manage to make them sound a lot better,

  • Is Yardle based on Yoruba Mr. Glenford Peters?  Thank you for the lesson Prof. Narine and Slater and WST.
  • Great history lesson.


  • Thanks for the history. I wish to add Nathaniel "Nathan" Phillips (Deceased) a Tobagonian gentleman from Parlauvier made his contribution to the Culture with Pan, Calypso, Folklore and Poem in the Cote-De-Neiges area of Montreal in the ''70s. I especially remember his story telling in what he called Yardle, Tobagonians way of speaking.
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