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August 4 - The “Pan Buzz” to date

Trinidad & Tobago, W.I.


Time to Re-dedicate Ourselves...


Yet another Steelband Month has rolled around. Today I want to beg steelband lovers everywhere to support the Pan like never before. Support Pan Trinbago and other promoters’ Pan events; not only this month but throughout the year.

If you ask me why the Pan Buzz likes Steelband Month; it is because it offers us the opportunity to rock back and take stock of our attitude towards the Pan and the Panman. You see me? I am not going to beat the dead horse called ‘respect;’ but what I’ll do is call on Pan people to look in the mirror and rededicate ourselves to Pan development... and defence. The Pan has not truly been liberated; there is still a struggle on, but only in Trinidad and Tobago; and not the wider world, that is increasingly looking to Pan and its financial benefits.

We in Trinbago are bumping our gums and behaving like beh behs (imbeciles); sometimes I feel we don’t know better. There is a constant battle with Panmen and deejays at events, and those who feel the Pan is still - and forever will be - a noisy instrument.


Apparently Pan is not a priority with Minister of Culture (forget the “multiculturalism”) Winston “Gypsy” Peters. Here you have a minister of culture at a public function on the eve of Emancipation, calling for “respect the calypsonians.” A Minister of Culture should not be calling for respect for one section of culture of which he is a member. Calypsonians have separated themselves into two camps; those who sing for their political supper, and those who have stayed true to the artform. Why didn’t Peters call for respect for the Panman also? No. He waged a stupid war against panmen earlier this year over some petty change stipend. He is not aware that Pan and calypso are brothers and sisters? Both were born out of struggle and had to fight every inch of the way for acceptance by society. Doesn’t he know their similar histories?


However, Pan Trinbago must be congratulated on this significant milestone... Steelband Month 2011.



Two concerns have been plaguing my mind, and I wish Pan Trinbago could address them. Firstly I wish to suggest to Keith “Bald Head” Diaz and his crew that at the awards ceremony they launch the International Panman Of The Year Award. This is necessary to rope in our foreign brothers (not only local) as Pan is a world thing. Awarding local contributors is great, but we need to widen the scope. We have to start thinking differently.

I think two individuals who should be honoured are Terrence Noel and the evergreen Pepe Francis (pictured above). Both men have done much to establish Pan in England, and their efforts cannot be delinked. With the wide international spy network of Pan Buzz, I can always give Pan Trinbago a name or two deserving of honour. And don’t doubt me there are many. Pepe’s and Terry’s contributions have been so effective, that Pan, despite its struggles, is now accepted as part of British culture.




Narrow-minded panmen have attacked Pan Trinbago’s President Keith “Bald Head” Diaz over Bad John Day - that one day when the old gringos of Pan travel down memory lane, retracing their battles in defence of Pan...or turf. These stories, although filled with gore, cannot be ignored. They are a part of steelband history whether we like it or not. They are stories of iron bolts, cutlasses, bell-bottomed pants, two-toned shoes, white-handle razors and men with names that could make Captain America cringe. Names like BOLD FACE, ONE MAN, CUT-OUTA, WHITETY KINKAID, PINK EYE, LITTLE AXE, GOLD TEETH, BARONG and others. Right now I gettin’ frighten just writing dem fellas names. Ah trembling. Did you know that Pan Buzz escaped being chopped up like beef when Tokyo attacked Casablanca at the corner of Frederick and Duke Streets in Port-of-Spain? There I was in the front row, merrily playing my double tenor when bottle splintered on the rack. I didn't wait, I was off to the races... leaving a trail of brown manure.





Condolences to the families of Aldwyn “Chow Lee” Chow Lin on, and the wonderful Pan researcher Gideon Maxime. I have never met both men formally, but I know of their tremendous contributions. Chow Lee was associated with the early Silver Stars and could be ranked as one of the ‘Chinee’ in Pan, as well as the Chan brothers and my old pal Hady Lee of Dixieland. Gideon, on the other hand, distinguished himself as a meticulous researcher, and knowledgeable commentator on Panorama. I will miss his commentaries.

Guys, rest in Peace.



Until next week, wherever you are in Pan’s Diaspora, keep loving up The Pan.


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Comment by jerome ebenezer clarke on August 7, 2011 at 12:17pm
With respect  to DISCIPLINE mentioned by Mr Glenroy Joseph firstly is that the word etiquette starts at home and in every organaisation discipline is a must , this has no inclination or doesn,t mean military discipline, but the the factor representing ,self respect thus extending the same to others,punctuation,possibly mode of dress[[ attire]],attitude, method of approach not leaving out the leader,,,whose job is leadership by example,,,these are a few things that is needed for total unity,i do mention these things for i know what it,s all about and what it do entails,i,m always subject to corrections.
Comment by Glenroy R Joseph on August 5, 2011 at 2:22pm
By the way, I'm certainly not trying to advocate for violent past badjohn behavior among the steelmands .

That type of behavior is and was abhorent.

But Badjohns also protected their steelbands from other badjohns.That's just the way it was.

It is quite possible that if Hylanders had been a 'badjohn' band back in the day, who knows?
They may still be with us today!

Just a thought, folks!
Comment by Glenroy R Joseph on August 5, 2011 at 2:11pm
It would be unwise to try to deny the impact that the so called "Badjohn "element had on the steelband movement,for good or for bad.

On one hand many good people were hurt by the steelband riots, and as much as we like to say that it was the supporters, the truth is that some of the biggest "badjohns' were also panmen.

A promising chapter in pan history was demolished when "badjohn-ism" destroyed the great Hylanders Steel Orchestra, and with it they killed Bertie Marshall's great experiment.

But on the other hand, "badjohns" enforced discipline within the band when it was sorely needed among young, rambunctious panmen.

It is no coincidence that some of the bands with the strongest foundations came out of the "badjohn" era, when discipline was by force.

In a recent discussion with a famous Trinidadian bandleader with close ties to one of the top big Trinidad steelbands, he bemoaned the lack of discipline in the band today compared to the past, and we couldn't help but reflect back on the days when a steelband leader enforced discipline with a "Hammer".

The Badjohn era is an important era in the development of the steelband, and the contributions of some of these "badjohn" panmen cannot be denied.
Comment by Mercer Ramdoo on August 5, 2011 at 11:49am
Respect? Last night while practising in de yard, a busload of people was passing, they stopped, entered the yard and stood by listening. At the end of a particular song, they applauded lustily; at the end of another song they applauded again, then left. I turned to the cap'n and asked sarcastically "trinidadians?" nah he said, trini doh clap for pan. They were in fact, tourists, from Brazil, I think. sad, eh? Outsiders loving up de pan.
Comment by Hamilton web lexander on August 5, 2011 at 10:53am

I agree with you PAN BUZZ,the true history of the PAN cannot be known with out mentioning some of the events and some of the people involved in these events.The younger generation will appreciate the instrument more, if they know the struggle some people went through to have Pan where it is today. 

                                                                                                    The Web.



Comment by VALENTINE YOUNG on August 5, 2011 at 8:23am

Well said 'Pan Buzz'. Thanks for being real and telling it like it is. Your humor mixed with seriousness is a breath of fresh air for real Pan people. Keep it coming and 'Good Luck'

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