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The ‘Pan Buzz’ to date for July 1, 2011

Trinidad & Tobago, W.I.



BT Melodians Steel OrchestraToday I am in a congratulatory state of mind as I send out greetings to Terrence Noel and his BT Melodians in lonely London, England on the fine work they are doing spreading the Gospel of Pan. These Pan troubadours have been touring the world flying the British flag in the name of Pan.  They have taken pan to the Middle East, Asia, and far-flung places.  Hooray!

I thank God their efforts have not gone unnoticed, because just a few days shy of the historic tour by the, Trinidad All Steel Percussion Orchestra (TASPO), comes the exciting statement that “the steelband is part of British culture.”  I like that too bad. I like it more than cooked food. You think I vex?  I happy like a golden posey.  I repeat:  I love it more than a curry pelau with hog features.

Now that statement was made by the British Ambassador to Vienna, Mr. Simon Smith when the BT Melodians toured there, and celebrated the birthday of Queen Elizabeth II.  Today I want to thank Ambassador Smith for recognizing Pan’s worth and value to the British society.  As an old colonialist, myself; I really feel to kiss the man big toe..... and who vex lorse.

In Pan’s native land [Trinidad & Tobago], we are yet to recognize its value in a serious way.  Panmen still have problems, and are treated like an outside child, or a ‘dorg’ (my word).  Pan is only taken seriously when politicians want to use the Pan, and deejays want to defecate on Panmen.  I am glad Ambassador Smith is saying “Pan is we ting.”   We continue to bump our gums with our Listerine mouths, paying only lip service to Pan. I will forever praise those who love the pan whether they are “foreign” or local.

Cultural activist and pan jumbie Pat Bishop once said “we don’t deserve the Pan” and she is so right.  Now I expect Switzerland, Germany ,Holland and Denmark to say Pan is part of their culture. Hooray!  Bring it on guys. You think I vex?  I love it more than cooked food.

Just imagine in ‘Pan country’ [Trinidad & Tobago] a Minister of Culture could rail against Panmen and Pan Trinbago - talking about accountability and transparency, and was found wanting owing the government dollars over the years, the latest being one million. Now this is taxpayers dollars we are talking about, not his money. This is the same man who refused to pay Panmen their TT $1000 stipend, and when they protested threatened - them and started to talk big...like a big Tanto!  He really lucky panmen awoke before the cavemen.

In a so-called Cabinet reshuffle he retains his post. How’s that for hypocrazy... not hypocrisy?  That’s why when a Britisher [British Ambassador to Vienna, Mr. Simon Smith] say “Pan is we ting”...... I love it more than cooked food..... I love it, I love it - more than my former wife. Pepe Francis of the British Association of Steelbands, take a bow for 30 solid years of pan in Britain.  You reach!



The time has come to look at the G-pan (Genesis pan) with a view to making it more practical. Pepe Francis, Chairman of the British Association Of Steelbands, is of the view that the pan should be scrapped. I don’t think so; I feel we should re-engineer the Pan with a view to making it more light-weight.  I’ve heard tuners and panmen complain the Pan is an exercise in weightlifting. Now we really don’t want to see panmen with hernias do we?  Nobody is listening to these complaints.  Pepe also pointed out that designer drums are available in London (Coventry), Denmark and Holland.  Why can’t we look at metals and how they could enhance the sound of the pan?  But what are we doing?  Sitting on our hand or playing pocket billiard.

I have been clamouring for a Pan Development Institute where young inventors could go and express themselves. This institute could be tied in with UWI (University of the West Indies) and the brilliant Dr. Brian Copeland and his team.

Government must stop ‘funding ole talk’ and start with solid projects like the Philharmonic Percussive Instrument - the PHI (pronounced “fie”) Pan, and invest in its large-scale development. There’s money to be made in Pan technology....it’s Pan’s final frontier.  We must put young engineering inventive minds to work. The G-pan should be a work in progress; but then you’ll hear the familiar refrain....no funding.



The Renegades Pan Theatre will come alive with the sound of steel when six hot bands pelt out music at 8 p.m.  It is the first fund-raising project of the innovative grouping PAN LOVERS INTERNATIONAL.  All bands have come on board, as the Pan Lovers - once thought of as a rival organisation to the ruling Pan body - get down to work, with the aim of helping Pan pioneers in their dying (no pun intended) days, establishing a secretariat, an All-Pan radio station as well as other ideas.

For only one blue note (TT $100) you can get a delectable diet of Petrotrin Phase Two Pan Groove, Couva Joylanders, Woodbrook Playboyz, T&TEC Tropical Angel Harps, Bptt Renegades and Defence Force, now celebrating 16 years.

Panmen and pan enthusiasts don’t forget to dress up as the bands and Pan Lovers pay tribute to men from TASPO who left these shores 60 years ago.



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

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Comment by Terrance Noel MBE JP on July 3, 2011 at 5:48pm

You are so right Glenroy. Steelbands in Trinidad are struggling to get gigs throughout the year and it is worse at carnival time. Dances and parties all around the island, but very few steelbands playing at any of the functions.

Here in the UK we play at several weddings; Barmitzas; birthday parties throught the year. Not for Trinis or west indians but for European clients .

A Trini will call themselves a supporter of a band, but they are not willing to buy the band T Shirt or CDs they think it is their god given right to get one free as a supporter. They will however go out and buy a piece of clothing with the big Tick on it advertising a foreign product.

The Jamaican at home and abroad will die for his reggae music, the Trini at home and abroad will also follow the Jamaican and support the reggae rather than Calypso and steel band. Here in the UK it is the Europeans who are keeping the steel pan alive.

Comment by Steve "Carter" K. on July 3, 2011 at 5:31pm
GRJ let us remember that Pan was not the Brain Child of any Politician so regardless of who say what about Pan it still remains the "Love Child" of the Inventors and those Pannist who have brought it forward through all these years. You could never expect the Love and Appreciation for Pan to be in the Hearts of Politicians for they only do things which would be Politically Profitable to them . Just look at the fantastic Strides the Pan has made without the help of any Politician so do not expect any Appreciation from them, if it comes then fine. The progress of Pan mostly rest  with the Pannist , Sponsors , and Pan Lovers with the Politicians bringing up the rear. Pan has long gone past the Class and Ethnic barrier here in T+T for it has been for  quite some time now recognized as a Musical Instrument on Par with any of the other Conventional Instruments. Pan runs thru the veins of a very vast section of our Population and it is here that the Love and Appreciation comes from and this will be so indefinitely. Could any one tell me who did what to advance the Jazz and Blues music ? From the people who were  Inventors and continue to be the Masters of these forms of Music I could only assume that those in Power neglected them also, but they were Loved and Appreciated by the Masses and so they grew from strength to strength. That is exactly the History of Pan and it has come soooo far already that I do not see it not improving even if  the Powers do not Appreciate it. It is Human Nature to Love to the Fullest your  " Love Child ". Thanks.
Comment by Glenroy R Joseph on July 3, 2011 at 1:07pm
I have to disagree with you here, Steve, and agree with the writer about the "lack of appreciation".

What brought it home for me is when Bertie Marshall (in Dalton Narine's video) quoted Dr Williams, who many of us consider to be a visionary leader, saying "Do you expect me to take the people's money and spend it on any stupid steelband?"

It may have changed a bit from back then, but that quote says it all.

Furthermore, I hope I'm wrong, but I think that a substantial portion of the Trinidad population still see the steelband in the context of class and ethnicity.
Comment by Steve "Carter" K. on July 2, 2011 at 4:36pm
Funny how soooo many speak of the lack of Appreciation for Pan here in T+T and it is from right here that all the Inventions and Improvements re Pan are done and then passed on to the rest of the World. Regardless of who you are it could never be right to say that " We don't deserve the Pan" for it is right here in T+T that it was Born ,Bred and developed amist all the struggles and hardships that the Pannist had to endure. To quote Kitch " Yer sit dong on the river bank and talking the river bad , is ah ting we does do here in Trinidad ...." Long Live Pan firstly here in T+T and the rest of the World.
Comment by Terrance Noel MBE JP on July 2, 2011 at 1:15pm
Thanks for highlighting the good work we are doing at the Melodians in the UK.  Also, thanks for highlighting the lack of appreciation for the Steel Pan in Trinidad.
Comment by GARY CARDINEZ on July 2, 2011 at 8:39am

The award winning G Pan went back to its original inventor somewhere in central and a note was removed for a better sound, This happened more than a year ago,

The PHI is being worked on quietly I understand Boogsie is now working with one.

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