When Steel Talks

Everything Related to the Steelpan Instrument and Music

From the album, "Lord Kitchener Classics Vol. 2 - Kitchener Forever", this is Kitch's description of Carnival 1979 when the steelbands went on strike and there was no pan on the road.
Many believe that this incident opened the door for DJ music to take over the streets of T&T at Carnival, from the steelbands.

To me, however it's much more complicated than that.
The decline of the steelbands' power on the road at Carnival actually began in about the mid nineteen sixties.

As the popularity of the Panorama competition increased, many bands began to focus more on the competition, and less on other music for the Carnival, and for the road.

At a time when masqueraders were beginning to demand a more professional musical presentation on the road, the steelbands were falling short.

Musical repertoires were limited for most bands, and there were complaints that many bands only had "one tune".
That may have been an exaggeration, but that began to be the perception.

(Now, before you all disagree, remember I'm reporting what I personally experienced)

Few bands approached playing music for their supporters and masqueraders on the road as a job, since by and large, most panists received little if any payment.

And there was also the "sagaboy" panman.

We all knew him.
He may have been around to play on the road at J'ouvert, and maybe a couple hours Tuesday, but for the most part his rack was empty.

He was more interested in hugging his girl friends than wrapping his fingers around his pan sticks.

There were quite a few of them and by late evening there would be enough empty racks to make a difference.

So the decline of the pan on the road at Carnival wasn't an accident.

The door had been ajar before the strike.

And when the strike, occurred , the opportunity was there, and the DJs took full advantage.

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Comment by Glenroy R Joseph on September 15, 2013 at 1:26pm

And Cindy, I forgot to say, "Supporters got tired pushing empty pan racks"

Comment by Cindy Cummings on September 15, 2013 at 1:17pm


You are a hard-hitter - but right as rain.  If we were honest with ourselves and look back at the mess that transpired in the pan yards, the decline was guaranteed.  The "sagaboy" lacked interest, it was something to do for the occasion, he "showed up" when he got around to it, it was not all that important to him.  Practice time was always delayed.  They did not see this taking them anywhere.  They had the wrong ATTITUDE.  Did the bands not spend the few hours they had practicing one tune for Panorama and or the Bomb competition?  Correct me if I am wrong please.  If practice started at 8:00 and ended around 11:00, they would have had to work really hard to learn another tune.  Another problem at that time, the people who came to listen, were busy chatting and creating their own ruckus.

Comment by Ian Franklin on September 15, 2013 at 12:20pm

Hello ODW,

                   I know that you are only joking (lol) Ok for the ones who did not know.  Clive Bradley/Desperadoes were leading Leon Edwards/All Stars, and "Woman on the Bass" came back and defeated No Pan. We all know that "Woman on the Bass" is the most played and most famous panorama tune.

Thanks again. 

Comment by odw on September 15, 2013 at 5:42am


I don't know if you intended to present your comment as a "trivia" question but I'm curious to know who are those "certain arranger/band" their names would be helpful to the discussion.

Thanks in advance.

Comment by Ian Franklin on September 14, 2013 at 10:16pm


             There was pan on the road in 1979 (lol)

As per trivia, a certain arranger/band final night performance of "No Pan" gave birth of the most popular panorama tune.to date. That certain arranger/band were leading another certain arranger/band by 17 points after the semi-finals, but lost to that another certain arranger/band at the 1980 finals. You all know what I mean (lol) 

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