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Date: 06.11.06

Summer and Steel in full swing
at Pathmark's Annual
Multicultural Arts Festival

Pathmark Multicultural Arts Festival in Pictures

New York - It has been some four years since three of New York's well-known steelbands have been participating in the annual Pathmark Multicultural Arts Festival celebrations at Kings Plaza Shopping Center in Brooklyn.  A mere two weeks before summer - every year without fail - mall shoppers, families from surrounding environs, and others who come specifically to get their fill of steelband music and other cultural entertainment, are in attendance.


 Click to see video clip

Pantonic Pan Ambassadors
Women In Steel

Pathmark hosts several such events in boroughs where the supermarket giant has a presence, as a way of 'giving back to the communities' which patronize their stores.  For the Brooklyn community located in East Flatbush, that means that the festival usually has a West Indian theme, hence the performance of the steel orchestras who are present along with dancers and drummers, all brought together by Pathmark.  In addition to the performances, a few sponsors set up shop on the periphery, to disburse samples of and information on - their products and services, to the curious who milled around the tables set up for that purpose.  It must be said though that since 2003, the number of sponsors on hand to showcase their products to the crowd around the performance area has dwindled noticeably.

When it comes to the steelpan instrument, Interestingly and predictably enough, there are always those in the audience who are new to the concept of drums making musical melodies.  "What weird-looking drums!" one onlooker was heard commenting as she attempted to move in time to the infectious steelband sounds which were foreign to her.  Here was yet another person who up until that point, had probably remained unaware of the steelpan as an instrument, much less the concept of an orchestra.  The outreach potential is endless as always, regardless of where steelbands perform in the tri-state area and beyond.

Pantonic Steel Orchestra perform,
with onlookers on steps and balconies

Many people present had obviously decided that this was a family-type event not to be missed; babies in strollers, and children 'steps up' in age, along with mothers, complete with 'fast food' purchases could be seen all around.  The staircase directly in front of the stage was crowded, with just enough room left to pass.  Other people grabbed available spaces in the overhead second-level balconies as they were vacated by previous on-lookers.

Pantonic steel orchestra who have just released their latest CD Tonic Gems, was the first among the three steel orchestras to perform.  Beginning around ten minutes after one, the stage-side representation of the five-time New York panorama champions took the audience through an hour-long performance, featuring some of the material from Tonic Gems, with almost all of the arrangements done by their captain Keith Roberts.  The end of every musical number was punctuated by loud applause as listeners from various age-groups issued their stamps of approval for respective selections from the orchestra's repertoire.

Pan Ambassadors perform with dancers on elevated stage

Pan Ambassadors followed Pantonic into the spotlight, opening up with a piece accompanied by the vocals of Ms. Scanterbury, daughter of band leader Magnus Scanterbury.  This went over very well with the crowd which showed its appreciation unreservedly.  The steelband group chose to flavor a couple more of their performances with vocals, and also an additional visual element via the dance quartet who joined them for one number on the elevated stage behind the band.


Women In Steel

The final steelband segment was delivered by Women in Steel who began their set at 3:45 PM.   By this time, the audience had gone through several shifts, as some who were there for the previous performance(s) moved on, while others, especially the family units, could still be seen firmly anchored in the exact spots they occupied at the start of the afternoon's events.  Women In Steel drew enthusiastic applause from the audience; a woman in the audience could be heard proudly proclaiming:  "They're all women!" as the pan-playing ladies plied the crowd with one tune after another.

The dance group Something Positive were due to perform after the steel orchestra segment.  Well-known drummers and dancers Ebonč Roots Dance & Drum Theater had already set the tone for the afternoon by opening up the afternoon's festivities. 

It is accurate to say, that at the end of this Sunday afternoon, in addition to their shopping gains, people were more than sated with entertainment featuring steelband music, drumming and dance for the Kings Plaza edition of the Pathmark Multicultural Arts Festival.  There had been the returnees who had expectantly and faithfully marked their calendars for this event; and then - there were the usual converts who discovered the festival and its thrilling performances for the very first time, and who will now join next year's pilgrimage to the festival.

Yohan Popwell, arranger for Sonatas steel orchestra
at the Multicultural Arts Festival


Albert 'Bing' Reid, left,
with Sesame Flyers' Keith Marcelle, Sr., at right

As is customarily the case at steelband-themed events in the area, well-known faces on the New York pan scene were present, among them Keith Marcelle, Sr. of Sesame Flyers steel orchestra, in company with Albert 'Bing' Reid; arranger for New York powerhouse Sonatas steel orchestra - Yohan Popwell, and leader of Women In Steel with lovely daughter Colette at her side, Claudette Baptiste (pictured below).


©2006 When Steel Talks - All Rights Reserved

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Pathmark Multicultural Arts Festival in Pictures

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