Courts New Dimension from
Grenada at WSMF in Madison Square Garden
New York - Of course, you’ll have to take
my word for it, because despite a lovely show put on by Pan Trinbago
(The World Steelband Music Festival 2005) there are no officially
recorded renditions of the show. There isn’t even one complete source
of recordings in the yards. Doesn’t anyone value the historical aspect
of pan at all? This again calls the question of how pan can properly
be marketed, and who is in fact the market.
First, the show. Despite the touting of a World Steelband Music
Festival, there still may have been some disappointment on the part of
anyone who had previously been to Festival. The disconnect between the
preliminaries and the finals made many wonder about the process of
inclusion into the finals. This coupled with the fact that the general
vibe of a festival was missing (no music on the radios, no real
visiting of the yards to hear rehearsals) made many comment that this
wasn’t really Festival.
CASYM from New York at WSMF in
Madison Square Garden
All this doesn’t mean that we should belittle the achievement of Pan
Trinbago. In a short time a show was put together which allowed those
who attended have six hours of pure pan enjoyment. While there were
questions of logistics rife in the air up to two days before the event
– pans in customs, bands not here yet, etc., the show came off with
only the hiccup of the first band change. Since the responsibility for
this lies squarely with the team at MSG, who ultimately did catch on,
we hardly have room to complain.
As to the music, from a tango in the A minor as put forth by the
Courts New Dimension from Grenada, to the dramatic Echoes Symphony as
played by Skifflebunch, to the extremely creative “From Kumasi to La
Trinidad” by the Courts Sound Specialists of Lavantille the audience
was thoroughly riveted. Dem Boys from Tobago kept the audience going
with renditions of Lovely Day, Woman is Boss, Sa Sa Yea, and other
songs. Musically, the show surpassed the expectations of many who
went, and some who stayed home expecting disaster.
Skiffle Bunch from Trinidad at
WSMF in Madison Square Garden
But what of the market for pan? Who exactly is the target audience?
What do the players get out of it? Should the promoters take into
consideration the feelings of the players as distinguished from those
of the band leaders?
I, for one was pleased to see that a large segment of the audience
were not only pan aficionados, but in fact players. This at least
proved, if not once and for all, at least for this event, that pan can
sustain itself within our own community. We are always hearing that
only Europeans and the Japanese appreciate pan these days, but this
proved, happily, to be not wholly accurate. Who is the audience? The
answer seems to be evolving, but people of Caribbean extract are not
to be written off just yet.
Sound Specialists of Lavantille
from Trinidad at WSMF in Madison Square Garden
One can only imagine that the individual player becomes the lowest
form of life in a band setting. The player gets very little
remuneration for the tiring hours of practice, so has to instead think
of furthering his personal achievements. Maybe that entails playing
different instruments or learning the tune in a shorter span of time.
Players have to content themselves with the bragging rights.
Sometimes, in fact, there isn’t even a recording of the performance
which can be easily obtained from the promoter. Pans get abused, left
behind, not tuned until the last minute; the life of a player can be
stressful in particular- in particular when coupled with the fact that
any disorganization quickly becomes a distraction from the music.
Do promoters such as Pan Trinbago and WIADCA have to take the players
feelings into consideration? In a perfect world, yes. While I am not
suggesting that players be pampered to the point of becoming divas,
there is a certain logic to making the talent happy. We could all look
forward to the day when the player can comfortably be transported to
the venue, and be allowed to decompress before getting to the stage.
One can only imagine that the quality of music would be improved. As a
parting gift – a recording of the performance would be nice too (OK,
that was Eden before Eve and the serpent got to it), as well as some
acknowledgement of the sacrifice – dare I say appreciation.
I have awoken from my reverie to get back on track about the Festival.
Having pulled this off, Pan Trinbago can now look forward, both
literally and figuratively and ponder the future of the instrument in
other ways. Let’s hope the opportunity is not lost.
- AH -