Trinidad & Tobago, W.I. - “I came from hustling. I used to run from band to band.
“But it was not about the money, however. My reason for playing with other bands was to learn other people’s styles,” arranger Carlon “Panman” Harewood confessed in an interview one day after he won his fourth successive Single Pan Championship title on February 3rd. Eventually, his style emerged. He describes it as “arranging on the cliff.”
Carlon “Panman” Harewood
The champs, San Juan East Side Symphony, was just one of the two bands for which Carlon arranged music. The other is his home band Potential Symphony, in the medium category, where he will compete against the seemingly perennial Duvone Stewart who has gifted the title to San Fernando-based Pan Elders for several years in row, and André White now into his second year of arranging for Pamberi, and who is strengthened by a win at the 2018 UK Panorama with Mangrove Steel Orchestra.
Clearly the Vice President (Veep) of Pan Trinbago is well poised to take his talent into the large band arena, even while he may be fending off scattered comments that seem to link the victory to his administrative role in the controversial steelband body, although the cold hard facts proved him worthy three times in a row before his 2019 “four-peat.”
What then, is the arranging style of the 39-year-old?
“It is very free and captivating,” he responded.
“I like the spur of the moment. I don’t practice home or anything. So, whatever I do I go straight to the pan yard and whatever energy is around me I feed off it.
“For example, I listen to how they talk in the panyard and that is what I arrange on. I listen to how they talk to me. Some people just sit-down and slouch and I will watch them in a particular way and that is a vibe too,” Carlon explained.
“I don’t go home and rehearse after a day at the office,” he continued,
“I tried to do it a couple times but it never works out. For all my Panorama wins I have never touched a pan at home. I can’t do it... it is tiring; it just gives me a headache,” he revealed.
“My creative juice only flows in the panyard.”
Overall, Harewood explained, he prefers to be “thematic rather than just arrange notes.”
“The concept in my head is more like theatre. It’s not a CD that you are listening to, but a live performance and that has been my style ever since I have been arranging.
“It’s just that the people and the judges may be gravitating to it now, but I always kept that signature style of ‘arranging on the cliff’,” he said.
““Professor” was a big contributor to my life and he arranged for Potential Symphony for several years.
“The music is there... it is out in the cosmos for us to create. I don’t go back and listen to past arrangements, as it is with Pan by Storm (the controversial 2nd place winner in the 1990 Panorama) I have my own style,” he declared, confidently.
“Veep”, born and bred in Sixth Avenue, Barataria, (behind Potential Symphony) had his first stint in arranging music in the sister isle, Tobago.
“My first real attempt was with Hope Pan Groove when I was just 12 years old, under Tony “Pan Jumbie” Williams. I remember when he stopped the band and said he wanted this youth man to do the introduction,” Harewood recalled.
Within a year, he hungrily grasped the opportunity to arrange again when Potential Symphony’s resident arranger, Ken Philmore “left the country for a tour with a big artist.”
As he grew older- and more hungry for the music- Harewood started playing with other bands where he learnt at the feet of the masters. His curriculum vitae includes a four-year stint at Exodus under Pelham Goddard and five years working closely with Edwin Pouchet at Silver Stars.
But he credits Len “Boogsie” Sharpe for “the creativity part of me,” as he absorbed the music of the iconic arranger when he worked for Potential Symphony over a period of five years, at least.
In between there, Carlon went the way of all talented players.
“I used to run from band to band to band to band and Mr. (Keith) Diaz told me that I was too talented to be playing with all these bands.
“You should start to arrange for a band and settle down because a rolling stone gathers no moss,” Diaz advised Carlon who said, “even though he has his ways that stood out in my life.”
“I have a lot of music in me to open a music shop and sell to people,” he said with a knowing laugh.
“When Pouchet was ill and hospitalized and could not finish the arrangement of “Gie dem Tempo” in 2012 he did not want anyone to touch his song but he called me to do the intro and the end,” Carlon recalled.
“I learnt so much from him because I wanted to know how it is this quiet, humble person could create that kind of effect.
“So I have that style under my belt if I want to activate that, as well ” he noted.
Though he started playing when he was just seven years old, Carlon, who attended San Juan Boys Government Primary, Barataria Junior Secondary and San Juan Senior Comprehensive, was hampered from doing music in school.
But when he started at the original National Steel Orchestra, (NSO) he began formal music lessons.
He’s been there for two decades, five of which he assumed the role of Captain.
In the new dispensation at the National Steel Symphony Orchestra, (NSSO) Carlon said he “is just a Musician 2 who plays the G Tenor or Percussion.”
Before the finals on February 3rd at the Arima Basketball Court, he was gutted with a core of “really good players, on par with football’s Messi and Ronaldo,” who were brought together by the management of San Juan East Side.
The band did not have a Panorama victory since 2015 under Duvone Stewart and “whatever notes I gave they ate it.”
“They confessed that the arrangement of Kitchener’s Iron Man was “one of the hardest songs they ever played,” he said with pleasure, ending the interview.
A Journalist/Editor based in Trinidad and Tobago, with 35 years experience in print, broadcast and digital media. As a founding member of the T&T Mirror Newspaper, I served as photo journalist, columnist and editor over 23 years.
My experience in broadcast journalism started and ended at the now defunct National Broadcasting Service (Radio 610 AM and Radio 100 FM). I honed my skills in broadcast journalism at the Radio Netherlands Training Centre (RNTC) and I am a certified media trainer.
Single-handedly, I established a small but effective News Department at Trinidad and Tobago Radio Network Limited (TTRN). As a seasoned news woman I am skilled in photojournalism, parliament and court reporting, writing and producing for print, electronic (radio and video) as well as digital media and promotions. I have mentored and trained a few younger writers and producers along the way. For this and more I earned a National Award in 2012, the Humming Bird Medal (Gold). I am the mother of a young scholar, an undergrad at Columbia University in New York, and a lover of steelpan music.
contact Sharmain Baboolal at: email@example.com