When Steel Talks chatted with Exodus' arranger Pelham Goddard, who
happily said that "Things [are] going very, very, very, very good!" Goddard was
remembering last year and the atmosphere then, when they were behind the ball.
But 2007 is definitely looking so much better. Asked about the band's
performance in the semi-finals concluded one week ago in Port of Spain, Goddard
thought it was good - all things considered. The entire one-hundred
piece orchestra, complete with players, had been gathered at the savannah in a
state of readiness since 5:00 PM Sunday afternoon - for rehearsals, and their
turn on stage, which eventually came only at 2:00 AM the next [Monday] morning.
At that point, some players were groggy with sleep, others had to be found, etc.
"The fact that we could keep the band together, that alone is a win!" declared
As is the custom, there are going to be changes in the band's
arrangement of "We Jammin' Again" which Goddard also wrote. The
championship winning arranger said he 'put on new introduction' to the piece, as
well as input a few changes around the middle of the arrangement to add the
element of 'hype.'
Like other orchestras, Exodus has concerns about the
conditions surrounding the hosting of the panorama finals competition at Skinner
Park in south Trinidad. It is the first time in the history of the
competition, that it will not be held in Port-of-Spain, north Trinidad.
The reason originally tabled was the impending demolition of the Grand Stand,
which at one week before the competition, remains standing.
Pelham Goddard aired his views on several factors that will
be significant with the change in venue. Steelbands' next order of
business after panorama, is the preparation for J'Ouvert celebrations, the
"Bomb" competition, preparing for their road presentation if they bringing out a
band of their own, or providing music for masqueraders in another. Many
have then to learn 'music for the road' including their "Bomb tune," since the
majority focused their efforts on their panorama tune.
Exodus is more fortunate and prepared in this regard,
however. They have eight selections 'in the bag' all ready for their road
presentation, since, like Trinidad All Stars and other bands, they play out
during the Carnival season, and their repertoire consists of all the latest soca
hits that have the crowds jumping. Exodus is presenting their own band
"Sailors Off Stage," referencing, Goddard says, the fact that there is no
[savannah] stage this year, and that all masqueraders are 'off' the stage.
But a long journey from the city of San Fernando, the second
largest in Trinidad, puts customary preparations in jeopardy for most band.
Even for world-traveled Exodus, as organized and known as they are for being
self-sufficient and contingency planning, remains cautious about the time
factor in the logistics, especially returning to Port-of-Spain. "That's going to
be a big issue" said Goddard.
The arranger has also been speaking to several steelpan
lovers who are customary panorama attendees - both Trinidadians, and visitors
from visitors from abroad, who have stated categorically that they will not be
attending the 2007 Panorama in Skinner Park this year. They cited concerns
on transportation to and especially from, the south venue, back to
Port-of-Spain. The issue of the 'merry-making' spilling over onto the
roads during carnival time, and the resultant driving attitudes of motorists,
are what they saw as key hindrances.
with Exodus arranger Pelham Goddard
For those who
are yet to get a handle on why not only patron
transportation, but that for bands, is such an issue -apart
from mobilizing one hundred and twenty players and attendant
personnel in the case of the large bands, and the same
parameters for the medium bands of maximum ninety players -
the crucial movement of the instruments is of equal if not,
in most cases, of more concern. Anyone who has been
around the culture of Panorama in Trinidad and Tobago is
familiar with the sight of long trailers journeying to the
Queen's Park Savannah with various voices of steelpan
instruments including twelve, nine, six basses and racks for
the entire orchestra, along with trucks containing four
pans, cellos, guitars, seconds and sometimes even tenors and
Historically, bands like Trinidad All Stars, Renegades,
Desperadoes on occasion, and others 'near' the Savannah, 'roll' much of their
orchestra along the streets from their panyards to the savannah. In the
latter years, Desperadoes has been transported down the hill from Laventille.
Bands participating in the panorama competition coming from the southern,
eastern and more western regions and sister isle Tobago, enter the savannah,
their instruments generally atop multiple long trailers and trucks per
orchestra, sometimes precariously perched, some more secured than others.
There have always been traffic issues, which are expected to be exacerbated now
that all these bands have a longer journey to Skinner Park situated in South
Trinidad. While it is not considered "deep south," the opportunities for
additional challenges mount, influenced in part by the following factors:
the customary impatience of
motorists in general with steelband instruments on trailers and trucks, this
time journeying southward (and back north) on the route most used - the main
highway - to link north and south
the longer distance to be
traveled; from Port-of-Spain to San Fernando is thirty-six miles, and the
need is even greater for all instruments and racks to be properly secured
the inescapable factor of the
number of drivers on the road "under the influence" on the Carnival weekend.
While the steel orchestras from the
south and central regions have always completed the same
return-type journey in the past, invariably they were few.
This time around, the tables are turned, and with not two or
three, but fifteen orchestras - eight large and seven medium
- on the road, with multiple trailers of instruments and
racks, all traversing the highway to and fro - with the odds
stacked - literally and exponentially.
Aside from transportation - another
element that might impact the crowd attendance at the
panorama finals, and that has crossed the minds of many,
including that of Pelham Goddard - is disgruntled
Southerners. They remain unhappy about the
non-qualifying of south bands in the large category,
(specifically - Skiffle Bunch Steel Orchestra), and some are
now questioning if they will turn out in their numbers.
It is the first time in about twelve years that this
world-renowned, south-based and favored steel orchestra, is
not among the eight finalists. Based solely on their
continues to be a source of shock and umbrage to many.
Additionally, though there are two medium conventional bands
from Tobago in the finals coming up on Saturday February 17,
Goddard noted that none made it into the large category, and
he thought this also could have some bearing on attendance.
But the unique and historic
situation that is 2007 Panorama notwithstanding,
Exodus remains upbeat; the players, manager
Ainsworth Mohammed, and their resident arranger
Pelham Goddard are all looking forward to their shot
at re-taking the championship this year. The
band last took home the trophy and prize purse in
2004 playing Pelham Goddard's arrangement of De
Fosto's War 2004.