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Trinidad & Tobago Panorama 2007 - HOME

Pelham Goddard “very happy”
with Exodus Steel Orchestra, one week before
Panorama Finals

 
Trinidad & Tobago Steelband Panorama 2007
 

Legendary musician Pelham Goddard at the studios of Basement Recordings/When Steel TalksTrinidad - 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 Pelham.

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. 

 

Live Exclusive interview
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 more.

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 semi-finals performance, their non-inclusion 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.
 


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