“The sound of the Pan comes from the soul of our people. As such, it is a spiritual instrument, and that is why it is able to touch people in the way that it does. Few instruments can do that. It is more than a love affair. Pan is Trinbago, and Trinbago is Pan.” Daryl Joseph
WST - Is the Panist psychologically disturbed or is it the greatest love affair ever between instrument, culture and people?
Daryl - “Pan is the instrumental voice of a people. Pan was not born anywhere other than Trinidad & Tobago, and this is no coincidence. Pan could not have been born anywhere else. The sound of the Pan comes from the soul of our people. As such, it is a spiritual instrument, and that is why it is able to touch people in the way that it does. Few instruments can do that. It is more than a love affair. Pan is Trinbago, and Trinbago is Pan. ”
WST - Pan progress in Trinidad & Tobago - a myth, reality or unfulfilled potential?
Daryl - “Unfulfilled potential. It is inconceivable that a country like ours with so much access to a resource like Pan has so many social problems among our youth. It is inconceivable that only a handful of panists and tuners make a living from the instrument. It is inconceivable that so many Trinbagonians I talk to have never heard Pan anywhere else other than in Panorama. It is inconceivable that our music classes still emphasize studying the works of European classical composers and not the arrangements of our Panorama arrangers. Shall I go on?”
WST - Panorama - a curse, blessing, or is it misunderstood?
Daryl- “All 3! A curse in that too many bands come together to hustle a dollar for Panorama with mediocre arrangements and performances just to go to sleep for the rest of the year, a blessing in the soul-stirring memorable moments and performances that are too many to recall here, misunderstood by those who fail to understand that it is a carnival competition. Carnival is a time of merriment, masquerade, and enjoyment. Carnival is not a time to sit back, relax, and reflect. Those preoccupied primarily with experimentation and incorporation of non-Trinbagonian musical devices into the music have the rest of the year to do that. Panorama is ‘we’ ting and the music must always propel the carnival.”
WST - Is Trinidad All Stars the greatest band ever - LOL? And with regard to your response, why?
Daryl - “Of course Trinidad All Stars is the greatest band ever - LOL. Seriously though, All Stars is an institution with its own history, culture, habits, behavior, sound and attitude. All Stars people actually have common personality traits. For example, you will never hear seasoned All Stars members boasting before a competition; All Stars does its boasting on stage after the bell is knocked 4 times by the arranger. This behavior is not coincidental, and can be traced to Neville Jules in the 1950s and the attitude that he instilled into his players then, which has been handed down to the players today. The ‘never-say-die’ attitude is another trait of the All Stars person. You can never count All Stars out. Last year’s finals was an example of that. Most bands would have considered playing 1st in the final a disadvantage, but it never daunted the determination of the band to win. If anything it strengthened the common resolve. Considering the innovations in Pan through Neville Jules, the dominance of the band in every type of competition from Panorama to music festival to Bomb1, the popularity of the band’s music, and the worldwide outpouring of love from all generations of supporters, no disrespect to any other band, but All Stars is the greatest steelband ever in my humble opinion, and I am proud to be a part of it.”
WST - At what age did you start playing Pan - and what do you find most different from the time you started playing, to today?
Trinidad All Stars Steel Orchestra
Daryl - “ I started playing at the age of 18, relatively late, when I completed secondary school at St. Mary’s College (CIC). I wanted to start earlier, but I was daunted by the prospect of facing my parents who always insisted that I complete my studies before anything else. I became a fanatic of Pan and All Stars a lot earlier though, around the age of 9. The North Stand was a place in those days where a lot of tribalism reigned at Panorama, and I found myself liking what All Stars put down every year (the 1980s). When I started playing, players were still loyal to ‘their’ band. There was fire and passion for band. That has largely gone out the window now, with many players moving from band to band strictly for the money.”
WST - Of all the great steel orchestra franchises of Trinidad & Tobago, Trinidad All Stars has achieved a stability that the others seem to have not - why is this?
Daryl- “The watchwords of the orchestra – Discipline, Dedication, and Magnificence. All Stars lives these words daily. It is an attitude, a way of life for the band. If you ever attend an All Stars rehearsal, you will see these words strictly enforced. When the band performs, it always aims to entertain and not just perform, even in competition. Success is addictive, and the band has had more success than any other steel orchestra in the world. There is a fire, and a camaraderie and family spirit that keeps you coming back again and again and again. Most people will not know that the stage side lives like a family during the year – we lime together, we all know each other’s families, the children play together, members even train together and compete in road races and so on. All Stars is founded on order and discipline – there is a constitution and a set of processes that underlie how the band runs. It is truly an institution in every sense of the word.”
Trinidad All Stars Steel Orchestra
WST - What is your favorite All Stars' tune?
Daryl - “Easy question – Curry Tabanca. I was in the North Stand that final night in 1987 and I was completely blown away by the performance. I think I jumped for the entire piece (I had no choice!), never quite settling down until about 7 a.m. the next morning, LOL. The introduction still raises my pores today. Leon ‘Smooth’ Edwards is the most underrated arranger in the Pan world. Many people feel the same way I do about his work with All Stars, but the status quo seems intent on not mentioning his name when the greats are being discussed. I hope this will change in his lifetime as he deserves it.”
WST - Needless to say - you expect All Stars to win; is there any other band that has piqued your curiosity this year?
Daryl - “For me, there is All Stars and there is All Stars. After carnival I will review everyone else and say what I liked and did not like. For now, my focus is on doing my part to retain the trophy we worked so hard to win last year.”
WST - What do you think about all this change and movement as it relates to the younger arrangers coming into the large steel orchestra category?
Daryl- “It is a very welcome move. Most people do not know that “Smooth” won his first Panorama with ‘Woman on the Bass’ when he was in his mid-twenties not much older than some of the young arrangers in the Panorama today. Youth brings a certain ‘free spiritedness’ and joy that can become tempered with age. The mix of young and not so young will make the competition more competitive and this can never be a bad thing.”
WST - Name two things in Pan that are totally intolerable and must change immediately?
Daryl - “(a) The complete cluelessness that we as a nation have towards Pan and its potential as not just an entertainment instrument, but a vehicle of social renewal. (b) The inability of the majority of panists to make a good living off of the instrument.”Daryl Joseph
The “bomb” tune is a steelband’s interpreted rendition of a classical [or popular music] piece, played on Carnival Monday morning or J'Ouvert, French for “the opening.”
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