Trinidad & Tobago, W.I. - Imagine it’s the conclusion of Panorama finals night, and there on the “Big Stage” is Duvone Stewart with arms wide open absorbing all the love, adulation and cheers from the audience - and he says in an M’Baku voice - “You have just witnessed the power of the Renegades” as he hoists the championship trophy.
Not to worry; at least for some of you, this has not yet happened. You were dreaming, and you had only dozed off at work or at the copy machine, or while waiting for the light to change, after sleepless nights of practice in the panyard - getting ready for the ultimate 2019 Panorama music challenge.
Indeed a dream come true for one, and daymare - nightmare for the other bands’ members.
We at WST (When Steel Talks) almost never comment on the Panorama ‘panyard judging’ of the preliminaries, with its uneven performing conditions (different days, different yards, etc., etc., etc.) - making it an unleveled judging platform - from a competitive standpoint; it works for some more than others. So the competition never really starts for us until semi-finals.
However, this year the math from the preliminary results, the ‘vibes’ and the conditions on the ground have caused us to make an early comment. The country of Pan and Calypso (Trinidad and Tobago) is fully engaged in the large band category Panorama competition. An awesome field of legendary arrangers and the greatest steel orchestras in the world. There are endless subplots. Too many to get into now. But mostly, the Duvone Stewart-led sitting champion Renegades Steel Orchestra has demonstrated that it has absolutely no interest in playing a game of changing thrones - its crew firmly intends to remain seated upon its throne. Captain Candice, President Marcano and the rest of the Renegades posse clearly love the vantage point and view from on top. And in this regard, catching up to and passing an inspired, professional world-class musical unit like Renegades—who is clearly in deep love with their championship—will be a daunting task.
Armed with a song (Hookin’ Meh) that has captured the spirit and imagination of the country like few have in the recent past, one has to wonder: what was in those “extra large garbage bags” being waved by fans from the high-rise flats flanking the world-famous Renegades panyard, during their prelims presentation? Could it be that - The Duvone & The Renegades have already “bagged” the rest of the competition, for trying to take their love and throne away? Were they about to unceremoniously drop the rest of the competition in ah garbage bag without parachute?
Now Duvone is truly a good person and a cool cat, but based on the musical salvos we heard from the prelims - “The Duvone” sure ain’t playing nice (meaning he’s not taking any prisoners). And make sure you look up the original meaning of the word nice.
Like M’Baku’s famous line in the movie Black Panther, Renegades is letting all suitors for their throne know, “We will not have it!”
Renegades Steel Orchestra - Duvone Stewart in foreground
Oohhh the intrigue, the plots, the schemes, the stories, the music of a generation.
Sure enough, the other thirteen steel orchestras are hoping that at the conclusion of this weekend’s Panorama semi-finals - Renegades will not have cause to embrace another famous M’Baku line - “Are you done? Are you - are you done?”
Well, you know what they say: it ain’t over till it’s over... or is it?