Town After All)
New York - After an interesting 2004 panorama, where then-four-time New York panorama champions Pantonic Steel Orchestra were placed by the panel of judges in position twelve out of thirteen bands - a drop of eleven places from their first place/championship status in 2003 - the New York pan scene would never be the same. This set tongues-a-wagging, and had even some seasoned pan veterans shaking their heads in disbelief. Other 'nay sayers' tasted blood, and chortled with glee.
For the most part, Pantonic paid scant regard to this result, and decided this situation did not merit any recognition, much less an official comment from them. They simply looked toward 2005.
In the firing line were both Pantonic and their resident arranger Clive Bradley. But even the latter had interesting commentary directed his way on the Trinidad and Tobago panorama scene a couple years ago when the John Schmidt 2003 reports stated that "Bradley may be suffering from a creative "drought"' ending with "Bradley can be a musical genius, but he seems to often suffer from the musical equivalent of "writer's block" (see para on linked page under Desperadoes). This article was subsequently reprinted in its entirety in the Trinidad and Tobago national press.
And along similar lines this year - there was commentary on the New York 2005 panorama scene in the weeks running up to the competition like "Bradley is all washed-up," among others. The same was said of Pantonic. Comments were made about how "small" the band was for 2005.
Everybody loves a winner, and the situation with Pantonic was no different. They were the very last band in New York to acquire a panyard, managing one only in the second-to-last week before the September 3 performance. Some 2004 members who loved the glitz and glamour of a champion quietly did not resurface for 2005, now that the "champions" had apparently lost - a lot of - their luster. The few visitors who initially passed by the panyard did so mainly out of curiosity to see, and to confirm in their minds, that Pantonic was no longer a major threat.
It was only in the last three to four days, that the realization set in that neither Bradley, nor Pantonic for that matter, were out of the equation. And with his work for D'Radoes on Johnny King's 'Darlin'' striking sweet chords with the pan supporters, so too did at least some, sit up and take note of his arrangements of Oba Sinnette's 'Action' for Pantonic.
The end result for 2005 is now firmly etched in the annals of pan history, not only in New York, but also in the world's other premier major steelpan music event where Bradley also arranges - Trinidad and Tobago's National Panorama. This is the first time that an arranger has secured both first and second place honors.
It would be interesting to see (as a result of Clive Bradley's phenomenal achievement in 2005 in the New York arena, and to ensure that this does not occur again) - if there is a move on the part of disgruntled parties who have not been able by normal means, to emulate Bradley's success, to encourage the application of the one-arranger, one-band rule that is "law" on the Trinidad and Tobago pan scene.
This rule restricts arrangers to one band in either the large, medium or small categories, but however allows the individual(s) to arrange once across those categories. In the New York competition there are no such divisions, so any rules of one-arranger, one-band will be effective across the board.
Watch out for 2006. It is not probable that there will be a repeat of this year's achievements. New York's other premier steel orchestras are not going to take this 'lying down.' They are coming hard - and with a vengeance. If Pantonic thought this year was a battle, then they had probably be on notice not only for 2006, but for many years to come - the environment, especially that of the competition is about to become even more challenging.
C. Phillips, Basement
Let us hear your views