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Steel Pan in Dominica

Date: 04.30.06

'All Ah We Is One Family'
at the OECS Junior Steelpan Competition

Roseau, Dominica - Caribbean unity was not just a theme, but became an actuality when it was put into practice in Dominica for the recently-concluded OECS Junior Steelpan Competition.  Five steel orchestras traveled to Dominica to compete in the event, and one other as guest artists for the show.

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Not one orchestra was exempt from the trials and tribulations such as flight delays, being "bumped off" flights, the arbitrary and nonchalant breaking up of chaperoned groups of young musicians by discourteous airport airline personnel and put on later flights, and errant luggage and music instruments.  In many instances, steelpan instruments and personal belongings made much later appearances than their owners - up to the morning of the competition. 

In the case of Grenada, their two sets of six-basses for various reasons did not make it to Dominica.  With about forty-eight hours left to go, there was a competition to participate in, and no bass instruments. 

Up stepped a trio of steelpan veterans - Dominica's main pan maker, tuner and arranger, Edward 'Eddie' André, and tuners from Trinidad and Tobago, Roger Ramnarine and Fitzroy Henry. 

Together the threesome got to work on Friday night, with the driving rain on the outside, to build two sets of six-basses for the Grenadian contingent.  By two on Saturday morning, the first stages were completed including sinking and grooving, and later in the morning at the break of dawn, the pans were all 'burnt' as part of the steel tempering process.

Brizee's Cultural Drama Club practicing for the competition while the craftsmen worked nearby

When Steel Talks was visiting the Dominica event participants as they practiced in the afternoon, Brizee's Cultural Drama Club, and came upon the three men hard at work on one of the two sets of basses.  They were in the initial stages of shaping the notes of the instruments.

It goes without saying, that the pans were completed in time for their players to have a practice session that finished at three on Sunday morning.  One set of the basses was even painted by the time of the event which was staged at Dominica's Botanical Gardens on Sunday afternoon. 

The cooperation, unity and determination which culminated in the creation of bass instruments at this critical time, is a shining example of what should be the norm not only in the Caribbean steelpan community, but integrated into every aspect of steelband culture on the world stage.

Contact  Ms. Raffoul, president of the Dominica Steelpan Association at

C. Phillips, Basement Press Corp.

©2006 When Steel Talks - All Rights Reserved
















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