For more on SteelPan In Dominica  click here



Date: 11.7.06             

Another year of Independence,
Another year of Pan by The Bay

and Dominica's Young Musicians Take Center Stage

Dominica, W.I. - The first day in November was a memorable day-into-evening experience, and one filled with immense excitement for scores of young Dominican pannists hailing from around the island.  While national celebrations were underway for the republic's twenty-eighth year of independence, steelband groups had been in preparation for this chance to show off their skills and talents achieved through months of practice.  The Dominica National Steel Pan Association in collaboration with the country's National Cultural Council & Division of Culture were the organizers of the evening's upcoming event - Independence Pan Festival 2006 also known as Pan by The Bay. 

Raymond Lawrence and Pearle Christian

Prior to the event, When Steel Talks (WST) had chatted with three people playing key roles: Ms. Anna Raffoul, president of the national steelpan association; the National Cultural Council's Chief Cultural Officer, Raymond Lawrence and; Pearle Christian, Chief Music Officer - and discussed with them a topic of mutual interest.  That topic was Dominica's brightest and best natural resource - it's youth, and the focus of the pan festival's participants - the steelpan artform.  All three were later present in support of, and kept things on track for, the night's show.


The Arcadia as it departed Roseau

The venue was the Roseau Cruise Ship Berth which welcomed tourists coming ashore from luxury ocean liners, such as the Arcadia that had docked for the day, but which was now rapidly becoming smaller on the horizon.  The departure of the Arcadia now cleared the way for the trucks filled with pan players and instruments to descend on the venue to set up for the evening's show.

The day which had been bright and sunny, now gave way to an evening with intermittent rain showers.  But that did not deter the performers from going about the business of preparation under the shelter of the berth.  One after another the trucks arrived, while at the same time the various groups of pan players, some of them of colorfully attired, grew steadily.  And about fifteen minutes before eight, the show began.

Crowd stands with umbrellas in hand

Marigot Youth and Senior Steel Orchestras were first up in Pan by The Bay, representing Marigot, where the country's national airport - Melville Hall - is located.  From the very beginning of the show, the onlookers were present in support, despite the threat from the rain to open up afresh at any given moment.  But they were well prepared.  While the pan performers and instruments were set up three to four at a time under the cover of the cruise ship berth, people standing across the street were armed with their umbrellas.  A segment of Dame Eugenia Charles Boulevard which runs alongside the bay front, was partially shut down to facilitate the pan event, and as the crowd grew, they moved off the sidewalk and took up positions on the road.

There are about sixteen steelband groups in Dominica and of those, eleven had been on the program to participate in the Pan by the Bay/Independence Pan Festival 2006.  There were the two groups from Marigot, Jamming Steel, Cool Steel, Brizee's Cultural Drama Club and Fanta Pan from Roseau, Culture Pan from Portsmouth, and Genesis from nearby Canefield.  At the crux of the non-appearance of at least one of the three other bands - Dominica State College, Phaze 5 and Kalinago steel orchestra - was transportation.

Athie Martin of Island Sound Trio
at Pan by The Bay

But of those who performed, they raised the roof.  The ever-growing crowd showed their appreciation for each group, registering resounding bursts of applause for key selections by respective bands.  Guest artiste Island Sound Trio with veteran Dominican pannist Athie Martin brought a fresh facet to the event as the penultimate act before Genesis closed the show, with the crowd gravitating toward the staging area near the end of Island Sound Trio's stint.

The young pan players watching from the sidelines had as much fun as the audience; they applauded and danced, while their fellow Dominican players from other groups were in the spotlight putting on show after show for the crowd.  As is customary, the more diminutive in stature the players, the more the crowd focused on them.  One extremely youthful member of Porthmouth's Culture Pan on maracas, along with the band's seriously intent little drummer who got himself a quick radio interview after their performance, had the audience craning their necks to catch glimpses of them, little bigger than tots in size (pictured below).  Incidentally, the National Bank of Dominica came onboard shortly before the event in support of Culture Pan, and they are currently known as 'NBD Culture Pan.'

Culture Pan's drummer

Little maracas player in Culture Pan










Jamming Steel came equipped with enthusiasm and promise for the island's steelband youth.  Look for them to evolve as they gain experience and interact even more in island-wide events such as the Pan by The Bay Festival.  Cool Steel were snazzy in their chic black hats and white shirts, with equally snappy numbers for the show.  Genesis' young people have been around for a bit longer than some of the other groups, and this was evident in their confidence and repertoire.

Fanta Pan's players with Edward Andre, Dominica's pan maker, at right.   Edward, also a pan tuner and instructor, is assisted by his brother Eric Andre, at left

Dominica's representative in the first annual OECS Junior Pan Competition was Brizee's Cultural Drama Club.   They did their country proud and placed second back in the April event, and once again delivered on demand at the Pan by The Bay Festival.  Fanta Pan, in existence for more than thirty years had their fans as well, and were fresh from performing on the opening and closing nights of Dominica's recently-concluded 2006 World Creole Music Festival.



Large crowd that turned out for Pan by The Bay 2006

Before the night was out, every single act on the program had given the hundreds of people (lined up as much as ten-deep in some cases), a great pan show for four hours, non-stop.  Bets are on that next year's event is going to be even bigger and better, and that the crowd, some of whom were still there from the Creole Music Festival, will be joined by some who will ensure that their stay in Dominica is extended to catch Pan by The Bay.



Contact Anna Raffoul, President  of the Dominica Steelband Association via email:; tel: 1 (767) 448 2622

C. Phillips, Basement Press Corp.
©2006 When Steel Talks - All Rights Reserved


Related Articles

More On Steelpan In Dominica

Back To Pan Global Page

Click To Hear Current Pan Radio Show

Home *  Pan News  * Headlines * Events * Message Board * Guest Book * Pan Radio * Pan Global * Pan TnT  * Pan New York  * About Us * Join Mailing List

©2006 Basement Recordings, Inc. All rights reserved

Search for Anything Steelpan Music Related