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Seeking Pan Music, Will Travel
A Look At Dominica's Steelband Music Festival

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Approaching Dominica's Melville Hall Airport



Landing at Melville Hall Airport


View of Bay from Garraway Hotel


Garraway Hotel


The Arcadia, luxury ocean-liner at Roseau Bay, in front of the Garraway Hotel


Roseau Cruise Ship Berth


Roseau Market


Crowd outside Museum take in the pan show


Pan by The Bay Performance area - by day

Roseau, Dominica - One of the major benefits of the global steelpan music explosion is that on almost any given month of the year, there will be at least one major steelpan music event occurring  someplace in world.  On November 1st, Dominica held its annual Pan by The Bay Festival which features the steelbands from various villages and the capital of Dominica.

Dominica's steelpan music community is burgeoning.  Moreover, Dominica's musical influences, styles and tastes are similar in some respects to other Caribbean nations, but its flavoring is very unique because of its history, impacting greatly on the people's approach to steelband music.  This is one of the reasons steelpan music enthusiasts will be frequently visiting Dominica to hear their brand of pan music big time.

Today we focus on the Caribbean nation of Dominica from a pan enthusiast's and traveler's perspective.



Taking off from Melville Hall Airport

This time the When Steel Talks (WST) crew flew to Dominica out of New York's JFK International airport.  We caught an American Airlines flight to San Juan, Puerto Rico and then hopped on an American Eagle flight into Melville Hall airport in Dominica. 

Coming into Melville Hall's airport provides passengers with an awesome experience as you literally come out of the clouds and descend over, and then through the mountains as the aircraft lands.  The sights of the pristine and virgin forests and waterfalls are breath taking.

It took three hours and fifty minutes from New York to San Juan.  The trip from San Juan to Dominica took an hour and fifty minutes.  On this trip the WST crew stayed at the Garraway Hotel, which is located in downtown Roseau, just over an hour's drive from the Melville Hall airport.

The drive through the winding roads across Dominica will provide you with a picturesque scenery unlike anywhere else in the world.  The drive alone into the city is a naturalist's dream.  It becomes real obvious why the runaway Hollywood hit movie "Pirates of The Caribbean" was filmed here.



Mr. Garraway and Merle George

The Garraway Hotel is located literally a stone's throw away from the Roseau Cruise Ship Berth which incidentally was the staging area for the Pan by The Bay festival.

The five-story hotel overlooks the Bay and is located next to the financial, business and tourist activities in the town.  The Garraway provides everything you need for your stay including great food, facilitated by the hotel's in-house restaurant. The cooks have definitely got it 'going on.'  There is complimentary high speed internet access from hotel rooms.  For your pleasure, there is alternately DJ and live entertainment in the lounge area.  The Garraway's location, perks and excellent staff make it a 'pan perfect' place to stay.

As the Pan by The Bay steelpan festival takes place during the tourism season, massive luxury ocean liners dock at the bay daily; their passengers come ashore and visit the island for a few hours before departing to their next cruise destination.  As a direct result of the presence of the cruise ships there is an abundance of ground travel to take you to any part of the island.

The Festival

Performers at Pan Festival

The annual Pan by The Bay Festival is sandwiched between Dominica's world-famous Creole festival which takes place the week before, and the ongoing host of independence celebrations during and immediately after the steelpan festival.  As a result the Roseau area is extremely active and lively.  This year's event experienced its largest turnout in years.  The performances began at about 8:00 pm and ended a little before midnight.

The participating steel orchestras came from the capital and different villages of Dominica.  The production was well-organized and fluid, without apparent hiccups in spite of a couple of last minute cancellations due to transportation breakdowns for bands traveling from great distances.

The audience was very pleased with the performances, cheering on the players, and breaking into applause after each performance.  Indeed, so taken was a Canadian national with the performances that she went looking for and inquiring, as to who were the instructors who so skillfully guided these young performers. 

Pan In Dominica is a Steelpan music lover's paradise.

Scenes From Dominica



Related Articles

contact: Dominica Steelband Association | Anna Raffoul, President |email:  | (767) 448 2622

contact: Chief Music Officer | Pearle Christian |email: | tel: (767) 449 - 1804
contact: National Cultural Council | Raymond Lawrence |email: | (767) 449-1809
contact: Garraway Hotel email: | web: | (767) 449-8800

More On Steelpan In Dominica

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