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  July 21, 2005  

Countdown to New York Panorama 2005

Some Folks
Just Don't Get Out Much...
Where Is The Steelband Panorama Program?



Wingate Concert Bandshell Program

A good friend of mine once told me it is not nice to pick on "people who are not able."  If they lack the ability to do better and everybody knows it - why bother picking on them? That was all cool- until last evening.

Extreme jealousy has set in. In Brooklyn, New York there is an annual event called the Martin Luther King, Jr. Concert Series held at Wingate Park. Wingate Field is located on Winthrop Street between Brooklyn and Kingston Avenues, opposite Kings County Hospital which is about a mile from the grounds where the New York steelband panorama is staged annually. 

So what?  What does this have to with steelband business you may ask? Absolutely nothing!! Except one of the When Steel Talks crew attended the event and was given a program. As a matter of fact all the attendees (9,000 [nine thousand] plus) were given a program.  For free!  The program is a 64 page Bandshell booklet that gave in-depth info and promotional material on the performing artists, sponsors and upcoming shows.   And this happens for at least the first two or three weeks.  That's an outlay of at least 18,000 or 27,000 programs.

Again, we are extremely jealous. Why can't the paying steelpan folks get a professional looking program like this on panorama night? Imagine being able to see pictures of the bands and get pertinent information on the performing steel orchestras while one enjoys the panorama. It's been a very long time since I've seen a program at panorama. I still have one from nineteen seventy something. I still treasure mine, and I can tell you it makes a fantastic memento.  I hope this "oversight" is not a reflection on how the promoters feel about the paying steelband panorama attendees.

Look, we can overlook the fact that this concert at Wingate Park featuring Slave, The Ohio Players and Cameo was awesome. The lighting, the stage, the sound, the video the stage production - what a show. We're talking pro stuff here - no amateur junk.  And the whole thing - stage set-up - was put up the morning of the show.  That's right, the morning of the show.

Every week the production crew comes in on Monday morning and puts the whole stage together for the evening event.  And then breaks everything down and neatly packs the entire ensemble away sometimes as early as Tuesday morning.

There were many differences between this concert at Wingate Park and the New York panorama. To this we say - so what?

So what? We can overlook the fact that the live Wingate concerts have gotten better every year, and that in a shorter space of time, has outdistanced the steelband panorama in every important facet except the enthusiasm, talent and professionalism that the steelpan performers bring to the panorama.

So what? We can overlook the fact that there was a VIP and press area for the performing artists.  Pan folks aren't artists, to merit that caliber of treatment though, correct?

So what? We can overlook the fact that the artists and show attendees were greeted with smiles, manners and courtesy. Pan players and panorama attendees aren't really people, though?

So what? We can overlook the fact that the grass is greener on their side and everyone involved (attendees, artists, sponsors etc.) is happier.   The Wingate show is the bomb, it is a real show.  We are not sure who the panorama production crew is trying to be like when they grow up.  But we're not sure you'd want to be around when they do...

Therefore, to all of this we say "So What?"   Except - to the issue of a program.  Come on, we have to draw the line somewhere.  This is inexcusable. How can Wingate Park patrons EACH get a program and not the panorama folks?  Some of the sponsors are the same.  Or don't the sponsors have a care as to how their funds are spent, or are not put to use?

We just have to mention this, in addition to the issue of the program.  The Wingate concert series is the project of Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz.  And he also hosted the show for the most part.  What was laudable was his knowledge about the acts - their respective histories, accomplishments, and iconic status etc.  Markowitz was versed and articulate during breaks in performances - a sign of respect for the audience - and the artists themselves.

Would it be asking too much if the same was to be done at the New York Panorama?  Instead of sometimes off-color and off-subject humor, and more usually, woefully distorted musical  din from less than caring DJs/sound people, why not share with all present, facts about the participating bands, and the steelband art form in general?  Is that asking too much?

Clearly there are some folks who do not get out much.  Some who may have never been to a real live concert.  Do yourself a favor.  No - do the pan community a favor.  Go to Wingate park next week and watch how they transform a normal park into a major performance arena and put on a real concert.  Peabo Bryson and Regina Bell are performing.

Lighting, sound, stage, seats, program - it was worth every penny.

Ooops - did we mention that the concerts are free?


Workers preparing Mobile Stage for Evening Concert -
a weekly undertaking  for the duration of this annual summer concert series

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