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Date: 07.02.06

Great Food,
& Great Pan Music
Utopia Pan Soul: the Next Generation hosts successful Pan-a-Que

                             Utopia Pan Soul's Pan-a-Que - In Pictures

Brooklyn, New York - With a beautiful summer Saturday in the forecast - Utopia Pan Soul: the Next Generation organized and held their first annual Pan-a-Que.  On the menu:  great food and great pan music.   The culinary fare included curried chicken, shrimp, potato, channa, fish and the like, topped off with buss-up shot (aka paratha) and roti.  The musical fare was very ably handed by a new steelpan group on the scene, Black Love Steel, and  later on by event organizers Utopia Pan Soul: the Next Generation.  Guest steelband Sesame Flyers were unable to appear due to a scheduling conflict.

The Blackfoot mas camp venue on Nostrand Avenue provided just the right atmosphere as members of the pan community passed through to get their fill of food and later on in the evening, steelband music.  The DJ entertained those present - before the bands played, achieving a pleasant balance within the space,  and with just the right vibe; the music was audible enough to maintain an air of excited camaraderie as people enjoyed food, drink, music and each other's company, but not so deafening that conversation was impossible.

Of those attending, quite a few were members of the pan community, there in support of Utopia's venture, including Harmony steel orchestra's PRO Debbie Ramkissoon (pictured left).  When Steel Talks was there when Black Love Steel (pictured below) began their set at 7:30 PM.  Many were curious about the new steelband group which had been formed just a couple weeks prior; and their supportive appearance at the Pan-a-Que was their inaugural outing. 
 


Black Love Steel

The steelband music group is led by Brian Nicholas, whose father, the late Knolly "Panther" Nicholas, was an important figure on the early New York pan scene.  Brian himself was the arranger for Harmony steel orchestra for the last two years.  His Black Love Steel group boasts musicians whose faces are familiar on the New York pan music scene as members of the much larger steel orchestras such as D'Radoes, Despers USA and Pantonic.  Black Love Steel is:  Gabre "Juice" Selassie and Omari Contaste alternating on six-bass; Knolly "Nikki" Nicholas on guitar (pictured right in peach-colored shirt); his brother and leader of the group, Brian Nicholas on double seconds (at right in white T-shirt); Alvin Alexander on double tenor; Ian on tenor; Wayne "Papits" Baptiste on tenor bass (Brian describes the instruments played by Baptiste as a new-style, short-skirted tenor bass); Anthony "Brigo" Edwards on drums and Sasha Hutchinson on percussion.  The group leader also noted that he would be adding a couple more instrument voices to Black Love Steel before the aggregation was complete.  For their Saturday gig, people got a very good idea of what Black Love Steel was about as they went through a clever set of well-chosen and proven material which began with Yesterday, continuing with If; Feel Like Making Love; What's Going On?; a spirited version of Lady In Red, concluding with Colours Again.

At the Pan-a-Que Utopia Pan Soul's members took up different responsibilities for a change, including co-founder Curt Rogers in trademark shades (pictured right).  He cheerfully exchanged pan sticks and instruments for culinary duties and apron, as he took his place behind the tables where the food was laid out, instead of his customary guitar pans.  After the event, When Steel Talks chatted with the group's other co-founder and leader Sheldon Elcock, who took the time to unreservedly extend his thanks to all those who supported Utopia's fundraiser in one way or another.  He had especially high praise for Black Love Steel's performance.  He mentioned that Utopia Pan Soul of course had performed, not too long after Black Love Steel, but that the gathering was moved indoors for that final music segment, as they had to make way for another event scheduled for the area previously occupied.

Utopia plans to make use of opportunities to host other similar events this summer during the short but intense New York panorama season.  Elcock noted that there was one challenge they had to deal with for Saturday's event - the "Trini time factor" also  known as the "anytime is Trinidad time" malady.  By that, he said he meant that the Utopia crew and family of supporters were there - ready and waiting to serve up their piping hot delicious food for the Pan-a-Que - since midday, the advertised time.  However, people only began to saunter in closer toward six in the evening, throwing things off somewhat, and causing a bit of an unnecessary 'crunch' in the event's entire schedule, including the other highlight of the evening, steelband music.  While Elcock looks forward to would-be patrons again supporting Utopia's upcoming "Ques" and/or other culinary-based projects - he additionally hopes that they would be encouraged to start showing up at least in the timeframe from when the food is available.  That aspect notwithstanding, Elcock said once again, that Utopia Pan Soul was very pleased with the support, and again reiterated his appreciation to all on behalf of his organization.

Utopia Pan Soul's Pan-a-Que - In Pictures



2006 When Steel Talks - All Rights Reserved

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