Pan Music 24-7

Without Compromise


Let us hear your views   



The brain churns, the heart pounds and the waist gyrates while the hands wait patiently for that moment to play.

It’s that special feeling that all pan musicians experience. Why do they want to take away this from them? This question has come about as more and more steel bands appear to be losing their accommodation/pan yards.

Pan yards are not just for music lessons or practice sessions, it also provides a forum for other social activities. It’s a focal point where all can frequent and possibly get involved in the many activities provided including heated discussions on global affairs. The atmosphere generated in a pan yard acts like a magnet to draw members of its community to it. Its social aura encourages interaction thereby affording the community a vital and rewarding communication facility.

Now I ask the question, why would you want to get rid of such an important icon offering so much benefit to our communities? It appears that steel bands are being forced out of their local communities and in some cases into isolation like Phase 11 Pan Groove and Starlift. Prime examples of being cited pan yards away from any immediate community. Walk into Phase 11 Pan Groove’s ‘Village’ and experience the astounding ambience generated from its natural surroundings. A personification of how pan yards have progressed through the years but still retaining its social aspects e.g. the stand pipe and ‘lime’ under the dounce tree.

The UK’s premier steel orchestra, Ebony, champions of the European Steel Band Music Festival in 2000 and 2002 as well as the Notting Hill Champions of Steel victors thirteen times has been moved from their premises at the Acklam Centre having been tenants for many years, in fact the same building was home to Bay 57 steel band back in the 70s. Frank Rollock’s London All Stars have been without a pan yard for the past two years and the lack of this facility meant that Frank Rollock and his merry makers have been unable to participate in the Notting Hill Champions of Steel competition. Nostalgia, the traditional steel band from the 50s, an icon of the British Steel band fraternity led by Sterling Betancourt MBE, an original member of TASPO; has recently been given notice to quit their current pan yard at the Maxilla Club in West London. Forest Gate Steel Orchestra now renamed the Newham Steel Orchestra is also without a pan yard and has been looking feverishly for premises to practice.

Mangrove steel band, the UK’s current Champions of Steel and acclaimed as the most travelled band in the UK has been without a pan yard since the closure of the Tabernacle but live in hopes that it will be re-opened soon and they will be allowed to retain their residence. Take a look around your neighbourhoods and the story goes on.

In our diverse societies it is important that we retain our cultural heritage to continue to effectively contribute to the multi cultural fabric that weaves us together to as a valuable society. In this era of global violence it stands to reason that efforts to encourage people to play a musical instrument in its own environment requires immediate action as well as ample investment, support, dedication and understanding from the corporate and government institutions that hold the life line to the very existence of this important cultural icon in our society.

Let us not forget that music is the food of love. So let’s feed our nations with this magical food in order to make sweet music not bitter war.

Robbie Joseph


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