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    Antigua - New York's Women In Steel {WIS} took a small contingent of twelve to the island of Antigua in the Caribbean to participate in the Annual Moods of Pan of Pan Festival produced by Gemonites Steel Orchestra.  The all-women steelband looked forward to  the opportunity to perform at this international event that included well-known orchestras and performers from other parts of the globe.

Indeed, the other performing orchestras read like a who's who of pan.  The legendary Renegades Steel Orchestra from Trinidad, Mangrove Steel Orchestra, the 2004 panorama champions out of England, the world renowned New Dimensions out of Grenada, the highly-respected 2004 Antigua panorama champions Harmonites, and of course Antigua's perennial champions Gemonites - just to name a few.  Being mentioned with these steelpan music notables is indeed an honor.  Stepping on the same court with these giants of pan, of course is another matter.  Moreover, carrying the full weight of the honor New York Pan on your shoulders is a tall order and not for the faint of hearted.  As it is well known and documented, the New York pan community can be very brutal.  This could have been easily a one-way trip for Women In Steel.  If flashes of the demanding New York pan community blocking the JFK airport-landing of their return flight from Antigua entered the minds of Women In Steel minds - we will never know.

Women In Steel let it be known, as is said in New York ,they "ain't no joke and are serious as a heart attack."  This dynamic bunch of young women is for real.  Furthermore, WIS showed their professionalism and mettle as they went literally from the plane to lodgings with only time to change and back to performance area to take the stage as soon as they walked in.  The musicians took a few minutes to check the layout of  the basses provided by host band Gemonites as WIS only traveled with their front line instruments and two cellos.  WIS then proceeded to rock the house.

Friday November 26  was Fiery Friday Big Bands Concert night.  Antigua's Halcyon Steel Orchestra opened the event with a high-energy performance that set the crowd up what was to be a complete night of steelpan orchestra music.

Next up was Women In Steel from New York.  The all-woman band wowed the audience with a wide variety of songs from a repertoire that showed their command of the instrument and entertained all present, who were clearly not disappointed by what they heard.  The crowd looked on with curiosity and intrigue as Women In Steel lead by their musical director Freddie Harris, III opened their 40-minute set appropriately enough with Len Boogie's Sharpe's 'Woman Is Boss' , followed by Ben Lion, Woman In Red and Alicia Key's A Woman's Worth.  Any doubt about the validity of an all-woman steelband from New York ended when Iman Pascal brought the appreciative crowd to a standing position with her solo in the original score  "New Children of the World" by Freddie Harris, II.  Women In Steel clearly earned the respect of their  fellow pan players with their captivating performance.

Next New Dimensions from Grenada gave an inspiring performance that was even more remarkable given the national disaster that the island recently experienced.  True professionals that they are, New Dimensions under the guidance of David "Peck" Edwards went through a set that started with Dancing Queen and ending with Destra's Bonnie & Clyde.  The crowd was treated to a series of pleasing hits in both the popular music and Caribbean genres.  New Dimension displayed it's versatility and the audience saw why it was the top musical organization out of Grenada.

Antigua's reigning panorama champion Harmonites performed a series of crowd pleasers that added a different voice to preceding musical sets.

Finally, super group Renegades from Trinidad closed the Friday night show with heartfelt renditions of its classic arrangements of pieces like Pan In A Minor among others.   Also on hand was the great one, ace arranger and musician Jit Samaroo.  At the end of the show, the audience was left wanting for nothing!

- When Steel Talks -

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