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Pan Alive, but Judging on Life Support

by Queen Macoomeh

Canada - Yuh see how ah does get in ting? When Steel Talks come an akse me to write meh Pan review. I here quiet, reading psalms an knittin an WST look to come straight so to chook Jack Spaniar nes. All yuh like de ro-ro eh? Gorme!

Dis year 2008, ah say ah was going to behave an hush meh mout. Ah wasn going to say ah word. Ah sprinkle Holy Water on meh head an put two nutmeg in meh shoe an went to Pan Alive in Toronto. Ah smile wid everybody, ah say ‘evenin. Ah say ah go listen to two steelbands, take a snap an go home an watch SpongeBob Khakipants or whoever he name.

But ah fugget Pan Jumbie own me. Ah fugget meh fadda was a Renegades man. Ah fugget is since ah small I convert to Pantyism. When ah reach in Lamport stadium, an de firse ban knock de iron, pan grabble meh by de back of meh neck an put me under house arres. Mine you, ah know ah had a job to do eh? Lass year ah put meh mout in it an not everybody was please. Is a good ting I not in no sou-sou wid dem so ah could afford to speak meh mine.

As ah walk in de place ah notice dey move dat chupid white tent over so. Ah say NICE. Now de payin spectator could see de bands. Ah notice dey rail rong each ban who playin. Ah say NICE. Now de payin spectator could hear de ban widdout a setta people mufflin de sound. Dey had de time clock in plain view so nobody could say dey en see de time an overplay de chune. NICE. In fack, a man run over to me an akse meh nice to move because he cah see it, he was de time keeper fuh de judges. Ah move quick because ah know dat important. Ah fine de crowd was plenty smaller dan lass year doh.

Pan Fantasy was de firse ban. Dey play “Musical Vengeance” solid, wid a whole minute leave back widdin time limit. Everybody look good an was dancing an ting. Jessie Ketchum’s Pan Vibrations play nex. Ah woon lie. After a big ban, dey song sorfie, ah fine dey should categorize bands. Yuh cah have a big ban washin awf a small ban so. Dais jes my opinion eh? I not de gawdmudda. Ban number tree was AfroPan.


Doh laugh eh? After lass year when ah buss two cuss in AfroPan fuh de bamseeness dey do, ah was like powder on a sailor. Ah paying close close attention. Ah was so farse dat ah fugget to snap nuff pittears an ah stan up to listen. Hear nuh man. To me dey play tight, dey play sweet, arrangement was borse, pans well chune an blend. Ah hear a wicked counter-riddim in de arrangement. Soprano pans sing to de heavens, percussion was like a heartbeat. When dey done ah clap hard. Ah doh usually clap eh? But dey fill meh up because DAT is de way I know AfroPan should sound. Dey play “Ten Commandments of Pan” an plannass de place.

After dat ah hear MetroTones, Symphony Steel. De nex ban ah make sure to hear was New Dimension. Dey sound well, band look nice in de orange and white. Ah din hear no medley. Dat get meh vex wid dem lass year. Den Panatics come, den St. Jamestown.

During de intermission ah went an stroll troo de bands. Ah bounce up Mr. Salah. Ah went an make known to he because lass year we get away. But since ah doh fraid people, ah use all meh mudda training an introduce mehself. Meh blood take he right away. Pleasant an sorf spoken, we chat lil bit. It had a lil fella in he ban ah does always admire an it turn out was Salah own grandson Rashiyd – sweet lil panist. Anyway ah wish Mr. Salah all de bes in de competition an continue meh drevayin.

Silhouettes come troo den Salah's Steelpan Academy den Hamilton Youth Steelband, den Pan Masters Steel Orchestra.

Results reach.

Salah firse, AfroPan second an Silhouettes tird. Den it was Panatics, Pan Masters, Pan Fantasy, St. Jamestown, New D, Jessie ketchum, MetroTones, Symphony Steel an Hamilton Youth.

Ah wasn dere fuh de results but ah hear people bawl fuh murderation. To me, de judging was awf again dis year. To me, AfroPan win. To me, Pan Masters gettin better an better every year. To me, Panatics did not play better dan Pan Fantasy.

To me, Pan is Alive but de Judging on Life Support.

Doh akse meh nuttin. Ah done talk.


contact: macoomeh@hotmail.com

Copyright August 2008

Responses to Queen Macoomeh


Hello my Sister Queen,

I must say I agree with your results
Now I understand that de bands to start were in place but again de show could not start on time! I also don't think yuh wrong!!! I like de way yuh thus have to put some people in de place especially ones who really are johnny come lately to Toronto pan scene. Come out and tell them yuh really was a judge in yuh former life nah! To me it says when will we get it right ! At least they move de tent! BUT look ting de have to cover de whole floor how much money de spend on dat! We could buy we own building. Anyway I have to also say hats off to all de bands who played alot of time and no sleep goes into their competion piece. But I agree the results are totally wrong. The show was very top heavy who can't see why yuh have a draw and put all de small bands to play with larger bands? and why yuh have them little children playing last when nobody really paying attention to them let them play in de first half of the thing nah. Pan Fantasy, Afropan and a few others should have played in de second half of the show man of course the crowd was smaller de people was outside after de first 5 bands!

It is high time they separate de bands now. Give them smaller bands a chance now to do a first second and third to nah. I hear they get one new judge. It seem like they was missing a judge and someone say I have a partner who could judge! get a new judge I wondering who he good partner is on OSA, and let it out who is Salah good partner in OSA too! speak up people... Ah done talk cause my holy water is for all year..

Yuh have meh business in de road now...dey doh want me come back to judge. Ah doh have meh degree in musicology so ah get put out. Maybe nex year ah could judge by mehself an give prize. What all yuh tink?

But yeah I notice de new floorin in Lamport Stadium when I reach for de King and Queen show de night before. Ah say 'Oui papa! Like ScotiaBank pay awf de mortgage an give we a new floorin!" I doh know who stan de bail to put all dat linolium down an ah din akse. It give de big mas costumes tunda to roll de wheels on it. Doh akse me who idea dat was. Sometime when ah akse question, people does give meh one long story wid one setta demsay, hesay an who-say. So now ah does just watch an hush.

But yes, gettin back to Pan Alive. When I watch an see nearly all de big bands play in de top half I was surprise. Dem poor chirren in de school bands was dey whole night. Dat din seem fair to me.

De ting is, on de one han we want to play we havin a Panorama style competition up here in IceBox Land. Dat nice but we cah do ting like we does do back home. Here different. We beggin lodgin up here. Rules diff'rent up here. Home we know dat from granny to newborn, Panorama night nobody en sleepin. We have de chile on we lap in Nort Stands whole night, he sleep an wake up in de savannah an is fo-day mornin we goin home wid de chile in de pram or put dem to sleep in a bass drum while we wheelin it back up John John. Here it have law comin out yuh pweffen. Noise pollution law say to hush de noise by midnight. Streetcar an subway stop runnin, yuh cah say you walkin home because it en have no place up here dat close to home. Ah lie? An you have to go to work nex mornin. De borse doh care, he payin you to arrive 8am. Dais a whole nex ro-ro.

I say separate de bands oui. Small, medium and large category. You cah tell me I come wid meh bottle an spoon an vie to beat you wid yuh multi-octave, umpteen section, bowcoo pans - irregardless of how sweet meh bottle an spoon was, unless you come outta chune, outta time an outta yuh mine, we cah vie togedda at all.

Now as for de part yuh say bout Mr. Salah an he compere. I knows nutting about dat. Ah leavin dat right where yuh put it. Nex ting yuh know dey cancel meh visay an export meh back where ah come from.

Walk good eh doux doux!


Hello Queen Macoomeh,

First I would like to say I am a big fan - I discovered you earlier this year, and have been hooked. I loved your book, and hope and pray that there is more to come. I have never read a book that made me laugh so hard.

My Mother is from Canada, and my father is from Trinidad. I just love the stories you tell - and I love the style you write it in. The dialect is perfect! LOL

I just wanted to say that I think you were too kind with your words in regards to Pan Alive - I was waiting for you to write your column and rip it up. This was the first year I decided to take my children. We are big Pan Fantasy fans, and since we spent much of the summer watching the band practice, I thought it would be a good experience for them to see the competition - I figured since they were ages 8 and 13 it was ok to bring them.

What made me mad from the beginning was how long the show took to start. We arrived early, at 6:30pm so we could get good seats and get the kids food and drink etc.

Why on Earth did it take so long to start??? Pan Fantasy was up first, and they were ready to go at 7:00pm, but the show did not start until nearly 8pm. I stayed until 10:30pm, but it was clear that the show would be another few hours, and the kids were tired so we left. I don't understand why the show is not better organized by now - it should be done by 11:00pm - twelve the latest! This is one seriously disorganized event.

The parade - again, I decided this would be a great year to take the kids. We actually had a great time, but man - what drove me crazy was all the crowd that kept jumping the fence and joining the parade route. Especially the crowd of people walking the parade route in the wrong direction! They were holding up the parade. When a band or float came down that took up the width of the street, it made all the people who did NOT belong on the parade route crowd up around the fence - blocking the view for the rest of us. This really slowed the parade by several hours, and ruined the experience for the kids. There should be people watching the route and making sure that if people join it, they should at least be walking in the right direction! The parade was supposed to end at 5pm - we did not even see Pan Fantasy until after 7:00pm!

We did have lots of fun though. A good year. Anyway - I love your writing - hope to hear more from you soon - I need another book!

Take Care,

QM: Tammy doux doux!!

Girl, tanks fuh de big up and for droppin a line. Ah love hearin from meh people - an by 'meh people' ah mean who ever like de bacchanal..lol

The reason why I hole up from a serious tongue lashin is because I wasn't dere from start to finish. I came late and lef before judging come troo. Lass year I was dey from cock crow to twilight and is den ah buss some cuss in everybody skin. Yuh read lass year own?

But I promise myself and all meh readers NEVER to talk commess UNLESS I see and hear it but you right. from what I see, de show was a mess...again...is like we cah remember what happen lass year so we doin de wrong ting over and over again.

Timing will be we downfall. From startin a show to knowing WHEN to organzie weself against big business buying we culture.

But Tammy dahlin, is not jes in Toronto, even in T&T where panorama has been going on since Adam was in short pants, it still doh start on time and doh finish on time, nuff bobol, nuff demsay and nuff ruction.

To me, it look like we jes doh appreciate de genius we have so we does disrespeck it and allow uddas to diss we.



I just read your response to Mr. Salah on When Steel Talks and I have to say I agree with you 100%. It is all well and good to have music degrees, but you and I both know what it is to hear quality pan and quality arrangements. It is something that you feel with your heart and makes your ears perk up, and say THAT IS A SWEET PIECE OF MUSIC! It has nothing to do with who is who, or what is what, it has to do with right is right. Continue the good work!

Pan is a tricky ting to explain to people. I know some musicians wid plenty degree who tink pan is jes noise and dey would never come near a panside. I know some people who din finish school who could tell you who make dat pan, when a pan en chune, or when a section en blen good. I doh have a music degree nidda but ah respeck doze who do. Dat have to be mutual.
I understan where Mr. Salah comin from. He strike me as a fella wid principal. He band win two years in a row so he cah foutie well turn around an say de judges wrong. He know what time an effort went into he arrangement an delivery.
But I an plenty uddas questionin dem points spread in de decision. We have a right and a place to do so.
Yuh could argue wid me but yuh cah tell me I lie.



I can speak on behalf of one of the bands.
Three out of the four of our score sheets were marked in pencil.
Some were in two different handwritings and some had clear erasure marks.
In one section there was a positive comment and three lines down in a different handwriting a negative comment.
I think you are on to something.......
Doh print meh name, dey woh leh we play pan nex year!

QM: Oh gooode look ruction! I woon even try to figure dis one out. I not accusing de judges of bobolistic or creative scoring. Dat have jail in it. I din see de score sheet so ah cah talk what ah doh know. I make sure an stand up far away from de judges. Lass year ah get boof fuh stannin too close wid meh camera.
What I would like to see is when a ban win, dat people could say aight. Even if is not yuh ban, yuh could still accep de decision becauue it was clear and unbias. Yuh jes hush and work harder nex time. But to have dis unhappiness all de time so...ah cah take it.



Woman why people like you don't run for office or for the organizations who running things? The crowd was smaller this year yet I hear them saying it was 7000. Were they counting the players and vendors and people in the street cars passing by? Salah played well, very melodic but to me it seemed the decision wasn't based on that. To put them so many points ahead of the 2nd band sounds like something went wrong somewhere. Sounds like they are trying to teach the bands a lesson or undo their messing up of the decision last year. (by the way. I want to give you a dollar towards the sousou to buy back Caribana. Where can I send the money?)

QM: Lawd what a ting! I don't know what de judges and dem was tinking eh. My crystal ball is a fake one I buy in Walmart. I assume the bands are privy to de scoring sheets. I doh know. I jes en agree wid dem an ah say it loud.
Yuh know you is de fort ot fif person to say dey sennin me a dollar. If ah could get a nex 149, 995 more people to sen a dollar, I could out-bid ScotiaBank and use de change to finally pay de mas men and competition winners. But ah hatta keep de cacadah under meh bed becaw if ah open a account in Canada, dey does teef yuh money an call it service fee.


Well, well, excellent job again. I received this in FIVE different e-mails. Two from you, one from When Steel Talks, one from my husband (he knows I'm a fan of yours) and one from another source. This just goes to show that your writing is getting the exposure it truly deserves. Reading the article made me feel as if I was there witnessing the pan competition. Keep up your good work

QM: Yuh have meh blushin...dat mean ah have to do even better uddawise yuh go boof me.


I have to say true ting I know we get rob 6th nah man
Pan masters did not beat us and PanAtics did not beat us
Yuh speak yuh mind

QM: I have to talk what I see and what I feel. Pan Fantasy play well but I hear all yuh play better ent? But to me yuh did not play quite dong in 6th place.

Greetings Macoomeh,
First of all it was indeed a great pleasure to meet you in person, thank you for introducing yourself to me. I wish I had more time to speak with you.
Now, I have just read your article and this reply is more or less re-introducing myself. Of course I respect your take on the festival itself and like you said you call it as you see it. My feedback to you is again because I am a steelpan activist and because I am very much involved in the literate part of the Steelpan music industry. Adjudicating a steelpan competition is a task in itself. However like most systems there is a logic and academic perspective to how things work. I have to say that the judges did have a criterior ( Arrangement; General Performance; Tone; Rhythm; ) to follow with all of the adequate information needed to do their jobs. I must inform you also that the judges themselves are qualified musicians and have had sufficient experience in adjudicating at many such festivals even in Trinidad. Therfore the "cry-down" on the ability of the judges and their adjudicating I certainly cannot agree with your criticsm of them. but that is your right .( If you would take four ordinary people from the audience without the qualification of the judges and allow them to do the adjudicating they would probably come up with a different result .......my question of logic to you would then be,,,,, Which of the two groups of adjudicators would you choose, the ones with the qualification and experience or the ones from the audience like yourself). Again I am only a steelpan activist so I have to say and comment on comments and anything relative to the Steelpan.
Next year should be very interesting since we will be raising our game even more as we will be trying to capture the Tripple victory of three years straight. I hope to see you next year and this time really have a conversation….{….}
Best wishes and keep on writing

QM: Mr. Salah, me an you go be good friens. I feel so. We go disagree eh but we en go let dat mash we up.
Yes I would choose adjudicators wid experience an music edikation. Is one like dat who learn meh what to listen for, so ah does fight up wid de lil knowledge. But all I truely have is a love of de instrument an a life-long devotion to seein it get de respeck it deserve. I doh care which ban play it, so long as dey play it good. Ah may not be able to tell you dais a minor chord, a 7th or a pong plantain but doh dismiss de ‘ordinary people’ easy so.
Is de ordinary people who born dis instrument. Is de ordinary man who pong de firse note. Is ordinary people who own dis ting. Wid all due respeck to de degree’d an extinguished people but is de ordinary man who bring pan into de light. So when we bawl “RAY!” or when we bawl “BOO!” we know what it is we hearing. Ah not crying dong de judges. I am telling dem NO WAY. They made a decision that did not see fair to me - one of the ‘ordinary people’.
I doh care if is AfroPan, Pan Masters, Salah Academy, New D or who. Ah not bias dat way. Ah listening fuh de sweetness, ah listening to hear each and every note clear, ah listening to make sure de cellos not mashing de bass and de tenors not overbearin de whole ting. Ah listening to hear if de pans blen and chune. A sour or discordial note does grip de ordinary man too eh. Ah listening to how it arrange wedda it use a safe pattern or wedda de arranger buss a new style or wedda he over-do and complicate matters. Ah listening to intro and outro. Ah even listening to hear if de iron man iron chune. Ah looking to see if all de players playing de chune because ah tired see panists behine de pan pulling a ‘Millie Vanilli’ on we.
De pan is my heartbeat since ah born. Ah muss know meh own heartbeat.
Ah lie?

QM, they go ban you from Pan Alive LMAO! Girl I found myself actually waiting to read your report and was so disappointed when SHARE only had a little paragraph. (By the way, welcome back to SHARE, plenty people missed you!) When I got WST, I clapped! LMAO. Once again you were fair in your assessment but I know some characters will try to buff you.

QM: Well as ah tell dem lass year. Meh back broad. So long as I know ah not lying on nobody, den I will talk meh mine. But yuh hatta blame WST fuh sennin to akse me to do dis review. I was being such a good girl up to dat point.


contact Queen Macoomeh: macoomeh@hotmail.com

Walk Good!

Queen Macoomeh
Chancellor of Commess University

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