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Pantonic New York Steelband Launch

Nothing like the music of steelpan on a Sunday evening in New York

The Launch in Pictures

New York -  Unless you are fortunate enough to possess tickets for the 2008 Olympics being held in Beijing, China, one of the best deals for the exchange of cultural and artistic performances over the next few weekends, is taking place in New York City.  The popular annual New York steel orchestras’ pan yard launches have begun in earnest.

This past Sunday Pantonic Steel Orchestra held their 2008 launch at their Brooklyn summer practice facilities.   Pantonic’s panyard was filled with steelpan music fans as they traveled from throughout  the New York tri-state area to get their heavy dose of Sunday evening pan music.  It was labeled the 11th Anniversary Family Day Celebration and featured performances by Crossfire, CASYM, D’Radoes, Harmony and Pantonic Steel Orchestras,   In addition to the many steelpan music enthusiasts, (and more importantly) - members of every steel orchestra in New York had some type of representation.  The spirit of support and camaraderie among the young steelpan is very encouraging.

For the past three weekends steelband launches have been promulgating steelpan music fever on the Big Apple landscape as the New York steelbands major franchises have officially opened the 2008 season.  With Harmony Steel Orchestra and D’Radoes Steel Orchestra having already held their successful launches, Pantonic’s launch was another vibrant community cultural weekly expose that we can expect from now until the August 30 New York steelband music panorama competition at Summer’s unofficial ending on Labor Day weekend.  The Labor Day weekend will culminate with carnival festivities that will attract over three million people.

The Pantonic band launch featured five steel orchestras which will be participating in the season-ending competition.  Each group gave the audience a detailed and varied musical repertoire that showcased the organizations’ versatility and crowd appeal.  From the crowd reaction, the fans were very pleased with the performances.  Despite the late start due to the earlier stormy weather, folks came out. 

Harmony Steel Orchestra opened the show with an interesting set that took the audience from Destra to Chaka Khan.  Harmony, coming off a recent spring performance at Carnegie Hall, continues to expand its repertoire and arrangements.  They were followed by Crossfire Steel Orchestra who presented a very musically sophisticated set.  Their performance was the most intriguing of the night. 

What Crossfire lacked in size, they made up for in musicianship.  Dueling solos by musician stand-out Khuent Rose and Kadeem Alleyne captured the fancy of the crowd.  Their talent is awesome.  Indeed it was the arrangements and performance of Crossfire that were particularly noteworthy.  Their deep-thinking, non-traditional rhythms, patterns and harmonies did not go unnoticed by the audience, as it quietened down on their own to hear Crossfire’s music.  The group’s repertoire ranged from Boogsie’s “Musical Vengeance” to Sade’s “Sweetest Taboo.”

CASYM Steel Orchestra followed next with a high-energy performance that covered their standard hits and then the more current hits of today.  No one put on a more visual display than CASYM.  The band is currently celebrating their 25th anniversary.  From “Mo’ Wuk” to “Why do Fools Fall in Love,” CASYM put out an array of music that showcased why they are one of New York’s most versatile and in-demand orchestras. 

Next up was the veteran D’Radoes.  Performing with that signature Desperadoes voice and music approach, D’Radoes delivered a laid back but classic and effective set that took the attendees from Earth Wind and Fire’s “Fantasy” to Abba’s “Dancing Queen.”  The sound of this Desperadoes offshoot was classic.  As one patron in the crowd screamed “yuh hear music?”  Unabashedly playing steelpan instruments that prominently displayed the Desperadoes name and connection between the D’Radoes musicians and the legendary steel orchestra from Trinidad and Tobago - it was certain that a special love affair between the group and the audience continues.

Closing the night’s event were hosts Pantonic.  The New York favorite ran through its set of timeless classics which included Maestro’s/Bunji Garlin’s “Fiery” sprinkled with this year’s hits like Zan’s “On De Road.”  It was a special night for Pantonic Steel Orchestra as they were able to attracted a wide and varied audience, and continued their special knack for pleasing the young and the young-at-heart.  This was the 11th family day function for the group.

New York continues to be the home of the largest steelband community outside of Trinidad and Tobago, the birth place of the steelband instrument.  The lively competition between the local steel orchestras sprinkled  throughout the city has resulted in some of the finest music performances and arrangements for the instrument ever.  The steelband launches of New York are still some of the best cultural exposés in the Untied States.

Check the Steelband Music Calendar for dates and locations of the upcoming launches and events.

Contact Pantonic Steel Orchestras at :email - pantonic1@aol.com | web - www.pantonic.com  |  facebook

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