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PanMasters Do It Again:
Memorable Weekend of Steelband Music

Pan Masters’ Steelband Jamboree in Pictures

Who Was There - In Pictures


Maryland - It only gets better with time.  And after ten years, it was replete with steelband music presentations ripe for enjoying.  PanMasters’ 10th Anniversary Steelband Jamboree in North Brentwood, Maryland has grown by leaps and bounds over the years, and on Sunday 25 May was a fitting tribute to the evolution of the event over time.

Seven steel orchestras thrilled steelband music lovers through the afternoon into the night.  The likes of Philadelphia Pan Stars, Mosaic, Positive Vibrations, Pan Majestic Youth Academy, Pan Sonatas, DC Pan Jammers and of course hosts PanMasters – each took their turn in the spotlight, taking all present on an unforgettable musical journey that began shortly before four in the afternoon, winding down only after 9:30 pm.  Also joining in the jamboree was recurrent Michael George “the One-Man Band.”

Philadelphia Pan Stars reps receives trophy

For the first time this year, there was to be an Engine Room competition, featuring ‘rhythm sections’ of no less than three and no more than eight participants.  It turned out that only Philadelphia Pan Stars’ engine room took part, and so were the winners in this element of the jamboree by default.  That in no way diminished the pride with which Philly collected their trophy at the end of the evening.

It was interesting to watch the “theater” as the afternoon changed into evening.  There was an accompanying changeover in audience as well at certain times.  For instance, there was quite a difference in the viewing complement say, between three and five o’clock, and then by the time 8 o’clock rolled around.  As patrons left, having had their fill of music, and others eagerly took their now-vacant and coveted spots, there was an almost reverent handover of chairs which were by then ‘prized possessions’ – to the newcomers.

Throughout the show PanMasters were quite vocal in their appreciation to their sponsors.  One of their staunchest supporters, Mayor of North Brentwood Petrella Robinson, shared some heartfelt sentiments about PanMasters and their work on behalf of and achievements within the community, with the crowd gathered there.  And she was not simply ‘passing through’ to ‘show her face.’  She not only mingled among the crowd, but loved the steelpan music, sitting down with two youngsters in her care for a period of time to soak in the steelpan music.

When Steel Talks’ three “guardian angels”

Moving constantly through the crowd and ensuring that all was proceeding according to plan, were all PanMasters staff/members, including When Steel Talks’ three ‘guardian angels’ (who conscientiously and constantly saw to it that all was well with WST) – president and vice-president Marcus V. Adams and Steve Reid – and Elizabeth Caesar, sister of pan legend Len “Boogsie” Sharpe.  Though these personnel were in high demand throughout, WST was able to capture some memorable moments in pictures of them, along with Mayor Robinson.

For a few minutes, WST was able to chat with Adams, a “Vincentian by birth, Trinidadian by boat, and American by boat and plane” as he proudly declared! Adams moved to Trinidad at age three, growing up there until coming to America in 1978, living in Brooklyn upon arrival, attending Howard University, and then moving to North Brentwood, Maryland, where he has since remained.  He still maintains ties with both his adopted homeland and birthplace, traveling to the latter annually, and to Trinidad about every other year when possible.

Adams with Mayor Petrella Robinson

When asked about PanMasters, Adams asserted with pride that it was “One Love” with membership reflecting “black and white, Americans, Jamaicans, Trinbagonians, and more.”  He was also very pleased to say that PanMasters has fielded more steelband music arrangers out of Maryland than any other area orchestra; this, because they routinely welcome many young people and develop their musical talent and discipline.  PanMasters’ founding members still attend meetings, and have quality input in band matters, thereby providing support and maintaining a solid foundation.

Though they have outgrown their North Brentwood panyard, PanMasters remain there because of the community support and their dedication and commitment to the area, says Adams.  And the town is an apt base for the steelpan organization as the band moves forward, and is an apropos fit within the historical fabric of North Brentwood as the first African-American incorporated Town in Maryland’s Prince George County.  Adams stated that the mandate of the orchestra/community organization was to “promote and showcase Caribbean culture, with Pan as the ‘Emblem’ or centerpiece of it all.”

Part of the crowd at the steelband jamboree

And PanMasters certainly exemplified this mandate time and again, as was the case on Memorial Weekend at their annual steelband jamboree.  Vendors on-site made available to attendees delicious Caribbean culinary staples - and of course were sold out later in the evening.  Steelpan accessories and carnival costumes were also on display, and in the case of the former, on sale; event sponsors were also on hand to share information with the crowd.

On the musical side, the new faces to the jamboree belonged to Mosaic, Pan Majestic, Pan Sonatas and Philadelphia Pan Stars.  But every orchestra – newbies and returning - etched a special place in the hearts of those present.  Shouts of encouragement, flags in the air, sing-a-longs, chants, dancing and other forms of audience participation pervaded the show.

Memorable highlights included Positive Vibrations’ ambitious and varied repertoire; Mosaic, whose eye-catching instruments and their casings such as the fabric-clad basses, attracted attention, and Philadelphia Pan Stars whose ease in moving back and forth within ‘oldies’ and ‘recurrents’ drew appreciative comments from several in the audience.  Pan Majestic were savvy enough to match the enthusiasm of their youthful musicians with well-known ditties such as Peter Ram’s 2007 smash Woman by My Side, cementing their connection with what was then an early afternoon crowd.


Others in attendance were overheard asking and commenting in awe while New York’s Sonatas performed.  “Who is that band?  They’re good!”  The New York posse started to play just before 8:00 PM and proceeded to belt out a snappy and very crowd-pleasing repertoire that included This Melody Sweet and Mr. Magic.  To say that the show close-outs – DC Pan Jammers and hosts PanMasters, were a hit – would be an extreme understatement.  Pan Jammers’ were in fine musical form.  And with their over-exuberant supporters not content with remaining on the sidelines, but rather determinedly being part of the ‘session’ in front of and within the band as they performed, it was only with that group that When Steel Talks found itself severely challenged when capturing photos and moreover video footage.  New York’s own Iman Pascall made a brief appearance as a guest soloist with DC Pan Jammers at one point.  WST also takes this opportunity to congratulate and thank Iman for the excellent photography support she provided on behalf of Basement/WST at the jamboree.


PanMasters ensured they brought the house down, putting on a show that made Maryland natives swell with pride, as the musicians fed off the energy generated on the sidelines – this time literally so – as the area in front of their orchestra was roped off in an attempt to curtail some of the over-enthused steelpan music lovers.

When Steel Talks was extremely pleased to be able to be there for the event in its entirety – a first, as PanMasters made that possible for 2008.   Much kudos to the organization for efficiently presenting such a strong line-up of musical talent.  The tenth anniversary steelband jamboree was a great success, leaving throngs of steelband music lovers who came from near and afar, well-sated - and already looking eagerly forward to 2009.


Contact Pan Masters at:
      web: www.panmansters.com  email: panmasters@hotmail.com  tel: 1 (301) 864-2610

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