Trinidad & Tobago Panorama 2009

Skiffle Bunch does Southland Proud
winning Pan In The 21st Century 2009

Skiffle Bunch performing in Antigua, November 2008

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Trinidad, W.I. - Skiffle Bunch Steel Orchestra did the Southland in Trinidad proud on a beautiful April 15 evening when they performed Georgia On My Mind as their tune of choice for the ‘Pan In The 21st Century’ competition.  The band retained the lead position gained coming out of the semis to capture first place.  With 284 points, they beat out rivals and crowd pleaser Silver Stars (2009 Trinidad & Tobago Panorama champions) by one point for the top prize of TT $65,000.

Silver Stars was playing Bohemian Rhapsody by rock band Queen when they ceded the coveted top spot.  Their selection for the competition had generated spirited discussion, with Pan Trinbago president Patrick Arnold reportedly going as far as seeking the opinion of personnel at New York University in the United States to ascertain the genre of the selection - this because some apparently did not agree that the track fit into the “21st century world beat repertoire” as stipulated by the competition’s rules.  Regardless of the furor, Silver Stars delivered a great musical performance for their fans.

Winning band Skiffle Bunch is very well known as a ‘concert band’ and frequently travels abroad representing Trinidad and Tobago and the steelpan art form; and they can always be counted on to give a very good account of themselves in steelband music competitions and exhibitions.  Their interpretation of Keith Salcedo’s arrangement of Georgia On My Mind (which is the official song of the state of Georgia in the United States) allowed them to remain ahead of all challengers in the final round.

Also from San Fernando and who impressed the judges enough to make it into the upper tier was Fonclaire Steel Orchestra performing the 1978 disco hit Shame.  They were seven points behind Skiffle Bunch, and placed fourth.  Last year’s winners - Katzenjammers Steel Orchestra from Black Rock in Tobago, Trinidad’s sister isle - had to relinquish their 2008 title and settle for position number three.  Our Boys, also from Tobago, and ambitiously rendering Ne-Yo’s hit Closer was fifth with a score of 276.  It should be noted that with Katzenjammers placing third and on the heels of Silver Stars, it was still a very good night for arranger Edwin Pouchet who arranged for both orchestras.

The collaboration between Ken ‘Professor’ Philmore and Sound Specialists of Laventille produced a smooth performance of Tevin Campbell’s Can We Talk and a sixth place prize.  Like Pouchet, Philmore arranged for two orchestras in the night’s competition - the other being Fonclaire.  Harmonites followed in Sound Specialists’ wake with the Love Theme from St. Elmo’s Fire as arranged by Earl La Pierre - good enough for a claim on seventh position.

As was the case in the semi final round, there were again “ties” for positions on this night.  From along the ‘Eastern corridor’ in Trinidad, it was Parry’s Pan School playing Fantasy and Curepe Scherzando with the time-honored theme from Love Story which were both relegated to tenth position with 267 points; and allocated position eight, each with a score of 269, were Pan Knights and Pamberi, also from the East.  This pattern had really been pronounced after the semi finals results were in, with three ‘two-way’ ties (for positions three, five and seven), and a three-way tie at position nine.  Pamberi did real justice to John Legend’s and Buju Banton’s Can’t Be My Lover as arranged by Cheo Cato.  Pan Knights’ treatment of Herb Alpert’s Rise was pleasing.

Before midnight rolled around the crowd of pan music lovers at the Queen’s Park Savannah in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, had been treated to the musical best for the competition, of each of the twelve bands who made the cut.  Tropical Angel Harps who hail from Chaguanas in Central Trinidad set the stage for the evening with the rhythmic Conga as arranged by Clarence Morris in position one, but was adjudicated twelfth by the time results were announced at the end of the evening.

Unlike the country’s annual national panorama competition which allowed for orchestras of up to one hundred players this year in the large band category and a playing time of eight minutes, in this arena only between thirty and fifty players are allowed, and a six-minute duration entertained.  Judges included Louis Nurse, Merle Albino-de Coteau and Richard Pierre.  Official prize purses in Trinidad & Tobago dollars were set at: $20,000 each for the bands that placed 10th, 11th, and 12th; $25,000 for those coming in 7th, 8th and 9th; and $30,000 awarded to those occupying 4th, 5th and 6th positions.  The ‘ties’ in the results did not affect the dollar amounts.  The top prize of $65,000 rounded out the winnings, with bands taking 2nd and 3rd place copping $55,000 and $45,000, respectively.

Pan In The 21st Century 2009 Finals
Wednesday April 15, 2009

Place Orchestra Selection Arranger


1st Skiffle Bunch Georgia On My Mind Keith Salcedo 284
2nd Silver Stars Bohemian Rhapsody Edwin Pouchet 283
3rd Katzenjammers To Love You More Edwin Pouchet 278
4th Fonclaire Shame Ken ‘Professor’ Philmore 277
5th Our Boys Closer Roger Sardinha 276
6th Sound Specialists Can We Talk Ken ‘Professor’ Philmore 274
7th Harmonites Love Theme from St. Elmo’s Fire Earl La Pierre 272
8th Pamberi Can’t Be My Lover Cheo Cato 269
8th Pan Knights Rise Kenneth Guppy 269
10th Curepe Scherzando Theme from ‘Love Story’ Jason Peters 267
10th Parry’s Pan School Fantasy Gary Raymond 267
12th Tropical Angel Harps Conga Clarence Morris 265

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