Home * Site Search  * Headlines * Events *Pan Global * Message Board * Guest Book * Pan News * Pan Radio  *  Twitter * Facebook  * About Us  *  

The Sounds of the Hill Come to Brooklyn
- Steelpan Music in the Yard

Despers USA successfully launches the great steelband music weekend

  Bookmark and Share



             In Pictures

New York - The New York leg of the “great weekend of pan” took off with a bang.  Despers USA’s Bedford Stuyvesant’s panyard aka ‘the Pan Loft’ lit up the night under the overhead projection of a full moon that illuminated their facilities as the organization’s launch for the steelband music panorama season commenced.

Despers USA

The warm Summer night weather with an intermittent cool breeze, the jam-packed panyard in the later hours - with throngs of die-hard steelpan music aficionados - and of course the stellar pan music - were all there.  The only thing missing was that classic vista from the hills of Laventille looking out over the capital of Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and the Caribbean waters (the Gulf of Paria).  On this night, directly through the decades of sacrifice, steadfast and unwavering efforts of Despers USA, we find ourselves in another distinguished community treasured for great steelpan music, talent, tradition and high culture - Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, New York.

Never could the passengers of the constant stream of air planes overhead coming in for their final approach to New York’s La Guardia airport, know or imagine in their wildest dreams what was ongoing directly beneath them.  Despers USA’s panyard, bordered by two famous throughways - Atlantic and Classon Avenues - is in direct line with the Summer landing pattern used by aircrafts coming into La Guardia airport.


For over thirty years Despers USA has maintained its presence in the Bedford Stuyvesant community, with over twenty consecutive years in its current location.  Despers USA represents a treasured and significant cultural portion of the diverse education, music and culture tapestry of the New York City landscape.  The “Despers” experience is a unique one.

One could scarcely walk a few feet before being greeted by some pan man, or the phrase: “look we family” - a term of the greatest form of endearment uttered by a Desperado.  Indeed, while current, recent and past members of the Desperadoes fraternity fill the panyard, also in attendance were many pan people from the other steelband music organizations.  And the presence of living legends like Emmanuel “Jack” Riley only added to and confirmed the compelling journey undertaken by the steelpan instrument and people, and its customs.

Like many of the steel orchestras of New York - with only its own resourcefulness and community support, the organization has incessantly stimulated the imagination of its members and students, and nurtured their creativity.

Pan Ambassadors

Fellow steelband fraternity member Pan Ambassadors set the pace with their warm up set which featured a number of musical entrées that were crowd pleasers and covered a wide genre of music.  From Militant’s enchanting “Passion,” to the Bee Gees disco hit “Stayin’ Alive” (played in their second set) - Pan Ambassadors “sweet pan” approach showcased Kiera Scanterbury’s clever arrangements while simultaneously highlighting her rhythmic and harmonic voicing appreciation.  This all led to unabashed musical massaging of the astute crowd’s ego resulting in swaying, dancing, applauding and nodding in approval.  Under the directive of Magnus Scanterbury, Pan Ambassadors has successfully continued their educational and intellectual development of youth while achieving music excellence.

Next up was the veteran group D’Radoes.  D’Radoes interestingly enough is an off-shoot of Despers USA.  They performed a steady diet of well-known standards which included Earth Wind and Fire’s “Fantasy.”


Find more videos like this on When Steel Talks

Despers USA continues to evolve.  Its steady positive investment in the development - under the watchful eyes of its veteran musicians - of its youth, has paid off handsomely.  Indeed, another generation of Despers USA has emerged ready to take on the challenges, and maintaining the traditions and successes of this treasured Bedford Stuyvesant franchise.  As Despers USA performed at their launch, one could sense the continuity of history and pride the management and senior members of the organization experienced, as they watched their young people perform.

The steelband launch is part-support for the institution; but it is primarily a show with the discerning ears of numerous “Broadway-style” critics - all culminating with the interactive presence of the audience.  The host band - Despers USA - took full control of the audience tonight.  Needless to say - Despers brought the house down, and their spirited version of the Len “Boogsie” Sharpe composition of “Magic Drum” was a showstopper!  That classic ‘Despers’ sound and touch were on full display.

Steelpan in Bedford Stuyvesant... never will it have the romance and classic beauty of the Hills of Laventille - but history and music it does, and Despers USA is one of the cornerstones of that achievement.

Literally within a few weeks from now, the best steel orchestras of New York will be engaged in a fierce and heated musical combat for the prized title of “Panorama champion.”  But on this Summer night, thousands of miles from its birthplace, it was all about the steelpan, music and people.

As many New Yorkers throughout the city were looking to find, support and participate in activities at other great cultural institutions such as Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center - to name but two - experiences and performances like “The Panyard” remain of the highest quality and truest representation of art and culture - community entertainment.

The great steelband music weekend continues...  Next up: Pantonic's Launch

Leave a comment  

In Pictures

 Follow When Steel Talks on

  Bookmark and Share  

Join the When Steel Talks Network - the place where Panfolks meet worldwide


Join us on





Get your Steelband Music CDs and Exclusive Steelband Artwork here

- Clive Bradley the Master at Work -

The Yard Recordings Available Now! click to hear
The Hottest Steelband CD in Town!


When Steel Talks on Twitter




 More On Steelpan In Trinidad

Back To Pan Global Page

Click to hear current Pan Radio Show

Pan News Digest

Web Feed

©2009 When Steel Talks. All rights reserved

Search for Anything Steelpan Music Related