New York, USA
- This was the final leg of the great pan weekend - Sonatas’ launch at
D’Radoes Panyard. With two other highly successful legs (Despers
USA and Pantonic) to
the three-day band launch-fest already in the bag, Sonatas was left to write the final chapter
on this weekend. And
Sonatas - now cast into the role of closer, stepped up to the plate and hit a
grand slam. Outstanding!
A perfect event it was not - but it was very
good and successful. Moreover, it was by the pan people for pan people.
There were very high level musical
performances with great extended arrangements. The bands, as we say in the
yard, “came out to play.” They were for the most part, well-rehearsed and
tight. If your band was not ready to perform at this engagement, you were
going to, or should we say, got your musical feelings hurt. Indeed, all the
bands made their statement in a manner as to challenge the audience with every
song and musical nuance, like,
“can you hear me now?” All the while,
as arrangers and managers alike surveyed the audience landscape with mischievous grins on their
faces that silently yelled at the top of their lungs - “did you hear that?” - “how yuh like meh ban’
This was truly a great listening party for
pan. ADLIB, Harmony, Steel Sensation, D’Radoes, Ambassadors, Sesame
Flyers, Pantonic, Despers USA and the host Sonatas all in the house; folks
came in a high volume.
It was simply a musical summit for pan. Pan, Business and Music were
the ‘special’ on the evening menu. There were pan sides, steelband combos and steel
orchestras in every part of the large D’Radoes yard. D’Radoes yard is
massive, yet as the orchestras rolled one after the other, it looked like they
were actually going to run out of room. Moreover by the time the large crowd
filled the spaces in between the orchestras, the gigantic D’Radoes facility
seemed in need of temporary expansion.
Now transformed into a steelband music village
- the members of the assorted steelband tribes, fans, family and management (grey
breads) - intermingled and greeted each other with nothing but respect.
Members of the different musical factions freely ventured from their band’s camps
and took in a song or two of their fellow compadres/rivals - depending on their
personal vantage point. More often than not, the end results were an outcry
of public support and applause.
As with the other two previous launches,
there was a lot of music education going on. Young people were contrasting
and observing the musical styles, techniques and executions of the different
orchestras. The veterans took it all in, nodding in approval.
Sonatas got the launch started with
their customary lead position,
playing Len “Boogsie” Sharpe’s “Magic Drum.”
Today it was their turn to simultaneously juggle the roles of host and
performer. Over the past days of launches, Sonatas again
established itself as one of the best in the business.
Pan Ambassadors had no trouble engaging the crowd - easily showing why
they are, according to their director, one of the most busy groups in
D’Radoes is the New York band with the
biggest hearts. If you can’t get along with D’Radoes - you can’t
get along with anyone. Their “Village” facility provided an à propos touch
to the weekend’s finalé. Thanks, “Man”!!
Harmony was out with a whole new crew of
young people. They held themselves well on their maiden voyage
in a big launch.
Despers USA made a special connection, or
reconnection, with the steelpan community that has been missing in recent
years. Playing in all three launches this weekend confirmed their
commitment to and
re-established their bond with the New York steelpan fraternity. Musically Desper’s USA performed real well. Their whistling tenors and
even rolls from their front line was characteristic of another glory
time of their past. They had already successfully anchored the first leg
of this “great pan weekend” two days earlier.
Steel Sensation was their usual picture of
excellence. These musicians are operating on another level. Great arrangements. Great performance.
Sesame Flyers made a serious musical
statement at this event letting everyone know they are ready to join
the big boys. Nice execution of a varied repertoire.
Pantonic put on a veteran performance.
One tends to forget just how young the Pantonic players are because
of how long and how well they have been doing it. Anyone who
can drop the Beatles “Long and Winding Road” to a slow crawl and have
the ’09 generation cheering, has got it musically going on. Pantonic
also successfully anchored the middle of this “great pan weekend”
the night before.
ADLIB came out to play. The Long-Island based orchestras has firmly and confidently secured its spot
as one of the New York steelband elite. School is out; the
young kids of yesterday are now the seasoned young adults of ADLIB
with tremendous skills to match their discipline and dedication to
Either the old men are too old for frivolous
fights, or the young people are taking over and they have a totally different
agenda - but this three-day, three-event “great pan weekend” showed that pan people do
have the ability to walk a path that showcases their talent, intelligence and
more over produce a natural product and business arrangement that work in their
benefit - all the while providing the pan fans/consumers joy and a highly valued
musical entertaining product.
It is safe to assume that the tribal
steelband chiefs will continue to harbor distrust and
somewhat dislike each other. However
valuable lessons were learned from this weekend - they do not have to like each
other to work together in a productive and highly beneficial manner.
Despers USA, Pantonic and Sonatas
skillfully staged three events
on successive days with limited resources;
that was in addition to being well coordinated, and overlapping each other’s spheres of
operations. And still they were all able to deliver a high-value product
each with its own distinct taste and flavor - that met the high expectation of
participants, onlookers and critics from both a music and business perspective.
When Steel Talks (WST) was pleased to see the organizers incorporating WST’s network of
Facebooking, Tweeting, Ninging, texting and email - in addition to their flyer handouts - to mobilize people into action
And just a side note: we saw Pantonic,
Sonatas, Despers, Crossfire, ADLIB, Harmony, D’Radoes, CASYM, Ambassadors,
Sesame Flyers, Steel Sensation and Utopia - to name a few - “fist bumping” each
other in pleasant greeting all weekend long. Indeed they have been doing
this long before Obama and Michelle.
Okay enough of this nice stuff - let the 100-man panorama wars begin.
Next up: New York
Panorama 2009 ...
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