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Pan Sonatas heat things up with hot Curry

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Brooklyn, New York - Blazing Saturday afternoon sun, and sumptuous steaming curries - two ‘very hot’ scenarios which both unfolded at the pan yard location of one of New York’s stellar steel orchestras this past Saturday in New York.  Three weeks in the planning, it began to come together when key members of the steelband music organization met with some of their earnest volunteers and supporters and put heads together to ensure another of the band’s much-anticipated annual Curry-Que sessions.

Curried Shrimp

Curried Channa, Apple

And so, When Steel Talks was on the road, off on another steelpan-cuisine quest - this time the Curry-Que of reigning New York Panorama champions Pan Sonatas. The group is known for having the sweetest steelpan instruments in the tri-state area, courtesy of master steelpan manufacturer and tuner Bertram “Birch” Kelman.  But, they are equally adept and renowned, especially throughout the community, for their food - with many “sweet-hand” chefs who command the kitchen whenever the occasion demands.  This organization does everything with style, and the tickets printed for the curry-que were a sign of things to come this Saturday.


Mrs. Scott sees to eager clients

Buss-up shot wrapped and ready to go

Expecting to fill some three hundred orders before all was done, Sonatas cooks had been hard at work overnight, and during the early hours of the morning.  All this culinary diligence resulted in a smorgasbord that fulfilled the promise of the event’s promotional fliers of “Everything and Anything Curry.”  Curried shrimp, string beans, channa, chicken, beef, goat, mango, potato, apple and pumpkin were complemented by “buss-up shot” roti.  Cook-up rice was also available for those wishing to consider an option outside of everything and anything curried.

An undertaking such as this is dependent on as many hands as necessary; and when those expected on site happen to be delayed for any reason, it falls to others on hand to fill in.  But that is what Pan is about, first and foremost:  community.  

With Pan Sonatas president Mack Scott running around, in and out, and up and down - trying to be everywhere at once, and ensure that things were in place - his efforts were assisted by the likes of Shirley Griffith, whose niece Danielle Jones is a member of the orchestra.  Up since four o’clock that morning, Ms. Griffith was still at it after two in the afternoon, preparing orders for delivery, and for those coming by in person to collect their curry delights.  Joanne Scott, wife of Mr. Scott was just as active, also wearing multiple hats.

Shirley Griffith (foreground)

Marlene Smith

And it did not end there.  Marlene Smith from Washington DC, visiting with Ms. Griffith, found herself “drafted” as well, filling in - with a smile, of course - admirably and tending to those waiting patiently in line to be served.  Another enterprising lady ‘stepping up to the plate’ was Lisa Songster - herself a former Sonatas panist - and whose godchildren Sapphire Borneo (tenor bass) and Andrea Parks (double guitar) are part of Sonatas’ current musical arsenal. 

Lisa Songster

Charmaine Roberts

The steelpan recording of one of Sonatas’ own performances wafting through the air put an additional ‘pep’ in Songster’s step as she chipped around occasionally while taking care of business.  And when Songster eventually relinquished her gloves and dashed off to her job, Charmaine Roberts took her place and joined in preparing the take-a-way curry-que.  Her son Radix Simpson was most present, but relaxing a bit in the shade under an erected tent.

Lisa Songster with son Malik and daughter Malaika

(l-r) Andrea Parks, Sapphire Borneo & Radix Simpson

A few “elders” of the band were also there - one of its founders and former band captain, Hugh Raphael, along with Cecil Wilson, another founder.  Assistance was the order of the day, and these gentlemen were part of the team, as was Winston Young.

Hugh Raphael

Cecil Wilson

Winston Young

As people paused curiously while passing by, several were inveigled to stop and choose from the menu.  Long-time supporter of twenty-nine years  Andrew Blackman, happily collected his three boxes, and was all smiles as he left.

A very pleased Andrew Blackman with his Curry-que

More tempting curry concoctions kept arriving, along with folks pulling up in cars, eager for their share of the choice menu.  On this particular Saturday, the trips to Sonatas’ pan yard were for servings of culinary fare.  In a few weeks and on a nightly basis, many will also be turning out for servings of another kind from the organization - musical fare - at which Sonatas has long excelled.  It will not be long now.

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