New York - Field Marshall Yohan Popwell - otherwise known as the Panorama arranger for champion Sonatas Steel Orchestra - pointed to the far left and right, and instantaneously the quads camouflaged as small armored mobile vehicles rattled off a series of musical volleys over the heads of the audience that were so sharp it seem to cut a part in the hair of one patron, giving him a reverse Mohawk hairstyle. We will not mention what it did to the women in the audience.
Sonatas get ready for their winning 2010 New York Panorama performance
He, Popwell, then pointed to the sky and then to the floor and the frontline (made up of whistling master tuner Birch Kelman tenors and seconds) immediately executed a chromatic dive bomb maneuver at a rapid-fire pace that had folks diving for cover - only to have them, his players, skillfully pull up at the last moment into a fascinating shrill crescendo; yes, there were spilled drinks everywhere, mouths wide open and men looking to hide under chairs. And then the final blow was this Latin movement - a very disciplined Sonatas percussive special unit began to rock the house. Powell did a ‘cha cha’ move - he indeed loves to dance while his troops are meting out musical punishment to his opponents, and there was a loud boom from a secret drum Sonatas had built; everything came to a full stop- the Field Marshall Popwell and his band saluted the audience and judges - everyone exhaled and for all intents and purposes - it was over. Goodnight! Sonatas owned New York for another year. And they also owned the championship trophy and reported first prize of $25,000.00.
General Mack Scott, the president of Sonatas and otherwise affectionately known as ‘Mr. Mack’ and ‘Uncle Mack’ to his brilliant young musical army, with arms crossed and a twinkle in his eye, appropriately seem to call off the attack as the musical genius of Sonatas shined through, victorious once again.
For Panorama 2010 there were some great performances as they, the challengers, endeavored to take the crown from the defending champion Sonatas. In this year’s ‘battle zone’ you were quickly exposed as a contender or pretender.
Ah, but let us review how we came to another classic moment in the annals of New York steelband Panorama history.
Yes - it was an epic event. Earlier in the week after a scorching heatwave parched the Big Apple for a number of days, the city that never sleeps braced itself for Hurricane Earl. For a moment it looked like this storm was going to collide smack into the Empire State right before the New York Panorama, and wreck havoc on the ‘Battle Zone.’
Un-phased by the elements - heat and/or impending hurricane, the New York steelband generals who have a history of being NOT afraid of anything when it comes to Panorama music wars, issued orders to their steelpan troops “all systems go - man your posts” (WST intercepted these coded messages on Facebook). Moreover, live music ammo in the form of sweet steelpan music was continually handed out to shoot Hurricane Earl out of the sky on sight. The pan folks relished the idea of doing battle with Earl as a warm up to the impending Panorama war. In addition, to be caught not behind your pan, was indeed a serious offense at this time of the year, that could result in immediate banishment. Anyway, we watched pan folks consisting of people and little people arrive at their yards in SUV’s, on bicycles and feet. And of course there were many who arrived on scooters with backpacks carrying their pan sticks and water, ready to practice and do battle with anyone, anything.
For whatever reason - you be the judge - Earl turned up the east coast but essentially stayed out to sea and clear of New York.
Four bands (Sonatas, Pantonic, Dem Stars and Harmony) entered this musical struggle with “Battle Zone” as their tune of choice. Three others (D’Radoes, Sesame and Harmony) would choose “Pan Army” as their call to musical arms. Despers USA chose to go with the “De Last Band.” While CASYM chose “Tell Dem” as its musical declaration that the band would not go away quietly, CrossFire heated things up with “Pan on Fire,” and Boston Metro stayed patriotic all the way with “Ah Love Meh Pan.”
- Pantonic entered the
Panorama with the unenviable task of playing in position
one. ‘Position one’ is known as the sound check position for obvious reasons -
and none of them good. Their tune of choice was “Battle Zone.” Again, size
matters in New York’s Panorama to offset the negative effects of the sound
system. Pantonic was served up a triple whammy - playing first, small in size
(their smallest ever), and braving a bad sound system.
CASYM on stage at the 2010 New York Panorama
Despers USA on stage at the 2010 New York Panorama
Harmony on stage at the 2010 New York Panorama
D’Radoes on stage at the 2010 New York Panorama
ADLIB on stage at the 2010 New York Panorama
Dem Stars performed “Battle Zone” in position seven with Sheldon Elcock at the
arranger’s controls. Elcock was also part the 2010 crew in the freshman class of
New York Panorama arrangers. His first outing was unforgiving. Dem Stars was
simply not a factor in this year’s competition. They suffered from their small
size, the sound system and apparent lack of musical connection with the judges
and the audience.
Sonatas on stage at the 2010 New York Panorama
CrossFire on stage at the 2010 New York Panorama
Boston Metro on stage at the 2010 New York Panorama
Sesame Flyers on stage at the 2010 New York Panorama
Pantonic on stage at the 2010 New York Panorama
We warned everyone last year in our 2009 WST NY Panorama report that this could happen when Sonatas Steel Orchestra revealed that they were a bunch of musical marauding Bandoleros and took over the New York.
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