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Humidity, Hot Steel and Rumbling Rhythm - 2012 Pantonic Band Launch

Pantonic, CASYM & Natural Expression keep things churning

Another When Steel Talks Concert Review

Brooklyn, New York - It was another hot Summer night, and a very humid one at that - for the 2012 Pantonic Band Launch.  Combine the entertaining and sultry steel band sounds of Pantonic and CASYM, with the hot rhythmic session laid down by Natural Expressions, and it was a great way to plunge into a warm and very ‘moist’ Saturday evening.  Keep in mind that it had already been an active day for some of these pan players, some of whom had finished earlier on, several stints of fun-filled activity under very sunny skies at Sonatas’ 3rd Annual Sports Day.

Pantonic Steel Orchestra
Steel Orchestra

When Steel Talks arrived as Pantonic was into their first set for the evening, and a small crowd ringed the sides and front of the band as they dished out a performance to match the heated weather.  The only thing “cool” about the band was their attire - white polo shirts; otherwise, it was music to match the temperature as onlookers danced.  The pulsating groove of Pantonic’s mid-section especially, was hard to resist in several songs.  But then again, the five-time Panorama champion Pantonic legacy is strong in the capable hands of these young adults who continue the type of performances the group has been known for throughout the years.  With the rebuilding process well on track, Pantonic continues to thrive overall under the leadership and guidance of band president Glenda Gamory, present for the launch and happily looking on as she chatted away with several guests. 

Arthur De Souza, left, and Bossman “Goose” Joseph:  DJ Goose Crew
Arthur De Souza, left, and Bossman “Goose” Joseph:  DJ Goose Crew

With DJ Goose Crew on hand, the tempo to make your body move was kept up, as they had the pulse of the people in hand.  It was also a good visual to see that that the members of the Crew—Arthur De Souza and Bossman “Goose” Joseph—are also New York steelpan musicians, and interacting with fellow pan players on a symbiotic level.

CASYM Steel Orchestra
CASYM Steel Orchestra

CASYM, the only other steel orchestra on hand in addition to hosts Pantonic, worked the crowd into a lather as they dropped several songs, including Lambada and the waist-moving soca classic Dollar Wine.  Attendees cannot be present at any event where CASYM is on the card, and not be treated to a truly entertaining presentation overall.  And why not - this is a champion Panorama-winning steel orchestra that gives its all on stage, regardless of how large - or small - that stage is.  Along with drummer Jahlani Roberts setting the pace, the band’s rhythm section held it down.  It’s always cool to see for some selections, the periodic interchange of now-veteran faces in the band, like Michelle Williams, band captain Travis Roberts and the Danglades ladies - who have been front and center for many years, also solidly anchoring in the rhythm section.

Little one on drums in between bands
Little one on
drums in between band sessions

Another great sight at most band launches, is the continuity of the generations; the tiny tots and those not much older, tearing up and down the pan yard, darting in and out between and around the adults - their parents either members of the bands, related family members and even the general audience.  And sometimes during the breaks between performances, it’s there these up-and-coming “little people” will be equipped with their pan sticks (or a pair grabbed from those lying around), or as in this case, drum sticks and on the drum set (pictured).  And as cute as a button, expect them to “steel” the spotlight as onlookers “oooh” and “aaww” as they take their turn, with cameras flashing away, and smart phones recording the moments for immediate upload!  So much a talent was this little one, that during rhythm section’s Natural Expression session, he was given his own iron as he squatted on the ground!!

Natural Expression
Natural Expression

Speaking of rhythmic - it was “fire” when Natural Expression sounded their drums, iron, scratcher, dudups and more, to urge the crowd into another fevered pitch period. Hands in the air, it was now the turn of some of the steel band musicians themselves to unleash in dance and ‘wine.’  Natural Expressions thrived on the energy of the crowd, as the latter responded to the soul-stirring rumbles of the drums and searing iron session put forth.

It was quite noticeable that only two of the advertised seven steel bands were visible in performance mode at the launch.  Less-than-pleased organizers told When Steel Talks that CrossFire, Despers USA, Harmony, New York Pan Stars and Satisfiers (off-shoot of Pan Royal) all informed Pantonic on the very day of the launch itself - Saturday - that they would not be participating.  All with very good reasons, When Steel Talks is sure, as far as they were concerned.  With respect to New York Pan Stars, reportedly some of their players were out of town, but their management and a couple senior members attended in support; so too did a few familiar faces of other bands.

Sonatas players out in full support
Sonatas crew (with one CASYMite in tow) out in full support

For band launches there are no formal contracts, but generally one’s word is taken as adequate commitment in the community; it’s just the way the New York pan events function.  Generally at launches, sometimes one band or even two may not appear for one reason or another, especially if understandably, an unexpected income-generating opportunity turns up - but to have five of seven on the very day of the event drop out, after probably having agreed to appear at the very least, a week or so prior to the event, is disappointing.  Organizers would have hoped for at least a heads-up a day or two before, so that the arrangements put in place for their appearances (not least of all - incurring costly transport and the like) might possibly be dialed back, and maybe even sourcing a substitute band or two; to say nothing of expectations of paying attendees...  It must be mentioned here that a significant number of Sonatas members came out in support of the event, having just spent the 24-hour period before seeing to their own annual Sports day.  Since both activities were on the same date, Sonatas Steel Orchestra was not slated to perform at Pantonic’s launch. 

No band launch is complete without cooling drinks and fabulous food fare, and this event was no different, with barbecued chicken, tilapia, peas and rice, potato salad, whole fish in foil, curry potato and channa with buss-up-shot, hot dogs and more.  At Pantonic’s launch, all culinary, music and rhythmic cravings were satisfied. 

Sonatas players out in full support
Brian Villafana

Also on hand taking it all in were known faces such as arranger Denzil “Belt” Botus and Brian Villafana of Trinidad’s Pamberi Steel Orchestra.  If one can reconcile with the later-than-advertised-start which characterizes several band launches (one patron told When Steel Talks “I come here so early, I thought I was late - but they now start!”) - then the sweet steel band music, hot rhythms, culinary fare, DJ sessions and overall great ambiance - all made for a fabulous way to spend this sweltering Saturday Summer evening outdoors.


Pantonic Steel Orchestra performers
Brittany Burton, Tyrone McShine, Shania Baker, Brandon Waldroup, Zakiya Howe, Byrce Beache, Joseph Wilson, Adrian Edwards , Danielle Gamory, Melina Scott, Amira Beache, Marriler Wilson, Gwynn Glasgow, Lenny, Patrick Davis, Kayode Wiltshire, Wayne Bernard, Francis, Anthony

Pantonic Steel Orchestra
Pantonic Steel Orchestra

CASYM Steel Orchestra performers

CASYM Steel Orchestra
CASYM Steel Orchestra

Natural Expression performers

Natural Expression
Natural Expression

Pantonic’s “2012 Band Launch” - in Pictures
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