New York, USA - D’Radoes Steel Orchestra led by the affable Junior “Mann” Samuel, taught its other ten fellow competitors a musical lesson and in so doing delivered a “Spankin’,” the effects of which will be felt for a full twelve months - that is, until the 2015 New York Panorama.
D’Radoes became New York Panorama champions for the first time in the band’s twelve-year history. The group came into existence in 2002 after some members left Despers USA Steel Orchestra. After three consecutive years (2011, 2012, 2013) in third place, the fourth time was the charm for the collaboration between Trinidad & Tobago-based arranger Terrance “BJ” Marcelle and D’Radoes Steel Orchestra. Super Blue’s Spankin’ - A Tribute was their tune of choice this year. The word on the ground and on the lips of pan lovers around town was that D’Radoes would be the band to beat; many were pretty sure of this from checking out the steel orchestra in the two final weeks before the competition.
It also brought together a twosome first forged within Pantonic Steel Orchestra. Drummers Gregory Pegus and Joel John joined forces and held down the rhythm simultaneously, as they had done in Pantonic years ago, when that steel orchestra was also on its championship trail. It was like ‘going home’ for Pegus and John, as D’Radoes has within its ranks a significant number of former Pantonic players.
D’Radoes Steel Orchestra practice before hitting the stage
Going through a difficult patch of having been unexpectedly locked out of their spacious practice area and subsequently relocating to the smaller adjoining spot - then initially almost nightly being subjugated to NYPD (New York Police Department) shutdowns, were adversities which served only to make the group more determined to prevail. It made the band membership edgier as they rallied and buckled down, rehearsing as early as necessary and as long whenever able/allowed; they would rise above these challenges thrown at them. And D’Radoes did rise, to the very top of musical supremacy as the New York Panorama champions of 2014.
Dane Gulston before the Panorama
Interestingly D’Radoes was on this same path exactly ten years ago in 2004 - and as they performed the crowd knew the orchestra, playing Whap! Cocoyea arranged by the late Clive Bradley, was going to be crowned champion. D’Radoes swept the crowd along with them that night on a tide of musical ecstasy. That was - until the rhythm section unceremoniously sputtered out in the closing moments of the piece. In their 2014 showing everyone was locked in tight with precision, adrenaline and expectation flowing, having been relentlessly pumped and drilled in the days running up by pan veteran Dane Gulston.
Last year’s champs CASYM Steel Orchestra had to be content with second place, which they shared with three-time Panorama champs ADLIB Steel Orchestra. Long Island-based ADLIB changed arrangers for the first time since 2007, switching from champion arranger Andre White to Amrit Samaroo in 2014. Both bands opted for Big People Party, two out of three which went that route.
ADLIB Steel Orchestra practice before hitting the stage
Ten-time Panorama champion Sonatas who were second in 2013 slipped to fourth with the “tie” in second place. Appearing on stage in first position at 8:19 p.m., they went with The Original DeFosto’s In De Minor arranged by Leon “Foster” Thomas as Sonatas tried to move one up to the championship spot that has eluded them since 2011.
Sonatas pause for a pic before hitting the stage in position #1
2014 Pan Alive champions Pan Fantasy which made the journey southward from Canada for the second year running in quest of the Panorama championship, found their musical efforts once again thwarted. With their version of Big People Party they were fifth in the final standings, followed by CrossFire Steel Orchestra in sixth as that group showcased an energetic performance of the Kendall Williams-arranged Brian “Bean” Griffith composition Big In De Dance.
Pan Fantasy goes through their paces before hitting the stage
Pantonic Steel Orchestra, one of three who chose Super Blue’s Spankin’ - A Tribute for Panorama, ran seventh for the second year in a row with their execution of Seion Gomez’ arrangement. Next, in the view of the judges, Despers USA’s spirited presentation and interpretation merited a mere eighth place, with their clarion call of Play More Local envisioned by Odie Franklin.
In De Minor was played the second time around by the band judged ninth, Harmony Steel Orchestra, conveying a Marc Brooks-arrangement which featured several intriguing movements within the piece. With the addition this year of the band coming in tenth—Steel Xplosion led by its arranger Freddie Harris, III—eleven steel orchestras in total participated in the 2014 New York Panorama.
Metro Steel Orchestra which officially returned to the New York Panorama scene in 2012, was relegated to last place, as in the two previous years. Machel Montano’s Haunted arranged by Wilfred Kieal, Sr. was their musical vehicle into the Panorama.
Metro goes through their paces before hitting the stage
When Steel Talks extends congratulations to D’Radoes Steel Orchestra on their excellent season, which began with their band launching a few weeks ago. In fact kudos go out to all the steel orchestras, regardless of placing and size, who put in work toward making their musical voices heard on the stage that is New York Panorama.
Click for details and results of the 2014 New York Panorama.
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