BSO’s Inaugural ‘Pan Is Sweet’ presents a “Different Me” for New York Pan - Success!

by When Steel Talks

© 2018 -  All Rights Reserved.

Promotional Flyer for Pan Is Sweet 2018 concert
Promotional Flyer

New York, USA - One would have thought that there was not enough perfume or rather anything “sweet” smelling enough in the world to erase the stench of the appalling 2017 New York “Fake-O-Rama”  held by W.I.A.D.C.A. (West Indian American Day Carnival Association) at the Brooklyn museum this past September. It was New York Pan at its lowest. However, one has to admit when they see the potential for change. Like some mad musical scientists, a special group of young people—BSO (Brooklyn Steel Orchestra)—concocted a unique plan and formula - took the bull by the horns and successfully synthesized a tremendous product called “Pan Is Sweet.”

If you were there then you know. If you missed it, then you have probably already heard that you missed out on an outstanding steelband music event. BSO held their first annual “Pan Is Sweet” competition. It will no doubt go down as one of the best steelband music events for 2018, if not the decade. Some are already calling it a historic moment in pan. Time will tell. What is undeniable is that the music was there, the people were there and everyone was vibing. A pivotal moment in New York Pan? Absolutely.

BSO delivered a Pan version of ‘FUBU’ (For Us - By Us) - management, marketing, planning, advertising, entertainment, technical skills, engineering, fashion and artistic creativity - and plenty of problem-solving. (Watch WST UpClose interview with BSO members)

What was on display, pure and simple was music with that distinctive ‘New York Pan’ attitude. Soul, grit and much “We are going to make you love us” attitude. And then we are going to make you dance and sing and scream “Oh My” without any tigers, lions or bears in sight - but with impeccable musicianship and music that will touch your heart, sear your soul.

Seven bands performed on the night and delivered memorable performances, each between five and six minutes, which garnered spontaneous “Ooohs” and “Ahhs” from the audience. From Bruno Mars’ “Finesse” by New York Pan Stars, followed up by CASYM, Verona, Blue Diamonds USA, Steel Sensation, Pan Evolution - to Jazmine Sullivan’s “Bust Your Windows” laid bare by Genesis Pan Groove - the bands captured the hearts of the attendees. Snappily dressed, fashion statements were made with attire which matched and supported their musical selections. No one is going to forget CASYM and their gold outfits for their delivery of “24K Magic” by Bruno Mars. The band’s stage presence was glitteringly emphasized as even their steelpan instruments were clad in gold.

Hosts Jessica Nosiles and Kernel Simon
Hosts Jessica Nosiles and Kernel Simon

Kris Murrell - the show’s stage manager ran a very tight ship, outing fires - as well as lighting fires when needed. Professionalism was the calling card of every aspect of the event. A packed agenda of events was executed down to the minute. Equal standouts in their capacities were hosts Jessica Nosiles and Kernel Simon who had very good chemistry, chatted with arrangers post-performance and kept the crowd interactive.

While the show was indeed based on a competition, what was on display was an inordinate amount of cooperation, among and between the show’s organizer and producer (BSO), the performing artists, and New York Pan music enthusiasts. That being said, and with music-lovers packed to the rafters - (okay, to the balcony!) - Pan Evolution’s victory was a popular choice, and Steel Sensation following closely. Top prizes included trophies, with the first three taking home $3,000, $2,000 and $1,500 respectively; bands received $800 as an appearance fee; scores are below:

1st - Pan Evolution - 285 points
2nd - Steel Sensation - 272 points
3rd - Verona Steel Orchestra - 266 points
4th - Genesis Pan Groove - 255 points
5th - NY Pan Stars - 250 points
6th - CASYM - 209 points
7th - Blue Diamond USA - 108 points

BSO is made up of some extremely talented, professionally-minded and dedicated young individuals. The success of this core group speaks volumes for the potential future. Moreover, they went far beyond talk. They delivered the goods and showed they were ready for prime-time, making the inaugural ‘Pan Is Sweet’ Steelband Competition—the group’s first real official business outing—a major success. Additionally, BSO showed their sense of history and continuity when they included a Hu’Pan-itarian Awards aspect to the show which this year honored Glenda Gamory, Wilfred Kieal, Sr., William Jones, and Vincent “Hueloy” Lila Yip Young. This younger generation of New York pan exhibited a clear understanding of whose shoulders they stand on. Panist Kareem Thompson delivered a special performance in tribute to the honorees, and also took the stage again toward the end of the show with Khuent Rose on piano, both delighting the crowd.

The Arrangers

The New York Pan landscape has some of the best young arrangers in the world, bar none. “Pan Is Sweet” 2018 not only reaffirmed that fact but raised the bar and expectations. The world is hip to the great steel orchestra music works and genius of other New York arrangers like Andre White, Andy Akiho, Kendall Williams, Marc Brooks and Odie Franklin. But added to that cadre are a few talented young arrangers right on their heels, contributing to the art form and who are leaving their mark in a major way. Damany “Bob” James, Lance Maximin, Sadé Constantine and Tristan Brewington-Japsi were among the featured arrangers at this competition.  If you are not already familiar with their names and musical works you will be. They are the young Barry Whites, Duke Ellingtons, Quincy Joneses and Frankie McIntoshes. Their works have the ability to impact and create emotional connections which raise the human condition and spirit through their uncanny ability to story-tell. Along the way they were able to lift the spirits, cause a momentary shedding of a tear, a heart to flutter with uncommon joy.

The Music

New York Pan Stars - performed a Marc Brooks-arrangement of Bruno Mars’ “Finesse” that skillfully traversed the decades of music styles and genres one would have danced and partied to right here in New York at any of the famous dance halls like the Savoy, Bell Rose Ball Room, Studio 54 and Sonia Ball Room to name few. From Lindy-Hopping to Hip Hop and swing to soulful blues to soca - Marc and Pan Stars never let you forget that you should be dancing. In fact if your head wasn’t bopping or feet weren’t tapping you clearly needed to check your pulse, you might have been dead. Bruno Mars would be very proud of New York Pan Stars’ showcase of his smash hit. Marc Brooks is simply a bad man who has mastered his craft. And New York Pan Stars has got it going on - as always.

New York Pan Stars Steel Orchestra performs at 2018’s Pan Is Sweet
New York Pan Stars Steel Orchestra performs at 2018’s Pan Is Sweet


CASYM - performed a Lance Maximin-arrangement of Bruno Mars’ “24K Magic” -- CASYM looked like they were worth their weight in gold on stage. Awesome! CASYM is the original New York showtime band, so this competition was absolutely in their domain. Lance dropped an intro, verse and chorus that captured the imagination of the audience, but was unable to maintain that magnetism to the end, as an abundance of great ideas became just that - separate, great-tasting ingredients in a pot that never really blended into that great meal, or broke the established orbit. Nevertheless, the audience enjoyed the band’s performance immensely. 

CASYM Steel Orchestra performs at 2018’s Pan Is Sweet
CASYM Steel Orchestra performs at 2018’s Pan Is Sweet


Verona Steel Orchestra - performed a Damany “Bob” James-arrangement of “Fireflies” by Owl City. Listening to this performance is indeed an experience. James takes the listener, while in an open public setting, on a personal musical journey. That in itself is a remarkable feat and moreover speaks volumes to the arranging abilities of this young man and the musicianship of Verona Steel Orchestra. His adaptation of “Fireflies” is both thought-provoking and moving, with seamless transitions, and musical movements wrapped in cultural cues which sounded fuller and more lush than expected for the size of the orchestra. Damany’s voicings and spreads across the steelpan family of instruments in the Verona orchestra are superb. Get used to the name Damany James.

Verona Steel Orchestra performs at 2018’s Pan Is Sweet
Verona Steel Orchestra performs at 2018’s Pan Is Sweet


Blue Diamonds USA - Performed a Pedro Alexander-arrangement of Ne-Yo’s “One In A Million.” Just wasn’t their night.

Blue Diamonds USA Steel Orchestra performs at 2018’s Pan Is Sweet
Blue Diamonds USA Steel Orchestra performs at 2018’s Pan Is Sweet


Steel Sensation - performed a Tristan Brewington-Japsi-arrangement of Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect.” The audience’s enthusiastic reaction to the performance said it all. However, it was the emotional, practically tear-jerking connection to the orchestra’s presentation that left many in awe of the power and growth of Tristan as one of the top steelband arrangers. Steel Sensation has always been known for its impeccable musicianship but took it a step higher on this night as they tugged on the heart strings of many present. One ‘non-pan-familiar person’ - so moved by the performance, said that it had “changed” her “perception of steelpan,” meaning a respect and appreciation for what a steel orchestra is, and can do. Indeed, the ultimate compliment.

Steel Sensation performs at 2018’s Pan Is Sweet
Steel Sensation performs at 2018’s Pan Is Sweet


Pan Evolution - performed an Andre White-arrangement of Justin Beiber’s “Let Me Love You.” Captivating the audience from the first notes of the opening movement, Andre’s arrangement builds to a thrilling climax which reminded the world why he is one of the best in the business at musical storytelling with a purpose. Displaying a keen sense of drama and use of the narrative (Let Me Love You), unfolding slowly and bouncing back and forth with a sense of rhythmic intensity, Andre ensnares the audience with layers of enchanting honey-like voices from the leads which leave them completely defenseless to his request, musically, of ‘Let Me Love You.’ Pan Evolution was a delight to watch as they executed the arrangement with deft skills, aplomb, showmanship and impeccable musicianship.

Pan Evolution Steel Orchestra performs at 2018’s Pan Is Sweet
Pan Evolution Steel Orchestra performs at 2018’s Pan Is Sweet


Genesis Pan Groove - performed a Sadé Constantine-arrangement of Jazmine Sullivan’s “Bust Your Windows,” no doubt a crowd favorite. Sadé’s well-orchestrated parts immediately connected and touched attendees, yielding active and engaged listeners. The piece featured a captivating and haunting yet very simple cello part that veteran and respected panist Natasha Isaac was able to brilliantly deliver as a counter melody to rapid movement of the front line. The orchestra melded in with consonant chords and supporting bass line which harmonically sustained the cello and guitar part. Genesis Pan Groove was able to get more out of the Roulette’s unforgiving acoustics as they, partly due to their size, played at a volume that did not saturate the room. With an uncluttered arrangement giving various parts time to breathe - overall, this piece was very enjoyable due to the very good performance.

Genesis Pan Groove performs at 2018’s Pan Is Sweet
Genesis Pan Groove performs at 2018’s Pan Is Sweet


Her Excellency, Pennelope Beckles-Robinson - left, Her Honour, Judge Deborah Thomas-Felix - right. Martin Douglas, USSA president is at center
Her Excellency, Pennelope Beckles-Robinson - left, Her Honour, Judge Deborah Thomas-Felix - right. Martin Douglas, USSA president is at center

Along with the appreciative crowd on hand, gracing the show were Her Excellency, Permanent Representative of Trinidad and Tobago to the United Nations, Pennelope Beckles-Robinson, and Her Honour, Judge Deborah Thomas-Felix, Appeal Judge on the United Nations Appeals Tribunal (UNAT) and President of the Industrial Court of Trinidad and Tobago. This steelband showcase was packed, so note to self: get your ticket now. It will be sold-out real early next year.

BSO’s superb core team, listed below (each individual an ace musician his/her own right) ensured their fellow steelband players were treated with respect, as performing artists in any other entertainment genre would expect to be. Through the efforts of this management team - what only a short time ago seemed impossible, went from improbable, to inevitable, to a whopping success. Given the accomplishment of this show it would be unconscionable for New York Pan to ever again work with any show promoters who either disrespect their talents and time, and/or cannot pay their bills, such as prize winnings and appearance fees - like those at Panorama.

BSO’s (Brooklyn Steel Orchestra) core team/management
BSO’s core team/management

BSO Personnel:
Travis Roberts - Manager
Kern Simon - Captain
Jahlani Roberts - PRO
Wayne Bernard - Treasurer
Marc Brooks - Committee Member/Arranger
Graphic Designer - Shelley George
Orisha John
Odie Franklin - Arranger
Jalissa Lynch - Committee Member
Kendall Williams - Arranger
Markus Garceran - Flyers, etc.
Elroy Primus - Photographer

For this event BSO was additionally supported by other key personnel, also steelband musicians themselves, in volunteer capacities.


The panel of judges - Freddie Harris, III, Josh Quillen, Khuent Rose and Renee Ogiste - were abundantly suited for the job - all skilled and highly qualified music individuals in their own right, each bringing with them years of music mastery to the adjudication table.

Having seen the documentation, the Pan Is Sweet adjudication criteria were without doubt some of the most comprehensive, detailed, sensible and thought-out in terms of encompassing all the elements that contribute to a great performance. The judges examined, along with arrangement - tone and rhythm criteria. In addition choreography, dynamic execution, rolling density and attack uniformity, all under the Performance criterion, were adjudicated.

Left to right, Roulette tech staff:  Jenstar Hacker, Valerie Aaby  and Gof Parnmongkol
Left to right, Roulette tech staff:  Jenstar Hacker, Valerie Aaby and Gof Parnmongkol

The show was held at the Roulette Intermedium on Atlantic Avenue, in Brooklyn, New York on June 23, and ran from 7:00 to just after 11:00 p.m.

Leaving nothing to chance, BSO brought in Basement Recordings, the audio arm of WST (When Steel Talks) to lead the Roulette technical staff in capturing of the event, in addition to handling all pre- and post-production aspects of the show. Look for BSO to release Basement Recordings-produced show content in the near future.

The Roulette technical staff on this night - Gof Parnmongkol, Jenstar Hacker and Valerie Aaby were assets in the event production. Kudos and appreciation go out to them, and Jenstar and Valerie are to be commended for their work ethic toward stage duties.

The Future

This event was a massive plus to the New York performing arts and the creative process of the steelband music art-form, arts and entertainment scene. The future is bright and clear for BSO and “Pan Is Sweet” type events locally, nationally and internationally. Again it showed that when Pan folks do their own thing good things happen. Going forward, if you are a potential sponsor, business associate, friend of the arts and culture - this is a no-brainer to support or become involved in. For steel orchestras all over the world, if you think you have the chops secure an invite ASAP.

In Pictures


Contact BSO at:

Contact CASYM at:  (718) 503-2911;

Contact Steel Sensation at:  (718) 809-8288

Contact Pan Evolution at:  (917) 620-1125

Contact NY Pan Stars at:

Contact Verona at: (718) 208-6588

Contact Genesis Pan Groove at: (516) 474-6573;


   Short Sample Performances - Pan Evolution  -- “Pan Is Sweet” 2018


New York Pan Stars Steel Orchestra band logo

New York Pan Stars...


  • Malik Inniss

  • Antonio John

  • Chaelon Notice

  • Sage Harrison

  • Joel Edouard

  • Zeandre Douglas

  • Alexia Isaac

  • Kassandra Pierre

Double Tenors

  • Selena Antoine

  • Navarre Mason

Double Seconds

  • Andrew Semple

  • Marc Brooks - Arranger

Double Guitars


  • Keifer Dover


  • Starling Owens

  • Kianna Carrington


  • Noah Smit


  • Wilfred Kieal, Jr.

  • Andrea Wilson

  • Tamika Small

Arranger Marc Brooks

Arranger Marc Brooks: Despite having been born in the United States, Marc was able to connect to his parents’ Caribbean heritage through music. Around the age of 11, Marc was introduced to steel pan while watching footage from Trinidad’s carnival performances. He was amazed with the sound of the instrument and by the age of 13, Marc began learning more about the instrument through Sesame Flyers International, a well-known cultural organization located in the heart of the Caribbean community in Brooklyn, New York. Having quickly developed a love for the instrument, he sought to expand his knowledge of steel pan and music by reading theory books and taking advantage of every opportunity to rehearse. By the age of 14, Marc had already joined Sesame Flyers’ stage side band and began teaching the very same pan class that he once was a part of.  More

C.A.S.Y.M. Band logo

CASYM Players...


  • Lance Maximin

  • Tyler Cohen

  • Nicole Shirley

  • Jonathan Cabera

  • Darrel Spence

  • Jelani Noel

Double Tenor

  • Kenneth Dudley

Double Seconds

  • Shaday Williams

  • Siboney Hector

  • Isaiah Adams

  • Aryel Atwell


  • Isis Danglade

  • Djoser C. Dillon



  • Joel Nathan

  • Amaya Rodgers

Rhythm Section

  • Curtis Lynch

  • Travis Roberts

  • Marvin George


  • Jerry Guy

Arranger Lance Maximin

At age 7 Lance Maximin joined CASYM Steel Orchestra. As a youth he developed a love for the steelpan and for the band itself. As time progressed Lance challenged himself to get better and better with every scale, song, performance - just about anything musically-related.

Through the guidance of his teachers Travis Roberts, Curtis Lynch, Joalene Griff, Michelle Williams and Sherlanda Willie, he gradually made his mark as a talented player, performer, soloist and arranger.  From there Lance was given the opportunity to arrange and even become CASYM’s Musical Director. 

Lance challenges himself and his band members to become better players and performers with every song he arranges. He hopes to take his talents even further with CASYM and follow Mr. William Jones’ dream and footsteps into leading the band in an even greater direction.

Verona Steel Orchestra band logo

Verona Steel Orchestra Players.....


Double Tenors

  • Jeffrey Jean

  • Tiffany Danielle

Double Seconds

  • Jada Charles

  • Warren Webster


  • Racquel Leonce

  • Isiah Nanton


  • Justin Fields

  • Jhacquel Sutton


  • Jonathan Denny

  • Malcom Rice

  • Brandon Modeste

Engine Room

  • Chad Layne

  • Aaliyah Hospedales

  • Javon Duncan

  • Isaac Womack

Arranger Damany James

Arranger Damany “BoB” James was born to Kenwayne and Shellyann James on July 23, 1996. Damany walks in his Trinidadian descent proudly as an arranger in the Brooklyn steelband community. Damany found interest in arranging from playing Panorama with CASYM (Arr. Arddin Herbert) Steel Orchestra during his early stages in steel pan.

Damany started playing pan in 2007 under the leadership of Tichard Chapman. In 2008, Damany became a member of the Higher Levin Steel Orchestra where he learned to be a better leader, musician and arranger....Damany and his group of loyal friends are the current champions of both the 2016 & 2017 Junior Pan Fest competition in New York.  More

Blue Diamonds USA Steel Orchestra band logo

Blue Diamonds USA Players....


  • >>>>>>>>

Double Seconds

  • >>>>>>>>


  • >>>>>>>>


  • >>>>>>>>


  • >>>>>>>>

Rhythm Section

  • >>>>>>>>


  • >>>>>>>

Arranger Pedro Alexander

Arranger -- Pedro Alexander








Steel Sensation band logo

Steel Sensation Players....


  • Tristan Brewington-Japsi - Arranger

  • Ryan Joseph

  • Antonio John

Double Tenor

  • Chris Raymond

Double Seconds

  • Orisha John

  • Christan Japsi

  • Lennox Phillip

Double Guitars

  • Kelly Japsi

  • Mark Gangaram, Jr.


  • Marc Brooks - Captain

Four Pan

  • Shane Mc’Don


  • Iana Japsi

  • Edward Clarke, Jr.


  • Mark Gangaram - Cowbell

  • Wilfred “Wiz” Kieal - Percussion


  • Ian Japsi - Manager

Tristan Brewington-Japsi

Arranger Tristan Brewington-Japsi is 23 years old and currently arranges music for Steel Sensation. He also plays tenor with Samaroo Jets and Supernovas Steel Orchestra. Tristan has worked with ADLIB Steel Orchestra from 2014 through 2016. He arranged all of Steel Sensation’s music for the 2017 Homegrown concert and the 2018 Pan Is Sweet competition in New York.

Over the years he has worked on stageside music and also co-arranged with Amrit Samaroo for the New York Panorama. Tristan has also arranged for Supernovas Junior Steel Orchestra in Trinidad & Tobago.


Pan Evolution Steel Orchestra band logo

Pan Evolution Players....


  • Jabari Sharpe

  • Anija John

  • Wayne Bernard

  • Johnna Pelle

  • Akil Moses

Double Seconds

  • Brandon Waldrop

  • Jahi Sharpe

  • Markus Garceran

  • Demri Pelle

Double Tenors

  • Adrian Ramdoo

  • Rachelle Ramdoo


  • Tiffany Fields

  • Zion Hutchinson


  • Syanne Fleming

  • Joel Ramdwar

Tenor Bass

  • Sade Adams



  • Sheldon Thwaites


  • Dashawn Wallace


  • Lenny King

Arranger Andre Whiite

Arranger Andre White is one of today’s youngest most prolific steel-band arrangers, composers and performers. Starting from the age of six, in the little village of Freeport, New York, he began playing with family-based band ADLIB Steel Orchestra in which most if not all of his talents were explored, exposed, and fostered. Beginning on the tenor pan, Andre quickly learned how to play all the other instruments in the steelband family - but falling in love particularly with the Alto pan, the Double Seconds. Growing up, Andre also learned to play other contemporary instruments such as the Trombone, Drums and Percussion, Keys, along with others through his public school education process.  More

Genesis Pan Groove band logo

Genesis Steel Orchestra Players...


Double Seconds

  • Alyssa Joseph

  • Cheyenne Felton



Tenor Bass

  • Shinnell Burroughs


  • Sharon Samuels

  • Tristan Samuel


  • Kadeem McShine

  • AJ Forteau

  • Ken E. Duprey

  • Zachary Lynch


  • Joshua McPherson

Arranger Sadé Constantine

Arranger Sadé Constantine was born in November 1986. The second child of Trinidadian parents, at the age of 5, she relocated to Long Island where they presently reside. Introduced to music in elementary school, she fell in love with her cello. Her parents being avid pan lovers and noticing her love for music, introduced her to the steel pan and placed her in the able hands of Mr. Ruben Nelson, her instructor and arranger. Under his direction, she represented ADLIB Steel Orchestra and won first place in the female double second competition in March 2004. She went on to perform with ADLIB at the world-renowned Lincoln Center and topped that with her first solo performance at Africa House.  More

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