Brooklyn, New York, USA - On Sunday August 21st D’Radoes Steel Orchestra held their 20th anniversary celebration. Twenty years of Pan in New York ain’t no joke. Many have tried but few have survived.
Much more than a observance of longevity, survival, and sustainability, it was a genuine reminder of just how much of a cultural, historical and musical treasure-trove New York Pan is. And in this case D’Radoes Steel Orchestra.
NY Pan is coming out of the global pandemic (with New York the epicenter) bruised, battered and wobbly - with some on life support.
This very, very well-attended event attracted a wide and varied audience that covered the eras and generations of New York steelpan enthusiasts, players and supporters. They represented the NY bands through the decades of the 70s, 80s, 90s, throughout the 2000s to the present. All there to show their support of D’Radoes and steelband music culture in general. Present were past members from Harlem All Stars, Brooklynaires, B’s Metro, Sonatas, Silhouettes, Satisfiers, Exhibits, Moods Pan Groove, Golden Stars and Pan Rebels (who actually performed live), among many others.
The panyard was so packed that many remained on the street outside the panyard, as well as occupying the two immediately adjacent corners, to take in the music performances.
Performing on this night was the aforementioned Pan Rebels, along with Pan Evolution and the host D’Radoes. Yes, Pan Rebels; this is not a typo. Back together performing live after years of inactivity. Based on the crowd reaction they had not skipped a beat. Rebels had the crowd rocking with this single-pan version of the band. Pan Evolution raised the bar with a varied set that crossed multiple genres of music and time - dropping songs from Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” to Shadow’s “Bassman.”
But it was the birthday crew D’Radoes, that raised the temperature. No doubt if this panyard had a roof it would have been on fire. When D’Radoes opened with “Darling” by Johnny King they took the audience back down memory lane as that was the last tune master Panorama music arranger Clive Bradley did for them. They had the crowd yelling, screaming and howling for more. Indeed a spiritual connection was made with D’Radoes as the pan folks danced and sang with every song. For the record, D’Radoes is the reigning New York Panorama champion, having won the competition when it was last held in 2019.
D’Radoes Steel Orchestra performs at its 20th Anniversary celebration
Noted steelpan soloist D’Radoes’ own Patrick Davis along with “BJ” Marcelle and Dane Gulston were featured many times in the band’s performances.
Faces of New York Pan literally not seen in decades were on hand. It was great to see so many of them present. However, sadly many attendees (veterans and old-timers) made it abundantly clear that while they were willing to come out to show respect and support to D’Radoes in their panyard - they would not be attending WIADCA’s (West Indian America Day Carnival Association) key upcoming pan event on Saturday August 3. They still harbor many negative feelings towards anything involving WIADCA and Pan, based on their past experiences.
Nevertheless, this particular Saturday was a great day in Brooklyn. And that ‘spirit lock’ of pan and community that is normally only generated when there is a Panorama competition, was present. 2022 in New York is a non-Panorama year. More on that to follow.
Thank you, D’Radoes Steel Orchestra, for twenty years’ music and representation.
Incidentally, so crowded was the event that When Steel Talks (WST) could not move through the throng to capture any of Pan Evolution’s performances.
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