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Antiguan Pan Festival the Best in the Caribbean Region? No doubt!!

Moods of Pan, again poised to set new standards for Steelpan Music Festivals

Moods of Pan 2008 

Antigua & Barbuda’s natural beauty, coupled with its people and the consistent flow of top notch talent, makes the annual Moods of Pan Festival one of the top places in the region for steelpan music performances.  Indeed, maybe second to none...

Antigua & Barbuda, W.I. - When Steel Talks has traveled south to the island of Antigua with much anticipation and expectation for this year’s version of the annual three-day steelpan music festival - Moods of Pan.  2008 represents the 10th year for the event which has grown considerably in stature and importance to the Caribbean region.  Moods of Pan has been innovative and cutting edge, all the while maintaining a very high performance caliber.

“The name of Lord Baldwin came up repeatedly. We’re talking about pan in Antigua, right? So who is this Lord Baldwin, anyway—a seasoned bard,  perhaps, in the kingdom of calypso, pan’s long-time companion folk art? Not quite. Would you believe, real honest-to-goodness British nobility! Lord Baldwin happened to be Governor of the Leeward Islands just in time to anoint the fledgling Antiguan steel band movement, declare it worthy of respect and preservation, when the hoity-toity of Antiguan citizenry were poised to deliver a death-dealing kick-in-the-rump to what they considered a public nuisance.” From PAN Magazine

Brought in to Antigua once again by the Moods of Pan festival organizers - Gemonites Steel Orchestra - to cover the events, this year When Steel Talks camped out at the Heritage Hotel in the capital, St. John’s, almost overlooking the St. John’s Deep Water Harbour.  In previous years we stayed at the Jolly Beach Resort.  Being quartered at the Heritage provided us with an opportunity to mingle with the everyday people of Antigua.  Interestingly enough our room affords a direct view of Boggy Peak, soon-to-be renamed “Mount Obama” after the soon-to-be-inaugurated president of the USA.  The mountain is the highest peak in Antigua and is being renamed in a move tabled by Antigua & Barbuda’s Prime Minster Baldwin Spencer.  Prime Minster Spencer coincidentally was a steelpan player,  and remains a vociferous supporter of the steelpan music movement.  Ironically it was another Baldwin from Antigua’s past - Lord Baldwin - who played a pivotal role in the evolution and survival of the steelpan instrument in Antigua.

The impact of the Moods of Pan festival - a Gemonites Steel Orchestra initiative and production - has been far reaching within the global steelpan and Caribbean community.  Now in its tenth year, the annual three-day festival has become a fixture in the Antiguan & Barbudan psyche.  Moreover, it is now a known quantity in Caribbean travel itinerary and music event planning.  Ralph MacDonald, David Rudder and steelpan music phenom Len “Boogsie” Sharpe, among a diverse host of spectacular steelpan music performing talent, are slated to drop some breathtaking performances on the audience of the Antiguan & Barbudan people and visitors alike.

Boggy Peak, soon to be renamed Mount Obama in honor of US President-elect Barack Obama

Moods of Pan = a healthy dose of Innovation + fanatical commitment to steelpan music excellence + the best steelpan and international music talent in the world.  Moreover, the event organizers, through Moods of Pan, have now created another season for the steelpan instrument beyond the regular steelpan panorama time of year.  Moods of Pan has left an indelible mark on the consciousness of pan aficionados in Antigua & Barbuda and across the world.  Simply put: it is the place where all steelpan music lovers want to be at this time of the year. 

Moods of Pan still has the distinction of  bringing together groups from all over the world in both non-competitive and showcase music formats to perform in a single festival - which was the case in the 2004 edition of the event.  Mangrove (United Kingdom), Women in Steel (United States), New Dimension (Grenada), Renegades (Trinidad) and Gemonites (Antigua) graced the stage that year with an unparalleled collection of steelband music performances.

The now-regionally implemented versions of the ‘Five Alive’ format - a Moods of Pan original - has often been copied but never quite replicated by other music promoters.  The Antiguan Five Alive feature is distinct and unique to Antigua, and its originators, Gemonites Steel Orchestra.  No one comes remotely close to their original brand.  From what we have seen of the imitators, some things are just better left alone to the originators.

Hells Gate preparing for the first 25-a-Side steelband competition in Antigua

Over the years the Moods of Pan organizers have continually added new “wrinkles” to the format as to keep the overall festival fresh and growing.  This year they may have come up with the most emotive facet of the lineup yet: the “25-A-Side steelband competition.”  Indeed this competition has the potential to foster panorama-type support,  participation and excitement levels - but in the middle of the year.  The after-panorama steelpan music performing lull may well be a thing of the past.

On Friday the first ever  “25-A-Side steelband competition”  took place with six steel orchestras in the line-up.   Taking the stage that evening were:

  • W.I.O.C. Gemonites playing Cherish by Kool & the Gang  -  arr. Patrick “Stone” Johnson
  • C&W Hells Gate  playing Blue Moon - arr. Veron Henry
  • Cool & Smooth Ebonites playing I Who Have Nothing by Tom Jones - arr. Aubrey “Lacu” Samuel
  • A.M.P. Halcyon playing How Great Thou Art - arr. Fitzroy “Blaykie” Phillip
  • The National Youth Pan Orchestra playing Sir Duke by Stevie Wonder - arr. Khan Cordice 
  • Panache playing Perfidia - arr. Robin “Schwarp” Margetson 

Saturday will showcase Moods of Pan’s hugely popular original and internationally renowned “Five Alive” series; David Rudder will also perform with Wayne Bruno and his band. “Another Side of Pan” on Sunday heralds the third and final set of performances capping of the weekend of superb entertainment showcasing Len “Boogsie” Sharpe, Skiffle Bunch Steel Orchestra, and Ralph MacDonald with Robert Greenidge & Arturo Tappin.


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Moods of Pan 2008   

contact: Moods of Pan
Patrick “Stone” Johnson at - stonenrico@yahoo.com
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