From Trump to a World of PAN to Panorama

The madness in the news nowadays tends to seek cover behind politics and life’s only and lonely trail to the nothingness that hangs around that Wall.


Ah hearing PAN.

by Dalton Narine

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Dalton Narine

Dalton Narine

May blessings shine upon us throughout 2018’s half brother year (Yeah, 18 & 19 are tied at the hip — same ol’ same ol’ , for there’s no Trumpian miracle at the core of this No Country for Old Men, so that the years and the madness intertwine America’s No. 1 SUCKER. The real sucker sees the rest of the world as unweaned domestic animals.

Are we, really?

One has gotta create one’s own vibes, which is why I’m a poor, overburdened writer steeped in my own echelon, different from the rungs on a ladder, yet closer to the ceiling than I could’ve imagined.

Happy Old New Year, an environment in which Man’s beasts of burden (ourselves, actually) feast on the foolishness of a “wall” that is bent on dividing Central America from Yankee America. Why, you ask? The madness in the news nowadays tends to seek cover behind politics and life’s only and lonely trail to the nothingness that hangs around that Wall.


Ah hearing PAN.

The tenor pan and the wall

The Tenor Pan and The Wall

In other words, Steely Pan’s package of melody, harmony, rhythm and timbre acknowledges the wild and beautiful in we.

Look how the world, wearing an affable smile while tracking our own liberal course, following we. Not them.

Oh, yes. We doing something right, alright.

Look how, from badjohns and ruffians to our very own music in we lifeblood; the creation of our brute force down in the Dry River and up the hills, too, now animating the music of Gonzales and vibes from afar, pounding out rhythms, and battles, too, on the street.

Cross ‘Fires that once upon a time led to mas on Jouvert — not only that, but also Steelband’s first Carnival Band of the Year (1963), featuring Russell Charter’s Gulliver's Travels, produced by Silver Stars Steel Orchestra.

All of that bollixed up in a new, rotten chapter of the instrument: PAN’s head job, marred by the sickening albatross that still drapes the instruments neck. Can’t miss it. You fly up to the airport or drive down the highway and you turn away your head, as if catching a glimpse of a mother and her daughter humping the streets of Port of Spain on a hot Shrove Tuesday.

You tink it sorf?

That was old PAN family.


Nah! No Wall, thank God. But we are yet to see the advent of New PAN.

As if the rest of the world cares. Not because they’ve already gobbled up our invention of sweet pan. They’ve become pioneers. So there’s nothing for them to fight for.

Trinidad & Tobago tuners, on the other hand, forged a near-close relationship among teething steel bands by beating or hammering metal into shape.

There was no counterfeit emotion involved. In the heat of steel band clashes, some panists went to jail over a steelbandman’s woman.

Even Invaders’ Ellie Mannette, a prolific tuner, found himself in a fight for his ‘Barracuda’ pan stuck in a tree at a rival band’s panyard.

Eille Mannette

The Legendary Tuner -  Ellie Manette

"Come and get it,” an enlarged note at Tokyo’ s panyard jeered.

A wicked taunt, it was.

Eventually, Tokyo paid a heavy price in a Jouvert street war that included Casablanca and Invaders.

That Ellie never showed up for his pan remains history, for the pans he rebuilt led to the bone-dried but sweet irony of today’s wonder instruments.

That’s the payoff Pan gained as a result of the Tokyo insult. Pan men like Ellie may have spoon-fed the land, but it is Ellie’s honor and crowning glory as well as tuning superstars such as Bertie Marshall, Anthony Williams, et al, who provided knowledge and information to the world.

Of course, the wars back in the day — the sound of a witch’s curse -- are long gone. We’re now in refinement and some of us are celebrating largely.

Are we, really, um, in refinement?

Put it this way, the hall is full with wall-to-wall dancers.

We’ll find out soon enough when Panorama rounds the corner.

Bring on the Panorama, please.


   Listen to Desperadoes Steel Orchestra performing a Clive Bradley arrangement for Panorama  2004 as captured by When Steel Talks in their Laventille panyard


Dalton Narine
About the author, Dalton Narine

Dalton Narine is a Belmont-born Trinidadian who dabbled in the arts and wrote about Trinidad & Tobago culture. He spent the other half of his career as a filmmaker and TV broadcaster during T&T’s annual Carnival. Narine is an avid collector of calypsos by The Mighty Shadow, a singer, he says, who had a knack for telling stories on himself and his own country that, at last, has embraced him.

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