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When Steel Talks - Special - Post-Trinidad and Tobago Steelband Panorama 2005

           Date: 2.17.05

After Panorama

Len "Boogsie" Sharpe
Phase II Pan Groove
2005 T&T Panorama Season


After a hectic panorama season, a weary but pleased, Len "Boogsie" Sharpe, leader and arranger for the 2005 Panorama Champions, Phase II Pan Groove, chatted with When Steel Talks  in its post-panorama review segment.   Boogsie conveyed that all his players were extremely happy especially the youths, and they, their families and the steel orchestra's sponsors, Petrotrin, shared a victory celebration at the steel orchestra's pan yard after the band's performance at last weekend's Pan Champs In Concert held at the Queen's Park Savannah.  In the opinion of some who attended the concert, the band's performance even topped their winning presentation just a week earlier.  Ninety players, consisting of Phase 2's faithful musicians from Trinidad and Tobago, Caribbean islands - especially Antigua, Japan, the US and Europe, took to the stage at that concert. The compliment for the winning performance had been one hundred and twenty pan players, but many would have traveled out of the twin-island republic immediately after the carnival celebrations.

Boogsie expressed concern that Pan Trinbago indicated that they may be unable to organize the Tobago leg of the Champs In Concert. He voiced his disappointment especially for his young players who had been very much looking forward to the Tobago show. According to Boogsie, Pan Trinbago says it cannot afford the TT$200,000.00 price tag to host the show which is an annual event.  However the Phase II leader is quite unhappy with that excuse.  He is questioning "where has all the money gone," and cannot understand why, after the millions given this year to the governing body for pan by the Trinidad and Tobago government, that Tobago's Champs in Concert, an important feature in the Pan calendar of events, was not budgeted for.

Sharpe also revealed that every year Pan Trinbago retains ten percent of all prize monies given to the steel orchestras in the finals, from the small, medium and large bands, supposedly going toward "stationery" (operating costs).  This means that Phase 2 Pan Groove actually went home with TT$340,000.00, not the $400,000.00 promoted as the first prize purse.  The same is true for each check presented to all the bands in the finals - each was less ten percent. This has been the case for quite a while, Boogsie said, but no one is willing to talk about it.  He repeated his call for "business people" to take over the running of Pan Trinbago.

Expanding a bit further, the arranger mentioned that for years, Panorama Finals was about the "twelve best bands in the land" but Pan Trinbago had changed that a couple years ago to "categories" of small, medium and large. He charged that this merely put money in some people's (band leaders) pockets.  Many of the bands did not even practice during the year, but apparently come together solely because of the appearance and assistance fees made available by Pan Trinbago at Panorama time, especially in the medium and small categories.  "They [bands] have no interest for pan, they have no love for pan, they love their pocket.  It's time for people to get up and say things," said Boogsie.  More food for thought is that some bands which would not have a chance going up against the larger, established steel orchestras, moved to the medium and large categories to have a better chance at the prize monies up for grabs.

However the main post-panorama issue on Phase 2's plate is the re-location of the band from Hamilton Street, Woodbrook.  Phase 2 has been at that site for thirty-two years, and Sharpe says that the mayor required the band to move, as a company called Home Construction Limited (HCL) wanted the practice site for building.  HCL has actually provided a pan yard for Phase 2 a short distance away.  However - according to Boogsie, the new location is mere "yards" away from the "garbage" area, unsanitary and totally unsuitable.  Lamenting that there is no respect for Pan in Trinidad and Tobago, he said that he is a "fighter for what is right" and will continue the stand firm.

Aside from ever-present contentious issues, Boogsie took time to pay tribute to and thank all his players and supporters.  At the same time, he urged the global pan community to be vigilant, and to "write in to the [Trinidad and Tobago] press," as a means to hold Pan Trinbago accountable.


Phase II Pan Groove On Panorama Night

C. Phillips, Basement Press Corp.

2005 When Steel Talks - All Rights Reserved

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