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Is The War Over?
What is Phase II’s Panorama Battle Cry for 2009?
Trinidad - When steelpan history is written, Trinidad and Tobago’s 2008 Panorama Champions Phase II Pan Groove will undeniably have some of the most doggedly devoted steelpan musicians who answer the band’s Panorama clarion call year after year.  While the bulk membership is from Trinidad and Tobago, they are literally one of those orchestras whose representation on stage plays out like a ‘United Nations’ of pan.  In 2007, when the title was seemingly all but theirs with which to romp home, for their delivery and performance of leader and arranger, Len ‘Boogsie’ Sharpe’s Sharin’ Licks, they took their own cutarse, reeling in shock.  They went home to their Damien Street, Woodbrook panyard licking their wounds.  But they returned with a ‘Musical Vengeance’ in 2008, no doubt, from their viewpoint, to ‘right wrongs.’

In the nights leading up to the semi-finals, Boogsie (pictured, in blue, with Ray Holman, extreme right) was in his war room, Phase II’s panyard, obviously not in top physical form, but nonetheless present, delivering musical war strategies to his troops lined up behind their weapons of choice: tenors, double tenors, double seconds, basses, guitars, and the like.  Longtime friend and world-renowned musician, pannist and arranger, Ray Holman reprised his 2005 Phase II role as band drillmaster and much more.  Holman, who in 2006 took a practically dead Starlift Steel Orchestra to third place in the finals and placed them there again in 2007, was a free agent in 2008 and once more played a pivotal role in positioning Phase II to re-take the championship title in 2008.  Interestingly this year Starlift did not make it past semi-finals.

 Phase II Pan Groove on stage at the 2008 Panorama semi-finals-

Len ‘Boogsie’ Sharpe has written and arranged his own panorama material for years, and many a time delivered a message within his musical works.  Case in point, in 2003 it was Music In We Blood, an ode to his beloved mother who had then recently passed.  In 2006 he paid tribute to the late master musician and steelpan arranger Clive Bradley with This One Is For U, Bradley.  He had a plan to secure the coveted ‘hat trick’ (2005, 2006, and he had hoped, 2007) championship, and so, served notice, tongue-in-cheek, with 2007’s Sharin’ Licks aka Cutarse, that he would deliver just that.  Alas, since that was not the case as far as the judges were concerned, he was back this year with his troops at the ready, on the battlefield, with a thirst for, and to exact, Musical Vengeance.

So the pan world can wonder for a while, what will be the battle cry for next year, 2009?   Is there another musical mission for the man, the masterful Boogsie?  Is the battle over?  Will it be just a joyful celebration theme?  Whatever Boogsie’s refrain next year, for now, Phase II Pan Groove and Len ‘Boogsie’ Sharpe bask in the glory befitting champions until their next championship bout in 2009.

2008 Phase II Pan Groove practice session
in Pictures - Woodbrook, Trinidad

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