Steelband Panorama 2011

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Trinidad & Tobago Panorama 2011 - HOME

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Arrival to the Land of Pan & Calypso

My First Pilgrimage to the Mecca of Pan - Entry 1

Posted by Eric Mannweiler on January 17, 2011 at 3:29 p.m.

Trinidad & Tobago - Hello to everyone in When Steel Talks,

So I got in on the 12th of January, at night time. I was very disoriented during my car ride into town, but I also was surprised at how close different areas are to one another. I read about different suburbs or cities and assumed they would be more separated, and further apart. I am blown away at the plants and sounds of the area in which I'm staying. Also, I am still very aware of the fact that being a foreigner means people assume you do not know much about the island and pan. I can see this being both a good thing in terms of getting history explanations, but a bad thing in most others. I also feel uncomfortable anywhere while in town.

Eric Food-wise, I'm in very good hands in Trinidad! I was warned that the pepper sauce should be avoided, but as a spice fanatic I had some the first night I arrived. WOW! It's very good stuff. Thus far, I've had wonderful home made Pelau, Pone, Macaroni Pie, and amazing Callaloo, stewed chicken, macaroni salad, and Sorrel. I've also had doubles and a saltfish sandwich from St. James. Wonderful stuff.

Starlift Steel Orchestra's Panyard
Starlift Steel Orchestra's Panyard

Panorama 2011I am blown away at the difference of playing in steelbands in Trinidad and playing in bands in Indiana! First of all, the stage side players in Starlift are VERY good, and very willing to help out. The players who I think struggle with learning the piece, at least they retain information much more easily than panists I've worked with and taught back home. Plus even with the small number of panists coming to rehearse right now, the experience is so different. It may be playing outside, it probably has something to do with the ability of the players, but I've never FELT pan like I feel it when we rehearse! I have been here a number of days now, and already I have learned a lot in terms of my technique. But I also notice pans are not as protected as in the States. Players mute notes (press the stick into the surface) whenever they are teaching parts to others, and they are not afraid to bark notes at all! Also for you lead players, be ready to play on a D lead, because low C's are hard to come by...

I can say that the more people know about my drive and passion about pan, the more seriously they are taking me, which I appreciate. I have a lot of people who I will be talking to about history, culture, and many different things to improve my ability to help back home. Very soon I will begin my work in those areas. Until then I am mainly focusing on getting the few holes I have in the arrangement.

The last things I have noticed: I am surprised at the amount of Jamaican culture present in Trinidad. For a land of Calypso, there is an awful lot of reggae on the radio, murals of Marley and Rasta images, etc. Also driving is crazy in Trinidad! Other than the driving on the other side of the street, with right-side driving, the roads are narrow, windy, often in somewhat beat up condition, and people do whatever they want basically... The northern range, or what I've seen, is very beautiful, and I can't wait to see more of the natural beauty of this island.

That's all I have really for now, but I will continue to update this discussion. Thanks all,

Life for Pan, Eric Mannweiler

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