Steelband Panorama 2011

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My first Roti in the land of the steelpan - Trinidad & Tobago!

My First Pilgrimage to the Mecca of Pan - Entry 5

Posted by Eric Mannweiler on January 20, 2011 at 4:00 p.m.

Hello again,

Panorama 2011I had a day full of great experiences yesterday! It began with my first Maxi experience, which was something I've been given mixed advise on, so I was a little unsure of what to expect. It was a really comfortable ride, if predictably stop-and-go, and there was nothing scary or sketchy about it. This was my first time going anywhere alone in Trinidad, but the trip from Santa Cruz to San Juan is not a stressful one ( or at least it wasn't for me).

I met another foreign player in Starlift and their landlady to take the water taxi to San Fernando (Janine you timed your comment just right!) I can say the view of Port of Spain (POS) from the water is, in my opinion worth while! Seeing the city sprawl out and upwards into the hills... I'm a fan. San Juan seemed kind of intimidating like POS was the first time. But like POS, I realized that once you meet people, they are usually just fine. We saw three yards, stopping first by Skiffle Bunch, off of Coffee Street. We also went by Fonclaire and ended our South trip at Hatters, whose captain welcomed us with some great conversation, and even brought out some tenors for us to play. He has some wonderful ideas about what pan is about and where it should go (like a panist exchange program).

New friends

Then once we got back to POS, the landlady left us to our own devices downtown. We didn't wander very far, but again it was not that scary of an experience. After liming in Starlift's yard for awhile, I had my first Roti in Trinidad! WOW it was amazing. Then we went on a tour of some panyards. Renegades was first (we drove by Invaders and Starlift), which was a great experience. I saw a little little boy playing tenor (you could only see his legs and  tenor pulled way down so he could reach it. That may have been the best thing I've seen so far!! Then it was off to All Stars, where I had an appointment to get a history lesson with their captain. He was busy doing business, so I'll have to go back another day (as if I wouldn't want to go back anyway...) After that we went to see Desperadoes. I was hoping to see some Rocket pans (I'm not sure if they are still around or not, but I've always wanted to hear them in person), but I did get to see 9 and 12 bass!!

A couple of things worth noting about touring panyards: I realized at All Stars yard that I have been taking it for granted that I am seeing these steelbands in person. In Indiana these bands that I love are so far from reach, I hadn't really appreciated the fact that I was seeing them in person! Once I took in that fact, the experience was even better. The next thing is, when you see different bands, pay close attention so you can appreciate each band's sound and character. Not only in terms of arranger's style, but tuning qualities, balance, rhythmic feel (listen to the iron, folks!!!) etc. Again because these bands have been so out of my reach in the past, I kind of felt like I was meeting celebrities in person as I experienced them live.

Eric Last thing about last night: I guess there are more people I feel a bit star struck by. Beverly Griffith walked into the crowd when Despers was packing up, and I wanted to talk to him... but I don't know what to say to people like that! I want to say more than "Hello" to some of these people, but I am kind of unsure what else to say! I'm sure I will figure it out... (To put it another way, what does an amateur Cricket players say when meeting Brian Laura?)

I'm possibly going to lime with some pan folks in Maracas today, and it seems I may be meeting Anthony Williams in the near future. (Did I mention the star-struck thing??) As a pan history geek, I am incredibly excited to meet a man like Tony Williams!

That's all I have for now, but I'll post again in a couple of days.

Life for Pan

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