The Best Finally Arrived - Panorama 2016

WST Steelband Panorama 2016 logo

by Dalton Narine

I listened mostly on radio after losing the CTV feed, which returned in the middle of the Large Bands competition.

Desperadoes Finals 2016
Desperadoes Steel Orchestra performing at Panorama Finals 2016

So I missed the Phase II Pan Groove’s visuals, but was entranced by Desperadoes’ roses shining in Picardy, in the hush of the silver dew — yes, those waves upon waves of beautiful sounds washing over the audience down there and even back here in a cascading sweep of wonderment.

It is the best the band has played in more than a decade. Fact is, not a single piece of music rivaled Zanda's orchestration.

Beverly Griffith proved (and rightly so), that the arranger is largely responsible for the Despers sound, not necessarily the galaxy of tuners that the late Rudolph Charles inveigled to come up Laventille Hill to keep him company. So it is befitting that, 30 years after his death, Desperadoes has won its eleventh title, having been stuck on No. 10 for sixteen years.

Many a Panorama final had left me in full understanding of, and appreciation for (Carlton Alexander) Zanda’s creativity during his tenure with Siparia Deltones. I found this phenomenon on the Drag as his music poured out slow and smooth like water-carved flat stones in a stream. When he won with Radica. When he drew raves for I’m Not Drunk. When . . .

On a different front, I remember well the final night nine-year-old Arddin Herbert responded to a question I posed to him about his future, a TTT camera locking in on his face, which beamed with sweat beads and illustrious joy following his performance with Invaders.

“I want to be an arranger and leader of a steel band,” he rhapsodized.

And that’s who he’s become, now punctuating his vision back then with his animated composition and arrangement of, what else but “Take Dat.”

Reminds of these Shakespeare lines:
His youthful hose, well sav’d, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound.

Way to go Arddin. Exceptional music. Set the course and eat it up.

Laugh last, brother.

As the night wore out, I thought I may have been dreaming, but I’m all right now. For I distinctly recall being enamored of Trinidad All Stars’ presentation, considering, as the band’s songwriter/player Clive Telemaque said afterward, that doctors diagnosed arranger Leon “Smooth” Edwards with stress and insisted that he walk away from the music for a couple of days.

We’re talking final week. Telemaque allowed as how the band was on a low note until “Smooth” ambled back into the panyard Friday night. Some players cried, hugged him, so happy that the gifted one was healthy again.

What I loved about the Stars was its imaginative regurgitation of the theme “Leave We Alone.” Listen again to the last three or so minutes and hear those Chaguaramas bases tumbling around - voicing the song’s pressing title while the rest of the family conversed, embellishing little stories among themselves.

On the other hand, Silver Stars’ Liam Teague, I find, overdid it a tad with his progressive slant of Panoramic. And Renegades finally found its post-Jit voice, though not as enchanting as one would hope for the piece, Music Inside Meh Head.

Come to think of it, I don’t believe that I was too distant from a prediction that Amrit Samaroo would have brought with him his bag containing sundry lessons he learned from pop, recently passed, all of that mixed with the excitement of a newcomer coming off a world-class performance at the ICP festival.

However, that he won People’s Choice and graced the band and community with a second place finishing is nothing to slough off. Amrit was deadly.

Still, some folks may pooh pooh People’s Choice as unimportant because it came from the voice of patrons who shelled out recession money and may not know an ostinato passage (continuously reiterated musical phrase) from a motif (short rhythmic or melodic passage repeated in a work).

Nobody, though, dismissed Phase II Pan Groove’s Madd Music, which a supporter claimed, before the band left the panyard, as arranger Boogsie Sharpe’s “Woman on the Bass.”

How sacrilegious!

Not even close. And yet, Clive Bradley’s Horn can be construed as Bradley’s Rebecca. That’s the context. Two solid pieces of gold in his purse that he left the Panorama family as heirlooms.

One thing’s for sure, rarely has a Panorama finals been so anticipatory of nerves, frayed or soothed, short season long. For the event usually frowns on change, such is the nature of this idolatry beast, Pan.

Leave it to Samuel Johnson, an eighteenth century British writer, who noted:
"None are happy but by the anticipation of change: the change itself is nothing.”

Ruminate over that, then understand why.

Despers’ manager Curtis Edwards can now make a deductive argument: We have set ourselves a difficult task, but we'll succeed if we persevere, and players will find joy in overcoming obstacles.

Nobody badder than we.

Finals night was something all right. Something else.

Here’s a clip from Desperadoes’ title winning performance of 5Star Akil's "Different Me", which was arranged by Carlton ‘Zanda’ Alexander. They scored 285 points to take the title in the Large Conventional Bands Category of the competition. Supernovas were just one point behind on 284 points to take the runner up spot with “Breakthrough” arranged by Amrit Samaroo while Phase II Pan Groove and Renegades both scored 283 points to tie for third place. Don't Miss Out Follow C News on Instagram and Twitter . You can also watch more of our videos at

Posted by C News Live on Sunday, February 7, 2016

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Dalton Narine
Dalton Narine
Dalton Narine joined Trinidad All Stars when the band played in the Garret, the attic of the building housing Maple Leaf Club on Charlotte Street. While serving as a Carnival and Panorama commentator and interviewer on Trinidad & Tobago Television for more than 20 years, he continued to play the Bomb every J’Ouvert until he switched to filmmaking.
Dalton Narine at:


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