Trinidad & Tobago, W.I. - In our last When Steel Talks Panorama chit-chat it seemed like the imperial Renegades Steel Orchestra was on its musical trek to uncommon greatness, while taking measurements for extra large garbage-bag coffins (musically speaking) for the other large band competitors in this prestigious Panorama competition.
Indeed an ‘implied’ memo from the Renegades camp, was sent out to all regions - North, South/Central, East and Tobago in a very public manner after the prelim results came in. “Surrender peacefully - you must comply - resistance is futile.” With the closest challenger to the champs eight points behind at that stage - it truly seemed like this story was going to be forever told the way Duvone Stewart and The Renegades wrote the script.
However, this is big-boy country and the big, big-band league, the indisputable residence of the best steel orchestras in the world.
As expected, the responses to this implied communiqué was pretty much sent back with an emphatic ‘Return to sender - Address unknown - See ya at the Savannah.’ Large bands don’t “frighten.”
And so there would be
an epic battle at the semi finals. The musical tale of 2019 that would
eclipse the rouse of the missing iconic
North Stand by the
“Gypsy.” The excitement, the colors, the sound and the experience like none other.
Renegades Steel Orchestra - 2019 Panorama Semi Finals - photo by Robbie Joseph
The event surely lived up to its annual billing, pedigree and vanglorious history. The facts are, after the conclusion of the semi-finals the mighty Renegades still maintained the lead, but the challengers had either significantly closed the gap, re-ordered the placements or retained their separation from the prelims lead-in points. Yes, The Renegades walked out the Savannah, like Muhammad Ali saying ““Look how pretty I am” - they hadn’t laid a glove on us” - while singing Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off” and keeping their eyes on the prize and task at hand.
‘Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play
And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate (haters gonna hate me)
Baby, I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake I shake it off,
I shake it off Heartbreakers gonna break, break, break, break, break
And the fakers gonna fake, fake, fake, fake, fake
Baby, I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
I shake it off, I shake it off ..... Taylor Swift
Now unless Renegades is looking in the rear mirror
- remember the warning (objects in the rear view mirror are closer than
they appear), this was a great semi finals weekend from their perspective.
They took the stage with
“Farmer Nappy” as their flag-man, in the lead of the
competition and left still in the lead.
Desperadoes - 2019 Panorama Semi Finals - photo by Robbie Joseph
The reality is serious body blows had been landed. The legendary Desperadoes had executed a 10-point leap into second place. Can there be anything more worrisome than a surging Desperadoes responding to the call of the ancestors from The Hill of “Show them who you are!” as they make their way towards the finals? And if that wasn’t enough, as one Desperadoes die-hard wrote - “Our Iron too heavy for that Garbage bag!! In 2 weeks the bag will buss!!” Armed with “Zanda” leading the charge, the enchanted ancient rhythms in the engine room, and Nailah Blackman as flag-woman, Desperadoes will be no joke come Finals night. There are many who swore they saw Marvel’s Iron Man playing in the front line (check photo above).
Skiffle Steel Orchestra - 2019 Panorama Semi Finals - photo by Robbie Joseph
Not to be overlooked was the twelve-point gain by the Three Amigos and Skiffle. They cannot and should not be overlooked. They are young and inspired. But youth can work both ways - serve you and/or betray you. Look for the exuberance that Skiffle will bring to the table to make a significant difference.
Invaders Steel Orchestra - 2019 Panorama Semi Finals - photo by Robbie Joseph
And of course there is Arddin Herbert and Invaders perched in a pouncing position (tie for third) while maintaining a comfortable striking distance. Could this be the year when this historic and iconic franchise gets to finally sit on the throne?
Phase II Steel Orchestra - 2019 Panorama Semi Finals - photo by Robbie Joseph
Phase II Pan Groove is currently also tied for third and actually moved up in the pack. Anything is possible when a genius and mercurial talent like Len “Boogsie” Sharpe is in the conversation. And as the late great legendary jazz musician Max Roach said of “Boogsie” Sharpe “....he reminds me of Charlie “Bird” Parker, you never know when he will do something magical.”
Trinidad All Stars Steel Orchestra - 2019 Panorama Semi Finals - photo by Robbie Joseph
Trinidad All Stars, Silver Stars, Supernovas, Exodus and Tropical Angel Harps find themselves on the other side of midnight at the moment. But as we said before, it ain’t over till it’s over. Not to mention that Trinidad All Stars Steel Orchestra is the ultimate Finals night performer. Just think of the stories that will be told in Panorama lore if one of these five bands were able to pull off the win.
Exodus Steel Orchestra - 2019 Panorama Semi Finals - photo by Robbie Joseph
Of particular note, the always “rules”-cognizant Exodus has weighed the odds and has switched their tune from Superblue’s “Rag Storm” to Kes The Band’s “Savannah Grass.” A very intelligent move considering the band was fourteen points off the lead going into the finals. With almost two weeks before finals at that juncture, champion arranger Pelham Goddard was quite confident and pleased with what the band had already accomplished when he spoke to When Steel Talks with this recent change.
Breaking News -- We have learned that Pan Trinbago has ruled against Exodus changing their tune. This will surely raise eyebrows. The overall consensus on social media seems not to have problem with Exodus switching their tune. Pan Trinbago is taking a beating from the Pan community over their ruling. Ainsworth Mohammed, president of Exodus has said that the band will be taking Pan Trinbago to court.
Talk about self-inflicted wounds, unforced errors and unnecessary drama.
Just in --
won their case!
Supernovas Steel Orchestra - 2019 Panorama Semi Finals - photo by Robbie Joseph
Tropical Angel Harps Steel Orchestra - 2019 Panorama Semi Finals - photo by Robbie Joseph