Panorama Gold

Hatters Steel Orchestra

Panorama Championships - 1975

2024 Tune of choice:  “DNA |  arranger:  Shaquille “Flogo” Forbes

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Originating on Victory over Japan (VJ) Day, the 14th August 1945, the boys including a colourful and now honoured character, one George 'Bigger' Braithwaite (rip 01/08/2003 – 79 yrs.), a founding member, were on the road beating anything and biscuit and paint pans in their first session as a chantwell group. This group would later emerge for the first post-WWII carnival in San Fernando as Broadway Syncopators, on the 4th to 5th March 1946.

The group transitioned from a rhythmic to a musical ‘pan round the neck’ ensemble with specific efforts of foundation members Edison Bonas, Kenneth Vincent, Allan Lewis and Charlie Barker (ref Ronald C. Emrit; Gideon Maxime) during the late 1940s. The boys later changed the name to Broadway Hatters in 1950.

The name Hatters is derived from the WWII motion picture Hatters Castle (dir Lance Comfort) of 1942. The name was then adopted as a moniker for a ‘liming’ and saga-boy group headquartered in a house on Broadway, San Fernando, first established by 'Bigger' Braithwaite in 1941. The name would later be transitioned to the ‘pan round the neck’ group, some of whose founding members were part of 'Bigger’s' ‘liming’ crew.

The steelband would wax and wane in its fortunes over the next decade and a half; its noted acclaim being as a musical supporter for ‘Carnival Mas’ bands.

Enthusiastic Broadway supporters, under the stewardship of Mr. Carlton Chadee, revived the steelband Hatters in April 1967. Starting with some steelpans obtained in part as a donation from Guinness Cavaliers; it was under the dual captaincy and arranger regime of Mr. Steve Achaiba, that the band began to achieve its first notable successes.


Hatters entered its first TT Panorama competition on 18th of February 1963, at the Southern Steelband Competition held at the Naparima Bowl in San Fernando.

Maritime Life Hatters took a 1st place with ‘Steve’ Achaiba’s arrangement of the Lord Kitchener’s Tribute to ‘Spree’ Simon in the TT National Panorama finals of 1975. At this performance, Hatters achieved the record of being the largest steelband ever to perform at a Panorama, to overhang the stage with “bass racks”, sporting 167 players. This precipitated a Panorama rule change, that for a time, was set to an upper limit of 100 members.

At that point in time; ‘Steve’ Achaiba had won the 13th TT National Steelband Panorama, and became the 9th arranger, and Hatters the 7th steelband, to do so. This was also the third time a South & Central Region steelband had won the event; but only the 2nd South & Central Region steelband to do so. Bobby Mohammed’s Guinness Cavaliers had won for the South & Central Region in 1965 and 1967.  Up to the present 2019 season, no other South & Central Region steelband has won an equivalent Large Conventional TT National Steelband Panorama.

Maritime Life Hatters placed 2nd; in 1974 playing 20 to 1, and 2nd again in 1976 with Home for Carnival; both the Lord Kitchener's compositions, and both arranged by ‘Steve’ Achaiba.

A resurgence of effort and interest brought Trinmar Hatters a 5th place in the TT National Panorama finals of 2000; with Earl Brooks Sr arrangement of Oba’s Picture on My Wall.

Other noted TT Panorama Finals achievements have been: 7th 1969, The Bull (Kitchener) arranger Steve Achiaba; 9th 2001, Raindrops on My Pan (Wayne Rodriguez/Lincoln Waldron) arranger Earl Brooks Sr; 14th 1998, Pan Crazy (Designer/Earl Brooks Sr) arranger Earl Brooks Sr.

In the South; Hatters have won the South Zone Panorama five times; 1969, 1971, 1972, 1975 and were joint winners with Tornadoes in the year 2000.


Bound mainly to Trinidad of late, the Hatters have been on foreign tours, at the zenith of their successes in the 1970s; and produced 3 LPs in 1975 to mark that era; Pan Champs of the World 1975, Close-up and Pan Champs 1+1.

As Maritime Life Hatters, the bands first tour was to the Aquatennial Festival in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.A. in 1974 and was part of the 2nd prize for the TT Panorama of that year.

The second tour was to the Dallas State Fair in Texas, U.S.A. in 1975; this also was a prize; given for their 1st place in the TT Panorama of that year.

On both occasions, all band members are reputed to have returned home to TT with the band - an unusual historical foot-note achievement for a steelband of that ambitious migratory era.


In October 2003, with Lennox ‘Boogsie’ Sharpe as arranger; various members of the steelbands Hatters, Phase II Pan Groove and Siparia Deltones, joined under the Petrotrin banner as Petro Stars to perform in the company’s 10th Anniversary Republic Day “Rainbows” - A Tribute To Excellence concerts; staged at the Manny RamJohn Stadium, Marabella and later at the Sports Complex, U.W.I., St Augustine.

A Petro Stars CD, Rainbows- A Tribute To Excellence, was produced to mark the event.


Pan in the 21st Century, first conceptualised by Mr. Keith Diaz in the late 1990s, first appeared as a concert at the Grand Stand, Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain, Trinidad, for top selected qualifiers out of the Regional Zonal Panorama Preliminaries; perform in lieu of an absent Panorama Semi-Final event on 15th February 1998. The second show, again a concert using similar criteria and finals venue, was on 5th February 1999.

The first Pan in the 21st Century competition was held at the Grand Stand, Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain, Trinidad, on 27th February 2000, simultaneously with the Panorama 2000 Semi-Finals. Trinmar Hatters won this first TSTT Pan in the 21st Century competition; playing Devotion (or Young Love) as arranged by Earl Brooks Sr.

In 2005, Petrotrin Hatters placed 10th in the finals, playing That’s the Way I like It (KC & The Sunshine Band) as arranged by Dr Jeannine Remy.


Promoted as the Blocko & Pan Market on the Brian Lara Promenade, 14th October 2000 in Port of Spain, Trinidad; Trinmar Hatters were invited to represent Trinidad and Tobago in a manor of welcome to the foreign participants of the World Steelband Music Festival 2000, and played together with the foreign bands representative, BWIA Ebony out of the UK, at the evenings event.

At World Steelband Music Festival 2002, a 26 member Petrotrin Trinmar SUB Hatters placed 7th in the World Finals, with Dr Jeannine Remy’s moving memorial composition, The Attacks and Aftermath of September 11th 2001, often called simply 9-11.

At Junior Steelband Music Festival 2005 (Under 21), the Hatters entered the Solo (Jane), Duet (Jean and Dinah) and Quartet (Joyful Joyful) categories with a junior contingent named the Petrotrin Hatters eXplorers One; with all the arrangements by Dr Jeannine Remy and tutored in the panyard by arranger and school teacher Mr. Peter Lockhart. The Hatters eXplorers One placed 2nd in the Duet and 4th in Quartet category.

At Steelband Music Festival 2013- Pan Is Beautiful XII, a various 15 member Petrotrin Hatters ensemble placed a joint-1st (with Golden Hands) in the Tune of Choice [Ensemble] category playing The Renewal (J. Remy); and 2nd in the Test Piece [Ensemble] category playing Respect the Steelband (Black Stalin); placing 2nd overall in the Ensemble category, with Dr Jeannine Remy’s composition and arrangements. The achievement was accomplished through the dedicated and the dynamic efforts of the Panyard arranger, Mr. Kevin McLeod, who tutored and pressed the band to readiness.


Between 2000 and up to around 2005, Hatters have had strong associations with, and assisted, two school steelbands in the San Fernando area. Both bands strong in music education and teach music literacy. Mrs. Franca Hills-Headley's Golden Hands Pan School from, 'across the road'; and the Gabrielites steelband, comprising at the time under-14 students principally from St Gabriel's Girls School, Harris Promenade, San Fernando.

With Golden Hands, the band would loan young players, instruments and pan-racks for School Junior Panorama and Music Festival events; and reciprocally have some Golden Hands players join the Hatters Panorama and Pan in the 21st Century appearances. With the Gabrielites, this school steelband would have use of Hatters panyard and be assisted by Hatters musical arrangers, for over two years, while St Gabriel's school made ready its own pan music-class facilities. Gabrielites, assisted by Hatters arranger Lennox ‘Sam’ Fortune, won a Junior Borough Day Point Fortin event, Blue, in that period.

With the idea of promoting the culture of pan music to its own youth; Hatters took the initiative to run its first Steelpan & Music Literacy Workshop (SMLW) during the August school brake of 2006, at their Pan Theatre on Lady Hales Avenue, San Fernando. These workshops would be continued over the years.

Initiated by Captain Lennox ‘Sam’ Fortune (2006, 2008 [Cancelled, funding] & 2009); followed by Captain Trevis ‘Bandy’ Neal (2010); and then by house arranger and school teacher Kevin McLeod (2012, 2013 & 2014). Informed guidance and structured teaching materials were introduced to the Hatters SMLW’s by Dr Jeannine Remy and her students from The University of the West Indies in 2012.

The SMLW courses cover the basics of Western music theory, steelpan playing techniques, general steelpan history and the basic fundamentals of a tuned steelpan note. The courses have been variously sponsored between the steelband Hatters itself, its sponsor Petrotrin and various TT Ministries associated with Culture, Community Development and National Security.

As of 2019, some 172 young pan students have graduated the Hatters SMLW workshops.


Hatters have appeared at most of the public Pan arenas in Trinidad; which have included; Carnival Best Beating Band and Bomb competitions; accompanying Mas' bands ‘on de Road’; the finals of the Republic Pan Fiesta, TIDCO's Panyard Sensations; the San Fernando City and Independence Day events; Borough Day Point Fortin; the Laventille Emancipation Festival; the Couva Sugar and Energy Festival; the Rio Claro Festival; for Fyzabad Labour Day; Pan in the Country Side shows; local panyard Blocko's and events at and around Skinner Park, San Fernando; at the hospice for the elderly in San Fernando; the cruise ship complex Port of Spain; and for its sponsors Petrotrin corporate events in Point Fortin, Palo Seco and at Pointe a Pierre.


Maritime Life Insurance Co. Ltd. (1974-78); Dan Steel Ltd. (1980-84); An unrecorded drug baron (late 1980s); Trinmar (Marine) Ltd. (2000); Trinmar SBU Ltd. (2001); Petrotrin Trinmar SBU Ltd. (2002) and finally Petrotrin Ltd. (2003 to 2018).

The steelband recognises other valued and grateful assistance provided by; Paramount Transport Ltd., The Unit Trust Corporation of TT, (the then) Caribbean Life Insurance Co. (CLICO), Scotia Bank Ltd., Classic Caterers Ltd. and some others; together with its valued individual supporters.


‘Steve’ Achaiba, Lennox ‘Sam’ Fortune, Ken ‘Professor’ Philmore, Edeon 'Sad Man' Charles (Rudolph Charles (of Desperadoes) brother), 'Bendix' Cumberbatch, Kerry Blackman, Richard Alvin Gittins, Keith Salcedo, 'Patois', Earl Brooks Sr., Trevis ‘Bandy’ Neal, Kevin McLeod (resident), Dr Jeannine Remy (musical director).

Hatters Steel Orchestra are an institution of the communities of Embacadere and Broadway (now Independence Avenue), and proudly represent the people of San Fernando and the Pan Trinbago designated South & Central Region of Trinidad, whenever the band performs.


Hatters Steel Orchestra - BIO 2019 – Update 02.doc

tobagojo – 20190120 – Hatters PRO


Hatters won the National Panorama Finals in 1975, the South Zonal Panorama five times... 1969, 1971, 1972, 1975, and were joint winners with Tornadoes Steel Orchestra in 2000. In 2000 Hatters won the first TSTT-sponsored Pan In The 21st century.  In 2002, Hatters placed seventh (7th) in the World Steelband Music Festival Finals.

Additional info below posted with special permission from the by Ronald C. Emrit - check link for updates

Hatters began as the Broadway Syncopators for the first post-war carnival in South Trinidad in 1946. They later changed their name to Broadway Hatters in 1950. They ceased functioning in the early 1960s but regrouped in 1967 and went on to win the Panorama competition in 1975 with Steve Achaiba as the musical arranger. Hatters finished among the top three steelbands in the following significant competitions:
1974 Panorama 2nd 20 to 1 (Lord Kitchener) Steve Achaiba
1975  Panorama 1st Tribute to Spree Simon (Lord Kitchener) Steve Achaiba
1976 Panorama 2nd Coming Home for Carnival (Lord Kitchener) Steve Achaiba

Compiled by Ronald C. Emrit

Additional info by Gideon Maxime - Steelband Showcase - 23rd January, 2002


Hatters was founded in the year 1946. The original name of the band was Broadway Syncopators but changed to Broadway Hatters in 1950. The composition of the band was mostly young men who as the custom in several areas were ‘liming’ partners.

Some of the early or foundation members were Edison Bonas, Kenneth Vincent, Allan Lewis and Charlie Barker. As is the norm with many of the steelbands in the North such as Tokyo, Desperadoes and Invaders, the name Hatters originated from the motion picture “Hatters Castle”.

The original home of the Hatters was on Independence Avenue San Fernando. But later moved to several spots such as Lewis Street, Independence Avenue and Keate Street. Hatters could now be found on Lady Hailes Avenue.

In San Fernando there was such an abundance of players with great talent that bands such as Cavaliers and Silhouette were formed, so too was Hatters.

Cavaliers provided the early rise in the ascendancy of Hatters to fame and fortune. Hatters won the South Zone titles in 1969, 1971 and 1972 Panorama Competition -
1969 - The Bull
1971- Mas in Madison Square Garden
1972- Melody 1972.

Well known Steve Achaiba of Cavaliers was the one responsible to be that never to be forgotten arrangement in 1975 “Tribute to Spree Simon” a selection which brought the band and indeed to South the Panorama title that year and one in which the band won from Preliminary to Final.

Hatters has also made its impact on the International scene (trips to the United States were made to Minneapolis in 1974 and Dallas in 1975).

Hatters over the past years have one of the more experienced players, Earl Brooks, as its arranger. A few years ago he was involved in a motor vehicle accident which almost cost him his life.

Courageous as he must have been, he is now responsible for the favourable position the band Hatters now enjoy.

Having lost their sponsor Maritime Life years ago and went through a period without one, Trinmar then came to the rescue of the band.

Panorama Performance

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