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Per the ‘English Oxford Living Dictionaries’ - the definition of ‘Skiffle’ is: “A kind of folk music with a blues or jazz flavour that was popular in the 1950s, played by a small group and often incorporating improvised instruments such as washboards.” Band leader Junia Regrello explains further, describing the band’s beginnings: “We were a Pan around the neck band in 1976 struggling financially, most of our equipment were made ourselves, save the actual instruments; I tuned the Doo Dup, our tambourine was made from flattened crown corks nailed on a table tennis racket, and so forth.”
During their tenure as a traditional or ‘Pan around the Neck’ band, they dominated their category winning several of the fifteen National Panorama competitions entered, placing first on three occasions and second twice in the five Music Festivals held during this period.
In 1993, having matured through this rewarding and illustrious apprenticeship, they donned Conventional Band status and have since challenged the very best in this category. Although their Panorama results have not always been in keeping with their wishes, the tenacity of Skiffle, together with its commitment to the development and marketing of the country’s National instrument, has earned a reputation for high quality, evocative musical renditions and compositions.
Their most memorable accomplishments to date are:
- Being featured on Trinidad and Tobago’s one dollar ($1.00) stamp, 1979
- Receiving a National Award - Humming Bird Silver, 1991
- Performing at the Royal Albert Hall, London, 1992
- Performing for the Bi-Quincentennial Celebrations of Columbus in Rome, Italy, 1992
- Winning the World Steelband’s Music Festival Competition at Jean Pierre Complex, 2000
- Placing second at the World Steelband’s Festival at Madison Square Garden, New York, 2005
- Recording a double CD at their concert “Skiffle and Stalin Live at Naparima Bowl’, 2007
- Winning the Pan In The 21st Century Competition, 2009
Their overseas itinerary could rival that of any diplomat - from the Oistin Festival in Barbados, Spice Festival in Grenada and the Moods Of Pan Festival in Antigua to the Commonwealth Arts Festival in Scotland, Ely Folk Festival in Wales, the Commonwealth Institute in London, The Edmonton Convention Centre, Canada, World Expo in Seville, Spain, to engagements in Jamaica, Cuba, Mexico, USA, Eastern and Southern Europe and visits to Malaysia, Singapore and Korea.
From under a street light in Vistabella, San Fernando, the band is now the proud owner of a multi-million dollar property on Coffee Street which stands amongst the surrounding business places that exist in the city’s highly commercial area.
The Skiffle Bunch Steelband was formed in 1977 as a Traditional or 'Pan Around the Neck' band by a group of young people from Vistabella, some of whom were previously with the Sundowners Steelband. Skiffle Bunch won the Traditional Band Panorama competition eight times (1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988) and placed second four times (1981, 1982, 1983, 1984). Under the leadership of Junia Regrello, the band became a Conventional Band in 1993 and went on to make the Large Steelband Panorama Finals in 1995 (6th), 1996 (10th), 1997 (5th), 2013 (5th), 2014, (7th-Tied), 2015 (10th), 2016 (10th), 2017 (7th) and 2018 (2nd), . . The band rose to prominence in 2000 by winning the Steelband Music Festival. The band was initially sponsored by Trinidad Cement Limited (TCL) until January 2012 when it gained the sponsorship of the Junior Sammy Group of Companies for a few months and changed its name to Skiffle. Skiffle finished among the top three steelbands in the following significant competition:
|Compiled by Ronald C. Emrit|