Basement Features:  7.15.02

Brooklyn Backyard Boogie



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     It’s a cool Sunday evening in July, and revelers are filing into a cramped Brooklyn backyard on 112 Veronica Place.  They’re all intent on enjoying the company of close friends and family while being splashed with steel from the Marsicians Steel Orchestra.

     It’s a “Calypso and Steel Band Launching” sponsored by the Marsicians, and as Pan-O-Rama draws near, the rest of the steel bands on hand are fine tuning their skills to ensure that they leave an indelible mark on this year’s competition.

     Dem Stars President Anthony 'Ike' Hinds, 55, is looking forward to the contest.  His family organized the original band in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad back in 1951.

     After finishing in sixth place at last year’s contest—their first ever—Hinds says he was satisfied with the band's performance. “It’s like in a baseball game…you bat 500 and we did 500,” says Hinds, adding that he expects a better performance this year.

     The new generation of Dem Stars which has been playing for two years now will be performing “Music For Your Soul,” by Hollis Wright at this year’s contest.  However, they will be contending with formidable competition in the form of the Pan Sonatas.

     After an impressive second place performance last year, the Sonatas are hoping to grab the number one spot in this year’s contest.  One might assume that with the high expectations, the youngsters in the band have more than a few butterflies in their stomachs.  During their performance at the backyard bash however, they look pretty comfortable taking center stage.  “They’re used to it, but coming up to the [Pan-O-Rama] finals they get a bit jittery,” says Federica 'Maurina' Lester of the Sonatas' management team.  The band is enjoying 32 years of existence.

     As the bands play on, children are dancing while the old folks reminisce about the good old days.

     Near the yard entrance Despers USA Manager Verne Rosemin, 37, is paling around with his buddies while taking in the festivities.  But when questioned about the significance of the steel band in his life, Rosemin’s tone becomes a bit more serious.  “I grew up in Trinidad, and I was always familiar with the steel band as far as the Desperados,” says Rosemin, who has been working with the band for over 20 years.

     Rosemin is hoping for an improvement upon last year’s Pan-O-Rama performance in which the group wasn’t exactly up to snuff.  “I don’t think we prepared ourselves well enough as we’re accustomed doing, you know, we went up there and we were cold” says Rosemin.  “We didn’t really execute the music the way we were supposed to.”

     Although the Despers have yet to decide what song they will perform during the pan contest, Rosemin is confident that the band will make a strong showing. “Once we come to Pan-O-Rama we’re coming there to win,” he says.  “We’re not coming to play second, third, forth or fifth.” 

     With Heinekens in their hands and smiles on their faces, the revelers partied into the summer night enraptured by the steel harmonies.




Dem Stars

Chef Choice Parking Lot

1051 Utica Ave. at the corner of Tilden Ave.

Brooklyn, N.Y.



Despers USA

621 Classon Ave. bet. Atlantic and Pacific Aves.

Brooklyn, N.Y.



Sonatas Steel Orchestra

1252-54 Sterling Place bet. Troy and Albany Aves.

Brooklyn, N.Y.







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