Date:  07.27.03


Steel Sensation



The tiny yellow house of 97-24 222nd Street in Queens Village, seemed an unlikely setting for a pan event.   However on Saturday, July 26th, The Dem Stars Steel Orchestra and the Sesame Flyers Steel Orchestra, packed in between a backyard fence and a garage, played for a gathering of family and friends.

The Dem Stars played a seven song set, complete with a final song that lasted over 10 minutes, an eternity considering the temperature the pannists were playing in.  A few onlookers, whom under the influence of alcohol and pan music had sectioned out a dance area in the already crowded space, had urged the Dem Stars on.  The band, crammed tightly between their drums, had a couple of unfamiliar faces among the instruments.

Two guest players from the Steel Sensation Band joined Dem Stars.  Ian Japsi, whose house the event was held at, joined the orchestra on the drum set, while Amrit Samaroo played the bongos.  Japsi, the manager of Steel Sensation, has been playing pan music for 20 years now, and finds enjoyment in seeing people’s reactions to the sounds that can come out of the pan.  21-year-old Samaroo works as the arranger for Steel Sensation.  Samaroo becomes almost speechless when asked about his love for pan, it’s something that he compares to a way of life, “it’s like breathing,” he says.

Directly after Dem Stars concluded, Sesame Flyers began, feeding off the energy already in place.  Sesame Flyers, made up of about 20 kids all clad in matching red t-shirts, played three songs.  Half way through their final song, the Sesame suddenly found themselves accompanied by a listener who happened to find a stray instrument.

Sesame Flyers headed by manager Keith Marcelle, work to incorporate pan music into a much larger objective.  That goal is to teach youth the culture and history of Trinidad and Tobago.  Pan is just one of the many courses the program, which is open to any youth between the ages of 7 and 21.  Sesame Flyers will be attending Panorama for the fifth year now, they plan on playing, “Iron Band,” composed by Jit Samaroo and arranged by Nicholas Mohan.

It was hard to imagine two steel bands, a DJ, and a barbecue fitting comfortably inside the less than spacious backyard, but it worked.  Despite the lack of space and the intense heat, Dem Stars and Sesame Flyers filled not just the backyard, but the entire Queens Village block with the sound of pan.






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