Panorama 2003 in Brooklyn
By khalick j. hewitt
To Panjumbies of the world:
Well, it happened. After a brief sojourn to other pastures, namely the Flatlands, all 18 Steelbands returned to the Museum under the banner of the West Indian American Day Carnival Association (WIADCA). The Panorama under the auspices of USSA is no more. The attempt by panists and others to organize their own Panorama, while a magnanimous gesture, only lasted two years. The first being an historic moment in the history of Panorama in Brooklyn and the second a disaster. But, they were back at the Museum. Only fifteen Steelbands performed.
By now everyone knows the winner and the two follow-ups. So this article will focus on some events surrounding the Panorama before getting down to the competition. Let’s begin with outside the Panorama. There was tight security. Everyone had to go through body checks. There was a line for men and another for women. The Police had tight control on the street where people gathered in their traditional manner liming and greeting old friends, saying hello and catching up with the latest old talk. People lined up orderly to purchase their tickets. NO STORMERS. Then the steelbands came, each one trying to get into the Museum to perform their Panorama piece and hoping to win. As usual, most people had already judged the winner. I visited most of the steelbands in their respective panyards and the only question on the large audiences’ mind was “Who coming second?” For the people, the winner was already known.
But back to Panorama night. The steelbands gathered on the Museum grounds doing their last minute touch up to their tune of choice. Around 9:15 pm the competition began and the Steelbands were on their way. All the Steelbands played well. My special kudos for Women in Steel Orchestra. They were very competitive and played their hearts out. A few more panoramas and they will be a force. Moods Pan Groove was another surprise. When I visited them at their panyard I had doubts. But on Panorama night they came up to mark. Crossfire was innovative. They played “Ellie Man.” And, because the tune was a dedication to Ellie Mannette; their arranger included a piece from “Liebestrum,” (an old favorite of the Invaders Steelband that became famous with the famous solo from their panist Cobo Jack) into the tune. I loved it. Marsicans was a disappointment. I saw them as the only real challenger to the winning Steelband. For whatever reason(s) they did not performed up to par. The two Despers (Despers USA and D’ Radoes) did well. Either of them could have placed third. Of course, D’ Radoes was given that prize of third place. Dem Stars needed more pan and panists. From where I stood, CASYM was overwhelming with their bass. I heard a ‘dodup’ (an early pan with two notes that kept time) sound that drowned the music. It was annoying. But, the judges disagreed with me. And, their decision is final. No argument.
Now to the winning steelband. Pantonic met every expectation. They were very large, with 100 band members and their sound was powerful. Their execution was perfect. As is customary, the lyrical version of the band’s tune of choice was played to give the audience a preview of the tune to come. At that moment the crowd went wild. It seemed that most people came to hear the winning steelband. The count came and arranger and conductor Clive Bradley led his soldiers to battle. From the sound of the first note it was casualties, taking no prisoners. Each change in the tune brought loud applause from the crowd. Then the band played a piece of Trinbago’s anthem to end the piece and panic reigned supreme. It was all over. Clive Bradley and his panists gave Brooklyn a memorable Trinbago 41st anniversary present for it was also Trinbago’s Independence. And, Pantonic played their tune of choice on the morning of August 31, Independence Day for Trinbago. It was a fitting gift to Trinbagonians.
Now to the future. I suggest that WIADCA provide the audience with a program for the event listing the order that the bands will play and a brief description of each steelband and their leaders and arranger. After all, this is the national instrument of Trinbago. We have to provide historical references/documents for our cultural events. Let’s hope also that the Panorama was video taped and recorded so that we can all have the beautiful music that was played on Panorama night after Panorama. The standard set by USSA for its Panorama should be continued. They produced a video, DVD and double audiotapes for their Panorama 2001. Oh, I have to thank WIADCA for the two large screens they put up for the Panorama competition. It helped. Although some people complained that the trees blocked their view of the screen on the right from the entrance. But, WIADCA get an 'A' for effort.
My final advice to all panists. Now that you are back home and broke, so to speak, it is important that you get an attorney to handle your interests at WIADCA. The leaders should form a Leadership Council to guide the interests of all steelbands. And, panists should join the musicians' union. It makes no sense complaining year after year and not having the expertise to handle your affairs. Remember - in America people pay for their ignorance and that price could be costly. You must be professional and business-like (Pan is a business) or you will be forever complaining. Remember empty barrels. See you next year.
To the rendezvous of victory,