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September 9, 2006 - Volume 1, No. 3

Panorama in Brooklyn without Master Clive Bradley

Brooklyn Panorama 2006 came and the steelband field was wide open as Master Clive Bradley was absent through no fault of his own. He died last year. But, he got his way because for the first time in Brooklyn Panorama history the rains poured all day and night for Panorama. There were 12 steelbands competing for Panorama supremacy at the back of the Brooklyn Museum except it was carnival Sunday and not carnival Saturday night when Panorama is usually held. Yes, panjumbies, it was rain and more rain all Panorama day and night. The elements wept for Master Clive Bradley.

The rain started early Saturday morning as the day’s first event, “Kiddies Carnival” was on its way around ten o’clock in the morning. By lunch time everyone knew that the kiddies carnival had to be postponed due to the rain. Soon, the word was out. The kiddies carnival was cancelled and was held on Sunday at 11 AM. But, as a lagniappe the children were permitted to play their mas in front of the mas bands on Eastern Parkway on Labor Day. By 5PM Saturday, nothing was said about the Panorama. Rumors were abound.

The rain continued throughout the afternoon and panjumbies were getting restless. For myself, I was outside with my umbrella and rain coat in case the Panorama was on. I took no chances to have to return home to dress for the rain. The Panorama was carded to begin at 8 PM. Around 6 PM the steelbands’ representatives were asking the right question: “Will there be Panorama?” And the rain kept falling. Around 6:30 PM Mr. Cyrus Busby, PRO for USSA made a few phone calls to WIADCA to cancel the Panorama. He reported to me that WIADCA wanted the steelbands to play in the rain because no Panorama meant a loss of money. According to Mr. Busby, WIADCA even offered to put up a tent for the judges but nothing for the steelbands. Mr. Busby protested and WIADCA had to cancel the Panorama. Soon the word was out that the Panorama was rescheduled for Sunday at 4 PM till 10 PM to be followed by the Dimarche Gras show.

On a sunny Sunday afternoon the Panorama started around 4: 40 PM. The panjumbies were all there waiting in anticipation to hear sweet pan. The first steelband to perform was ADLIB from Long Island. They played “Tribute to Bradley” a Defosto’s composition. They had over 60 panists. The band experienced mike problems but played on. Next came Dem Stars with 68 panists with their tune of choice “This One for U Bradley” composed by Len Boogsie Sharpe. The band sounded good but had their share of problems with the mike system which did them a disservice. There was no sound check. But the band continued with their rendition. The band to follow was Pan Sonatas who played “This one for U Bradley” They had 85 panists and erupted the audience who gave loud applauses. This was the band to beat. Following was Crossfire who played Ray Holman’s composition “If you really want”. The tune was sweet but the smallness of the band prevented a true rendition of a beautiful arrangement by Brian “Bean” Griffith. But, Sonatas was still the band to beat. Sesame Flyers came next with ”Colors Again’ sung by Destra. Pantonic played next. This year Pantonic was without their usual arranger Master Clive Bradley. This time, the band went indoors and Keith Roberts, captain did the arranging. He did a marvelous job and delivered a beautiful arrangement of “Tribute to Bradley”. I strongly suggest that Brooklyn steelbands use their talented panists to arrange because it will develop local talent and save them money which they surely don’t have to spend on arrangers from abroad. But that’s another article.

The next steelband to follow was Despers USA whose arranger Eddie Quarless was back in Brooklyn, having left for Trinidad to arrange for Desperadoes for Panorama 2006. Despers USA attempted to solve the mike problems by refusing to play with mikes. But, that decision while noble made them sound smaller that they were. The solution is no mikes or a new person to mike the Panorama. Some have already suggested Basement Recordings who, in my view are the best recorders of steelband music. Pan Harmony, Youth Panoramics and Marsicans followed. Those bands were very small so they lacked competitiveness. A word about Marsicans. This band suffered a serious change in their leadership and the results did no justice to their panship. CASYM followed and it was all over. The band demonstrated their ability to perform as well as play. The audience was overjoyed with their music. It was now between Sonatas and CASYM for first prize. The last band to play was last year’s second runner up D’Radoes who played “Tribute to Bradley” There was high expectations for this band having had Master Clive Bradley last year as their arranger. This year, their arranger was Raf Robertson who is a popular musician. Again, sound problems were the order of the day. But, the band played well to gain fourth place.

The final Panorama results were:

 1.  CASYM
 2.  Sonatas
 3.  Pantonic
 4.  D’Radoes
 5.  Despers USA
 6.  Sesame Flyers
 7.  Harmony
 8.  Crossfire
 9.  Dem Stars
10. ADLIB
11. Caribbean Youth Panoramics
12. Marsicans

Now, here are my few comments about Panorama 2006. It is time for the steelbands to unite into a Steelband Union so that their financial and other interests are protected from WIADCA. There is USSA but it needs more steelband support to develop into a Steelband Union strong enough to make any demands from WIADCA. While I have no problems with WIADCA as a Carnival organization I believe that its main interest is not the steelband. The steelband is an auxiliary happening to the main carnival events. Therefore, it is the steelbands that have to secure their own interests by forming a Steelband Union. Every year there are problems with the sound system. The steelbands complain. But, nothing is ever done. I have suggested that Basement Recordings be put in charge of the sound system for the Panorama. Their recordings of the steelbands in their panyards are the best that I have heard so far. But, it is the steelbands that have to make that demand. I would like to see more transparency from WIADCA. How much is the first, second and third prize money? 

I was truly disappointed with the treatment allotted to the memory of Master Clive Bradley at the Brooklyn Panorama 2006. But, I blame the steelbands. They have to stop the tribalism and begin to recognize their heroes, heroines and pioneers by naming things and events after them. Why can’t we have a Master Clive Bradley challenge trophy for arrangement?  Or, a Master Neville Jules challenge trophy for the bomb competition?  Or, the Emmanuel ‘Jack’ Riley challenge trophy for best soloist? Some may question the importance of names. But, the young panists must know the pioneers in the steelband movement and this is a way to do it. The steelbands have to decide for themselves if they want to remain a marginal entity coming out for labor-day and then disappearing until the next labor-day.

Lastly, it is time that Brooklyn steelbands use local arrangers either from the community or from the band itself. This year, Pantonic’s captain Keith Roberts arranged and he did a beautiful arrangement. It is not cost effective to spend so much money to bring an arranger from Trinidad when you have local arrangers waiting for a chance to prove themselves. I wish all the steelbands hearty congratulations for their efforts, discipline, hard work and talents. Thanks for starting on time and ending on time.

One word about the jouvert. This year it lacked the usual sweetness. Why can’t the steelbands play their music without stopping every five or ten minutes?  We have eight hours from 2 am till 10 am and we misuse the time standing instead of jamming music for the people. It was boring. I saw many empty pans with no panists. There were more barricades in the jouvert this year. Is this something that we have to expect now? One note of interest. It was disappointing to learn that Trinidad All Stars did not appear on Eastern Parkway for labor day. Something happened and the band did not show up. I hope that the masqueraders will be refunded their money for the costumes. Until next year!

Stay Blogged

P.S. If readers don’t understand any of the carnival or steelband terms used here, please go to the
Port of Pan ABC at pan-jumbie-com. Otherwise you may contact this writer. Thanks for reading.

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