50 years of steel

Trinidad & Tobago - 50 years of steel

Peter Ray Blood Trinidad-tobago Flag

Under the auspices of the National Association of Trinidad & Tobago Steelbandsmen (NATTS), led by the late George Goddard, the preliminary of the first official Panorama competition was held on Sunday, February 17, 1963, at the Queen’s Park Savannah in Port-of-Spain. That year was indeed a busy one for the fledging steelband movement as the first official Bomb competition and first anniversary Independence Steelband Festival were also held that year. In 1963, the first Panorama competition was in fact dubbed Best Road March Steelband Competition, and 21 of the 24 registered steelbands participated. The competition fielded bands only  from north Trinidad, as a South Steelband Competition, under the aegis of the Southern Carnival Improvement Committee, was  held separately the following day, February 18, at Naparima Bowl, San Fernando, with a dozen bands of 16 registered as competing. 
A Tobago Panorama was also separately held at Shaw Park, and was won by Esso Wonder Harps of Plymouth, playing Sparrow’s Kennedy and Mood Indigo, followed by Our Boys and Roxborough’s Casbah. Winning the first South Panorama and taking home the $200 first prize was Southern Marines, led by Milton Lyons, playing The Road by Kitchener, and Handel’s Largo. Runners-up were Teenage Suymphony and Sundowners. Unlike the Tobago and South contests, participants in the Best Road March Steelband Competition were required to perform one calypso and the winner was Pan Am North Stars, under the captaincy of Anthony Williams, playing Sparrow’s Dan is the Man, arranged by Williams. North Stars was awarded 89 points to defeat first runner-up Sundowners by four points, with third-placed Desperadoes scoring 84 points.
Ebonites, playing Slaughter on 10th Avenue, won the first official Bomb competition on J’Ouvert morning, judged on Park Street, ahead of Silver Stars and Merrytones. The first anniversary Independence Steelband Festival was a nationwide competition, its preliminaries held in Scarborough, Tunapuna and Queen’s Hall. Judged by Major Rupert Dennison and Clarence Johnson. The finals were held at Queen’s Hall, on August 29. Winning the orchestral competition was Crossfire, playing Juliana Castillana, followed by Silver Stars and Merry Stars Metronome. Tenor pannist Ralph Ryce of Sundowners won the Ping-pong category, playing Umilta Mc Shine’s People of the Islands.
When one considers the earliest days of pan, dating back to the ‘40s, the progress made by the instrument, musicians, innovators, tuners, arrangers and administrators has been nothing less than phenomenal. A plethora of truly gifted tuners and innovators have helped the instrument progress from its ping pong days, through a wide assortment of models, to today’s avant-garde PSI Pan and G Pan. Stalwart pan technicians include Anthony Williams, Ellie and Vernon “Birdie” Mannette, Neville Jules, Bertie Marshall, Rudolph Charles, and Prof Brian Copeland. Outstanding arrangers these past 50 years include Anthony Williams, Clive Bradley, Neville Jules, Jit Samaroo, Lennox “Bobby” Mohammed, Hugh Borde, Leon “Smooth” Edwards, Len “Boogsie” Sharpe, Pelham Goddard, Edwin Pouchet, Ray Holman, Beverly Griffith, Robbie Greenidge, Earl Rodney, Ken “Professor” Philmore, Duvonne Stewart and Terrence “BJ” Marcelle.
Pan Trinbago evolved from NATTS and its administrators have been George Goddard, Aldwyn Chow Lin On, Roy Augustus, Bertie Fraser, Melville Bryan, Arnim Smith, Owen Serrette, Patrick Arnold and Keith Diaz. These men sailed the steelband organisation through some perilous waters and have been successful in bringing respect to the organisation, while initiating several innovative projects, including Panorama; the Pan is Beautiful series of classical concerts; Pan in the 21st Century; Pan Parang; Chut Kai Pan; Pan on the Move; and Pan in De Countryside. Member steelbands and groups have also produced some outstanding productions, such as  Pan Ramajay, a product of Exodus; 8 of Hearts by the Laventille Steelband Foundation; ComPANions family day by Julie Williams of Exodus; Point Fortin Borough Day Pan on D Move; and Southern Marines annual youth talent competition in the south. On a lighter note, pan has also given us many notorious and colourful characters, “warriors” of the movement, many with colourful nicknames, like Gunga Din, Crawl, Nicka Best, Dr Rat, Peter Blood, Musso, Axe, One Man, Birdie, Iron Charlie, Jack Slade, Thunderbolt, Eddie Boom, Teddy Mice, Ben’ Up and Poison.   
•Desperadoes is the only steel orchestra to win a national Panorama title in every decade since 1963.
•Renegades is the only steelband to achieve a hat-trick in national Panorama competition.
•Panorama is the brightest jewel in pan’s crown and while the competition has seen a mere dozen deserving champions in 50 years, it has also produced some near misses in finals, bands which were pre-final favourites and which just missed out on winning the laurel. These include Renegades (Statue); Starlift (Queen of the Bands-1971); Antillean All Stars (Tourist Leggo-1977); 3rd World Symphony (Gold-1977); Starlift (Robot-1979); Trinidad All Stars (Heat-1982); Desperadoes (Party-1982); Nu Tones (Ooh La La-1983); Desperadoes (The Jammer-1984); Phase II Pan Groove (I Music-1984); Tokyo (Pan in Danger-1985); Merrytones (Lucifer-1986); Renegades and Desperadoes (Pan in A Minor-1987); Pandemonium (Sailing-1988); NLCB Fonlaire (Pan by Storm-1990); Tokyo (Special Brew-1991); Phase II ( Jam it with you-1995); Exodus (Play My Music-1999); Desperadoes (Yuh looking for horn-2001); Desperadoes (Fire Coming Down); and Phase II (Happy Birthday and Magic Drum).
National Panorama 
champions – 1963-2012
1963: Pan Am North Stars
1964: Pan Am North Stars
1965: Guinness Cavaliers
1966: Coca Cola Desperadoes
1967: Guinness Cavaliers
1968: Solo Harmonites
1969: CIBC Starlift
1970: Coca Cola Desperadoes
1971: (TIE) Solo Harmonites and CIBC Starlift
1972: Solo Harmonites
1973: Catelli Trinidad All Stars
1974: Solo Harmonites
1975: Maritime Hatters
1976: Witco Desperadoes
1977: Witco Desperadoes
1978: Trinidad Tesoro Starlift
1980: Catelli Trinidad All Stars
1981: Catelli Trinidad All Stars
1982: Amoco Renegades
1983: Witco Desperadoes
1984: Amoco Renegades
1985: (TIE) Amoco Renegades and Witco Desperadoes
1986: Catelli Trinidad All Stars
1987: Phase II Pan Groove
1988: Phase II Pan Groove
1989: Amoco Renegades
1990: Amoco Renegades
1991: Witco Desperadoes
1992: Exodus
1993: Amoco Renegades
1994: Witco Desperadoes
1995: Amoco Renegades
1996: Amoco Renegades
1997: Amoco Renegades
1998: Nu Tones
1999: Witco Desperadoes
2000: Witco Desperadoes
2001: Exodus
2002: Neal & Massy Trinidad All Stars
2003: Exodus
2004: Exodus
2005: Phase II Pan Groove
2006: Phase II Pan Groove
2007: Neal & Massy Trinidad All Stars
2008: Petrotrin Phase II Pan Groove
2009: Excellent Stores Silver Starts
2010: PCS Silver Stars
2011: Neal & Massy Trinidad All Stars
2012: Neal & Massy Trinidad All Stars