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Pan on the Avenue was a hit

Pan on the Avenue was a hit

Story from The Trinidad & Tobago Guardian by Peter Ray Blood

The spirit of “one love” was most existent last Saturday night when the Woodbrook/St James Community Association staged Pan on D’Avenue V, its most successful to date, along Ariapita Avenue, Woodbrook. With at least 25,000 pan fans in attendance, the six-hour event was incident-free and offered 25 of the nation’s popular steel orchestras. 

Along the route patrons enjoyed the beautiful music performed with many of them walking with deck chairs and picnic baskets. Peeking into the basket of one pan enthusiast named Barrow, he said: “This come like Panorama and I cook a wicked beef pelau for tonight.” Another patron lower down the avenue was boasting about her curried crab and dumpling, while in Adam Smith Square, Woodbrook resident Chuckaree was touting his jerk pork and chicken to be the best.

Held for the past five years in celebration of the anniversary of our Independence and in recognition of our national instrument, the steelpan, this year’s edition of Pan on D’Avenue was held in memory of Amigo Nadur, principal figure behind the Carnival Monday night steelband competition at Adam Smith Square, and slain Japanese pan musician Asami Nagakiya. 

The association also presented awards to The Engine Room (steelband percussionists). In previous years, it has honoured mas personalities: steelband arrangers, tuners, and calypsonians.

With the new Suave steel ensemble stationary at the VIP review stand at Adam Smith Square, the programme was opened with a performance by Wasafoli Rhythm & Dancers. 

As the crowd grew more dense, a number of overseas visitors were seen enjoying the show. “I flew in yesterday from New York just for this and Independence,” said Carol, “and I am returning next Wednesday night to be there for Panorama next Friday and Labour Day Carnival the following Monday.”

Wendy Cutler best summed up the event when she said: “This was a true true Trinbago experience. Where else in the world can you go to see 37 (sic) steelbands parading, playing every type of music? To name name just a few, Abba’s Dancing Queen by Newtown Playboyz; the sweet sweet arrangement by Supernovas; All Stars ramajaying with Woman on the Bass; and, the champion St Margaret’s Superstars fully supported by proud moms, dads and family, for over six hours; and all for free?

“People talking to each other, even if you had never seen them before? The world can learn a thing or two from us. What was really good to see, plenty young people appreciating the national instrument. Saturday night was pure heaven.”

Pan on D’Avenue is a perfect vehicle to be tweaked and enhanced, with more State participation, packaged and marketed as a tourism item. Its infrastructure should include park and shuttle facilties, utilising surrounding open spaces; access to bathroom facilities; and, more cohesive marshalling of steelbands along the parade.

The main glitch on Saturday was a 30-minute delay in the programme, caused by the late arrival of one of the steelbands.

Similar steelband events in Point Fortin, Laventille and Arima can also benefit from more State fiscal intervention. For instance, the Eastern Main Road in Laventille is in dire need of a much improved street lighting programme, an amenity that is much better along Ariapita Avenue.

The Borough of Point Fortin can enhance its product by having no disc jockeys and sound systems along the parade route. Patrons and guests from abroad do not travel to Point Fortin to be bombarded by dancehall and other music played unthinking, indifferent disc jockeys who are reluctant to turn off their music when a steelband approaches. 

If we are serious about inviting visitors to our “home” to sample and immerse themselves in our culture we must lift the bar on the quality of product we are promoting and presenting.

To say the least, the music on Saturday night was exhilarating and served to lift the spirits of listeners putting people in the right mood for Wednesday’s Independence Day steelband fare staged by Newtown Playboyz, Invaders, Starlift and Woodbrook Modernaires. On Saturday every band sounded good with almost all presenting new music in their repertoires.

A number of the steelbands were also elegantly attired in outfits that bore the national colours, like Republic Bank Exodus and the T&T Defence Force Steel Orchestra. Creating a good visual impression on the road was NGC Couva Joylanders, utilising two large trailers making their way along the Avenue side by side. Also creating an impression was Newtown Playboyz as this Tragarete Road band did an entire carnival presentation.

Bringing the curtain down on an outstanding night of pan music at 2 am was Phase II con collaboration with Hadco with an infectious Len “Boogsie” Sharpe interpretation of Gypsy’s For Cane.

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