THE SOUL IN IRON ..................................................................................................... 3 CARIBBEAN HOT POT .............................................................................................. 11 NOTES ON PANS .....

................................................................................................... 16 MODERNITY AND MUSIC ....................................................................................... 21 BODY MUSIC TO SWEET PAN ................................................................................ 26 A CLEAR AND ROBUST SOUND ............................................................................ 29 THE SAGA OF SOUTH PAN...................................................................................... 31 EAST SIDE STORY..................................................................................................... 34 THE STEEL PULSE OF PORT OF SPAIN................................................................. 37 INVADERS, KING OF THE IRON MEN ................................................................... 39 THE FIRST WHITE BOY STEELBAND ................................................................... 41 CASABLANCA, THE GREATEST ............................................................................ 44 THE HILL BOYS ......................................................................................................... 45 THE CHINESE CONNECTION .................................................................................. 47 ALL STARS SHINE FORTH ...................................................................................... 49 I LOVE YOU, RAJA—BUT ON PAN ........................................................................ 51 WHEN TOKYO RULED THE HILL .......................................................................... 54 THE BAND THEY COULDN’T BAN ........................................................................ 55 DEEP SOUTH PAN ..................................................................................................... 57 SAGA OF A FLAGWOMAN ...................................................................................... 59 THE MASTER CARVER ............................................................................................ 64 RETURN OF THE MUFFMAN .................................................................................. 67 A SOFT TOUCH ON THE IRON ................................................................................ 69 THE PIONEER WHO SOUGHT MUSICAL REVENGE........................................... 71 SWEDES HAVE A GO AT TUNING ......................................................................... 73 THE MAN FOR WHOM THE STEEL SINGS ........................................................... 76 ERIC'S IMPOSSIBLE LOVE....................................................................................... 79 A FISH BAND .............................................................................................................. 82 ALL STARS VERSUS ALL STARS ........................................................................... 83 BACK TO BATAAN ................................................................................................... 85 A MAN FOR ALL BANDS ......................................................................................... 87 IT WAS 50 YEARS AGO TODAY ............................................................................. 89 MAN FROM THE HILL .............................................................................................. 91 TRIPOLI ....................................................................................................................... 93 THE FIRST MAN OF FYZABAD............................................................................... 95 IF YOU PLAY THE CHORDS .................................................................................... 97 THE SAMPSONS OF SUN VALLEY......................................................................... 98 THE SKULL AND CROSSBONES BAND .............................................................. 101 THE PING PONGS OF PEARL HARBOUR ............................................................ 103 THE RISING SUN OF BELMONT ........................................................................... 104 WHEN THE JACK WAS KING ................................................................................ 106 A DAISY AMONGST THE THORNS ...................................................................... 107 RED ARMY'S RELUCTANT SOLDIER .................................................................. 109 THE IRON MAN IN THE ENGINE .......................................................................... 111 THE BIGGER THE BETTER .................................................................................... 113 BLANCA’S BUGLE BOY ......................................................................................... 115 ARTHUR TRAMCAR ............................................................................................... 117 MILTON LYONS ....................................................................................................... 119

THE WOLF AT THE CROSSROADS ...................................................................... 121 KING XAVIER .......................................................................................................... 123 THE KENTUCKIANS’ LAST FIGHT ...................................................................... 126 HERCULES IN THE CROSSFIRE............................................................................ 127 GARVEY’S GHOST .................................................................................................. 129 HELLZAPOPPIN’S SECRET WEAPON .................................................................. 131 BAJAN CECIL ........................................................................................................... 133 DAYS AND NIGHTS IN THE BOOM TOWN ........................................................ 135 QUEEN OF THE STEELBANDS.............................................................................. 137 RENEGADE REALITIES .......................................................................................... 138 FIGHTING AMONG THE JAPS ............................................................................... 140 WHEN THE SUN ROSE IN BELMONT .................................................................. 142 REQUIEM FOR WAKE ISLAND ............................................................................. 143 THE COCONUT HEAD MAN .................................................................................. 144 MR PAMP AND THE SOUND OF STEEL .............................................................. 146 STRIKE THE IRON ................................................................................................... 148 WHEN HAMIL WENT UNHEEDED ....................................................................... 150 BREAKADOOR ......................................................................................................... 151 THE MAN WHO FORMED NORTH STARS .......................................................... 153 WITNESSING SPREE ............................................................................................... 155 CLASH OF THE TITANS ......................................................................................... 157 THE LIGHT IN SUN VALLEY................................................................................. 159 LEO WARNER .......................................................................................................... 161 THE LAST BISCUIT DRUMMER............................................................................ 162 IT WAS 50 YEARS AGO TODAY ........................................................................... 165 THE PAN BEHIND REGGAE................................................................................... 168 THE GREAT BONAPARTE...................................................................................... 170 THE UNIVERSAL CYCLE OF MUSIC ................................................................... 172

THE SOUL IN IRON
Considerations on Steelband Historiography It was an unlikely invention, the steelpan: a metal drum, a piece of industrial waste, on whose face you could play a range of nearly three chromatic octaves of precise and distinct tones. Why, even on the extremely difficult to learn Indian tabla drum, which does give different tones, you cannot play a melody. Logic protested—the vibrations from one note must surely infect its neighbours whose sympathetic vibrations in turn would raise a cacophony. But the unlikely inventors of pan, uneducated in both music and science, positioned the notes so that each was enhanced by the vibrations of its neighbours—a solution requiring a mysterious technology still inexplicable to scientists. And although it shouldn't, the instrument exists to the extent that a steelband embraces a range of percussion instruments made from steel drums which are capable of the full orchestral scale from soprano to bass. This invention of the steelpan in Trinidad and the growth of the steelband movement, then, were two separate but inter-related events which together comprise one of the most multifaceted examples of creolization in the Caribbean. The first dimension was the creation of an instrument, a process which isn’t yet complete. This was primarily a technological invention within the sphere of acoustical physics. This event was achieved by several men over a period of time for each stage of steelpan fabrication was invented and perfected. Stages of steelpan manufacture include choosing the drum, sinking it, grooving the notes, raising them, tempering the steel, selecting the arrangement of notes, and so forth. Additionally, all this took place within a social context that had many other dimensions to it. The bands which nurtured the embryonic instrument, and the warfare they fought amongst themselves or against the police, were a sociological case of a youth sub-culture of gangs. But steelbands were not only gangs, they were also—and perhaps more importantly—musical ensembles. How these ensembles metamorphosed as the instrument was elaborated, how they shaped its voice, the music they drew from in these processes—all of this ought to be the subject of detailed musicological study. Steelbands, individually and collectively, soon became significant in the politics of the period, thus adding another dimension to the phenomenon. That was their role as subjects, but the steelband movement was also an important object in the politics of cultural nationalism, that is, as ideology. In the context of the squabbles between AfroTrinidadians, Euro-Trinidadians and Indo-Trinidadians, the steelband movement’s ideological role also acquired an ethnic dimension. Despite these immediately obvious dimensions of the invention of the steelpan and the growth of the steelband movement (for brevity I shall subsume the former into the latter), they have only been the object of very limited, uni-dimensional scrutiny. The best examples of this, best in all senses, are also the most recent: Ann Lee’s PhD thesis “The Steelband Movement and Nationalism in Trinidad and Tobago” and Steven Stuempfle’s recently published The Steelband Movement in Trinidad and Tobago: Music, Politics and National Identity.

The first was written as a dissertation for the department of sociology at UWI St Augustine. now that Stuempfle’s thesis has been published as a book. race and religion of the members of a middle-class band she calls “Rhythm and Blues Steelband”. and all of a sudden “culture” included “popular culture”—cinema. football. and the second is an expanded version of the author’s PhD thesis for the department of anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania. It’s common knowledge that the band was really Dixieland. art galleries. the man Weller married. counter culture. Judith Ann Weller’s ethnographic “Profile of a Trinidad Steel Band” describes the class. pop music. namely the small group of turbulent youth who formed Renegades. Both Ann Lee and Steve Stuempfle’s theses are thoroughly researched works of scholarship. theatres. Indeed. “culture” was a matter of black people’s family structure or religion. The Sixties brought youth movement. Today the monograph is of little use to the researcher and it is regretted that Weller hadn’t chosen to write about another band. its informal organisation and musical and social activities. are perhaps useful. not being a linguistic form. arts faculties seized upon many expressions of popular culture and hitched them on to literature. . which resulted in Gordon Rohlehr’s magnum opus Calypso and Politics in Pre-Independence Trinidad. black power and so forth. They were led by the late Steven “Goldteeth” Nicholson. modern art form. For instance. Steelband. In Trinidad calypso found itself in the literary camp. the result can be startlingly inadequate. it is definitely the most important study of the steelband available to the public. Immediately. The anonymity they favour. the foreign researcher emphasises the cohering of a national identity and calls it anthropology. Long ago in the West Indies. and an account of his band would have contributed so much more than her “Profile” to an understanding of the steelband movement by describing the origins of what is now the most successful band ever. When the anthropologists’ cultural terrain includes the popular arts. whatever. fell to the social scientists by default. book shops— and that was pronounced on by specialists in the respective fields—art critics. cricket. the first “college boys” steelband. when dealing with social phenomena which change very slowly and where any single individual can have little impact. such as the steelband movement. And yet they are both very limited accounts which do not do justice to the phenomenon of the steelband movement in Trinidad and Tobago. Anthropology and sociology might have been insightful when focused on lowerclass family structures or lower-class cultural persistence. drama critics. Here is where I must confess I have a problem with the academic approach to culture in the West Indies. “Ethnicity” it was called by foreign anthropologists and local sociologists. science fiction. The result was to create a research problematic whereby the steelband movement was seen as an aspect of ethnicity or national identity or pluralism—more like some quaint folk practice rather than a serious. or Indian people’s retentions. or at least are not nugatory. The local researcher emphasises the class conflict—as JD Elder did three decades earlier—and calls it sociology. however. however. who were sometimes practitioners in the arts themselves. In the metropolitan countries. literary critics. so it’s also known that the band was initially formed by Portuguese and Chinese youths such as Ernest Fereira and Rolf Moyou (whose sister was married to the young Eric Williams). “Culture” was a higher affair found in concert halls. but none of this is mentioned. the fictitious names they enjoy hiding people behind.

These ideas might never have occurred to me had I not decided to write an article for the Sunday Express in February 1993, focusing on “the badjohn roots of steelband”. In the previous year I had already written about the background of the 1992 Panorama champions, Exodus Steel Orchestra; the 1992 Pan Ramajay champions Potential Steel Orchestra; and the Casablanca Steel Orchestra on the occasion of the film’s fiftieth anniversary. Additionally, I had interviewed the Swedish physicist Ulf Kronman on his pioneering research into the acoustics of pan. And yet, for whatever reason, it was only in 1993, when researching “the badjohn roots of steelband”, I was struck by the inadequacy of how the steelband movement was studied. It seems obvious now, at least to me, like how no one would dream of limiting jazz to its function as Afro-American identity, with not a mention of Louis Armstrong or Duke Ellington or Charlie Parker or any of the many other men and women who created the music. As I said, it seems obvious now; and how I arrived at the realisation was quite simple too: I walked over to the nearby Tokyo Steel Orchestra pan theatre to chat with a handful of old-timers about the fighters in their band. I could have scoured the library, but I suppose the journalist in me preferred to speak to the actual men who did the deeds. And as I sat in the hot sun on a bench in John John, listening to the reminiscences of one Aldwyn George, I grew more and more enthralled by the stories he told me about various Tokyo fighters: Bake Nose, Spree, Lil Drums, Dana, Mud Mouth, Dewa, Badji. The single feature article immediately burgeoned into a five-part series, to which I have continued to add whenever the opportunity presented itself. This was due to more than the anecdotal wealth of that first group of steelband veterans with whom I spoke. Rather, it was the different focus forced upon me—despite the fact that, in retrospect, the article was not particularly insightful—for I had to confront the specificity of the Tokyo Steel Orchestra, originally known as Destination Tokyo, and the specificity of those old men I had chanced upon, for they s poke about their lives and their band in a way that permitted no extrapolation into a vague “steelband movement”. All of a sudden the undifferentiated and rather monolithic “steelband movement” of the anthropologists and sociologists cracked. In the gap I caught a fleeting glimpse of such incredible hurly burly that was the steelband movement in its manifold human variety. Before me was a specific band made up of specific individuals who did specific things. Consequently, researching the five-part series, “Body Music to Sweet Pan”, carried me to San Fernando in the south, Arima in the east and Point Cumana in the west. Since then, whenever permitted I have desperately added to my stories of the men and the bands that comprised the steelband movement in the hope of capturing as much as I can before it all disappears. For therein lies the truth, the beauty and the justice of any account. “Does this mean that you don’t believe that a general structural explanation is possible?” asked Thomas Erikson, an anthropologist who has studied ethnicity in Trinidad. Not at all, I replied: they must emerge out of the many individual stories but general structural explanations are precisely what I aim for, however qualified or nuanced. Indeed, the first discovery which necessitated my original article be extended into a series was the generality of the steelband phenomenon. Within a year of the end of World War II steelbands had sprung up in every nook and cranny of Trinidad and Tobago, wherever there were Afro-Trinidadian youth, from Point Fortin to Santa Cruz and from Point Cumana to Sangre Grande. Over a hundred bands paraded the streets on Discovery Day 1951, fifty-nine of them in Port of Spain, estimated the Trinidad

Guardian, but the number was no doubt far greater if one counted the more informal groups of youths which had a few pans and knocked on them without calling themselves a band or coming on the road or even having a name. This explosive growth of the steelband movement raised several important issues of which I shall mention two. First: how did it take place? A tentative answer might be found in the following examples: Wellington “Blues” Bostock from Red Army in Port of Spain was sent to live in San Juan by his mother after he got in trouble with the law. There he founded San Juan All Stars. Carlton “Zigilee” Barrow left Bar 20 in Port of Spain and went to St James to get away from police harassment. Ivan “Skull” Henry migrated from Port of Spain, first to Point Fortin and then to Arima to evade warrants for his arrest. In Arima he started Melodians. Likewise, Henroy Harper went to Santa Cruz to evade arrest. Emile “Zola” Williams, from San Fernando, passed through Port of Spain on his way to work at the American naval base at Chaguaramas, whereas Donald Seon has it that for unknown reasons—most likely fleeing the law—one “Billy” from Destination Tokyo in Port of Spain migrated to San Fernando where he started the first South steelband, Pearl Harbour. Andrew Beddoe, another Destination Tokyo man, visited Tacarigua to attend a Shango ceremony—he was a master Orisha drummer—and started Boom Town there. Addawell and Nooksin Sampson moved from Port of Spain, by Alexander’s Ragtime Band, with their parents to St James, where they created Harlem Nightingales. And so on and on. Examples such as these suggest general tendencies, but they could only be arrived at through detailed research into specific bands and specific individuals scattered throughout the country. Second is a hypothesis rather than a question prompted by the universality of the steelband movement: that is, it encouraged and supported, both morally and physically, the embattled youth. This leads to my speculation as to the naming of the steelbands: Desperadoes, Night Invaders, Shores of Tripoli, Crossfire, Destination Tokyo, Boys Town, Free French, Five Graves to Cairo, Sands of Iwojima, Bar 20, and so on. They were for the most part derived from the movies, and this is generally explained as being due to the centrality of the movies to working-class fantasies, especially those of aggressively masculine black youth. This is usually taken to be irony in the extreme, because here was the most intense creativity wearing the garb of Hollywood mimicry. Why not? After all, as Marx pointed out in his Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon, the actors in the French Revolution clothed themselves in the garb of Imperial Rome. But is that all there was to it? An additional impulse—which I must emphasise is speculative—occurred to me when Rudy “Two Left” Smith of Red Army referred to the steelband movement as “a revolution”. Perhaps those young men had intuitively recognised that the movement they had created was bigger than anything else in the society, bigger than their colonial opponents—bearing in mind this was in the days before the tidal wave that was the People’s National Movement. Perhaps the youths knew in however inarticulate a fashion that they were a part of something larger than their otherwise narrow lives. Larger and stronger than anything else in the society at the time, steelband had evoked in them passions deeper and more noble than any they had ever felt before. A parallel might be the youth movement which swept the western world in the Sixties. As such the panmen chose names for their bands that carried an appropriately epic grandeur.

That’s just a bit of speculation en passant, and it might seem a minor issue. But the self-confidence it represented was of major importance, for without such tremendous self-confidence those youths would have been unable to challenge both the law and the strong disapproval of their parents. It must be borne in mind that those were not times when young people did as they pleased like nowadays. “We were disobedient,” Kenny Hart from City Syncopaters told me, “but we had respect.” And they suffered for it. Carlton “Zigilee” Barrow from Bar 20 had twenty-three convictions associated with the steelband by the time he was seventeen years old. Kelvin Pierpoint from Boys Town in Point Cumana was beaten by his mother with a torch light for playing pan. Cyril Goddard from Hell’s Kitchen in Tunapuna was locked inside his house and beaten unconscious by his father. Ethelbert “TB” Brown from Casablanca could not return home because his mother, on hearing news that he was seen in a steelband, was waiting with boiling water to “scald him into a white man”. Neighbours shunned them and, as Sparrow sang, “If your sister talk to a steelband man/the family want to break she hand/put she out, lick out every teet in she mouth.” And the police weren’t easy either. Under these onslaughts, a few of these youths stopped playing pan. Most, however, continued and indeed they became more defiant—tattooed onto their arms the names and insignias of their bands. All of this so far fits into the general mythology of the steelband movement which academic researchers have taken as their starting point: that is, the narrative of a chance discovery of one or two notes on a metal container causes the bamboo percussion used at Carnival to be supplanted by metal; the instrument is elaborated through rivalry between bands which also leads to gang warfare; state repression and social ostracism of the steelband men escalate the violence until enlightened leaders deflect the competitiveness into musical channels and national acceptance. This narrative is not only contained in popular accounts such as Sparrow’s “Outcast”, which I have quoted above; it also forms the backdrop of the few extensive scholarly studies of the steelband. Even accounts written by men who were involved in the steelband movement in its formative years subscribe to this narrative, men such as Lennox Pierre who almost single-handedly created the first steelband association in 1950, and George Goddard, a stalwart of the movement from the beginning and its leader throughout the Sixties. And no wonder: it’s an appealing narrative with a Cinderella-type romance which gives Trinidad and Tobago a heroic sense of national culture. Besides, it contains much that is indeed true. Disdaining the stories of individual men and women, however, leaves the mythic account inanimate: there is no sense of the struggles, the defeats and victories, the creativity and achievements of the men who invented the steelpan and whose movement nurtured it. And creativity, collective and individual, is the motor of creolization. (Historians have generally been more sensitive to human agency, perhaps because our history has been one long attempted denial of human agency. Unfortunately they have not focused on the steelband, perhaps considering it too contemporary.) This lacuna aside, the mythic narrative omits the exceptions, and these are as important as the rule. For instance, as far as the repression aspect of the narrative goes, there are equally important exceptions. Often, for instance, parents—usually mothers— tolerated their teenage sons joining steelbands provided they remained in sight. So after “Zigilee” was first convicted and put on probation for playing in the Hell Yard band, his mother allowed him to form Bar 20 across the road where she felt she could keep an eye on him. Similarly, the Mannette brothers Ossie, Birdie and Ellie, were allowed to form Oval Boys, which became the legendary Invaders, because the band was in a vacant lot

“I was more interested in the social aspects of the steelband. a steelband administrator. the cello pan and the modern mobile steelband ensemble and leader and arranger of the great North Stars band. His pans had the greatest number of notes and the “sweetest” and most distinctive tonal quality. “I am not an expert because my involvement in the steelband has gone along the lines of a trade union leader. which is unfortunate because he’s probably the single most important man in the invention of the steelpan.” Nevertheless. the interviewer kept attempting to interrogate him about . The interviewer somehow found it more appropriate to interrogate George Goddard. lower-class male hooliganism. Tony “Muffman” Williams is regarded as one of the greatest all-round steelband men ever—designer of the now standard fourths and fifths tenor pan. Sonny Roach. Girl Pat was formed in 1951. Sterling Betancourt (who was given an honorary doctorate in England). His placement of notes was the first style emulated by other tuners. and everyone else for that matter.next door. Daisy James. It was he who sank the pan into a concave shape—they were convex before— and opened the way for the proliferation of notes.” Even respectable middleclass girls were allowed to join Girl Pat Steelband because the band was housed in the living room of their leader Hazel Henley. the leader and tuner for the Invaders. Still. And as Andrew “Pan” De Labastide put it. Even today. He has lived for many years in the US and to interview him is beyond my means. his son Lennox “Bobby” to form the Cavaliers once the band was downstairs their house. some virtuosos still insist that a Mannette pan is still the best. That’s around the time when middle class college boys were forming bands such as Dixieland. What would have happened if it was known that Daisy was in the band too? In this light the story of Girl Pat’s Hazel Henley gives a colourful example of the significance of the individual biography in the making of history. the American Andy Narell. The story would like to be able to give you and cannot is that of Ellie Mannette. but otherwise he has been completely ignored. as have also been Neville Jules. and never played on the road.” protested Goddard. developed rickets as a child and was unable to walk until she was seven years old and was brought back to the West Indies. who secretly played in Casablanca from the mid-Forties. when there are many very good pan tuners. and she recalls that after years of frustrating immobility. In the tropics her condition improved rapidly. He started using the 55-gallon oil drum with its harder steel and larger face. One such pannist. the first thing she did when she realised she could walk was to dance— “wine” was the word she used—to the music of a passing Salvation Army band. It shamed her parents. Some say he was the one to put rubber on the tips of the sticks. but how fitting that she should be the pioneer of women’s participation in the main vehicle for street dancing. She was born to Trinidadian parents in the US. “My mother was my greatest fan. it was a radical thing for decent young women to form a steelband—the art form carried an unsavoury stigma of black. Such aversion to the panmen themselves attained a grotesque dimension in an interview conducted for the Oral and Pictorial Records Project at UWI in St Augustine on “The Innovations of Anthony Williams”. Hazel Henley’s case is poignant but peripheral. despite Goddard’s repeated claims of ignorance. about Williams’s innovations. has published a long interview with Ellie Mannette in the Trinidadian evening paper The Sun. Silver Stars and Stomboli. recalls that her younger sister was not allowed into a prestige school because her brothers Fitzroy and Sonny were steelband men. although I’m not sure about that. encouraged even. more than the musical aspect. Zainool Mohammed likewise allowed.

and many other talented Invaders players. that is why they never saw fit to join the first steelband association. The first group included men such as George Yeates of Desperadoes. The story of pan is before all else the story of tuning the instrument.” Perhaps this why Invaders. never won a Panorama. So to get the same range he multiplied the types of pans he tuned. And yet. These men were relatively educated. Mannette was the Antonio Stradivari of the steelband movement. Likewise. for it never represented a community. Why? Bands were captained either by men with a flair for organisation or by those with a musical gift. and three or four of us would try to put the tune together. The second group. many drawn from other bands in the western suburbs of Port of Spain. an arranger and. which was formed to curtail the fighting. The idea appears more persuasive when Ellie Mannette and Invaders are contrasted with Neville Jules and Trinidad All Stars. In this Ellie Mannette was the master. Oscar Pile of Casablanca. And to overlook the achievements of such men. All of these tendencies inclined Jules to orchestrating every note played by every player in the Trinidad All Stars. included Sonny Roach of Sun Valley. but the word is fatally misleading because a pan tuner does not tune a steel pan the way a guitarist or a violinist tunes his instrument—by turning a key. Trinidad All Stars has won the largest number of Steelband Festivals where European classical music is performed. Then there were Kelvin Dove. Emmanuel “Cobo Jack” Riley joined from Green Eyes. had the most virtuosos. having the players use their fingertips so the tune could not be heard by spies. Francis Wickham. And whereas Mannette’s pans had the greatest range of notes and the richest tones. to which Ellie Mannette belongs. When I asked Birdie Mannette who used to arrange for Invaders. articulate and all had jobs. never won a Steelband Festival. even though it has always been acknowledged as the greatest J’Ouvert band.Tony Williams’s career. in this company Mannette stands out in being the only one who didn’t arrange for his band. We’d listen to the radio and I’d try to remember a part. Ellie’s brother Vernon “Birdie” Mannette. Everybody did a little thing. is perhaps the greatest dereliction in studies of the steelband movement. pan tuning means the actual fabrication of the instrument. Their pacifism not only accorded with the band’s extreme self-discipline but also with necessity. The Trinidad All Stars was known for its self-discipline and was the only major band never to have rioted with another band. especially in the field of tuning. So proprietary was this creator of the Bomb competition. Jules couldn’t abide with individuals improvising. Tony Williams of North Stars. as a tuner. Consequently. somebody else would try to remember another part. about his arrangements that he rehearsed the band secretly. Jules. whose forte was the background (bass) pans. couldn’t put as many notes on his tenor pans as Mannette. Ray Holman. his band. concentrating as they do on the socio-political dimensions of the phenomenon. Williams’s greatness was all-round: as a captain. “If you live in the heart of town you . It never occurred to the interviewer to pay a visit to Tony Williams—he lives in Bengal Street in St James—and ask him what he wanted to know. Indeed. The development of the art of tuning is synonymous with the invention of the instrument. I say “tuning” because that is what it is called. Aldwyn Jordan of Nocturne Fascinators. which includes making the notes give off their distinctive tones. his reply was. Othello Mollineaux came from Symphonettes. “We didn’t have no special arranger. Spree Simon of Johannesberg Fascinators and Neville Jules of Trinidad All Stars. the Woodbrook Invaders. and although his stature must not be taken to diminish the genius of other tuners. famous for their improvisational style on the road. Rather. Prince Batson of Trinidad All Stars. most lastingly. Anise “Halfers” Hadeed.

” Hart and his friends such as Philmore “Boots” Davidson remained in Casablanca until 1950. although they were adjacent to one another. on the other hand. and the staunchest supporter of the PNM. Duke Street and George Street. appears to be quite different. for instance. In the case of Laventille. but continued tuning for Tokyo. Furthermore. The two bands joined together to go into town. Tokyo. smaller bands such as Serenaders. but the pre-eminence of the others is owed to the assistance of musically trained people who were in the bands or sympathised with what they were attempting. Caribbean Hit Paraders and Spike Jones. Invaders. Neither Desperadoes nor Tokyo was of any musical significance in the Forties. although I am less familiar with the history of that band. when they broke off to form City Syncopaters. which included Charlotte Street. Some time in the Thirties. and Destination Tokyo from John John. the band’s catchment area. North Stars and Southern Symphony. Art de Coteau and TB Browne. Casablanca’s tuner and arranger Croppy Simmonds. This was memorialized in calypso: “Murder in the wang with Hell Yard and George Street/Once again they meet (repeat)/The only thing that made me feel bad/Knowing that they fought for a pack of card/But the pelting of the bottle and the throwing of the stone/They made George Street a battle zone. Thus. they were the ones which forged the relationship between their communities and the early People’s National Movement. Still. George Yeates came from Caribbean Hit Paraders and Rudolph Charles from Spike Jones. Cross of Lorraine. And that’s not . who broke away from Casablanca to form Syncopaters in 1950. for instance. and although their musical contribution to the steelband movement in the Forties and Fifties was insignificant. these two bands differed in how they acquired and maintained their status as representatives of their respective communities. Simmonds organised for his uncle to give music lessons to interested members of the band such as Patsy Haynes. a fight in Hell Yard over a pack of cards sent men scuttling back to their respective streets. It seems that John John tolerated several different bands’ co-existing once they all joined together for Carnival. for instance. people keep going and coming. At that time most of Casablanca badjohns were in gaol for the 1948 riot with Rising Sun in Belmont. About the latter I know very little. were incorporated—with an unstated coercion—into Desperadoes. Trinidad All Stars. for example.” recalls Hart. Philmore “Boots” Davidson. Sun Valley. especially if the smaller band had younger players with more talent.can’t have a district. Also. Kenny Hart and other youngsters in Casablanca. somehow experienced strong centrifugal forces. “Within two weeks’ time the bad boys and them come and take up all the pan and them and say it’s only one band must be around here and that’s Casablanca. had an uncle who was in charge of a brass band. the famous Winston “Spree” Simon left Tokyo for Johannesberg Fascinators. “So we had was to go back up the hill. It wasn’t unusual for smaller bands to be coerced to remain in the larger one. Joyland. Charles turned the band into what it is today—one of the most important steelbands ever. As a result of that relationship grew the make-work Crash Program which initially involved men from the warring Desperadoes and Tokyo. made one early attempt to leave and form their own band. was from a musical family—his sister gave music lessons and their house had a piano.” The archetypal community bands were Desperadoes from up Laventille. when the leading bands were Casablanca.” explained the band’s martinet captain Prince Batson. Yeates forged the band’s link with the government and had the band placed in the district’s Community Centre.

“the natural graces of life do not show themselves under such conditions. “I didn’t take piano because I thought the fingering would take too long to learn. steelband. Invaders.” thought James Anthony Froude in 1887. This musical fecundity saw its origin in the scene described by Stewart. “it would be spoiled by the uncouth and deafening noise of the drums. alongside its companion. a scene which took place throughout the Caribbean: black creole slaves playing European music . in spite of poverty.” he once told me. through their association with carnival have given birth to the largest and most vibrant public festivals in North America and Europe. were never considered more than labour camps for the production of gold. just as their progeny. “They were valued only for the wealth which they yielded. the boogaloo have quickened Western dance steps with an irresistible sensuousness.” And yet the region has become. And yet another injustice. Tony Williams. who was trained in music. a sugar planter for two decades in the Jamaican parish of Trelawney. the mambo. Sun Valley had “Bajan Cecil” Ward. only a more permanent one. reggae is unchallenged as the most important development in music in the 70s and 80s and. Although I was curious about the question. It was not a formally recorded interview but a brief sidewalk conversation. salsa and meringue. and society there has never assumed any particularly noble aspect. “Even if the music of the violins were better than it is. Calypso and its offshoots accounted for one in four US record sales in the late 50s and today. After he returned from his 1951 tour of England with the Trinidad All Steel Percussion Orchestra. For these men are old and unless they are interviewed soon. described a party of the white upper class. CARIBBEAN HOT POT In 1823 James Stewart. of course.” Stewart expressed surprise at this music. took a course in vocal music. who had already left Sun Valley for North Stars. indeed.counting the many boys who came from the nearby orphanage and were trained in music—it was they who made Casablanca’s buglers the most famous. He was walking from the market one Sunday morning in St James when I recognised and stopped him to ask where he learnt music. infamous for their brutal history of Amerindian genocide and African slavery. the cha-cha-cha. “which the dancers strangely continue to tolerate. I had not got around to interviewing Williams. one of the world's most fertile areas in the efflorescence of music. which the negro musicians think indispensable. are doing today. had the assistance of both amateur violinist Lennox Pierre and choreographer Beryl McBurnie. the conga. as I have not got around to interviewing dozens of other steelband pioneers—the demands of my job do not leave much time for such research. For instance. next door was the sympathetic Akal family who allowed them to use their piano.” he said. From the 40s through the 60s a succession of Hispanic Caribbean beats—the rumba.” Today. But the urgency of this project made even the fleeting conversation important. tobacco and sugar. we are surprised too. For the Caribbean nations. has been a conscience for the world in the post-flowerpower era. in spite of its minuscule population. their stories will disappear forever. will have been done to the steelband movement and the men who made it happen.

Pablo Casals. Again. Generally. is an integral part of the show. the nago and etu traditions of the Yoruba. In between these extremes. This tradition finds expression in African instrumentation. dancing. This is found not only in the lead-chorus structure of the music but also in the close relationship of the musicians to their audience. More pervasive. calling for more or booing offstage. and was important in the development of . most village dance bands include in their repertoire European social dance music—waltzes. reels. These features are preserved in fairly pristine form throughout the Caribbean.. These earlier pan-European musics used the same instruments—violins. are the musics that occupy the African end of the continuum. Kromanti ceremonies of the Maroons alone use several particular styles of African drumming and singing.. is held in Puerto Rico. In the French areas choral groups pass from house to house at Christmas time singing French folk and Christmas songs called creche. clapping. played with fiddles. for instance. scrapers and other percussive instruments. Another African aspect of Caribbean music is the close interaction between musicians and dancers. throughout the Caribbean.on steelpans: the region's only totally indigenous instruments. guitars. Buru is played by a three drum ensemble in the central part of the island. rattles. and they can be heard in Spanish Puerto Rico. An interesting variant is found in Trinidad where classical concerts are periodically performed. In the west there are the gumbe dances. from the Bahamas in the north where two or three-drum ensembles accompany a saw scraped with a knife for the “jumping dance. organised by the world famous Spanish cellist. At the European end of the spectrum are the work songs and ring game tunes that can be traced directly to European folksongs. quadrilles. a variety of drums. In the northern Dominican Republic are performed salves and tonadas. always performed with lead and supporting parts. where the six different “tribes” of Maroons practice the most fundamentally African music in the region. But perhaps the most pristine European music is found in countries which possess conservatories for formal musical training. that is. and so forth. drums were outlawed. Today audience participation. tambourines and drums for the purpose of invoking African spirits.” to Suriname in the south. In yet other islands British sea shanties are sung much as they were on the other side of the Atlantic a century before. French Haiti and Dutch Curacao. slave owners were afraid of the music because of the communicative functions of the drums and the unifying force the music represented. for the obvious demographic reasons. is Jamaica where is a rich variety of drumming traditions directly related to African religious practices. fifes. vocal choruses derived from Spain. especially in the call-response singing. Consequently. The jibaro and guajiro music of the rural farmers in Puerto Rico and Cuba respectively grew out of the Spanish ten-line verse form known as the decima. minuets and contradanses. mazurkas. In Trelawney is a Kongo drumming tradition in which a single drummer produces complex rhythmic variations by using his heel to change the drum pitch. English Jamaica. Another unusual variant takes the form of the European jigs. The initial European attitude towards this African music was more than merely revulsion.in an African style for white creole planters. The result was a variety of musics that ranged from the purely European to purely African. most Caribbean countries have music festivals where classical European music is performed. Perhaps the grandest classical music festival in the region. flutes—and the same diatonic harmonic system.

and the convince or bongo traditions which use clapping and African singing. Trinidad. and then in the evening added his voice to a Revival church chorus. The next day he treated a group of friends to an impromptu performance of British ballads. it absorbed rhythmic patterns of both Jamaican Afro creole cults and North American blues which slowed it down. When it moved into the urban areas in the 1950s. Whereas most popular music. The African rhythms are alloyed to the European melodies to produce the uniquely Caribbean music. fingers snapping and hips swaying. Musicologist Kenneth Bilby describes one Jamaican musician whom he trailed for several days: “Starting one morning by playing guitar in a coastal mento band for tourists. this time on harmonica. and temne—which are all related to different “nations” or African tribes—in addition to old bongo. Even in as small an island as Carriacou. which has only about 6. The fusions which Caribbean musicians have practised centuries before jazz self-consciously attempted it are also responsible for the adaptability of the musicians and of the musics that allow them to change with the times and the circumstances. On the afternoon of the third day. Bob Marley would have grown up singing calypsoes. reggae quite distinctively emphasises the . but the fact that individual musicians are comfortable along its length and breadth. where he intended to sit in on the supporting drum. To this was added in the 1960s Rastafarian drumming and their millenarian vision which produced reggae. The same pianist could find himself playing light ballads in a hotel. Where there are other ethnic groups such as Asians and Aboriginals the spectrum of music is even wider. chamba.the Rastafarian nyabingi style of drumming. accompanying himself on guitar. from Hindu bhajans to Muslim cassidas. improvised jazz in a private session. he returned later that day to his rural village to join in a fife and drum performance. recalling how the white dancers “tolerated” the drumming then—instinctively liberate them from their metrical straight jackets to set feet tapping.” This polymorphous artist is the heir of those negro musicians James Stewart saw in 1823. congo. the “big drum dance” embraces the styles of kromanti. playing the leading drum. The next morning found him on the coast entertaining the tourists again. Even when playing European tunes. gospel music in a church.000 people. manding. In the east are the kumina cults played on two drums. played in 4/4 time emphasises the first and third beats. passed on amidst poverty and suffering. Take reggae for instance: it began as the mento. I found him jamming on electric bass with a local reggae band. classical music in concert and calypso in a nightclub. juba and kalinda. also possesses several Indian types of song. and late that night played guitar and led a number of religious songs at a ‘nine night’ (wake). the Caribbean musicians of whatever colour—because it’s no longer a matter of race now. The result was the ska which in turn incorporated soul influences and slowed down further into becoming the rocksteady. Some of the Surinamese maroon music incorporates Amerindian influences. banda. in addition to European and African styles of music. for instance. ibo. Suriname does not have the Venezuelan input but instead one can hear Javanese gamelan ensembles. arada. is one of the richest in the world. The sheer extent of the Caribbean musical spectrum is not the important feature. and when I left him that evening he was on his way to a kumina ceremony. a rural music influenced by calypso and Afro Cuban music. Their legacy. and by the early evening he was contributing some excellent banjo playing to a village quadrille dance. And all of these have are living traditions. though. each with their corresponding instrumentation. But it is more than that. as well as yet other types from Venezuela.

even though the labels “calypso” and “soca” are too restrictive to encompass the different musical styles and permutations which have emerged. the 60s and the 70s from popular ballads. This has made possible to take music from all over and sing it on top of a reggae rhythm and turn it into reggae. scrapers and whatever else could be knocked to produce a rhythm. leading to the practice of “double entendre” whereby calypso lyrics are designed to deliver their message obliquely. the mood of calypso/ soca is one of laughter. spiritual to bawdy. clanging. ranging from Muslim cassidas to Hindu bhajans.second and fourth beats. making any melody amenable to the same rhythmic lines. when the voice isn't so used. classical and film music. This was the percussion groups which pounded different lengths of bamboo on the ground to produce different tones. Despite the initial awkwardness this produces in unfamiliar dancers. Soca (soul/calypso) with its extremely danceable swing was one product. Around the same time that the chantwell left the band to remake himself as a calypsonian. Drumming was outlawed so they took up tamboo bamboo. in common with Guyana and Suriname. guitar. went along their own trajectory. a “version” in which various tracks are removed from the music—voices. . absorbing influences as it passed through the 40s. the oldest West Indian music. something akin to the American rap in which the voice is used as a percussive instrument. jazz. The inheritors of Stewart’s negro musicians had given birth to the steelband. Their repertoire. from religious to secular. the melodic pattern it follows in very African fashion bears no rhythmic relationship to the underlying percussion and bass. the drummers. however. booming of simple melodies pounded by bands of men on metal drums. 1945. the 50s. black people in the slums of Port of Spain spontaneously cast aside the bamboo and began experimenting with alternatives. Sometime during the Second World War. This in itself then turned into dance hall music. Since the 1970s reggae has spawned dub. tins. those he’d left behind. folk music. Curiously. and aggressively boastful songs. had been widely expanded to include satiric songs. Trinidad has a wide range of East Indian styles of music. Overall. The gap was left for live DJs to extemporise a commentary. It emerged in the 19th century from the kalinda chants which were sung in French patois by organised bands whose leaders—chantouelles—ritually battled one another with sticks. Latin music. joyously abandoned or satirically mocking. nevertheless the deep emphasis on slow bass guitar riffs gives the music a seriousness which is yet of incomparable sensuousness. The ingenuity emerges from the indirection. On the other end of the English Caribbean is calypso. Furthermore. And on VE Day. keyboards—to create a different sound. however. After the 1930s calypso blossomed in musical and lyrical complexity. accompanied by bottles. when all street festivals were outlawed. drawn from a wide variety of sources. the three Caribbean countries with a large Indian population have recently begun to fashion an indigenous chutney. as opposed to reggae's aura of righteousness and duty. now in the process of spawning an indigenous parang-soca. May 8. dustbin covers. Many of these came under political and moral censorship in the turbulent 1930s. reggae and Indian folk music. adding their live performance to an essentially studio music. By a complex evolution the chantouelles metamorphosed into calypsonians of the 1920s who sang in English in bamboo “tents”. soul. the town’s streets were filled with the ringing. Trinidad music also partakes of the Venezuelan carolling tradition known as parang. social commentaries. ballads. Mostly derived in an unmodified state from Indian traditional folk.

however. Despite the periodic intermarrying between the music of the French Antilles and Haiti. a rhythm like a calypso-rhumba combination with fast triplets and clarinet solos. The 60s big bands were replaced by smaller “mini-jazz” bands whose sound was funkier and more in keeping with the ebullience of the times. embellish the rhythm. and to some extent out of Indian film music. The style was further indigenized in the 50s when the beat or compas was changed. (Interestingly. harmonium. also have cadance and its recent offshoot. Dominican meringue is very different from Haiti's turn of the century salon meringue. But the French islands. This new zouk is even more pan-Caribbean in flvour. in the rural areas. Martinique and Guadeloupe. bouncy beat. The vocals lead while the drums. Ten years later the music acquired additional electronic instrumentation and an increase in tempo. And yet the rhythmic emphases of both Indian and African music is creating in Trinidad chutney-soca: a synthesis hardly surprising insofar as soca was itself produced when Indian tassa drumming became infused into calypso rhythms.) In keeping with its Indian roots. we can expect exciting sounds to come from Paramaribo in the future. however. Around 1975 the Haitian compas and calypso was absorbed with a horn section to give this cadance a fast.Sung in Hindi. chutney grew out of erotic women's songs used to educate child brides in the arts of love. and the nearby islands which were once French. which contrasts with a music which periodically reaches back to traditional voodoo rhythms and melodies and the traditional one tone bamboo instruments called vaccines. It emerged in the 1940s when Haitian folk and voodoo rhythms were brought together with the Dominican meringue and American swing jazz. soloing throughout. the Dominican Republic has pursued its own musical trajectory. Like all Caribbean music. The Dominican meringue. African traditions. It began at the turn of the century in Martinique and Guadeloupe as the beguine. By the early 70s it had acquired electric instrumentation and infusions from soca and Dominican meringue as well as guitar and cymbal styles from Zaire in West Africa to create cadance. much more unmodified than in Trinidad. Given the rich and vibrant musical traditions existing in the Surinamese countryside. Though performed mainly by male ensembles. and a percussive length of iron called dhantal. the dominant musical influence in the southern Caribbean is Trinidad and most of the Anglophone Lesser Antilles have calypsonians and steelband. There is neither the African call-response nor the European verse-refrain structure of melodies. derived from French Guiana’s caseco and somewhat calypso-like in style. the most internationally well-known of that country’s many . has begun to record songs in maroon languages with their instrumentation and drumming styles. and yet it retains the characteristic French romance of its sound. the popular caseco music. chutney is an up tempo music of voices. chutney follows different principles to Africanderived music. zouk. a double sided drum called dholak. The influence of Antillian cadance replaced the melodic horn solos of mini-jazz compas with a horn section and the music became more intricate. Still. Melodies are shaped by the phrasing and phonetics of the Hindi language. The current popularity of zouk is giving compas a more electronic feel. however. it is also argued that the satirical elements in calypso have grown out of African women’s songs. In 1935 it was popularised in watery form by Cole Porter’s “Begin the Beguine”. Next door. cadance provides a lesson in crossover and fusion. Lucia and Dominica. the latter’s music is quite distinctive in its history and sound. Generally. both being. St. Guadeloupe and Martinique’s zouk has also begun to fuse with the compas of the other French patois-speaking country.

like most Latin music. which finds expression in the clearly demarcated male and female roles. It is this changing sameness which has given the modern and industrially alienated world the impossible—a folk music suited to the times. Caribbean musicians touch base in the African derived religious sounds from which they emerged. today the sensous and romantic salsa. Further blending. Played with fast sax phrases to a 2/4 beat. cumbias from Colombia and joropos from Venezuela under the general rubric of salsa. a marimbula bass. A more restricted definition. however. Today the meringue dance bands are larger and have a horn section and modern instrumentation. There are about eight hundred collegiate steelbands in the US today. has not made the meringue any less African. claves and bongo. especially. The Nigerian army has a steelband as does the Dutch police force and the US Navy. a trumpet. the stringed charangas and the brass and percussion conjuntos—gave birth to the rhumba in the 30s. relates salsa to a variety of fast AfroCuban rhythms linked to the 1930s rhumba and the 1940s mambo. the sax and a syncopated cinquillo are characteristic. produced the boogaloo in the 60s and. To most people outside of Trinidad a steelband is a small . the mambo in the 40s. Once in Havana. including at least one in Alaska. a metal guiro scraper. can be found throughout the world. played in the special septeto style. Kuwait. and the meringue structure uses a great deal of call and response. The first rhythm invented by Cubans. with Puerto Ricans and Dominicans. The strong Hispanic Catholic culture. but the tamboura. Indoors they added piano and bass. sones. There are bands all over Europe. in Japan. originated as a rural music played with an accordion. both on and off the dance floor. but the rowdy music black carnival conjunto bands were growing in popularity. Pan News. has over a hundred and twenty five full time bands on its files. The cross-fertilisation of these ensembles—the trumpet-led septetos.Afro-Latin styles. after all. and that does not count either the numerous community bands in the country or the many individual pannists who are professional musicians. All of these styles of Caribbean music have shown an openness to new influences and an adaptability to the times without losing contact with their roots. though. And of course they are common in the Caribbean. or what the Americans call the “steel drums”. came from Oriente province in the 1920s with voices. were not the first people to experience modern industrial forms of organisation and production? NOTES ON PANS Pan. comes with its particular dance of intricate footwork. Because. The conjuntos sang in a more African fashion with two or three trumpets and used a strongly percussive style. the scraper. a Swiss steelband newsletter. a nine-stringed guitar called the tres. was added. guarachas and. this time abroad in New York. the term is used to refer to a generically fast Latin dance rhythm. Just as jazz periodically goes back to gospel and blues. as oposed to a slow bolero. a double-sided tamboura drum and a C-melody saxophone played like the New Orleans creole clarinets. the cha-cha-cha in the 50s. These rhythms include guanguancos. the meringue. maraccas. Venezuela. Then. Meringue is sometimes included with bombas and plenas from Puerto Rico. the son. White Havana danced to the conservatory trained flute and fiddle charanga ensembles.

Each youth would take the part of a particular instrument.” Raymond “One Man” Mark. “Roderick ‘Tench’ Waldron and I loved to beat our fingers on the desk as if we were drumming. Sometimes our drumming was accompanied by oral imitation of instruments. This we did partly to annoy the teachers. this boy the bass. how they evolved. drummed. This Slater and his friends did in spite of the disapproval of their strict schoolmaster. would at the slightest instigation launch into a marvellous electric guitar whine. so I always outside listening. What are these conventional steelbands. “When we come out on the road with that all them fellas want to know where we get that tune. but the main reason we drummed was for its own sake. its irresistible power. while at the same time singing calypsoes (in our teacher’s absence of course). an early captain of Casablanca. and they would then tramp back to their panyard. say. recalls one of his childhood pastimes in the 1930s at Eastern Boys Government School was drumming. I In his unpublished memoirs John Slater. we like the music. One boy. If a gang had to walk somewhere. or perhaps a five or six-man ensemble on a cruise ship or a beach front hotel. is as anaemic as the worst muzak. to a Trinidadian. We sing until we go in the panyard. that one the saxophone. It was nothing unusual. And the real thing. the trance-like pleasure we got from the drumming.” It was through that method that Casablanca learned “Ruby”. Indeed. “But whenever we got caught. “Guitar Mouth” he was nicknamed. founder of the early steelband Crusaders.” recalls Slater.group of kids. I discovered that “mouth bands” had been commonplace among working class black youth as a means of transportation. I cannot describe to anyone who has never experienced it. what is their relationship to the society—those are the subject of the following notes. we would softly drum. I am not sure when we started but by third form a teacher could not leave the class unsupervised for a moment without us striking up a racket. each one singing the lines of their chosen instrument.” . as a secondary schoolboy in the late sixties and early seventies. Any hour and we gone in and we get it and remember it. we used to suffer the consequences. told me in an interview. otherwise untalented youth. artlessly pounding and thumping away on our desks. one o’clock sometimes we outside (a party) and them don’t know. Indeed. we all did it in my class at Trinity College. a calypso played by Sel Duncan’s dance band on Henry Street. can only be heard live from the gigantic. we eh stopping because if you stop you go forget. other than to say it was akin to the sensuous pleasure we discovered later in dancing. however. mouth bands even became a didactic tool: when the members of Casablanca Steel Orchestra wanted to learn a piece of music they would listen outside a party to how the regular dance bands played it. in researching the history of the steelband movement. That. a rather dull. who play pop tunes or “Yellow Bird” on pans. the authentic sound of the instrument. even when the teacher was droning about Spanish verbs or the like. “Twelve o’clock. “Sometimes I have a little side with me and we outside and we singing different parts we go play on the pan and when the thing done we gone back up the road. until they could transfer what they had learnt onto their pans. and surprised other panmen. although not necessarily in that order.” Over three decades later I too. Many years later. they would start up a mouth band which would “play” all the way home. we outside because we didn’t like to dance. they were returning from a party. pulsing orchestras known as conventional steelbands.

Back in high school. whereas I had attended a fairly prestigious institution. no one had ever taught me the practice. There were other panmen who eventually abandoned pan and returned to the drums. Discussing this with Ernest Brown.” And yet. a flat square of varnished plywood screwed on to a frame of tubular metal. which has not the overwhelmingly percussive foundation as one would have expected and which you can hear. you do not hear it in calypso. the drum. Nevertheless.” he said. an early member of Desperadoes. Generally we were content to drum with our hands. also known as the calypsonian Roaring Lion: “calypso was never accompanied by drums. and a drummer. The question perplexed me until I posed it to Jeffrey Beddoe. on the desktops until we became experts on the acoustics of school furniture. He was also the brother of the late Trinidadian master-drummer Andrew Beddoe. for instance.I cannot tell you how such cultural practices are transmitted but I recall working in Grenada in the summer of 1980 and having to walk a considerable distance with another student and spontaneously we started up a mouth band to carry us the way. ancient desks which were all of wood and had a compartment for your books below a hinged lid. And he related an incident from his high school days when an entire class made so much noise drumming during examinations time that they were collectively punished. Since then I have interrogated many Trinidadians if they drummed on desks in school. “We were more into sports. I asked the same question. There were two types. such as Carlton “Mimp” Francis. “No. “That same rhythm once got my whole class in trouble”. as the point was made in admittedly overstated form by Rafael de Leon.)”. Without exception they reply in immediate surprise as if the answer was so obvious that the question was silly: “Of course”. the base of our palms and the tips of our fingers. it was always accompanied by string instrument (sic. And there were the more rickety. an African American researcher who has studied black music in Africa and in the US. Both Beddoes had been panmen as teenagers. but it did not seem a remarkable thing to do at the time. These latter desks were terrible for writing—their surfaces were pock marked from years of schoolboys gouging out names and obscene bas reliefs on them with penknives. Several years younger than I. even though the Hispanic countries have a far smaller proportion of Africans. How was this powerful compulsion to drum manifest in Trinidad? Where was the energy channelled? For. rectangular boxes made of thin metal—but they never gave a satisfactory resonance. I had never done it or seen it done before. The newer ones were essentially tables. But having a hollow resonating box they gave a marvellously booming bass sound. a priest in the Yoruba religion of Orisha in Trinidad. The sets of Oxford geometry instruments we used came in flat. but both soon returned to their original instrument. his background was more working class as was his alma mater. in Cuban or Dominican music. Andrew with Tokyo. Geoffrey with Desperadoes. my class mainly drummed. however. Many a time we strove for a cymbal effect by crashing down with a pencil or six-inch ruler on my geometry tin. He thought for a while. The habit of unconsciously tapping on a tabletop never died in me and one morning long after I had left university I found myself beating out a rhythm on the breakfast table while a guest at my house was washing the dishes. He was the guitarist in a reggae band which rehearsed in my garage. once he noticed my absent-minded syncopation he remarked. Thus did it strike me how the compelling urge to drum and the inchoate pleasure it gave was deeply rooted in Trinidadian hearts. . In this the Beddoes were not alone.

Every one of the top bands is wheeled on to the Panorama stage by throngs of partisans which included many people who are quite clearly not slum dwellers. Few of the early panmen were Orisha devotees. “It all went into pan. though.” So when I asked Jeffrey Beddoe where did our impulse to drum find an outlet. It is in this sense must be taken the suggestion by George Yeates. it also gave the steelband their ninth victory which makes them the most successful steelband in history.Like the Beddoes. “The young people (in the ghetto) had to travel some distance to fetch water from a public stand-pipe. and I never met the slightest hint of rejection. So the development of pan is largely a story of the young men of Trinidad in the Forties. On the other hand. it became highly creolised—that is.” remarked a colleague when Desperadoes took the stage with its enormous crowd of supporters. in the 1950s. This victory not only gave Renegades the first Panorama hat trick ever. combined with the cultural traditions and aspirations of Europe. the arranger this gang of black. Openness has not merely characterised the ethos of the steelband. They used pitch-oil (kerosene) tins and zinc buckets. did so for the third consecutive time. and on their way down to the stand-pipes they would keep a rhythm so that the distance was not felt.” II The steelband which won the 1997 Panorama competition. If the original percussive impulse was African. frail Hindu teenager from the small rural village of Lopinot where the musical tradition is more Venezuelan than anything else. an honour even. the ghetto home of the band. given that the annual Panorama competition is by far the most important event in the steelband world. Somehow the Renegades embraced Samaroo so that their partnership could withstand ten years without any successes. And it all has been accomplished on the basis of an unusual partnership between the band and its arranger and musical director. Renegades Steel Orchestra. The steelband movement. it was actively sought after and was responsible for the invention and elaboration of the instrument. Those panmen who drummed at Orisha rituals did so simply because they liked drumming. he replied simply. The Renegades-Samaroo combination seems unlikely but from a wider perspective it really is not. I knew why they were there. urban youth teamed up with in 1971 was Jit Samaroo—a shy. On the one hand the East Port of Spain band was of no musical significance throughout the Fifties and Sixties but was notorious for its belligerence. has always been very accommodating. I too would have stood out starkly as a middle-class child amongst the more plebeian steelband supporters. I too can recall pushing pans as a child when steelbands paraded on the streets for Carnival and it was a mark of belonging. a former captain of Desperadoes. Francis is an Orisha devotee whose return to the drum was probably influenced by the religion which gave its appeal a spiritual dimension. Up to today many people still refer to Renegades by the name of a small faction of the band called itself in the Sixties: Lawbreakers. to be a part of one of the huge caravans that poured their rivers of music on the road. Fifties and Sixties straining to create a melodic instrument out of a drum. labouring to acquire virtuosity of . and there we believe the thought of Steel Bands was originated. “I wonder how many of them are from Laventille. Jit Samaroo. despite its Afro-Trinidadian origins and its fierce rivalries. There were many more than a handful of white people who were obviously foreign amongst the crowd of men and women from Laventille.

you got the involvement of middle class white and Chinese youths in the steelband movement with bands such as Dixieland. not a guitar or harmonica. accordion and guitar. A rhythm can be almost hypnotic. That is nothing new.performance and composition with it. As important as this. unknown to her mother. the sharp. and the gravitational force which attracts and musically synchronises so many players is rhythm. the wife of the 20th Baron Berkley. when it was clear that pan was a melodic instrument. It is simple.” Lady Berkley. however. by the time of the 1952 Music Festival. bright metronomic clanging of the brake hub iron section which can be heard above all the other instruments of the largest conventional steelband. Technically. played for Casablanca Steel Orchestra during the mid-Forties when she was just a child. Most obviously it is the rhythm that comes from the continuous. “It brings people together.” So she joined the London Melodians. this progression represents a growing complexity of the instrument and of the ensembles. Trinidadian steelbands are the largest permanent musical ensembles in the world. and I didn’t feel comfortable with the idea of a proper orchestra. ultimately it is the iron they will carry. there was something of the mascot about her presence there. 1994 in the London Times. clanging that compels Trinidadian hips to sway and their feet to slowly shuffle with a kind of sensuous irresistibility. “But. Saraswatee.” she explained. In the martial case he transcends his fear. both playing and listening. some of whom were the most feared hooligans in Port of Spain. The first barriers to be broken were those of age and sex. When a group of Trinidadians need a single instrument to make noise on an outing. for instance. they were attempting European art music. Soldiers marched steadfastly to their death to the beat of a drum corps. by 1950. There was even in Tunapuna at the time an East Indian band. “the thing about those instruments is that you play them by yourself. was her ability to play the instrument. Starlight. in a way that no other kind of music seems to. You can hear it on bus excursions to the beach as at trade union demonstrations. was the burgeoning social complexity of the steelband movement. Likewise. I would think. This part of the band is the most primitive. it was nothing unusual. It can make a person transcend his individuality and merge into the collective. Stromboli. Pans acquired more notes which were in turn tuned more accurately. The London Melodians comprise about 20 members. then entire songs until. It has undergone almost no change since metal was introduced into the bamboo stamping tubes in the Thirties and still to many Trinidadians it is the heart of the steelband. She had played piano. That is why that section of the band is raised on a ramp and is popularly known as the engine room. So when Jit Samaroo teamed up with Renegades. Daisy James. not a drum. True. which played Indian music. They began with rhythms and progressed to nursery rhymes. clarinet. Drums have been used for centuries to co-ordinate people. remarked enthusiastically on December 7. but a car brake hub tuned to C. And the early . but the full extent to which pan brings people together is manifest in the large “conventional” steelbands on which there is an upper limit of 120 players for the Panorama competition. not a bass. but the more important reason she was allowed into what would have otherwise been an exclusive club. Silver Stars. That is. an English branch of the Arima band Melodians. Not a tenor pan. Steelbands acquired more pans which gave them a wider and ultimately symphonic range. had to hold the pan which she played because it was too heavy for a little girl. choruses for simple songs. The men in the band. a half again larger than a fully constituted symphony orchestra. and the steelband movement an embryo.

at least in its origins . poor Jamaica enter the psyche of young people the world over. what matters it the route someone takes to arrive at what is a universal existential . and so forth. percussion instruments. After all. I hoped Berman might have had something useful to say on the subject. Rather. So far so good. Thus both instrumental and phallic meanings of the word “iron” are simultaneously correct in David Rudder's brilliant calypso “Engine Room” : “If you iron good you is king.” The achievement was to continue playing throughout the melee. Bar 20. the steelband movement and the music it created is better described as being aggressively masculine.” reminisced pan pioneer Carlton “Zigilee” Barrow of those confrontations when his band. they are as much melodic instruments. As my talk was intended to offer in passing some explanation for what has always struck me as an indisputable fact that popular music for better or worse was the quintessential art form of the twentieth century (equalled only. All the instruments in a steel orchestra are. down to the bugles. secularism in the Reformation. urbanisation in the Industrial Revolution. after all. something it shares with reggae. Of course there is more to the rhythm of a steelband than the martial—there is the sensuous too. That is what makes feasible the co-ordination of so many players with neither scores nor conductor. Berman seeks to probe deeper into the psyche of the modern man. They fought with one another and they fought with the police. Were it not for this simultaneously melodic impulse. “but you have to go on. pan would never have progressed beyond the initial five or six notes of a West African marimba or thumb piano. by film). But that is merely enabling.” Needless to say there is more rhythm in a steelband than provided by the iron section. Perhaps martial is the wrong word. perhaps. the experience of modernity. (Who would listen to 120 drummers banging away simultaneously on timpani or congas?) For the urge to drum was leavened by a profound aspiration to play complete melodies and not simply rhythmic backgrounds to the voice. and every player fits into very clear rhythms. MODERNITY AND MUSIC It was quite recently that. what makes it attractive for both players and their audience is that pans are not only rhythmic. while preparing a lecture on Caribbean music. What was it that made jazz seduce a generation of Europeans? How did the music of small. For most people modernity began as a European phenomenon related to developments such as the rise of humanism and individualism in the Renaissance. no matter what. But despite situating his study within a general Marxist framework of the growth of capitalism and its constantly revolutionising the means of production. science in the Enlightenment. I revisited at Marshall Berman's study of modernity All That Is Solid Melts Into Air.steelbands were martial organisations too. “Sometimes your stones quaking. these questions are never asked in Berman's book—they aren’t even raised. Hence he looks at the existential condition of modernity by concentrating on artistic works which he considers represent the varieties of modernism. regardless of language? Why are there hundreds of full-time steelbands—an invention of ghetto dwellers in the tiny island of Trinidad—to be found today in Switzerland? As it turned out. I had read the book several years before but recalled almost nothing about it other than its evocative title. was faced by the police.

Thus I want to focus on music that exists solely at the unique moment during which it is in the process of being created. And yet I think when Monk made his felicitous remark. samba. the gulf separating scored from improvised music can be in some ways greater than the similarity between them. he was referring to the different ways of relating to the world which were developed by different civilisations. whether it’s improvised or an “interpretation” of what has been written.” It would have been no less difficult for Berman to analyse the modernity in the shriek of John Coleman's horn. including R&B. what we must explore is the ontology of ephemera. He refers specifically to jazz. The environment is not attacked. In other words. while it is being performed. is only realised. write about the existential condition of modernity through the artistic works it has generated and mention jazz only in a passing reference to its irrelevance? “From the triumphs of the abstract expressionists to the radical initiatives of Davis. When he did glance at the Americas it was to consider the work of city planner Robert Moses. and the arts which have arisen from these world views. To some degree all these musical forms possess distinctive features in common. they are only instructions on how to make a particular piece of music. This divergence arises out of the very different ways in which music engages with time: the transcription of music constitutes an attempt to deny time. improvised and scored music. meringue. Analysing the “modernism of underdevelopment” Berman looked at St Petersberg and Pushkin. It’s a commonplace that little can be usefully written about a piece of non-lyrical music. Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony only really exists. there’s another way in which music engages with time. Now there is a sense in which all music. The value of all music is inherently written in air. reggae. and so forth. “is like dancing about architecture. bossa nova.condition? The Japanese were no part of the European experience but who can deny their modernity? So the book focused largely on the likes of Marx. Dostoevsky.” he says of the 1950s. “Writing about jazz. (A stronger case can be made for the reality. and here is where the improvised diverges from the written. but the one I want to concentrate on here is their improvisatory character. calypso. as Berman is. or at best to . I marvelled. Mandelstam. but the term can be extrapolated without any loss of meaning to include Afro-American music in general. albeit at a lower level. The incommensurability of language and music is almost absolute.” he once replied to a hostile music critic. How. only exists at the moment it sounds. Once someone asked Schumann about the meaning of a piece he'd just played. For although all music.) Nevertheless. Goethe. are equally “temporal” in how they are realised over a period of time. it can only be played for scratchings on paper aren’t music. In that sense music cannot be written. Thus it could embrace the many kinds of music developed by black people in the Americas. for music is self-referent in a way that even a tree or a rock isn’t. precisely when all that is solid melts into air. Baudelaire. Rather. as it was in so many previous modernisms: it is simply not there. They are no more music than a recipe is food. Mingus and Monk in jazz. he touched on an even more fundamental truth than the incommensurability of language and music.” Monk would have shrugged. could a New Yorkan. of those echoes of music which can persist in our minds sometimes infuriatingly. “The most exciting work of this era is marked by radical distance from any shared environment. His reply was to play it again. rhumba.

it celebrates the transient uniqueness of the present.” argue Yehudi Menuhin and Curtis Davis in The Music of Man: “Notation came partly from the need of many people to work together. “As the separate voices gained greater freedom.” Thus. But be that as it may. upside down. it is not so natural at all. “The dominant ideal of western literate culture calls for the creation of poetic and plastic forms ‘that shall outlast bronze and break the tooth of time’. more accurate means had to be found to indicate the way these voices were expected to blend. played his own fantasia while horsing around with his violin.transcend it. he introduced some of his own ideas. notation simplified the creation of long. and music naturally reflected this social fact. holding it backwards. The music clothes itself in temporality. it says. the virtues of scored music—structure and permanence—might be likened to those of architecture. They are all utterly dependent on the presence of living. was to facilitate the domination of the composer over the performers of European music. structurally complex works and allowed them to be performed far and wide—this was before audio recording—and preserved them against the attrition of human memory. Beethoven rededicated the concerto to a childhood friend. Sadly.” says George Steiner in his elegiac essay “In a Post Culture”. As Menuhin and Davis hint. This did not take place without a rearguard action on the part of musicians whose hearts are inclined to immediacy and transience. “the division between composer and performer widened. especially when it became inspired by the Romantic concept of the genius. now. the musical director of the theatre where the concerto was carded for its maiden performance. When for instance Beethoven wrote his 1806 violin concerto he dedicated it to virtuoso violinist Franz Clement. just as notation encouraged the dominance of the score over the performer. improvised music—which in the African case is often inseparable from dance and costume. What does this mean? The invention of notation is usually thought to have been an outcome of the growing complexity of European music. now. “Concerto par Clemenza pour Clement”. asking Clement for a clemency that was not given. the mother of all arts to the Greeks. highly inventive artefacts in materials intended for almost immediate consumption or destruction. now. There he also notes in passing that “there is in non-western culture a long history of the production of complex. no more so than is dance or drama by video recording. This moment is unique and its music will never be repeated. after the first movement. the musician tapping his foot as the metronome in his head says: now. Then. the most transient of art forms—doesn’t seek to break the tooth of time so much as to outwit it. once notation was able to accurately score music. (It is worth investigating why this happened with music but not drama which is also written. punned Beethoven. Although it was not necessary for it. whereas the improvisation of music seeks to outwit time. mortal performers. the result. so too it facilitated the suppression of living composers by dead ones. Clement notwithstanding.” The latter became mere “interpreters” of the composition.) Bearing in mind what Monk said about writing about jazz. How does such ephemerality seek to outwit time? .” Actually. Such musical ephemerality is not ontologically compromised by the technology of audio recording. Clement didn't read the score before the concert.

Brief as Photos. It is circular. adding to its message. the moment of improvised music is created by the relationship between the musician and his audience. Consider how drums have been used to march men into war by helping them to transcend their terrified individuality. Such transcendence is achieved in many ways. letters to the editor or political releases or even new calypsoes. until the DJs themselves became the new stars of a new music. My Heart. hence the common complaint about African music when Europeans hear it is that it is monotonous. The momentary fusion of a musician and his audience is intrinsic to the aesthetic Africans brought to the New World. either for an . A call-response structure which involves both parties in the creation of the music removed the barriers between the two. during and after the records were spinning. This arose partly out of an urge to close the gap between reggae superstars. The moment I transcend my solitude.” writes John Berger in And Our Faces. the Jamaican dancehall music which inspired the American rap music with its staccato. The emphasis on rhythm and repetition. Indeed. it just seems to go on and on until it stops. and you begin to understand the power of rhythm. Take. my mortality falls away. The lover scales the walls of his solitude in the presence of the beloved.The answer has to do with the relationship between the musician and his audience. and not only through improvisation. and the centrality of drums. So too did the dancing and hand-clapping which was associated with the music. Solitude is mortality. On to this African aesthetic were grafted various European musical traditions of harmony and melody to create the popular music of the New World. the here and now. Whereas written music is manifest in the relationship between the composer and the musician who later interprets or translates his instructions. responds to their lyrics with encores or boos. Two examples which must be excepted from the general practice of improvisation—one from a largely studio music and the other from a highly orchestrated music—actually demonstrate the rule about the organic relationship between performer and audience. My skin is a castle in which I am imprisoned and where I am condemned to certain extinction. the second is a kind of communion through which the solitude of the individual is transcended. “Love insists upon making a comparable leap over death but. commenting on it. by definition. The first case is a form of power. has always enjoyed a close rapport with the public which regularly sees them live. But there is another dimension in that the de-emphasis of melodic structure in the music reduces the sense of a clear beginning. That relationship between the artist and his community has always been intimate in Trinidad where the practitioners of lyrical music. non-melodic vocals. to be considered great calypsonians must possess the difficult skill of being able to improvise new verses on the spot to whatever calypso they are singing. Every hair of your head. middle and end. also had the same effect. and the partygoers who danced to their records but never had the money to see them in live performance. it cannot be a species leap. calypso. “because the beloved constitutes the most particular and differentiated image of which the human imagination is capable. although different societies accomplished this in different ways with different results. first. The nexus was built by the DJs who bantered in rhyme before. the most intense being perhaps the experience of sexual love. introducing the music.” Contrasting with the spatial uniqueness of such love is the temporal uniqueness of improvised music.

Faust is likened to a developer. for instance. Some arrangers had different sections of the bands rehearse separately so even the payers never heard the entire tune until the morning when the “bomb” was dropped on unsuspecting rivals to blow them away. reliving his childhood experience of seeing the Bronx destroyed by an intersecting highway. are swept away. or bureaucracy (as if the earliest systems of industrialised mass production weren't the mines and plantations of the New World). Again the music was intricately orchestrated so improvisation was rare. In his concluding section about New York. Berman’s analysis concentrates largely on spatial themes—the boulevards of Baudelaire’s Paris.” he writes. Berman is most personal. does not dwell on these matters. and there are many possessing up to 120 players. fast-frozen relations. And yet. the fluidity of modern existence. This could not apply to the other main musical form of Trinidad: the steelband. I can see now. the contemporary raison d’être is to compete regularly in the performance of intricate music. All that is solid melts into air.” Although circling it throughout his book Berman never arrives at the understanding that the modernity which brings him such anguish but which also offers . located the cause of this fluidity in the paring down of human relations to the cash nexus between bourgeoisie and proletariat. Others have found causes in the Renaissance rise of humanism and individualism. The main annual steelband event today is the pre-Carnival Panorama competition when scores of bands participate in preliminary. emphasised the transience of modernity: “All fixed. or in the growth of science and technology. the experience he is trying to define is the existential condition. It began in 1963 and was preceded by the “Bomb” competition which lasted until the Seventies. practising with their fingertips instead of mallets so the sound wouldn't carry. How does this aesthetic preoccupation with transience relate to modernity? Marx. These grand percussion orchestras are common in Trinidad where the steel drum was invented in the Forties. “As I saw one of the loveliest of these buildings being wrecked for the road. or in the Reformation spread of secularism. is endemic to modern life. all that is holy is profaned.encore or to respond to some unforeseen occurrence such as. so deeply ingrained in the Trinidadian sensibility is the aesthetic of immediacy that these hugely popular events are as completely ephemeralised as any improvisation. and the players are highly orchestrated (by rote learning—not a line is scored). That competition took place just before daybreak on the first morning of Carnival (Mardi Gras) when bands competed in playing some piece of music that had never been heard before on steel drums—often but not always classical music arranged to calypso tempo. New tunes are arranged for each band for each competition—you won’t hear last year's tune ever again (which is assisted by the absence of scores).” Marx. with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions. of course. the geometry of Pushkin's St Petersberg. semi-final and finals rounds over several days. And the competitions—note that these are not concerts—are conducted with all the fervour and partisanship and excitement and momentary uniqueness of a sporting event. but still the element of surprise characteristic of improvised music was so intrinsic to the competition that the bands rehearsed their tunes secretly in the weeks before. however. Despite his metaphor of modernity as an unrelenting flow. Although steelbands are often heard at large functions. “I felt a grief that. Berman. No improvisation is possible then. the arrival of a thundercloud. all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. whose quotation provided Berman with the title of his book.

“To emigrate is always to dismantle the centre of the world. is the condition which Georg Lukacs referred to as “transcendental homelessness”. according to Berger in the essay I quoted above. Their background was different to that of other people confronting attrition of modernity.. To Berger. In traditional society home was the centre of the real. of modern sexual love. Berger argues: all the rest was chaos. but each carried away a bullet in some part of his body. languages dissolved. one Gerald Miller. the music of the Americas and indeed of the modern world. of everything which made sense. its racially-based slavery and its transcendence of tribal horizons. the longing for the fusion of two displaced. as an urge for collective liberation. Whereas Europeans experienced modernity. Families were dispersed.” writes Berger. “At the same time one was at the starting point and.. yes. permanently. both its freedom and solitude in terms of autonomous individuals who form a social contract. dark giant of 220 pounds known as Fire Kong decided to get rid of them. crossed the horizontal line of geography. This nearness promised access to both. and so to move into a lost. since the massive migrations of the nineteenth century. Home was the centre of the world where the vertical line between the underworld below and the heavens above. Boysie's biographer. rootless individuals. For the African slaves the middle passage which uprooted them irrevocably shattered the crossing of the vertical and horizontal lines that constituted home. nations dissolved. called the Dorset. New World Africans experienced modernity. the returning point of all terrestrial journeys. hopefully. the irreversible loss of home has spawned. But the vast and largely forced migrations of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. and the vertical line has been reduced to the solitary individual’s biography which ends in extinction. one was nearest to the gods in the sky and the dead in the underworld. and out of that they created a culture that embraces all to collectively celebrate the unique beauty of the present. a tall. BODY MUSIC TO SWEET PAN THE BADJOHN ROOTS OF PAN One night in the late 1940s three youths barely out of their teens from John John visited a Queen Street club. until Boysie’s henchman. they began to get on bad. the ontological base. but not quickly enough. the modern centrality of romantic sexual love. from a traditional to an industrial environment. however. Unimpressed that this was the notorious gangster Boysie Singh’s club. The three dived for the stairs. That is. They salvaged the shards of tradition and culture and collected anything else they could find in that holocaust. Derek Bickerton. Kong emptied both guns at them. disoriented one of fragments”—a condition which has come to be the norm today for most of mankind which has lost continuity with the dead and the gods alike. “At home. Neville “Bake Nose” McLeod and Leo “Lil Drums” Pierre took theirs in the arm and .” Emigration breaks that crossing of lines.such possibility. and so too was their response. was prefigured by the slave trade in Africans in which millions were uprooted from one continent to another. picks up the story: “(Kong) ran into his room and came back with a revolver in each hand.” They survived. and perhaps this explains why all three survived. The place was so full of smoke that you couldn't see.

mothers grabbing up their children. like we used to eat people. Almost every steelband had its fair share of badjohns. one of the first his rudimentary ping pongs could accommodate was the lavway “Alan Ladd. ignorant men who loved to fight or those who just never backed down. they were rough and the organisation they had re-christened a few years before went on to become one of the most feared in Trinidad.” recalls Wilfred Simon. “If I didn't beat him they woulda beat me.” says Tokyo stalwart Carl “Badgi” Braithwaite. the skipper. today. “I thought they were still fighting in Germany/When the man sound the bugle call/I say the war eh over at all”. DEWD. just behind what is now the Central Market. every man playing his own melody and singing. The war in Europe had ended. “It had real killing tools there. this gun’s for hire”. wasn't easy.Winston “Spree” Simon got his in the leg. and were liable to riot whenever they met.” recounts Aldwin “Beejay” George. Toto from Tokyo jostled a Desperadoes girl and began a feud that dragged on for years and eventually prompted Eric Williams to set a make-work “Crash Program” out of which grew Special Works.” Perhaps it was because many of them hustled small jobs across the railway tracks at the abattoir. had more than most. The war in Trinidad had now started. Bands came out on many occasions: Carnival. sharpening iron. Once. which was often because there were no fixed . When Tokyo was joined by Savoys from Laventille and Crusaders from St Paul's Street. stabbing knife.” Spree himself. Once a man threw an orange from Rising Sun to his friend in Tokyo. LID and. the bands chipped along to separate songs. stammering Mud Mouth who would axe down a door to get at an enemy. Spree got fed up with the band’s progress and flung an iron into it—who get lash get lash. axe. it was named after a Cary Grant and Dane Clarke war movie: Destination Tokyo. and the traditional warfare escalated. The fellas were real touchy. Usually it was over women though. Feuds erupted for many reasons. Big Bush who went by himself into Potential after a skirmish and was stabbed to death with a screwdriver. and was known to slap up men whose playing wasn’t up to mark.” There was Dana. slaughtering and skinning animals and cutting them up. with men cuffing the du dups. into Besson Street Police Station and slashing him there. nestled at the foot of John John hill. Discovery Day. such as when at a fete in Hotel de Paris on St Vincent Street. These men were rounded up by the PNM for protection whenever they went campaigning in hostile constituencies. partisan commitment deepened. Rumour has it he made a jail for chasing Dewa. “It was embarrassing. Tokyo. Then. who burst a man’s face in Caroni with a flambeau. a story goes. “It used to have gambling there too. cutlass. and you had to defend what you win. It hit another member of the band and no matter how he apologised he got licks. Pans in those days were simply for a one-handed rhythm. Gerard Braithwaite who invaded San Juan with two others and tore up their pay sheet and was killed by San Juan All Stars men. As the instruments grew in sophistication and the music became orchestrated. Christmas. making him limp for the rest of his life. His favourite tune. Some Renegades thieves took a bolt cutter from some Tokyo thieves—remember pans were stolen from businesses—and the two bands rioted for that. another Tokyo rogue. but Lord Kitchener sang. “A time I get cut. pounding the baylays and the ping pongs. Spree's nephew. “The way people used to behave as soon as they see the big T-flag running away for no reason. the rigour of discipline increased. I didn’t even feel it and nobody knew who cut me but they held a fella looking like an Invaders man and make me beat him. Still. URP.

They armed themselves and returned to destroy Blanca. Tokyo even went on to win the Bomb trophy—their only first prize—in 1968. armed to the teeth with weapons stashed inside a tank. Casablanca began pelting bottles—Old Oak was their sponsor and they had plenty bottles. suddenly. Desperadoes. On Charlotte Street they met Desperadoes playing Noah's Ark. “Tokyo coming back in town”. uncoiling itself in front from Duke Street corner was Tokyo. people running everywhere. Casablanca was coming up and wanted to break through. Like that Carnival Monday in 1946 when Invaders came down Charlotte Street.” says Beejay.routes for them to follow in the city. The small bands ate humble pie.” recalls Alan Greaves from Starlift. Tokyo was halfway around the corner of Duke and Frederick Streets. it took three decades—until 1980—before they entered Charlotte Street again. But the last big riot was the one between Casablanca and Tokyo on Carnival Monday. blocking the route they had just come from. “It was a harrowing experience. and this was always resisted by the big bands with bottles and stones. Destination Tokyo. with Fascinators in 1965 and with Eastern Symphony in 1968.” And if in years to come Invaders developed a formidable team of fighters. he did jump in a steelband again when he waved flag for San Juan All Stars and got caught up in the most infamous Carnival riot ever in 1959 when the Croisee band came into town playing Battle Cry. And as for Blakie. cutting off any retreat. “From the time they pelt the first stone we run. when the boys from the hill started to riot. Invaders—why you run?” chanted Tokyo the next day.” Bertie Marshall’s Highlanders fought with San Juan All Stars in 1964. And then. San Juan All Stars. and ran through their fair share of bands. a woman on top ah elephant float bawling to come down. “Hold on to your pans!” shouted captain Ellie Mannette. bottle flying all over the place. “I find it difficult 40 years afterwards to convey to the reader the senselessness of the steelband clashes. Gerald Samson. written in his dying years before 1988. Cito Velasquez Fruits and Flowers and Starlift were all destroyed. “But you cyar come in my bedroom to stone my brother's house. “Is the only time Despers and Tokyo join up. one of the youths in the Woodbrook band recalls. “San Juan All Stars had silver and blue pans and we had blue and silver pans. The passions which had fuelled the warfare became increasingly channelled into musical rivalry. The younger Tokyo men dashed up Duke Street where they found a crumbling building with loose bricks. It was the thing to overtake another band by passing straight through. Lord Blakie vowed the following year “Never me again/To jump in a steelband in Port of Spain. After that things simmered.” Gordon Street had Starlift’s Greatest Show on Earth. knives and cutlasses.” admitted George Goddard in his Forty Years In The Steelbands. man even pelting full bottle of rum. mash up their pans. 1965 on Frederick Street. and several men hospitalised. iron bolts. The band had just swung from Park Street when they saw the Cross of Lorraine emerge from Observatory Street behind them. just as Tokyo came up behind them.” “O Lord. But would the movement have survived upper class prejudice and police hostility otherwise? .

“If you had six fellas with ping pongs. two-note “bass kittles” or “du dups” from caustic soda drums. visited the yard often. His name was Andrew Beddoe and his rhythms in Tokyo's Ju Ju mas sent women into convulsions. students of QRC and St Mary's. There weren't any of the skin drums whose Congo pulse and Yoruba beat had incited stickmen to war and called down the Orisha. which was called Destination Tokyo. marimbula thumb pianos in Africa tinkled hypnotically. and much of this was done in Woodbrook where small bands proliferated like wild flowers: Green Eyes. was pivotal. nicknamed “Slap Bass” after the instrument he played and tuned. John “Buddy” Williams. Additionally there were angle irons. One Tokyo youth.” recalls “Ocean” from Tokyo. that's where he left it. At the time when Beddoe still played biscuit drum. eventually returned to the ancestral drum. and bugles. who played in Britain . Silver Stars. Already urban bands were beating zinc or paint can “tenor kittles” or “ping pongs”. The first styling was the Invaders styling. But only in Trinidad was this inchoate pleasure shaped into a full orchestral ensemble. is traditionally given the cake. pans were mainly beating out a rhythm. like Spree’s. Nightingales. everybody beating a different tune in a different key. had lineage. Choreographer Beryl McBurnie invited the band to perform at her Little Carib Theatre. Victor “Tutie” Wilson and Carlton “Lord Hamburger” Forde from Calvary Tamboo Bamboo Band in New Town noticed that paint cans gave different tones when pounded. Anyway. And Ellie Mannette. bottle and spoons. “It didn't have no styling—wherever a tuner got a note. Saigon (formerly Balalaika). Hit Paraders. so his John John band. For centuries bells in Europe have clanged joyfully. And in the centre was Ellie Mannette whose role. biscuit tin “tenor booms” or “slap bass”.” That is. “Big Mack” from Hell Yard told American anthropologist Steven Stuempfle that Hell Yard youths discovered it. His band. according to George Goddard. you must realise that the clanging of iron—something about its clear and robust sound—has always appealed to people. the leading bandleader of the time. Calvary Tamboo Bamboo had metamorphosed into Alexander's Ragtime Band down at the “Big Yard” on Picton Street in the thirties. In 1939 it was indisputably the first steelband and that prompted the formation of “Oval Boys” which eventually became (after the Raymond Massy movie Night Invaders played at the London Theatre (now Astor) the great Invaders. But All Stars' Prince Batson has argued the Shango influence initially made east Port of Spain bands more rhythmic and less interested in melody and harmony than the western ones. To appreciate the inventiveness of these men.A CLEAR AND ROBUST SOUND Several men are reputed to have accidentally hammered out the first few notes on a pan before World War II. and Prince Batson points specifically at “Big Head Hamil”. shac shacs. perhaps because he was an expert tuner and fitter. Winston “Spree” Simon indisputably played his famous “God Save The King” on the ping pong for the Governor in 1946. Many of these were “college boy” bands. Elliot Mannette. youths less combative than the east Port of Spain panmen. as did barrister and amateur violinist Lennox Pierre.

also known as “Cobo Jack”. a kinda dougla fella. from Bournes Road near Rupert King's Orisha compound was chosen in his stead. Theo Stephens from Southern All Stars. one of the most innovative steelband arrangers. Granville Sealey from Tripoli. as opposed to outwards like all other pans of the time. fashioned from his African heart an instrument for everyone. he organized the band’s orchestral formation. Further west in Point Cumana was born Boys Town. “Boots” Davidson from Syncopaters. In this country of several races. Sonny Roach’s band also gave birth to Cross Roads. South of the Western Main Road Tripoli in turn brought forth Crossfire and Blue Stars (now Power Stars). Tony Williams was an innovator: he put the bass on wheels. creating the universally popular “Ellie styling” with its large F-sharp in the centre. He made a full chromatic scale. “Othelllo Mollineux used to come to Invaders to play.with the famous Trinidad All Steel Percussion Orchestra (Taspo). a fatter. Winston “Spree” Simon from Fascinators. Ellie’s was lush. didn't want to leave his new wife who would have had no means of support in his absence. “It was a very mellow tone. of an extreme individualism. was Invaders’ tuner and leader. The band was comprised of Orman “Patsy” Haynes from Casablanca. allowing bassmen to play three pans at a time. His pans gave Invaders their unique sound and today are still the choice of international virtuoso Andy Narrel. Roach was the first island wide ping pong solo champ. a breakaway from Sun Valley. Sealey didn’t go to England. but he fell ill in Martinique and returned home. Andrew de la Bastide from Hill 60.” says former Invaders double seconds player Ray Hollman. the great Emmanuel Riley. Sun Valley’s progeny wasn’t limited to North Stars. which was unrivaled in the 1950s and 60s for the classics. Sonny Roach from Sun Valley. Tony Williams. Nobody else had pans with such a rich sound.” Taspo was created to perform at the 1951 Festival of Britain under the leadership of Lieutenant Joseph Griffiths who made them tune pans to encompass the entire range of an orchestra. and Spellbound. Ellie's brother Vernon “Birdie” Mannette and the one and only. his style was so advanced it was a marvel. he invented the “spider web” pan of fifths which thirty years after has become the standard. And when he returned from the trip he became captain of North Stars. Near Tony Williams lived Emmanuel “Eamon” Thorpe who grew up in the band room of the Police Barracks on Long Circular Road. and an ensemble larger than any other in the world of popular music. Shadow would come from Symphonettes in Benares Street. Invaders' star player who was originally from Green Eyes.” Invaders wasn’t only Ellie Mannette. “He was the leading player at the time. and Thorpe's Crossfire became one . Dudley Smith from Rising Sun. pounding it inwards. smoother sound. More importantly. “Other pans had a more metallic sound. and when every tuner had a personal style of note placing. There were master players such as Kelvin Dove. and it was sweeter. which in turn spawned West Side. He sank the face of the pan. Dove—good players all. As a boy I dreamed to play like Jack. He invented the oil drum bass—they were biscuit drum tune booms before. Sonny Roach of Sun Valley. Ellie Mannette of Invaders and Anthony Williams of North Stars. winners of the first Steelband Festival. Belgrave Bonaparte from Southern Symphony.” recalls Hollman. but Cobo Jack was the best. And young Tony Williams represented North Stars. the solos he could improvise without knowing chords.

Emile “Zola” Williams names Royal Air Force from King's Wharf. “the fellas on the wharf didn’t really know about pan—they was just making noise beating iron. he was fleeing the law. Desmond Waithe and Boogsie Sharpe. but in 1957 it shifted base. Contrariwise.of the best road bands of the period.” “Black Fred. “as a result was killed by a blow in the head from a rival steelbandman”. and that year “Eamon” Thorpe. “The three bands was catching they tail. capable of taking masqueraders and even panmen away from other bands and carrying them into St James like a gang of pied pipers. Here Billy landed with his ping pong to mesmerise the youths in the district with versions of “Mary Had A Little Lamb” and “This Gun For Hire”—two of Spree Simon’s repertoire.” And on October 22. I going out. had to make a special stand for the infant to play pan. “But. including Ray Hollman. one called The Snow. he formed what might be South's first steelband—Pearl Harbour. Saigon. 1956 was created Starlift. Alas for Billy. the Woodbrook bands hadn't remained still. drinking rum with one or two jamette and having a good time. Meanwhile. Crossfire emerged from “Indian Johnny’s” yard. he went up north with a cooking oil drum to learn the technique. as South's first steelband.” “Panther.” and South's first panwoman. whose members Zola taught to play pans and formed Free French.” It was another iron band. “Vida” were leading members of Pearl Harbour. THE SAGA OF SOUTH PAN Who knows why the butcher named Billy left John John and its Destination Tokyo to seek work at the abattoir at King's Wharf in San Fernando in 1945? Perhaps.” “Cross Eye.” “Boy. Herschel Puckerin.” he emphasises. And thus the genius of Africa became Trinidadian. Indeed the band which dominated the late sixties and early seventies with its jazzy arrangements had so much talent that the younger members had to branch off and form Phase II and Third World. “I want you to fix up a pan for me.” recalls Saigon man Ernest Greaves. thus completing the invention of pan by shaping a music for its voice. Neville Jules. “Meadow. he’d also brought along the John John band’s infamous touchiness and. and asked.” “Dollar. And when Port of Spain panmen began sinking the pan inwards. finding themselves squeezed out by Invaders. In its new location in St James a three-year-old boy hung out of the window looking on. so the men were both provided with cash and relieved of it right on the spot. “So we decided to come together.” “Tall Boy.” replied a reluctant Jules. That was near Mucurapo Street where the prostitutes and gamblers gathered. a band of butchers and fishermen. . according to Seon. It drew members from all over. He went directly to one of the masters. Pelham Goddard. who was a welder. Nightingales and Hit Paraders. At first the band stayed close to Invaders but eventually it grew strong enough to stand on its own. Whatever the reason.” “Preddie. according to Donald “Dan” Seon. Hollman’s 1972 “Pan On The Move”. His name was Len “Boogsie” Sharpe. Not surprisingly Starlift was the first band to play its own composition for Panorama. held a meeting chaired by Albert “Philo” James after the 1956 Carnival.

” Generously. But. another All Stars man. “We were so sharp we used to wear six handkerchiefs—one in each pants pocket. in everyday life. There were of course shows and competitions of music also. ‘Allyuh want to fight? Well fight me now’. one contortionist (“the boneless man”). Bataan also had footballers “Chicken” Blackman. she was big and strong.” pressed Zola.” Because the hooligan stigma was less prohibitive than up North.“O Gawd. “Resentment arose not only from the fact that the principal figures forming the core of the band dressed immaculately. recalls Donald Seon who was one of its members.” But Jules was adamant he didn't want to help. .” Bataan skipper Herman “Teddy” Clark was a badjohn in the South tradition. one in the shirt pocket and one on the collar. “Coolie” Shearwood and “Golab” Belgrove. and Madame Butterfly. “the most captivating belly dancer to grace our shores since the sensuous Anacanoa” and her troupe of one midget who happened to be a comedian. As his band was located near Free French. the South also challenged the North. he was allowed to remain once he didn’t “take the life out of the band”. Informally. Lord Coffee the calypsonian. “Our stay there was short. He followed the trail to Scorpion’s yard and eventually got the pan he wanted. “Why the fock you come here asking for people!” was the response he got. but were also the pride of the opposite sex. But Free French men considered Bataan just a bunch of hooligans and Free French the true saga boys. although a barefoot match against Usine Ste Madeleine Village team resulted in a 26-0 loss for Bataan. Rival bands marched to a spot known as “the iron” because of the broken trainlines protruding out of the sea or because of the area's popularity for lovers. And when he removed his mask to consume “some oriental delicacy made in the true sanitary fashion”. of course—was observed by Seon in a band to sing “We are not working anywhere” to the lavway “We en wukkin noway. a midwife. The boys weren't too good. saying. but he persisted until he discovered his friend was in St James by “Scorpion” Hunte. less ignorant and more sporting. once a youth—wearing a mask. They coulda be she grandchildren. in other words. Miss Myra. As early as 1946 San Fernando Mayor and cinema magnate Timothy Roodal contracted Pearl Harbour to perform at the Gaiety Theatre. and he organized races along the Coffee.” wrote Seon. the two squabbled regularly. he turned out to be none other than a schoolmaster’s son. formerly of Free French.” says Claude Byron. but it had a lady. Around that time Bataan—named after the Robert Taylor movie of the same name—was formed in Champs billiard saloon. Once he and ‘Screebo’ Malone went to fight. Free French versus Casablanca and Invaders. “Teddy used to feel he was the baddest. Ambitious. Orman “Patsy” Haynes and Ellie Mannette humbled the southerners. the early South bands held more exclusively musical competitions in the seclusion of the Marabella seaside near the slipway where chip chips were gathered to strengthen San Fernandian backs. Indeed. a six-cents roti. as it was impossible for our band to function properly in a billiard saloon. and were billed as a supporting act to Madame Olinde. but when it had fight she’d run in the middle and grab both of them. “I go pay you. South middleclass children sometimes joined the bands. Seon reports. So Zola went looking for his partner from La Cour Harpe.

It took ten years for Southern Marines captain Milton Lyons to repeat this achievement by running off with the ping pong solo Festival prize. “Better they remain downstairs and beat pan than knock about and get into trouble. But it was deeper South in La Brea where the path breaking southern innovators emerged. leaving many talented panmen. Gondoliers in Mucurapo Street.” reasoned old man Lalsingh. bands were folding up and new ones rising out of their ashes: Antillean All Stars Orchestra—the Coffee band—came out of Bataan and Destroyers. Meanwhile back in San Fernando. They asked former . Guinness Cavaliers went on to win Panorama in 1965. Hilltop from upper Hillside. It was his famous solo for the band's “Anna” which swept panmen off their feet and became a standard for all players to aspire to. a Taspo man and who introduced the practice of playing with three sticks for fuller chords. without a base. and thus was born Seabees. They were stranded and the panman formed a ban called Vintaitt and the Comics. replaced Steve but Seabees eventually went under. and on Cavaliers in San Fernando. also gave birth but died in the process. Theodore “Black James” Stephens.” argues Angus Lalsingh whose brother Steve assumed leadership of Seabees until he was tragically killed in a motoring accident. after which he went on a tour to Jamaica with Lord Melody. some youths in a football team based in the Fonrose and Clair Streets decided to form a steelband. bands which changed the sound of steelband by winning Panorama almost every time between 1965 and 1975 with pans tuned by Southern Symphony’s Alan Gervais. Another Lalsingh brother. The sponsor’s decision was based on a play-off at Woodford Square with the new band calling itself the Cavaliers. and Rogues Regiment. By 1950 Free French had produced at least one major panman. placed second in 1966 and won again in 1967—the same year they came third in Steelband Festival playing Revelation from Beyond and “Gallopade” composed by Mohammed. including one Milton “Wire” Austin. The band became the resident band at Normandie Hotel and were invited to tour Europe with the result that thirty two years before Peter Minshall they played at the 1960 Rome Olympics. Southern Symphony was formed by the great Belgrave Bonaparte who was. At the time of Cavaliers’ first Panorama victory. Seabees tuner and arranger Nerlin Taitt went on to win ping pong solo at the second Steelband Festival in 1956. By 1954 when Black James had moved to Southern All Stars when they won the second Steelband Festival. Another old band. They had been sponsored by Guinness but in 1960 the company shifted support to a breakaway faction led by Lennox “Bobby” Mohammed and managed by his father Zainool.though. Gondoliers. who was selected for the Trinidad All Steel Percussion Orchestra (Taspo) tour of Britain. Times were changing. the first locallywritten festival pieces. The importance of Southern Symphony is suggested by the band's influence on Ebonites and its progeny Harmonites up north. Then Destroyers appeared on the Coffee. Ste Madeleine Steel Orchestra. Kenrick. Black Knights of San Fernando. named after the film “Fighting Seabees”. like Black James. Often he’d hear some boys in Skinner Street knocking iron and one day he brought some old Bataan pans for them. enthusiasm ran high and bands proliferated: Southern Marines of Marabella. “It's said—though not by Jamaicans—that he had a major input in the development of reggae. Still. Teddy Clarke from the now-defunct Bataan passed through Mon Repos to go home.

“Penco” Best. perhaps the most belligerent steelband ever. including master drummer Andrew Beddoe from Destination Tokyo. among others. “He came over and tune a ping pong and start to play the Shango songs on it. With such a rich tradition. Boom Town fled home. where they met Red Army from Port of Spain.” Dishevelled. Atomic had to split. In Manzanilla they carried the same behaviour. and Boom Town changed its name to Delta Rhythm Boys and shifted its energies into making music and not war. led me like “Snatcher” Guy who wore his cap backwards. Mark “Zorro” Thomas. “Snooze” Skeete and “Shango” John. whereas the more easygoing one at Cocorite Street was Atomic. in 1948 Boom Town carried their buglers on an Easter Monday excursion to Manzanilla. for instance. and fought more Guianese than they played for. “Every. And thus it was that in Arima. Snooze and “Ladd” Wiltshire were arrested for that ambush.body was amazed and Snatcher began learning ping pong. thus giving birth to ten-times Southern Panorama winner Fonclaire.” recalls Zorro’s nephew Kenrick Thomas. . “Giant” Waithe.” Thomas recounts. in Dinsley Village the Dead End Kids iron band came out from the Thomas yard where the bamboo bands used to originate. whose November feast drew devotees from all over the country.” explains Thomas. Meanwhile.” They changed their name to Boom Town— “That was a current picture and the name lent itself to more violence. visited British Guiana in 1946—the first band to travel abroad—when they were known as Russian Symphony. it used to excite people.” recalls former captain of Melodians Frank Bernard: “He went up to the base in Wallerfield—it was war time—and bring some small drums and they. closed the gate at Five Rivers level crossing and bombarded with bottles and stones the train carrying Red Army back to Port of Spain. “They mash up the pans and take their bugles. “Z” shaved on his skull. With the Tacarigua Orphanage nearby. “Boysie Watson see them and say ‘I go bring some pan for you’. always armed. why then are southerners letting steelband gradually disappear? EAST SIDE STORY In Arima the rough and tumble iron band called itself Vigilantes and limed by the Dial. du dup.” explains Thomas.” Unfortunately. end up making kittle drum . Red Army. heavy tar drums. Arimian iron bands used large. which the youths carried on their heads while others did the beating. to create the enduring Melodians. “They pounce on the boys and beat them up. one Christmas season. Boom Town had access to a pool of musicians—bands used bugles in those days. Next door Mother Gerald’s Orisha shrine.” “Red” Vernon tuned them and made ping pongs— “I don't know where he learn”—and after the war they competed against Tombstone up in Sangre Grande. another set went another way. “Some fellas went one way to parang. “That instrument caused a lot of fights. “It was a call to war.” recalls Bernard. Then.Seabees member “Wire” Austin to help them and he agreed. especially when sun hot and they drink rum.

but in Tunapuna there were already Boys Town (later Sunland) on Green Street. “When Patsy Haynes started to beat ‘Surrender’ I was shocked. and Genie—Bhadase Maharaj’s bodyguard. two of whose members. however. Pess. bugles blowing. were the first panmen to go abroad to study music. Madman's madness. “We used o beat in the river and one day we were trying to get a name.” recalls Goddard. Mastife and them. tainted with the same brush. including some Hell's Kitchen badjohns. who played bass kittle—was stabbed by Joe Murray.” says Goddard. however. It was the first time I see one. but I couldn't carry it home. In the late 1940s. moved from Auzonville Road to St Vincent Street and became Zone 20.Tacarigua only had Boom Town. getting wind that their son planned to beat ping pong in the competition. however. The town band arrived in the afternoon and paraded through Tunapuna.” concludes Goddard. it seems. Barataria had Corregidores. But when Wellington “Blues” Bostock from Red Army fled Port of Spain after a two year gaol for the 1948 riot with Casablanca. “I turn bad. and I was their only ping pong man. Domni changing his clothes four times a day—liming with their jamettes by Sapodilla Street. “I don't know how he got it but he knew I was in the steelband thing and I got it from him. including in Venezuela. Exodus’s progenitor. Manto—real sagga boys. He borrowed from a friend and went to Palladium. “That was Hell Kitchen. hid his clothes. But where the Tunapuna scene was hottest from earliest was up Sapodilla Street in Hell’s Kitchen. and Croisee people had formed Black Swan in Backchain Street.” Later that night.” recalls Harold Belfast. it was still North Star when they challenged Casablanca to a competition. “You got dice. “My knees were shaking when North Star came to beat. the Headley brothers. wappie. Lance. which became Delta Rhythm Boys. then Midland Syncopaters. was in San Juan.” . then Midlanders Metronome. which in turn became North Star and then Nightingales. though. the Zigilee brothers’ Nob Hill on Maingot Road.” Those older men attracted Goddard into the iron band underworld. Goddard’s parents. but the first band he actually joined was the younger Times Square. Arouca had Wake Island—which might have been the band Jit Samaroo’s older brothers played for. Toro’s Frenchman’s Creek on Back Street.” recalls Cyril Goddard who was then a schoolboy. Carlos Rose hadn’t yet migrated from Fyzabad to St John’s Road to nurture Flamingos. and Sullivan was formed in an effort to shake off the band’s reputation. the ancestor of the great San Juan bands was created. “Night meet us and we still didn't have a name. “From then. then Blues look up in the sky and come up with Starlight Syncopators. Hell’s Kitchen eventually dissolved with police assistance. “A Chinee fella named Hing— we used to pitch in he yard—he got a pan what had about eight notes.” The main band in the east. But after we played people began throwing money on the stage. beating iron and jocking their waist. then Symphony Stars. after he got home his father locked the doors and windows of the house and beat the youth mercilessly with a stick until he was unconscious.” On VE Day Goddard’s ping pong drew crowds to Times Square. Times Square. and “Madman” Jordan’s Stalingrad. was to have loved steelband with a ferocity and a generosity which had him sowing bands like wildflowers wherever he went.

perhaps undeservedly. Their first time on the road. And a breach in Red River. “We play from cha cha cha to calypso. Efforts to change that image led to the creation of East Side Symphony and then Potential—1992 Pan Ramajay winners—but those were birth attended by much bitterness and blood. gave birth to one of the greatest J’Ouvert bands. six of them. “The only reason we never won Festival was because we were too busy playing at parties. and the year they didn’t we got some old pans and Victor ‘Chungi’ Rudder formed the band. but the newcomers maintained ties with their progenitor until they broke away as a band in their own right.” Alas. He suggested the name and the other youths accepted it. Harmonites then went on to win Panorama four times between 68 and 74.” recalls Elton Lopez. ranking and even outdoing the best brass bands. After reading an Ebony magazine. bolero to fox trot. after their famous 1959 riot with Desperadoes and Destination Tokyo became known as. but we dropped out because it had no money in that. So. then up by the train line. Ebonites. “They mash up the band. and to come third twice. “Every Carnival the band used to give the players a little raise. so the band was renamed Red River after a John Wayne movie. chose another route to get away from the violence— they stayed out of Carnival for their first six years. people wanted to know what happening—it was ‘Dance of the Hours’.” says Jojo Reece. Already there were Leningrad. . the most ignorant band. taking some youths from Caledonia Road who used to fall in with Ebonites. flicking through a Bible noticed the word “ebonites”. brought down the unreasoning wrath of Renegades. it also broke them in 1965 when Ebonites captain Knolly Bobb decided to get new pans from Cavaliers. after which they were placed in the East Zone and never won again. which was better funded and eventually drew the younger players such as Owen Serrette away from Ebonites. Residents from the Basilon Street area had moved into the planning in Morvant. But maybe Exodus’ 1992 victory has changed the region’s blight and given a chance to the many contenders from Morvant’s Harmonites to Sangre Grande’s Cordettes. Ebonites concentrated on their stage side. which was the Normandie Hotel house band. By 1953 the band was sponsored by RCA to produce the album Spread Joy. the San Juan All Stars which. on the other hand. influenced by Southern Symphony. One year we came first at Roxy and the adjudicator say if we even play ‘God Save The Queen’ we win. The band was an extension of City Syncopators. Thus was born Solo Harmonites. playing Bobby Soxers on Coronation Day of 1952. break man hand with baseball bat. however. and they secured funding from Joseph Charles. itself a peaceful arm of the Casablanca warriors. Comets and City Stars. if money made them. the band never play the same tune twice in a fete except by request.The band moved from Mission Street to Prizgar Road. The South band had begun to change the sound of steelband by using 24 Alan Gervais-tuned bass pans instead of the usual six for maximum power. The players resisted the change and Bobb went ahead. Ken Alexander. which was subsequently healed.” recalls Alexander. “We were the first band to have a section with cymbals. playing Latin music for parties. To get to the band some of the players had to cross the river.

perhaps. and were fighters to the last man. Zigilee was not in Hell Yard band. and there he witnessed its transition in Port of Spain to iron. they switched to the Trinidad All Stars. Born Carlton Barrow in 1926. chipping down Charlotte Street to a rhythm that swept along all the people from the market. where there was stickfighting. so called after the famous badjohn “Sagiator”. Zigilee used to hang around the Hell Yard bamboo band. If he left it. remained to become one of All Stars most famous ping pong men. Ellie Mannette. Already. And when “Orderly” began beating an old tin some time in the latter half of the 1930s. “When the fellas get drunk and liable to fight and throw powder in people face.” he says. who was 14 at the time. but in Bar 20: Black James.. and when this name began to confuse people with Casablanca's Cross of Lorraine insignia. after whose family the band was also known as the Olliverre Band. The following Friday Zigilee was brought . it sounded flat. master of the ping pong Had people jumping wild in the town. and so it was that the large “boom” bamboo had been eclipsed by the kittle drum. and the police threw the two youths in the cell despite the pleas of the more hardened criminals to “let the l’il fellas off”. Although they stole dustbins and ran from police like everyone else during and after the War. but Zigilee had been shunted unto another track since 1940. iron was indispensable and within weeks the Hell Yard band would abandon bamboo. It was the Sunday of the Siparia Fete and the band was heading for the train station. however. and even then they had two rhythms—a moving rhythm and one when the band was stationary and the fuller could stoop down and get a two-note rhythm on the ground. All Stars subsequently avoided the steelband riots with an iron discipline instilled by Batson who set up an internal “MP” force that kept members in line. the band sounded different. the bamboo bands. “They moved very slowly. and “Chicken”. “Bambam Head” and some other thieves had been caught housebreaking the night before. the master to Kitch. Fisheye and Barker Bar 20 leading kittle beaters Well they sure made us understand The kettle is the foundation of the band Rudolf “Fisheye” Olliverre. a steelband innovator second to none but. By the time Kitchener had composed “The Steelband”. Zigilee. and take an hour to go two hundred yards.THE STEEL PULSE OF PORT OF SPAIN For Carnival 1946. Kitchener composed “The Steelband”: Port of Spain nearly catch afire When the bands were crossing the Dry River Zigilee. and carried them to the Besson Street station. the first after World War II.” recalls flagman Hugh “Sage” Peschier. Hell Yard became the Cross of Lorraine. had been beating pan from before the war in Hell Yard. when the police made a raid.. and grabbed Zigilee. led by Prince Batson and with pans tuned by the great Neville Jules. we had a picket in the centre of the band where they had to stay until they revive.

but four days later Zigilee returned home.. Back in Bath Street with spirits high they decided to hit the road. turned left at Charlotte Street. following what they'd seen the Gonzales Second Eleven band playing. his funeral drew hundreds of villains to the Lapeyrouse Cemetery. Born in 1922 in New Town Oscar Pile used to sneak out and peep through the cocoyea of the bamboo tent at the bottom of Woodford Street where kalinda stick was fought and Dame Lorraine danced. and when he moved to Oxford Street this continued. the Gonzales Rhythm Band. sporting the jackets they’d stolen and dyed black for the occasion. Pops. beating a policeman. Immediately everyone went into hiding all over the country to evade reprisals. with his young friends Art de Couteau. “They get a good cutarse”. among other things. six months. “I was in a six months spot.before the Juvenile Court and put on a three-year bond for being in a procession of over 20 persons. “Fortunately the pattern change with me because I was beating pan when they was beating police and the music never stop. all drunk. He decided in 1936 to form a band. so I had to run west and stay with Sonny Roach and Sufferers in St James for two or three years. recounted. six months. So when after the war Ancil Boyce. the band’s captain. “When police come.. they chose the name appropriate to Piles “Bogart” alias: Casablanca.” With all the robust men—that’s what they were called in those days—behind bars. fighting.” says Zigs with a smile. probation.” calculates Zigs. Kendal Mason. down to CID office where “Bitterman” sat with a swollen eye and “Geronimo” with a burst mouth. “Between 14 and 19 I had 23 convictions— throwing missiles. who limed up in the Lime Grove. the sentences alternating—six months. whose members drew on the traditions of Shango drumming in places like Tanti Willie’s yard. attracting men and women out for a hustle. . right into police. so I try to exchange but I couldn’t.” By the time he was able to return to east Port of Spain it was to join another band. “If bottle pelt anywhere they blame we. So I formed Bar 20 in Bath Street. were beating pans by the mid-1930s. which they turned into one of the early fighting machines of the steelband movement that drew police attention like a magnet. one formed long before by Oscar “Bogart” Pile and named Casablanca. “After that my mother put restriction on me: no more Hell Yard. And she was chanting. Merry Boys. George Forde and Arnold Agard. especially on the panmen they knew— Bitterman. Gonzales had its bamboo band too. and there. This was what Merry Boys started off beating. don’t run!” They went across Park Street. now a mild-mannered old man with an infectious laugh. And that was the battalion that took on the police. Last week Zigilee. Waving flag up front was Yvonne “Bubulups” Smith who was later immortalised in several calypsoes for. Battersby and Zigilee. the police declared war on the band. at the corner of Belgrave Street and Quarry Street. and when the war ended and bands were choosing new names from the movies. As Zigilee sums it up. Like the Hell Yard band the Merry Boys paraded nights up and down the Dry River where the police jeep couldn't reach. down to Duke Street. probation. and what was their band? Bar 20. the police foolishly attacked. disorderly behaviour. and some men like “Musso Rat” Roach and “Killey” Yearwood.” Two brothels had opened on Bath Street for the American soldiers. fell into the Dry River and died. At the trial the line-up was named one by one.

INVADERS. after being joined by the Bar 20 rogues. Irvine Taylor. shifting instead. the band actually was created by a split in the Ohio Cassanovas in Basilon Street. Andrew “Pan” De Labastide. I was too involved playing for Hill 60. KING OF THE IRON MEN They've never won a Panorama. although according to their public relations officer Andy Duncan. such as the infamous Steven “Gold Teeth” Nicholson. is the greatest pan tuner. Oswald and Vernon. and instead the hill band that started slowly but grew into prominence was from Rose Hill tamboo bamboo band. De Labastide had been in Casablanca much earlier. One day when he was going down to Oxford Street he met Hill 60 chipping in the same direction. just months before. not at all backward in warfare. especially after a riot with Rising Sun from Belmont around 1947. and a youth who wanted a rest asked De Labastide to hold his pitch oil tin. tired of police harassment and worn down by the pleas of his middle class relatives. As what happened with Bar 20. the Mannette brothers Elliot. yet Invaders steel orchestra might still be classified as one of the greatest steelbands. which gave birth to the more youthful Laventille band known as Dead End Kids during the War and thereafter as the Desperadoes. and “Boots” Davidson from Synco were to play together again in the 1951 Taspo. Patcheye had stolen a biscuit drum from Destination Tokyo. never a music festival. their progeny. Conrad “Cocoa” Hunte. But many Blanca men. Tokyo’s like Andrew Beddoe. Ever. never won a Panorama. For sure their former leader Ellie Mannette. which Spree Simon got to find out without doing anything about it. Philmore “Boots” Davidson. alongside another former Blanca man. who has lived in the US since 1967. On VJ Day. one of Blanca's top ping pong men. to percussion. Francis “Peacock” Wickham. they managed to riot with every other major band except City Syncopators and Renegades.” he explains. Consequently. “So by the time I arrived by my band. like Invaders. Orman “Patsy” Haynes from Blanca. and by 1945 had left for the simple reason that he was from the Clifton Hill area. Renegades was another band which had a close relationship with Blanca. It started as a group of boys who lived in Woodbrook across the road from the Oval whose facilities they used.Casablanca was one of those great bands of the time which. Patcheye continued playing biscuit drum long after they were superseded by the pan he never learnt to play. moved from Blanca to Renegades and cemented a relationship that precluded rioting with one another. a fast shuffle like Casablanca's. Married to the rhythm. informally called themselves the “Oval Boys” and limed in the little plot of land between . left the band to form the fraternal but peaceful City Syncopators. a youths who love of drumming had made him one of the master Shango drummers. Great for music and.” This band had only recently been called into existence by Henry “Patcheye” Pachot. Blanca's reputation for rowdiness attracted close marking by the police. “Hill 60 had a rhythm I liked. Kelvin Dove. Hill 60 collapsed like many other great bands when their best players went on tour and never returned.

Oval Boys. later shortened to just Invaders. Ellis Clarke and Bruce Procope. Until one day during World War II. many of them under movie names. “We run in a friendly society for refuge.” Tokyo. on Wickham’s suggestion. when they won a competition at the Oval. you couldn't play none. had some quarrel with Tripoli from Mucurapo and to the John John men west band was west band. the first Carnival they tried to invade Port of Spain in 1950 saw them repulsed by Spree Simon’s Destination Tokyo from John John. concave playing surfaces and possibly the larger pans from 35-gallon oil drums. Otherwise they never left the yard until Oscar Pile from Casablanca took them to play in San Fernando. Already the band had become the most innovative one. it was an ear that allowed him to tune the sweetest sounding pans ever known. the oldest of the Mannette brothers. taking their cue from Alexander's Ragtime Band up Woodford Street. however.” recalls Wickham. His design thus became the first “styling” of pans. men such as the Blackhead brothers and Lenny Russell. and he was invited to join the Taspo more for his tuning abilities than his playing. which became a weekly excursion. had taken over tuning from Ossie. they were still to young to fight anyone. They take Ellie pan—the barracuda—and hang it from a tree in John John and tell him come for it. “Pans those days had three. Alexander's Ragtime Band came second and the Hell Yard Band third. In 1946. outplaying their mentors. But it was captain Stanley “Ponehead” . Invaders had gone to Park Street. four notes and was background rhythm. played at McBurnie’s embryonic Little Carib Theatre around the corner. Only ‘Tutie’ (Victor Wilson) from Alexander’s Ragtime Band could play half a tune. and they start to beat people.” He didn’t. And on the night of VJ Day when the War finally ended and steelbands took to the streets. and thus made some of his pivotal innovations. He was working in the foundry at the time and had developed a special feel for moods and capacity of iron. Invaders. the first steelband. Minister of Health Norman Tang from Murray Street helped bail them out when the boys were arrested. across Duke Street and there. and even young Vernon “Birdie” Mannette took to walking with a razor. and was part of the theatre’s opening ceremony in 1948. one of the Invaders youths. just as they reached George Street they saw the Ju Ju warriors and their big T flag. we was little fellas and couldn’t fight big John John men. It wasn't no tune you playing. The Woodbrook band was also resented because they were supported by many middle-class Trinidadians such as barristers Lennox Pierre. but they began to fight back as they grew up and were joined by fearless men from the former Alexander’s Ragtime Band and other steelbands. But his special genius wasn't so much technical as intuitive. metamorphosed into Night Invaders.” says Wickham. turned down Charlotte Street. Still. “Hold on to your pans!” shouted Mannette. and dancer Beryl McBurnie. although Invaders might also have been resented by Tokyo men. Wickham. and had introduced rubberised sticks. By then Ellie.the houses under a breadfruit tree where they'd beat a rhythm on tin cans. it seems. “Cocoa” Hunte and the three Mannette brothers learned to handle themselves in a scrimmage. for instance. “I see Mus Mus hit a fella with a flambeau and a cart catch afire. “From the time they pelt the first stone we run. recalled Gerald Samson.

so the irons had to start there. range and timbre. And there was Ellie. or maybe it was because they owned many of the rumshops and dry goods stores. “When we practice you could jump up with the rhythm section alone. Instead the. the Portuguese in Trinidad often had an affinity with grassroots culture. not just a thing to keep time. as were Kelvin Dove. . what we was playing was making sense. because the iron is an instrument. Strange that some of the band’s best players preferred the iron section. moreso because they were far out of Port of Spain where they weren’t welcome. let me explore the pan. but either way. literary figures such as Alfred Mendez and populist politicians such as Albert Gomes. but remember Ellie worked at the foundry.y concentrated on J’Ouvert. Othello Mollineux and Anthony “Haffers” Hadeed. and his cellos sounded like pipe organs. were masters. Carl Victor and Francis Wickham. barely escaped the hangman’s noose after being charged with the murder of another panman. He moved over to Desperadoes.” recalls Wickham. another Portuguese. You had to co-ordinate with the man next to you. along with six men from the band. every J’Ouvert morning Ellie put on his cork hat and joined the rhythm section alongside Drayton.Hunte who pulverised men such as the dreaded “Gold Teeth” from Renegades and “Bird” from Red Army. “Birdie” Mannette was also a good player. whose pans he and Ellie used to help tune and who had helped raise funds for his legal defence. Emmanuel “Cobo Jack” Riley. and helped to make Invaders a band to be reckoned with. producing calypsonians such as Lord Executor (Philip Garcia) and Atilla the Hun (Raymond Quevedo). Wickham and Oswald “Nicker” Best. One Mannette was soon removed from the scene for 12 years after. But Invaders’ real claim to fame came from its sound. both originally from Green Eyes. The players. when Zigilee and Carlton Blackhead began a fight over Muriel “Little One” Granger and Augustus “One Man” Mark and Steven “Gold Teeth” Nicholson joined to beat Blackhead. The first local records were made by Sa Gomes. go through the melody and then we revving. which the Woodbrook middle class supported in their numbers. he beat an American serviceman up Chancellor Hill and raped his girlfriend. Although his tenors were better than anyone else’s in volume. Younger players included the brilliant Ray Hollman. when your iron good you is king. starting with Cobo Jack and Carlton “Maifan” Drayton. “They ask me to come back—I left years before Ellie but I cyar play under no arranger: it have notes in front of me.” It left them at a disadvantage for the pre-rehearsed competitions.” says Victor of the band's early improvisational style. Casablanca. Invaders even rioted for years with their erstwhile friends. We used to tune the pans to C. “Me and Ellie used to heat the irons—it had good brakes then—and beat them down the scale.” And as David Rudder put it so succinctly. The Mannette pans were the best by far—and still are. not just keeping a beat. “We used to play by ear. formerly of Green Eyes. which was recorded as early as J’Ouvert 1950. many people would swear. Invaders’ lead tenor player. THE FIRST WHITE BOY STEELBAND Perhaps it was because they weren’t truly considered white French creole.

used to hear the bugles and rhythms drifting on the night breeze from bands as far away as Belmont and as near as Sackville Street where Red Army was based. the first white boy steelband. referring to him as “the boy from behind Duke Street”. was different. Pierre's parents didn't want him to keep it either. But there were others who were attracted to the idea. Victor Gonzales. There he would practice playing. Bert Akow. ‘Come we go beat pan’. move that thing to the annex. so he renamed his band after the music: Dixieland. was a sister of the chantwell known as the Duke of Marlborough.” He too was lectured by the Dean of Discipline who said it wasn't good for the school nor his family for Pierre to be associating with that class of people. It was Alfred “Sack” Mayers from Red Army who gave the little Ferreira his first ping pong. Andre de Jesus. his mother didn't care if the king had one. part Carib. he was kept down and couldn't become a Tenderfoot. one of them being 14-year-old Curtis Pierre from Henry Street. the one which more than any other paved the way for the acceptance of pan amongst the upper classes. In his Sea Scout troop. His first pan he got from a classmate who’d been given the instrument by his gardener but whose parents didn't want him to keep it. the son of a Madeiran immigrant. they allowed the boy and his friends to play pan. Pierre also had some Portuguese on his father’s side. and hid it in a crocus bag to carry it home where he secreted it under the house. named after the movie about a battle over the Pacific island Iwojima. using two turkey wings so as to make no noise. and some days I’d be crying I was so uptight.” recalls Ferreira. It began in 1946 in Scott-Bushe Street. They tried to persuade him to join Fr Mayben’s band and play the violin. the school they went to. but the . where an 11-year-old Ernest Ferreira. “I used to come home for lunch. Wilson Owen. for they too had that affinity with grassroots culture. Boys from Iwojima after a few months changed its name to Melody Makers. “I didn't know them but talk spread in college that I had a pan and they came to me and said. St Mary’s. George Adilla. The music reminded him of what his boys were playing. part Spanish. and his mother. Cobotown. “Well. Often on Fridays Ferreira was given a lecture by Fr Valdez or Fr Ward about how college boys shouldn't be involved in steelband. with instruments tuned in different styles from different bands. so old man Duval took the intrepid Ferreira to the barrack yard where Jules lived for the ping pong.” said Ferreira senior who'd discovered his son’s clandestine playing. Ken Duval’s father had a hardware store at which Jules worked. “I’d heard of St Mary’s boys going to Cobotown after school to beat pan. so already there were a significant Chinese presence. It was after that that he formed with some friends Boys from Iwojima. until one Sunday his father asked over lunch whether he wasn't afraid of scorpions under the house.Whatever the reason.” recalls Pierre. and Duval was Ferreira’s friend. Duval carried it home and some days later Ferreira collected it. for it was a hodge podge. Although Ferreira’s parents weren't too keen. was also the inspiration of a “Potogee”. Classmates and neighbours shunned him. And whereas Ferreira had been inspired by a vision of all Trinidadians playing pan. Pierre was plain rebellious. and that lasted until 1950 when one day Ferreira heard in a Queen Street barber shop some wild jazz on the radio. but either they were less insistent or he was more so. Dixiland steel orchestra. Their members included Everard Leung.

” he recalls. who later married bandleader Edmund Hart. Four years later he’d be picked for Taspo II. then at the Country Club.” In 1950 they came on the road for the first time.” says Ferreira.” says Pierre. such as the Discovery Day they met Casablanca on the road. “It was the first time I’d heard triple cellos and 6-bass— ‘Boots’ was on bass—and my pores raised to hear ‘God Save the King’. on the other hand. getting a Casablanca pan and eventually buying for $13 damaged and repaired Ellie Mannette pan named “Fairy”. Generally. agents for Jeffrey’s Beer. it was a Columbus mood. The first time we tuned two biscuit drum “tune booms” we went up the road with them alone. And by 1951 they had about 30 players and were sponsored $600. hiding behind his pan so he wouldn't be recognised. though. T-shirts and four cases of Jeffrey’s Beer: old man de Montbrun worked at Grell and Co. flew their flag. “They come in the band saying ‘What! White boys beating pan and thing!’ From then on we were accepted. and it was Ferreira who carried the Taspo example further.” They’d never been ostracised by more working class panmen who were more surprised than anything else. They played for Alcoa Co. ‘Nobody cyar pass!’ He just hugged me up and laughed. After that. so we put it in the pan: it was like if we’d discovered a new note. and ever so often a young academic married to Moyou’s sister would look down from his room on their practice sessions and occasionally given . and the band grew as boys such as Everard Leon. “We didn't mind.” says Pierre. “Oscar Pile always say he never forget a boy jump out with a piece of iron and say. they had their pans tuned by Alvin “Yankee Boy” Benjamin from Renegades. That was the year the Trinidad All Steel Percussion Orchestra (Taspo) left for Britain. however. And doors continued to open: they were one of the first steelbands on local radio. “I was inspired by the innovations of Taspo. a badjohn.” says Ferreira. “We was on the rise. so I looked at the symphony orchestra and saw it had first and second violins.youngster continued nevertheless.” says Ferreira. “Once we were playing ‘Just say I love her’ and it needed a G sharp. “It was in 1952 and Dixieland was in front the Red House with Blanca coming up. Yankee Boy had left Trinidad and Dixieland pans were now tuned by Percival Thomas from Katzenjammers (formerly Helzapoppin). they were banned from the Portuguese Association after “Big Sack” from Belmont. wanted to enter a fete there where the band was playing and when turned away in his drunken state he stoned the place from across the road. and to Ferreira’s design he tuned the first double second. Pierre. and he’d arranged to help out the boys. the pair invented the double tenor. was on the descent insofar as they had to come down from the trucks on which they played mas to chip on the road with Dixieland. however. Lil Aristeguieta. Ironically. “They put down their pans and surround we. so I thought to expand on it. We had 17-note tenor pans. so there was never any hostility. I loved Blanca. They'd moved to Sackville Street in the yard of band member Rolf Moyou. on Frank Pardo and Sam Ghany's “Hi Neighbour” show. and the Saturday before Dixieland played on stage with the revolutionary band. has a different version of the meeting with Casablanca. “We tacked two together at the top and bottom to get the full scale. and middle class society began to hire them for house parties. “Our love for pan grew with the pan.” High society. It was Pierre's first day at work but he sneaked off to perform at Globe theatre. Trevor Smith and Lance and Alan de Montbrun joined.” says Ferreira. which was unfortunately aborted.” The band was doing well by then.

When I think the thing done. they ran. Batman. driving rhythm and its martial buglers. part of the band’s power was its aggressive. But Blanca was more musical than that and. Philmore “Boots” Davidson and Andrew “Pan” De La Bastide. none of that: all for one and one for all. it escalated into a feud between the two bands that dragged on for years and prompted the formation of the first steelband association in 1950.them advice. for instance. . “We did coward. who served three terms as Casablanca captain. and Blanca’s importance came from the music they played. when they were young. every day he beating somebody and the war just continue. he was a warmonger. Orman “Patsy” Haynes and others were under the leadership of Oscar Pile when they went off to form Merry Boys around 1940 after dustbin and paint pan orchestras took over the city. Passage to Marseilles. “I did finish with that.” Ethelbert “TB” Brown recalls being warned by One Man. Sahara. “Cocoa water and one-eye-jack not for you. older men such as Zigilee. having rioted with almost every other major steelband in the Forties and Fifties. for music on the stage and for warfare. He drove a Buick and worked for the Caribbean Commission: his name was Eric Williams. we used to run—as you hear a pan fall. Bitterman. significantly. It began on upper Oxford Street as Merry Boys—a group of youngsters who limed by 42 Steps and used to follow the Gonzales Tamboo Bamboo band. the band whose insignia was the double Cross of Lorraine would become known as one of the most combative bands ever. three of the Trinidad All Steel Percussion Orchestra (Taspo) players—and Taspo represented the cream of Trinidad’s panmen—came originally from Casablanca: Ormond “Patsy” Haynes. Thereafter. is definitely one of the top steelbands today. Big Barker and Ossie Campbell.” Soon after its formation Casablanca was also joined by several former Bar 20 fighters. Kendolph “Cokey” Mason. continue. In the earlies. was known to beat an entire van of policemen—they didn’t have guns. The Maltese Falcon.” Zigilee used to say of the fight with his rival. but most of all the one whose sonorous name they gave to the band in 1945 for VJ Day: Casablanca. Pops. we gone!” recalls Augustus “One Man” Mark. continue. Cecil Osbourne.” Around that a more peaceable group went off in the opposite direction under the great Philmore “Boots” Davidson to form City Syncopaters. To start with. “Sometimes an accident—a little cord might burst—and the pan drop: man gone! Then we keep a meeting and say. however. In those days the younger boys were kept separate from the violence by the older hands. with its eight Panorama victories. Like all youth they adored the cinema and especially. but yet still was the greatest for music on the road. Arnold Agard. So when Carlton “Zigilee” Barrow from Casablanca and Carlton Blackhead from Invaders fought over Muriel “Little One” Granger around 1948. who became a fearsome Blanca warrior. “But Gold Teeth. Battersby. without doubt the greatest in steelband’s early years was one which has never won a Panorama. in Pile’s case. CASABLANCA. THE GREATEST If Desperadoes. the Humphrey Bogart movies North Star. But rioting does not a good band make. James “Batman” Anderson.

causing their neighbours Trinidad All Stars to take the classics seriously. the Maraval-based pan-round-the-neck Blanca ‘47. He was ambitious and he established contact with a German musician living in St Augustine. “I liked E flat because the background pans sound sweet and although the band was small it sounded big. And if Casablanca is no longer the force it was. One Man brought Alan Gervais up and he would give the band that rich bass sound which all leading bands used from 1965 on. the second tenor to Patsy Haynes. Additionally. so the band’s tuner Randolph “Croppy” Simmonds tuned a special small high tenor pan for Patsy Haynes to balance Soverall’s voice. the show was put on.” Folklorist and singer Edric Connor lived nearby in Belmont and he took an interest in the band. And when. Blanca’s solution was to get Gervais to tune pans that could withstand the hot sun. In those days a band’s power was not only its ability to fight.” recalls One Man. It wasn’t enough for de Coteau. when rumshops closed half day and “water lock off”. spend about a month there. “It was a mouth band—you humming your tune just like if you playing it on pan. “Next thing we end up in Point Fortin. THE HILL BOYS . It all came from the fellas’ early habit of liming all over Trinidad. And when they heard one of the brass bands play a nice tune at a dance. Bands used to tune their pans to different notes: Invaders to D. his sister was a pianist and she taught him music. “They lift we up and carry we down the road in the rain. Art de Coteau tuned the iron especially for the bells.” They used to get used cork hats from the Point Fortin Fire Station for their mas. and Casablanca won. the band isn’t dead yet and still has the potential to come back. having given birth a few years ago to a healthy baby. “Sometimes I have a little side with me and we outside and we singing different parts we go play on the pan and we eh stopping because if you stop you go forget. And in the early Sixties. on Sunday mornings a group of them including Patsy Haynes. Concert pitch was C. the boys would memorise it orally. Prof Katz.” Blanca was able to change the sound of steelbands when they brought Alan Gervais from Southern Symphony in La Brea to tune for them. TB Brown and Arthur de Coteau went for music lessons at a pianist named Simmonds.” says One Man. and when the first island wide steelband competition came around in the Savannah in 1948. and they arranged to hold a steelband and piano recital—the first ever. Some bands carried water to cool the tenors and Hilanders’ Bertie Marshall would invent the canopy to shelter the pans. when Blanca wanted a new tuner. the Victoria Institute was sold out—at $25 a ticket! “If you hear ovation!” recalls “TB” Brown. but its volume. “The first time we went to Point we went Fyzabad to dance for New Year’s. he encouraged Casablanca to enter with Chopin’s “Nocturne in E Flat Minor” and “Bells of St Mary’s”.From early on when panmen were now learning simple lavways and Latin American tunes. but those notes were light and easily put out of tune by hot sun. Casablanca had already realised the importance of learning proper music. Boots’s family was respectable. after months of rehearsals. They also included tenor singer Victor Soverall. Sometimes they went by saxophonist Sonny Denner too. North Stars to G sharp.” recalls One Man. We sing until we go in the panyard. especially Thursdays.

even before they were Desperadoes and were just a rag tag bunch of delinquent youths who called themselves during the war Dead End Kids or Young Destroyers or simply Laventille Boys. and Brains. inspired by Talkative.” recalls Crabby. And useful it was too. Realm of Incas.” recalls Crabby. Still. a movie name (Desperados from a Glen Ford and William Holden movie) they weren’t too good on the pans. “We used to have some drums filled with bottle for police because they used to harass we so we used to pelt bottle at them too. Winston “Talkative” Harrison.” recalls then Despers skipper Brooks Banfield. Brooks Banfield. Those Forties and Fifties were a time when steelband was disliked by respectable folk. That community spirit would make Desperadoes the band that converted Special Works unemployment relief into a steelband program. like every other steelband. Primarily concerned with mas. “All them time Laventille people did support we — police couldn’t come ask Laventille people to say they going to get information. “That’s why long time if they hold you. bringing out its massive head mas. that would have a community centre built for the band—all under the direction of George Yeates. Primitive Man and Extracts from the Animal Kingdom. he couldn’t leave his job. you not sure to get bail. who came to be known as Speaker. and Carl “Bumpy Nose” Greenidge chosen. their main player. So the band always managed to enjoy the support of the Laventille community. the hill boys didn’t completely ignore pan and when Spree Simon came playing his ping pong up the hill. Donald “Jit” Steadman. running when the black maria came or sometimes chasing the police off. “Like they really had something against Laventille people. Destination Tokyo. The leader was Wilbert “Be-eh” Pacheco. Hill 60. Sing-co. when the Trinidad All Steel Percussion Orchestra (Taspo) was picked in 1951. Carlton “Copperhead” Thompson and Rudolph “Crabby” Edwards.” Thus the band which became the most closely-knit community band ever planted those seeds way back. never. “I felt hurt. Sands of Iwo Jima. Desperadoes were naturally good with war mas such as To Hell and Back. Casablanca. If they wanted . and wasn’t afraid to manufacture bombs for it. Snowden. decided to try to tune. And even though around 1946 they took. Crusaders—they used to parade up through Laventille all the way down to Morvant or Gonzales. Reynold “Sing-co” John used to listen in envy. and Desperadoes’ concentration on mas allowed them a close relationship with traditional mas makers from the hill such as the Bowen family. Morocco. It was a wise move. because Laventille was where steelbands from all over east Port of Spain felt safe to parade in defiance of the police. He used a stone in those days and for many years he was Despers’ tuner with Charlie “Baker” McLean. It couldn’t be for working with the band which has won eight Panoramas—more than any other: they have always known how to help themselves. they concentrated on mas. Bar 20. As one of steelband’s greatest rioters. He was a good fighter and an audacious delinquent: Yeates would plan an attack down to the smallest detail. Rather. and the famous 1959 Noah’s Ark which smashed San Juan All Stars’ Battle Cry. But their innovation was the historical bands which moved steelbands away from the traditional sailor mas and into the Band of the Year competition: Land of the Zulu. and the Dead End Kids included fighters like Ivan “Brains” Bourne. who practically spent all his waking hours with a pan. Their head sailors were famous for introducing the crab in 1952.Perhaps Pat Bishop was awarded the Trinity Cross for her efforts with the Lydian Singers.

and after them he got Invaders’ star player. Despers had helped raise funds to pay for Cobo Jack’s defence when he was charged with murder. Roy Cape had brought Clive Bradley for their Panorama arrangements. On the night of the competition a tenor fell and was put out of tune. It was called Spike Jones. he’d plan how to take the entire truck. to join the band. THE CHINESE CONNECTION . So Rudolph stepped in. to take Greenidge’s part. capable of dealing with the outside world — and soon he was being groomed to lead. and Shaw was certain they’d lost. and in the early Sixties Cobo Jack began to tune for the hill boys. According to Aldwyn Cochrain. “Dougla Kenny”. But Rudolph tuned the pan quickly behind Queen’s Hall and Shaw allowed a newcomer. Pianist and arranger Beverly Griffith was leaving Trinidad and they needed an arranger. “When you going up?” Unwilling to say no. he got the community centre built. and they set to work. so that in 1966 the band won the triple title: Panorama. so again Speaker Harrison made a suggestion to Rudolph Charles. explained the structure of a steelband.” So Gill trapped him by offering to pay. Coca-Cola. “No. he also taught them how to play. he was like Yeates before him — intelligent. three straight Festivals and a Humming Bird gold. and even after he was long dead some respect was inherited by the young Rudolph. That Sixty Seven Desperadoes won the Champ of Champs Prime Minister’s Trophy. right down to the present West Indian Tobacco Co. “That’s the man allyuh say so good?” said Robbie Greenidge when Shaw tried to arrange for Despers but knew nothing about pan. and since then the band has gone on to amass eight Panoramas. I not going with them fellas at all. And most importantly he got Rudolph Charles. And although he never played on stage for Desperadoes. He cooled down the feud with Tokyo and later with Renegades. and he feared the violence in the middle period — so when Rudolph asked him to come up the hill Shaw thought. Bomb and Best Beating Band. another orphan who’d gone on to become an extremely gifted musician in the Police Band. and he got sponsors for the band from the first. self-confident. Speaker had grown up in the orphanage and he recalled the shy Raymond “Artie” Shaw. how the pans were played. asked him one day. Despers’ drummer.” Emory Gill. when the older Desperadoes decided it was time they concentrated on pan. Maybe a Trinity Cross is next. Emmanuel “Cobo Jack” Riley. Rudolph Charles got Ellie and Birdie Mannette from Invaders to tune for Despers. But he was chosen to lead for his intelligence and education: he was the only Laventille youth going to college in those days. Shaw replied. Rudolph’s father had been a senior prison officer and thus had met most of the Desperadoes in gaol. but the band needed a Festival arranger too. Speaker sent a message to the youth: join Desperadoes or we’ll beat you up and mash up your pans. who was also in the police band. Shaw had never had anything to do with steelband — he didn’t like the noise in the early period. Besides. The Charles family was a respected one on the hill. he brought Special Works to the hill. “I eh have no money to go. And he did wonders. Robbie Greenidge didn’t show.to steal a bale of sugar. In the late Fifties Charles was part of a popular and talented small band that came out at Christmas and was supported by all the youth.

” recalls Valentino Lee Loy. Rolf Moyou. and the more respectable Orientals were in Dixieland and its forerunner. Singco. for instance. especially Valentino. Likewise. had allowed the youths to play table tennis on the third floor of the Association’s headquarters. however. the male champ. and even. according to Valentino Lee Loy. as chairman of the moribund Kuomintang Association. briefly. although they were primarily a mas band and only became a force in pan when they joined with Bertie Marshall’s Armed Forces.” Zone Stars from Charlotte Street and Starland from St Vincent Street. along with some of her five brothers. it was plenty . however. Moyou—whose father was an immigrant Chinese. the Valiants. Melody Makers. There were also steelbands whose membership was largely Chinese. And it was Hamil who decided one day to bring out a steelband. Roy Chin was one of their captains. But it was Zone Stars—which another Starland captain. At the time there were only Moyou. Joyce Wong Sang in Best Village and Ellis Chow Lin On in soca spring easily to mind. So it was Dixieland’s mas that drew the Chinese in their numbers. the lifetime president of the Chinese Society. the founder of Sangre Grande’s Cordettes who also built Peter Minshall’s first half-dozen kings. practised upstairs the Kuomintang Association in Charlotte Street. one of the most innovative second-generation bands. but when they came on the road and started to bring out mas. starting with men such as Reynold “Singco” John. women’s table tennis champ at the time. did. Early members included Selwyn and Beverly Griffith. who went to QRC but played marbles and flew kites in the Cobo Town area with Ernest Ferreira and the other boys. “When the band was going through the Savannah I’d give somebody to hold my pan so I could look like I just supporting the band. Highlanders. was there. is the Chinese role in steelband. It was Hamil’s immigrant father who. and names such as Carlysle Chang in art and mas. was founded by Kim Loy Wong. whose Chinese name was Assing.Everyone is familiar with the enormous contribution the Chinese have made to culture. Even Kim Loy Wong’s Hilanders started mainly as a mas band. “When you saw the masqueraders. a group of mainly Chinese table tennis players whose club. which happens to be barely less fundamental. George “Whitey” Lynch. a small band from Sackville Street that fed into Red Army. Less well-known. Kim Loy Wong. They were. Malcolm Woo and the Allums and all them. who gave them pans. whom she later married. joined. things changed. was one of that early group of Dead End Kids that became Desperadoes. Petal Lee Loy didn’t play pan but Kenneth Lee Hoy. Steven Lee Heung in mas. and Singco was the band’s first tuner in the Forties. a fairly good band that was assisted by Ellie Mannette. “At the time my parents didn’t know. “Our supporters were 90 per cent Chinese. but whose mother was second generation and mixed with creole—as a little boy followed Poland.” says Ernest Ferreira. and Hamil Achim. Malcolm Woo and “Wakyong” Chu Foon (brother of artist Pat) in the band. Dixieland’s founder. The club included Petal Lee Loy. had “lower-class” Chinese. And when Melody Makers was formed. Moyou. perhaps because the race has always been keen on the art of masquerade and has produced not only Carlysle Chang but Aldwyn Chow Lin On. Eric Williams’s brother-in-law. helped out—that got the reputation as the Chinese band. beginning with Starland on St Vincent Street by Empire Theatre. as were Wilson Owen.

and the police raided the band and arrested its members while they were practising at the Halfhides’ house. Still.” Chan’s father was a Chinese immigrant who was very involved in Chinese culture—he made the papier-mache dragon head for Double Ten dragon dances.Chinese with helmet on their head. “After that we decided to play pan. Many retained links with the steelband movement. If Zone Stars started out of the Valiants table tennis club. Coming from an ambitious. Rolf Moyou became Eric William’s adviser on steelband. small ones. the steelband movement was attracting middle-class youth of all races. . took 20 St Francois Girls College pannists to the bank’s annual general meeting in Canada. the 1961 Festival winner. but they also went on to play in the first all-female steelband. big ones. which takes the band back to 1935 and makes it the oldest band in the country. Silver Stars grew out of the extended family-lime of the Chans. or we’d play cards—the loser had to buy watermelon for everybody. Girl Pat. going abroad to study. when they were treated to a small dose of the repression other steelbands regularly received. not just Portuguese and Chinese. and cousin Peter Kwong Sing formed Silver Stars.” recalls Ronnie Chan. Akam Long Wai from Belmont helped us with our mas and he brought a lot of Chinese to the band. which became in 1963 the only steelband ever to win Band of the Year. Aldwyn Chow Lin On was briefly acting president of Pan Trinbago.. just as Dixie Stars pannist George Ng Wai continued playing for many years abroad and is now the manager of his son Joey’s band Second Imij. now the managing director of Scotiabank. in 1935. settling down and marrying. ALL STARS SHINE FORTH This year Trinidad All Stars plans to celebrate its sixtieth anniversary. however. most of the Chinese boys left the steelband movement a few years after they entered it. The girls built the dragon’s body and sewed on its bells. the Youngs and the Kwong Sings. his twin brother Ray. two Carnivals before that. that eventually grew to include college boys from Cobo Town. was the first “college boy” band and they paved the way for a host of other Invaders-assisted middle-class steelbands. so we bought harmonicas. which was even more Chinese in origin. “We used to have small get-togethers on weekends and would play records and dance. and his brother Ellis became manager of Charlie’s Roots. According to historian of the band Macdonald “Jerry” Serrant.” Dixieland. or focusing more of their energies into their jobs. Lennox Wong. while Ronnie. the Trinidad Guardian mentions “the music provided by the strangest instruments. who made sure not only to get them off the charges but to win damages from the police. And although the earliest report of iron in the bands is in a February 1937 Port of Spain Gazette which refers to “the accompaniment of noises by tin pans”. it was a Chinese lawyer. Then we decided to play music. 1935 was chosen as the time around which the first bits of iron began to be included in the bottle-andspoon bamboo bands that came out for J’Ouvert throughout Port of Spain. By the time Silver Stars emerged in the mid-fifties. the most famous being Silver Stars. Newtown and Woodbrook. Ronnie Chan.. upwardly-mobile community.

And from then they created Second Fiddle.) . Depending on the season there might be a football or a cricket match. with men such as Brassy. “Well. “Lulie” brought out the band USS Virginia in 1938. (Orderly. Steven.” Hamil asked “Police”. And one who learned most from him and eventually took over was Hamilton Thomas. With over 200 members it was the largest ship’s crew (not fancy) black-and-white sailor band in town and they’d go by St Joseph Road where the coal carts left their black dust. panyard.nutmeg graters. it certainly paved the way for the younger generation’s musical revolution that was around the corner. Sonny Jones and others.” Serrant admits that the first full-fledged steelband was the Newtown band Alexander’s Ragtime Band which hit the streets in 1939. so we stand up. especially in wrestling. just heat the pan and pound it until you got notes. a few months after the movie of the same name played in Port of Spain. and he left Hell Yard to play historical mas in Belmont. Ralph—were all sportsmen. stealing pan. so we run up.” And whether there was iron in 1935 or not. cricket and football field. When they nearly reach by the Rosary the people come back and they call we. roasting a breadfruit. Some youths might be pitching marbles. culture. The Drayton brothers—Herbert. mas camp and eventually. spoons and other unorthodox instruments were pressed into service. And that was the year the 16 or 17-strong Alexander’s Ragtime Band left its Newtown yard on J’Ouvert morning to steal the hearts of young people throughout Port of Spain and change the cultural history of the world. after that when Carnival. but Herbert “Sagiator” was the oldest and he trained all the youths who frequented Hell Yard in self-defence. it cannot be doubted that All Stars is the steelband with the deepest roots that reach back to the days of the USS Bad Behaviour sailor band that emerged out of Hell Yard where All Stars is now based. bottles. It was in 1937 that Sagiator was stabbed up by the younger Eric Stowe over a jamette called Livvy. another Hell Yard limer. “What allyuh do to tune them pan?” Police explained that it wasn’t difficult. on top of the hill. broke away to go by the Mafumbo calenda yard. and for it he was idolised by the younger ones.” recalls Bully. And the leader of it all was the famous Herbert “Sagiator” Drayton. “It’s just that that’s where our roots began. Leonard. where he opened the short-lived band Missing Ball. liming.” he explains. First. “We eh pay them no mind at all. but whether or not this is so. Cecil. the first steelband to come out of Hell Yard. the Stowe brothers. one of the players in the band whom he knew. In addition to being the home of USS Bad Behaviour. Hamil had we all in Belmont. me and Hamil and Eddy Rab--we didn’t move. That morning the fellas were looking at the ole mas passing down Charlotte Street when some friends came running: “Allyuh come! Look a band coming up Park Street beating pan!” Elmore “Bully” Alleyne recalls. and the white-suited sailors would roll on the ground. There would be fellas gambling seven eleven. When we reach we see the fella with the flag and it was really a pan band. It was the first time ever a pan band land in town— it was real amazing. “We’re not trying to say we were the first steelband or anything so. They wasn’t playing no tune at all. Jerry Serrant argues that the fight between Sagiator and Stowe was also a generational conflict. better known as Big Head Hamil. Hell Yard was one of those areas that served poor people as a combination of community and sports centre. then Edward “Waj” Raymond took over in 1939. recreation and gambling club.

the Indian community could claim to have made a tremendous contribution to steelband. drawing a large crowd down Charlotte Street. when the police raided and held an 11-year old boy named Carlton Barrow. and that won them the Steelband Festival title five times. in the classical music that they brought on the road. who renamed them Cross of Lorraine. Still. having carried Renegades from obscurity to the steelband second only to Desperadoes in Panorama first prizes. look for knife with people on the road. arranger and captain—the true heir of Sagiator and Hamil. At one time when the band was based in the garret of the Maple Leaf Club. when the Government stopped Carnival. so other bands couldn’t copy his arrangements. He preferred to orchestrate every note of a tune. he turned captaincy over to Prince Batson.They were unlucky. And Jit. it’s in classical music that Jules’s tuning genius and orchestral talent. The police made a raid and held “Jitterbug” on George Street. Second Fiddle took a chance to make a turn on the streets.” recalls Batson. Building on the discipline forged from the days of Sagiator and Big Head Hamil. heard them and found they all played like stars. “I was a weakling but with a strongman side and I was obeyed. a man who insisted on a rigorous discipline in the band. and then I called on the fellas who had a reputation. who into the gamblers you try to get them out of the band. after which Hamil concentrated his energies on the band’s self-defence. And when the job of tuning all the pans as well as arranging all the music became too big. Invaders. Jules made them practice using their fingers. and Batson’s organisational discipline flowered. His nickname was Zigilee and the band he formed was called Bar 20. RAJA—BUT ON PAN On the strength of Lennox “Bobby” Mohammed. more than any other band. Bobby Mohammed’s Cavaliers changed the sound of steelband in the midsixties. that they played in their biennial Classical Jewels concerts.” Batson kept Trinidad All Stars out of the first Steelband Association because that organisation was formed to stop steelband rioting and All Stars never rioted. . and captaincy fell to Rudolf “Fisheye” Olliverre. for although he wasn’t a fighter himself he made sure to surround himself with the toughest men such as Claytis Ali. He was convicted and put on probation and as a result he left the band to form one nearer his home on Bath Street. so they never got a representative on the Trinidad All Steel Percussion Orchestra (Taspo) that went to England in 1951. for instance. and Hugo “Big Jeff” Peschier. “You had to search people pocket. is the most successful steelband arranger in history. with six Panorama victories. I LOVE YOU. Jules wasn’t too keen on the improvisational “ramajay” style of. But that wasn’t quite true. better known as the calypsonian Dougla. although the band would win four Panorama crowns. formerly of Casablanca. In 1940 the band was going to the railway station to go Siparia Fete. Then in 1941. Jit Samaroo and Amin Mohammed alone. the band changed its name after the Second World War to Trinidad All Stars after “Vats” Rudder. By then the great Neville Jules had joined the band and was to become their tuner.

however. And when Gondoliers moved from the Mohammeds’ residence a year later. Hilton Mohammed. when Starlift’s surfeit of talent overflowed to form two new bands in 1973. he too brought a tenor to accompany him. Taitt lived two streets away and Bobby's cousin brought him over to the Mohammed’s. Buddy Ramsumair. Bobby's father managed them. organised them. which translated the tassa experience into his 1986 Panorama arrangement on “I Music”. Then there are the many lesser-known Indian panmen and steelband supporters whose contribution to the steelband movement has been significant--men such as. Through him the Starlift players—including the young Len “Boogsie” Sharpe— participated in the Hosay. Their father. got the drums. Bobby's father. That was late 1957 when two days later Taitt brought a tenor for Bobby to accompany and they began playing together. a year or two older. Tosca went on to form a band in Pleasantville. and used to come around the Mohammed household. agreed and Gondoliers moved in. the youngster went on to make his career in steelband. Or there was Lawrence Lutchman. arranged sponsorship. Rhythm Stars. used to come an play on a table tennis board below Bobby's house and on hearing Bobby playing piano. Although he gave Buddy a good licking when the boy formed his first band. Starlift guitar and cello panman. It wasn’t the first time it had been done.Amin Mohammed took Exodus out of Gay Flamingoes and made of it the bestmanaged steelband in the country and progenitor of the annual Pan Ramajay. Tosca had suggested Bobby form a band and he even tuned a double guitar pan for him. Bobby Mohammed used a tassa side at Panorama in the early Seventies. One day neighbour Cyril Stoute who played tenor for Gondoliers asked Mohammed’s father if the band could practice under the house. gave Carlton “Zigilee” Barrow a brake hub for Bar 20’s iron section. Lalsingh tuned the pans and was made captain. It was a tune with a lot of complex chords. Bobby gave the chords of “I can't stop loving you” and Tosca took them back to the band. Bobby backed him up on piano. studying music in London. a new college boys' band named Trinidad Maestros assisted by Steve Lalsingh of the former Seabees. the now-weekly journalist. a mechanic. Jay Hawks. who also brought out Hosay in St James. and Bobby took a knock on the tenor on the road that Carnival of 1958. and Selwyn and 18-year-old Bobby began to play cello and arrange for the band. and the Mohammeds formed Cavaliers. Later. rolling the tenors like the martial Hosay rhythms. It was Sharpe’s Phase II. Mohammed had learnt piano by ear from hearing his mother play. younger brother of Charlie Ramsumair. Tosca joined the band to become Bobby’s right hand man. it was Lutchman who was one of the main men in the Third World breakaway faction. The family lived in Martineau Land off Park Street. Nerlin Taitt of Seabees in San Fernando--ping pong solo winner of the 1958 steelband festival—arranged for Bobby’s cousin’s band in Fyzabad. Steve Lalsingh tuned the pans and some of the Maestros rhythm men helped the new band out—the band which would win Panorama in 1965 and 1967 with the sweetness of Mohammed’s arrangements and the power of his bass section. It was Bobby’s brother Selwyn began playing the pan first. Born in 1942 in Siparia. where he teaches pan at 11 schools. Around then Zaid “Toscanini” Mohammed from Melody Makers. In secondary school he learnt the guitar and later played for the teenage combo Crystals. by the time he was seven. for example. He tuned for . but when Gondoliers moved in.

along with some younger members of Melody Makers. “When Jit came to learn pan he offered to teach me cuatro. The Samaroo family band. drowning out the panmen. The band then changed its name to the Pasea East Indian Steel Orchestra. In addition to the standard pop-kaiso-classical music. “There were fellas like David Toolsie. not in their repertoire. and their repertoire is wide. “We didn’t have no racism in Monte Grande. who began arranging for Renegades. taking the old name back. (Surprisingly.” Boys Town became Scherzando. changed to Starland and began entering conventional Panorama competitions. And no wonder. which he would play on a seven-dollar cuatro.” People used to say. securing the sponsorship of Lever Brothers and changing their name to Canboulay although Samaroo and Hamilton went on to play with Johannesburg Fascinators. and by the mid -Seventies Starland expired. the second runners-up were the Laventille Sound Specialists). both Indians and Africans came out to jump with us in Monte Grande. Mohammed experimented with African drums in 1969. “Look at Slim and them Indians” but the band wasn’t Indian. now the Samaroo Jets. “They only had about two or three Indian tunes and after I joined in 1978 I influenced them back to Indian music--we couldn’t compete with the other conventional bands like Desperadoes. “When we played carols at Christmas. both he and the band were in decline. but was edged out by Harmonites.and Indo-Trinidad. By the time he came to incorporate tassa in his1972 Panorama arrangement. Then. Jit Samaroo. given Samaroo’s pan apprenticeship in the original Tunapuna Scherzando. When UWI lecturer Landig White joined the band they began to go places. so he turned to pan and in 1964 joined that early Scherzando which used to be called Boys Town—a band that straddled both Afro. For that.” says manager Sam Ranjitsingh. Cavaliers were knocked out in the preliminaries and Mohammed and the baton passed that year to the leader of the Samaroo Kids Steel Orchestra.True Tones from Princes Town and brought some of them into Cavaliers.” recalls Michael Hamilton. is perhaps the most travelled steelband.” . when they got sponsorship from Turban Brand. Sammy from the Saraswatie Steel Orchestra formed the Tunapuna All Stars which he captained and which also specialised in Indian music. He was a born panman and in a week he could play like anybody else. winners of the first steelband festival. but for Indian music we are top of the line. Asgar Ali and others had formed the Saraswatie Steel Orchestra. Samaroo had his musical roots in parang. Ramdass Sammy. The sponsorship eventually dried up. “About eight of the younger fellas such as Lalsingh Rambaran and Billy Lutchman decided to form back the old Tunapuna All Stars. which played at Indian weddings and other functions. in 1982 they won the only Religious Music Festival and—to show that the culture mixes in both directions—the Hindi Nidhi steelband chutney competition a few years later.” recalls Hamilton. Born in 1950 in Lopinot. however. The tassa players hadn't rehearsed with the band and they merely kept up a deafening rhythm. Tunapuna and a lot of Indians joined the band. The Tunapuna band’s pans had been donated by Pt Cumana’s Boys Town. but they all played in Boys Town for Carnival. Ramdass Sammy. He wanted to learn to play the trumpet next but couldn’t afford it. in whose yard the band was located. and Lal Jagroop. But it attracted both African and Indian boys. and in 1970 he suffered a mental breakdown. Meanwhile.

“At that time it didn’t have no rubber on stick. The John John band wasn’t the only John John band. and thus the John John band acquired the name it still has today. to which no Desperado was invited. Desperadoes and Tokyo. the tuner and arranger for Humming Birds Pan Groove and he brought the entire team to play with his St James band every Panorama for over 12 years.” Those were the days when Spree Simon would be under a mango tree experimenting—like Ellie Mannette in Woodbrook and Neville Jules in Hell Yard—with the notes which could be put on a pan. Actually. in conventional arrangements. the John John band would take a chance and parade up the hill. The hill boys climbed out of that by the Sixties. And to show sceptics like Sat Maharaj how fruitful is that blend of Indian music and pan. Then the war ended. joining up with a smaller section from St Paul’s Street. old pans. There were other bands. Raja” from the film Raja is performed on a synthesiser--set to pan mode. They were better than the hill boys and they had more tradition. the Despers boys—they called themselves Dead End Kids in those days—looked on enviously. But it was Starland player George Rampersad who arranged Indian music for the Tunapuna All Stars (he now teaches pan in Denmark) and made them the main Indian steelband in the country. chanting and waving bits of bush in the air. and their elimination from the Panorama semifinals must have deeply hurt Tokyo Steel Orchestra and indeed all the people of John John. and religious bhajans at functions. Down there a Tokyo stage side used to practice too. though. but Tokyo is still rooting around for a Panorama or a Festival first prize. first in Europe. Tropical Harmony. John John’s Winston “Spree” Simon was part of that team. Down by the river behind the Besson Street police station some Tokyo youths formed River Lady. the most recent Indian hit “I Love You. although come Carnival you’d find them beating in Tokyo. anything they could put their hands on. for the John John band reached all the way back into the bamboo days when people played Jouvert in old clothes. He suggested the film name Destination Tokyo. and had . keeping an eye out for the police. “They give us VE day.” recalls Ralph Clarke. by Michael Cupidore. for that was the next target for a holiday when the band could hit the streets. They sounded all right. It wasn’t always so. was very good in the music department in the earlies. recalling the ideas being tossed around for the band’s new name. chutney. River Lady left the aquatic environment and around 1950 moved to the yard of Alan Mottley where they acquired the name Fascinators.They were assisted . weddings and chutney shows. small offshoots. which happily coexisted with their mother band. during the wartime Carnival prohibition. they say band on the road. performing film music.” says Clarke. “We used to go up in the mang and cut them little guava stick to beat with. When. Even as late as 1951. when the Trinidad All Steel Percussion Orchestra (Taspo) was formed to play at the Festival of Britain. WHEN TOKYO RULED THE HILL They gave a great performance. neither of the two great community bands. and a few youths had introduced dustbin covers.

. “Casanovas didn’t last a year. who was to foresee the role that would be thrust upon them? “They was selling all kinda flags and bunting. decided to form a steelband. He jump in the band and start to cry and hug up people. “And we come across this Russian flag—we say this is a good looking flag because of the hammer and the sickle. ‘Let we give them some pan and throw them out and let them make their own money’. who had moved in with a girlfriend nearby. August 15. all one band. Even the solicitor Lennox Pierre didn’t notice. who played piano and was musically literate. “The older fellas just take the pans from we and gone—we have the permit but them beating the pan. so when the young Casanovas came down the road with their permit. Cecil “Jinx” Gordon. And then Spree.” recalls Mack Kinsale. so we say we will give the name Red Army. but most people thought it was Tokyo he represented. But in 1945 when the bunch of well-dressed young men who limed around Green Corner and controlled the whores.” says George.’ We went up Picton Hill and opened a band named Casanova. ‘Yes—give us the pans. “We didn’t mind.” says Tokyo veteran Aldwyn George. joined them. It was the first little outing we had and they take we pans.” And Tokyo and Fascinators remained close for as long as the latter existed. Spree Simon was really in Fascinators when he went to England. They stencilled the hammer and sickle on their T-shirts and that’s how they hit the streets on VE Day.” It was all one John John. we pass him straight. however.” recalls Mottley. all one love that will never roll over and die—Tokyo. so Kinsale and his partners went back to their yard on Woodford Street and started to paint their pans red and yellow. Many years later when the OWTU sponsored the San Fernando steelband Free French in 1971. perhaps it was with Pierre’s blessing for he was by then advisor to the union. Carlton Questel was the captain. “They say.” The following Discovery holiday. “We say. Tokyo was refused a police permit to play on the streets because of the band’s penchant for rioting. which was prompted when the older Tokyo men were unwilling to share with the youths the money they’d received for playing at Carnival. one of the band’s stalwarts of that day the boys went down Frederick Street to lime. the smaller band following the bigger around town every Carnival.” recalls George.at least one member. despite being the guiding force behind the 1950 steelbands association and having been a socialist since he formed the Workers Freedom Movement in the 1940s. George also tells of yet another breakaway from Tokyo. so we say let we go in town and see what happening. “Around a Carnival time we ignore him.” That was just before VE Day in 1945 when everyone was expecting the war to over and celebrations to begin. May 8 and on VJ Day. “And he come up a Christmas time and make style on we. THE BAND THEY COULDN’T BAN Today it’s interesting to think that Karl Marx might have raised an eyebrow to learn that the vanguard of the steelband movement in the Forties was a band called Red Army. 1945. so we join back up with them.

the ageing Albert Richards.” Even the younger socialist John Poon. “Make here your first stop. second captain Leonard Morris and others. And he pinned paper money—twenty dollar notes. Red Army emblazoned on their T-shirts. they even got into a fight when they went on tour in British Guyana in December 1946 as the first steelband ever to leave Trinidad. when they came out in 1946 on that first Carnival after the four-year wartime ban. were Port of Spain’s saga boys—snappy dressers living well off the women who serviced the American soldiers. But Poon hadn’t a chance to introduce them to his ideology. their notoriety became itself criminal: a bottle could hardly fall in Port of Spain. but Red Army was blamed for it. far less bus a head. far less adhered to. And yet despite their dandyism. They weren’t even the average unemployed scrunters who formed steelbands in those days. Why. “Every Carnival allyuh must pass here. and ended up spending Old Year’s Night in the Georgetown jail. for again unlike other scrunting panmen and badjohns. however. If they were innocent of ideology. but whatever the reason Red Army couldn’t go on the road without a fight breaking out. Kinsale bitterly remember. whose father sold cigarettes on Prince Street. So if St James’ Sun Valley won the first island-wide steelband competition in 1946. and they were obliged to change their name to Lucky Jordan and reapply for police permission. his brother Teddy and their friends Wellington “Blues” Bostock. Breakdam. bearing a huge picture of Stalin. Soon. Kinsale.” The band was even once prohibited from going on the road for Discovery Day.Communism was just a word to them. was living out his last days quietly as a druggist on the corner of Nelson and Queen Streets. they had one thing in common with their namesake: for all their sharp looks. these saga boys were fighters—they had to be to control and defend their many women—and their band became embroiled in riots with almost every other fighting band except Invaders. when he saw the band coming down the road in front his establishment. And yet Kinsale was never convicted for all the charges laid against him. Rather. five dollar notes—all around the portrait of the Soviet leader. Kinsale blames it on other bands’ enviousness. those Red Army boys were able to retain a lawyer—Edgar Gaston-Johnson. for instance. grandfather of trade unionism in Trinidad took them for the real McCoy. Lenny “Bad Good” Russell. The ancient proletarian struggler. passing along Queen Street. “Tomahawk and grass cutter. captain Kenneth “Diego” Allen. ten dollar notes. one whose meaning they never considered.” demanded Richards. He ran out in front them and told them to stop and lower the banner. . the best. being arrested and taken to court for fights when he was nowhere around: “You know how much time I get lock up and me eh know what going on?” Lord Melody sang: “Who dead? Canan.” is how Wellington “Blues” Bostock referred to the hammer and sickle when interviewed by anthropologist Steve Stuempfle. used to visit the boys in their panyard at Blues’ barracks on the same street. elbowing Red Army into second place. Canan Barrow/Canan Barrow went to town and a Red Army badjohn lick him down. founder of the Trinidad Workingmen’s Association in the previous century. the saga boys of Green Corner won the best dressed competition. before the band left those cramped quarters to settle by Kinsale on St Paul Street.

not if you know the long history of pan in the deep south and the seminal contribution it made to the steelband movement. DEEP SOUTH PAN It might seem strange that our main pan-on-the-road festival should take place in Point Fortin’s Borough Day celebrations. “So I tell the fellas. “A cup? And no money?” exclaimed the instigator. And where better to find strong out-of-work men than in the panyards? “But I had my bigger brothers working stevedore. and the Red Army earned its name before they went Guyana. They didn’t pull it off. So they took up their pans and walked away. It was perhaps their moment of apotheosis. Port of Spain. others accused them of running from competition. It was the first attempt to organise panmen to fight for their collective interests and yes. Some just turned away from the Red Army boys.’ So when the police come by us we tell them we eh going. who was apprenticed to a tailor in Charlotte Street. a challenge cup. But it isn’t really. Sonny Roach from Sun Valley. after schoolboy Franklyn Roberts visited his older brother. and besides perhaps the youths were flattered by the enthusiasm of the upper class audience.” the white man from Trestrail came up and said to the boys. and perhaps it was this what made the white man from C Lloyd Trestrail to approach them in 1948 at the Grand Stand in the Savannah with ideas of sedition.” From then on at least some police began thinking that perhaps the band really was “communist”. quite down in that distant outpost. never gaining from the prize money which was eventually given that night. “Look.But mere combativeness does not a communist make. ‘That is unjust. though. having nurtured virtuoso players such as Alfred “Sack” Mayers and Rudy “Two Lef” Smith and having given birth to the Merry Makers. For many panmen of those days the pleasure of playing was its own reward. I like it. Roberts somehow got his hands on the small one-hand ping pong from a band on Nelson Street which he eventually took home . They answered the man they were competing for a trophy. “Don’t say I fast and I don’t want my name to go back. Neville Jules from All Stars. Marx might have raised an eyebrow but Lenin would surely have smiled. “This band is a nice band.” So the leading Red Army boys called the other captains around—Ellie Mannette from Invaders. around 1942. but what it is allyuh playing for?” It was the Sunday night before Carnival and Red Army was waiting with eleven other top steelbands to compete at the Jaycees Carnival show. the big boys of the steelband world—and argued they should call for prize money and appearance fees or boycott. Liming around the town with a friend. The workers were threatening licks for anyone who attempted to break the strike. Get on to the same man who organise this thing and tell him allyou would like to get some cash. watch that crowd there in the Grand Stand—them people making tons of money. I have my brothers working on the wharf and to go and break strike—we eh so suffering. we could hold out on that. so the police had Black Marias moving around to collect strike breakers and ferry them to the docks. towards the close of 1946 when Butler was agitating down south and dock workers were on strike up north. starting even further south than Point during the early years of the war. for the band faded away in a year or two’s time.” recalls Kinsale.

and the Cocoa Boys from Parilon. Thus. which required serious chords. so we joined Starlight. “I went to thief a pan from Morning Star and James (Neverson) catch me. we have to play and allyou sitting down by the dam?’ and Rupert hit two of them a lash and they came back so we could practice. the Bonaparte brothers came from a musical family. “I met Alan in Morning Stars. but they needed Neverson’s polishing.” recalls Vincent Lasse. “Bumpy.proudly to Buenos Aires. He run me down and tell my mother but she tell him I was a real pan jumbie. were already beginning to shine. There wasn’t as much violence and anti-social stigma about steelband down south as in Port of Spain. led by “Ginger” King. the two talented youths in the band. ‘Boy. Point has always been African. but Starlight produced Leo Coker. It was partly due to the influence of Casablanca’s Philmore “Boots” Davidson. another one down by Sobo Beach led by one “Marcus”. so he invite me to join the band. one of today’s top tuners. and after Carnival was resumed in 1946. “Allie Gervais. that band was responsible for Alan Gervais and Earl Rodney. after the end of the war. Point—just little boys mimicking the elders with milk cup. but Gervais and Rodney formed Tropical Harmony in 1951. but under James “Bumpy” Neverson’s captaincy the name was changed to Morning Stars. who was a young member of Tropical Harmony. so Allie made a device to join two sticks together. however. but after that they decide who they ketch well ketch.” Gervais and Rodney. and immediately their talents began to mature.” recalls Morning Stars member Stephen Hagley. Siparia where a more Hispanic culture with less Carnival atmosphere inhibited the spread of pan. but there was a touch of it.” These two bands mightn’t ring any bells in the ears of northerners. “We used to attempt tunes like ‘Stardust’. It was the latter whose visits to La Brea inspired a group of youngsters to start beating milk tins and anything else metal. Rupert Gomes and I went there and Bumpy say. George St Louis. “We had a little band in Erin with Peter Vin Courtney. whose mother had a house in Canaan Road so the Point youths called their band Casablanca too.” recalls their lead tenor player. Despite that humble beginning.” recalls Carl “Assing” Mollineaux from Morning Stars. “That happen Carnival Tuesday night and they never hold nobody.” In Point proper. steelband started on Adventure Road a bit later than in Buenos Aires around the end of the war. where other young boys would gather round for a knock whenever he played it. La Brea. I was about 13 and I used to have a car fender what I pound out notes on with a hammer. and the youngsters . “Block and Belgrave Bonaparte and their cousin Avilla and I used to beat milk cup. say.” recalls Ashton John. their father had a band. the band developed a reputation for Ju Ju mas. We had an informal band on Guava Road. which should be at least three notes.” Unlike. So they formed the small Starlight steelband. And as for Morning Stars. “We was going to play in a competition and we wanted to practice—Alan and Earl was small and they just stand up by the dam.” recalls Rodney. but they never had mas in Erin. “And in 46 we retaliate when we give two police a good licking and then disperse. most notably an unnamed band in Cassava Alley. Alan’s brother. in addition to Morning Stars there were several other early steelbands in the area. played guitar and when we were practising at their home in Egypt Village he told us we weren’t forming complete chords. “But the major centre was Point Fortin.” They lost the competition to the band from Buenos Aires.

” says John of the great band’s martinet leader. Tropical Harmony left behind the schoolboy players in Rhapsody and moved up north to shake up the steelband world. Ellie Mannette and Tony Williams. St Louis didn’t join Southern Symphony but Belgrave inveigled Rodney and Gervais to join them for festival competitions. “You could fight me. arranger and tuner—a man who ranks alongside Neville Jules. after 39 days of shuttling between funeral homes. so he call the band the Southern Symphony. Southern Symphony was sponsored by Esso from the early Fifties. “I used to play by myself at the back of the house and one day they send and call me because they were hearing about me. When her companion of 24 years. starting with the onset of her illness on January 1. “It was Belgrave who gave us the name. and ending when her abandoned corpse was finally laid to rest a year later on January 6. toured the world with them and eventually became one of the great tuners.” Noel joined Southern Symphony. Primarily a stage side.” John recalls him saying.” Hard tunes required hard work. “We was scared George (St Louis) would leave us to join them. while the arrangements of his friend Earl Rodney won Harmonites three Panorama trophies. and Belgrave poached the best from other bands the area.” recalls Franklyn Roberts of Starlight’s leading tenor player. It was he who modified Tony Williams’ “Fourths and Fifths” design to complete what is now the standard tenor pan. He got Ivan “Skull” Henry—who subsequently formed Arima Melodians—to join them while hiding in La Brea from the police. Bubulups always said that if she took to bed she wouldn't get up again. ‘Vienna Waltz’ and ‘Blue Danube’. a . SAGA OF A FLAGWOMAN The death of Yvonne Smith. was a harsh taskmaster not above giving a few cuffs to sloppy players. Eugene “Tepoo” Bristo. “but don’t fuck up my music. 1993. who now lives in the Bahamas. For just as it was Belgrave Bonaparte who introduced panmen to more interesting chord changes in the 50s.” It also required good players. you could jook me. led by Belgrave Bonaparte and with pans tuned by his brother Carlton “Block” Bonaparte. known far and wide as “Bubulups”.” recalls Noel. was sadly ignominious. And. “He wanted to play all them hard tune. and Belgrave. 1994 at what used to be the paupers’ cemetery in St James. “I used to hear them practising and one day I get a pan from Block Bonaparte in exchange for a birdcage and going back home through the bush I start to play. Belgrave got Casablanca’s virtuoso Kenny Hart to play with them while he visited Point.eventually formed the steelband that would change pan music. so too it was Alan Gervais who showed tuners how to make a living from their craft as he moved from Casablanca to Cavaliers to Harmonites. and later in the decade they migrated to Port of Spain to become the house band for the Hotel Normandie. And when in 1959 Southern Symphony left Trinidad. more permanently. Their circuit of oil company staff clubs was taken over by Gervais and Rodney’s Tropical Harmony. he recruited a 13-year-old Lincoln Noel from Sobo Village whose precocious talent was well-known. tuning long-lasting pans with the speed of a conveyor belt. and it turned out to be true.

” From that first liaison she became pregnant and fled or was chased away from her “respectable” family. and young girls like money. Bubulups had gone years before to live with “friends” in Charlotte Street when she was put out of her home. but whatever means decent society used to compel Bubulups to surrender her baby must have wounded her to the bone. In October she spent two weeks in hospital but there was no one to donate blood: Tepoo was too old. “I stand up on George Street looking for friends the first night and both of us became friends. as a child and must have also resented that. and the hospital attendant laughed at this beached whale on the floor.” recalls Jean-in-town. Bubulups found herself pushed towards a different eminence. emerging from bed mainly to for Tepoo to sponge her down in the front room. rose to become a parliamentary representative. Hermia Blackman grew up a stranger to Bubulups. most brave danger jamette in Trinidad. but the family was respectable enough. Her father. But in 1993 it was all she could do was to return her dilapidated two-room shack in Clifton Street. much as Bubulups had grown up a stranger to her own mother.” Similarly. “I met her on Prince Street when I came out as a young girl on the street: I had a child and my father tell me where I catch my cold go and blow my nose. Born on May 2. just as happened to her younger friend “Jean-in-town” Clarke. And on November 29 she died at home of “abdominal malignancy” and “anaemia”. perhaps she knew a daughter would have no place in the life she was about to enter. she spilled out of a wheelchair and was unable to rise. one of the men who went to school with her and later enjoyed the pleasures she sold on the streets. As a child she attended a school on Duke Street. and her friends were alcoholics.” she fumed afterwards in impotent rage. who remained involved with Bubulups for several years after Hermia was born. even after. and there was a piano at home on which Yvonne played. He didn't attempt to pull her out of the world she’d . they lived next door. she probably chafed against the taunts about her size.” says Blackman. They had a parlour on St Vincent Street by the law courts. And whereas one half-brother. then a stevedore and Admiral for Hill 60 steelband. Perhaps Bubulups. “She went on the streets for company. Yvonne Smith grew up on Duncan Street. “She was about 14 and I was about 16 and we loved one another. Although she’d lost weight she wouldn’t have displaced much less than 250 pounds.” recalls Wellington “Blues” Bostock. barely a teenager. who took her grand-daughter Hermia away from Bubulups the day she was born.” admits George Blackman. Selwyn Charles. “Pinhead” Smith wasn't wealthy. first took her to the General Hospital. “Is I break she out in life.panman from Tokyo steelband. John John. “She was an ordinary girl but always miserable. remained living with his mother. always big and she didn't take nothing from nobody. she had alot of young girlfriends. A wilful and uncompromising child. And she didn't take nothing from nobody. her mother. I had nobody to help me out. according to the death certificate. Blackman. Hermia would also follow her mother into the demi-monde and is at present facing trial for a murder in a rumshop. 1924. He used to ride his bicycle past her house every day and look in the window where she practised piano. She was 69 years of age. so she jumped through the window and we went Carenage to sleep. where she remained bleeding from her vagina for several months. Ethel Charles. felt she couldn’t afford a child on her own. through coincidence. for in her day she was the most notorious. “In my day he woulda be crying. She had been separated from her mother.

entered, though—maybe by then she wouldn’t have accepted his help. Instead she joined the world of steelband badjohns and saga boys. For some time she hung out in the “Big Yard” on George Street where a devil band came out, and by the early Forties she was wining and waving flag for Bar 20 steelband, leading them into battle like an enormous, brown Joan of Arc. “Bubulups with a flag in she hand,” goes one calypso, possibly by Spoiler, “beggin the police don't stop the band.” Even the most fearless men, such as Carlton “Zigilee” Barrow from Bar 20, found it daunting to keep up with Bubulups when she led them into battle. “When she was in front with the flag your stones was cold but it was a woman in front so you had to go,” he admits. “When the police come, don’t run,” she told the band when they paraded the streets illegally after the funeral of Bar 20 skipper Ancil Boyce, and they went on to beat a handful of policemen and smash their squad car on Quarry Street. The subsequent police retaliation destroyed Bar 20. At least twice she was sentenced to gaol, apart from the routine police harassment she experienced as a whore sitting by a gateway in George Street. “Police used to give we a hard time on the road,” says her younger friend and colleague Jean-in-town, although eventually they left Bubulups alone. “Once they take all of we to court. The police say she was sitting on a box and Bups tell them they have to be explicit: ‘Am I selling chataigne, peewah or pommecythere?’ The whole court start to laugh and the magistrate dismiss the case.” On another occasion Jean-in-town told the magistrate, “I did now come out to work and as I pull down my panty to pee the police come with torchlight. I hold the police hand and say let we go drink two Guinness.” Again the court laughed and the case was dismissed. This harassment made Jean-in-town move to the clubs along the “Gaza Strip” on Wrightson Road, west of Port of Spain. Perhaps her decision was influenced by her involvement with the Renegades captain, Stephen “Goldteeth” Nicholson, who was the bouncer at a club in the Strip. But Bubulups remained in town. One term in gaol was for a licking she put on a policeman who had chucked her. After that, when reinforcements were brought to arrest her she had to be carried by several of them, screaming and kicking and naked because she'd ripped off her clothes. That was down Carenage Bay at a St Peter's Day fete, during the war when she was still in Bar 20. According to Clem Belloram, then a child living in the district, it started when the band went to the festival in honour of St Peter, patron saint of fishermen. As expected, the rum was flowing and Bubulups got into an argument with someone. She began to fight and it spread into an all-out battle between those supporting the whore and those supporting her opponent, until the police arrived and one officer named Alfred Gilkes attempted to tackle Bubulups. “She hit him some coconut and spread him out,” recalls Belloram. “She drop him but you know Alfred Gilkes with he little boxing tactics can’t handle Bubulups to get her in the van cause he had to hit her a punch. I think he hit her a punch in her breast and knock her down. That was the only way you coulda get her to carry. Yeah. She was heavy. All now she would have been still fighting. I’m telling you. You couldn’t carry her nowhere. I could remember that as a little fella. It was during the war, yes, about 1945.” “Bubulups darling, why you beat the officer?” sang one calypsonian after the incident: “Six months hard labour.”

Some time before she’d befriended a young calypsonian fresh out of the countryside, Aldwyn Roberts, better known as Lord Kitchener, but by the time he sang about Zigilee and Bar 20 in “The beat of the steelband” in 1946, the band was dead and Bubulups had moved on. She was now flying flag for Red Army of Prince Street, a band of pimps if there ever was one. “She was one of the first flagwomen and all of them was jamettes,” says Blues Bostock, a veteran of that band. The liming spots in the wee hours were Tanti's Tea Shop on George Street and Luther's Tea Shop on Prince Street, where all- night bake and saltfish and coffee would be on sale and Kitchener, Spoiler and other calypsonians would be talking and trying out their latest songs. Bubulups remained friends with Kitchener until her death. When Red Army, cleaning up its act, metamorphosed into the Merry Makers by shedding its more unsavoury members, and fell under the patronage of a different type of dancer, Beryl McBurnie, the founder of the Little Carib Theatre, Bubulups moved on to Trinidad All Stars where she met Mayfield, a stripper and one of the greatest winers in the country. The two waved flag for All Stars. Although many of the whores found acceptance in the world of the outcast steelband men, it wasn’t an easy world. Once a panman broke her arm with blows. He got 18 months for that. As for Jean-in-town, she was disfigured for life when a man stabbed her. “One night I was liming with some Renegades panmen with some of the other girls and we went in this place on Park Street to buy some food,” recalls Jean-in-town. “This little boy who did just like to harass me come pushin money in my face. I spit in he face. Then when I comin out of the place later, somebody bawl ‘Look out!’ and I throw my hand to cover my face.” Until her death many years after she had left the streets, Bubulups remained close to Mayfield, as to all her friends of “her days”, remarking often that one didn't find friends like them again. The hardship and promiscuous intimacy of their lives must have indeed forged firm bonds of friendship. So although she gave up Hermia as a newborn to George Blackman’s mother, she always advised Jean-in-town to save her money for her child, not for any man. But to her friends, Bubulups was generous whenever she had money. Despite Bubulups’s complete immersion in the underworld, she maintained a very clear-cut code of ethics. For one, she abhorred dishonesty, and would never, for instance, pick a client's pocket as whores routinely did to supplement their meagre earnings. Jeanin-town, for instance, admits that, “I never really like sex and thing, you know. I used to more rob man.” Bubulups was never in that. And despite her battles with the police, she'd not let one be unfairly beaten. “She saved my life years ago,” recalls former Police Commissioner Randolph Burroughs. That was when he was a constable on the beat. “She used to sit and open she legs under Big Man club on Prince Street. Ruby Rab was there too, and I was pursuing a chap for pick pocketing.” The rogue darted into the Lucky Jordan club, a hangout for some of the country's worst criminals, and when the young policeman dashed in after him, someone locked the door behind him. “Bubulups knew the danger and she and Ruby Rab began pounding on the door, bawling ‘Murder! They killing the man! Ring the police!’” Burroughs recounts. “Police didn't have revolvers but I put my hand in my pocket and pretend I have a gun until reinforcements from Besson Street arrived.”

Bubulups's formidable wilfulness and, ironically, her self-respect were what got her into the most despised profession, and there in the gutter she defended her dignity with all the belligerence and moral rectitude she could summon. Later, after she’d left the streets for good, she'd exaggerate to her Clifton Street neighbour, Velma Denbow, that she’d always earned a fair amount of money, always had nice clothes—as if to justify the life she’d lived. According to Denbow, Bubulups always recalled to her how good it felt to always have food in her kitchen and new clothes on her back—a rose-tinted memory at best. She also impressed upon Denbow how ladylike she always had been, even when on the streets, which was certainly a lie. Social commentators could not accommodate the contradiction between her abrasive vulgarity and her strong sense of dignity, and Bubulups was merely considered to be the biggest whore in Trinidad, scorned in calypsoes by Lord Melody, Lord Blakie, Roaring Lion, Kitchener, all the way down to the Mighty Chalkdust’s 1992 “Trinidad ent change” in which he names the prostitutes as the standard of middle class corruption: Trinidad ent change Just re-arrange Prostitutes like Jean and Dinah Bubullups and Bengal Tiger They now Mrs Clarke And Drs Doris Mark In Federation Park. Perhaps when Kitchener celebrated flagwomen in his calypso of the same name, this first flagwoman felt a surge of pride, but it’s unlikely. By then she’d already forsaken the streets and Carnival for good. More likely she felt stung on hearing in 1946 Kitch’s gloating “Ding Dong Dell” with its unspoken rhyme, “pussy in the well”: Well the Yankee leave them sad All them girls in Trinidad And the course is getting hard Port of Spain to Fyzabad Ding Dong Dell The girls in the town they catching hell Ding Dong Dell Starvation in town, they must rebel Bubulups and Elaine Pow Every night they making row Well the thing is not the same They gone in the poker game Small and wiry Tipoo Bristo was a butcher who played tenor for Tokyo when he met her one night in 1969 on George Street. “From the first night we liked one another,” he says. “I told her I don't want her to make no fares again, I going to mind her.” She moved in with him and became progressively reclusive. Once she went to look on at Carnival and tripped somewhere along Prince Street; she never left the neighbourhood again. Eventually she hardly left Tipoo’s shack, not even to go to the nearby standpipe for water. After she died, squabbling broke out between Tipoo and the estranged Hermia, who lived a few steps away along a rocky dirt path. Hermia, surprisingly, stole the framed photograph Tipoo had of himself and Bubulups. The death certificate also disappeared and the corpse remained in Nella’s Funeral Home for 32 days, after which it

after a funeral service sponsored by Clark and Battoo’s Funeral Home. Thus Cito decided to launch his own fancy sailor band in 1959. then carry it down to the mas camp. And it was Cito’s first band.) A born winner. When dolls were once again imported. “and they didn't even send up a dudup to bring us in. And from that picture he built gigantic fruit headpieces of startling realism: melons to make your mouth water. and George Blackman was the only man there to pay his last respects. But in a way it embodied the human condition where defeat can be as heroic as victory. In 57. because she had been a big woman. Flowers were donated by La Tropicale Flower Shop. who slept with Bubulups for a last night on the same bed. THE MASTER CARVER It is debatable whether it was Lewisito “Cito” Velasquez’s greatest band. the kings of fancy sailor mas. 1994. none of whom included the steelband pioneers such as Blues Bostock working next door to the funeral home in the Pan Trinbago office. the band was near destroyed just before competition.” he complains. His family were all craftsmen. During World War II when imports were severely restricted they operated a toy factory making dolls from papier mache. Fifty Eight.50. but Cito’s idea was grander. Fascinators’s Looking To Retrospect incorporated selections from previous portrayals but were edged out by the velvet-suited sailors and short-skirted majorettes of Starlift’s Nursery Rhymes. the design for Flowers and Fruits was contained in a single drawing for which Cito paid $1.” he recalls.” one newspaper would report on Ash Wednesday. as in the nobility of Mannie Dookie rather than the achievement of Hasely Crawford. “I had to take it up by the panyard during practice. “Little flowers and little fruits?” scoffed Noble Alexis from Fascinators. for instance. like polyfiller. walking as always from his home in Barataria into Port of Spain to join the band. and only managed to limp into fourth place. Formerly. The following day he tried to get the Co-operative Funeral Home to take her corpse but hadn’t the money. Her last rites were attended by a handful of mourners. saw him in his section of Fascinators. Who couldn’t paint could carve.was returned to Tipoo. At the St James cemetery the coffin was lifted with great difficulty out of the hearse. opting instead to play dragon mas. he was Lucifer’s Crown Prince in Legislators From Hell. about two in the afternoon. Eventually Yvonne “Bubulups” Smith was laid to rest on January 6. however. tamarinds to cut your teeth. Still. sliced paw paws with gri-gri for the black seeds. he made costumes for Old St Joseph Road’s Fascinators. although he didn't play in the band himself. “According to one of the several judges a cut watermelon looked so real he began feeling thirsty. Whiting was used for smooth surfaces. the Velasquez family began making and repairing statues which adorn churches throughout the region. . but Flowers and Fruit was certainly the perfect choice for Leighton James's sculpture Day of Glory.

Cito's band will lose five floats. but it stands up better. none of this has happened. and many pans will be destroyed.” says James with a sigh. strays from other bands. The Day Of Glory is not merely a realistic tableau about a particular band. even those who'd got the white changed it. stripes. Only the . Nobody wanted to be left out of that extravagance. every muff on every bare-headed sagga boy. children smaller and fancy sailors with their headpieces larger. “Some people just have no imagination. the ubiquitous white T-shirts. the pedal-pushers on the woman hugging a sailor. reaching to pick it up. Each figure stands about five inches tall. 37 panmen will be injured. and try to put it back on. most of its headpieces.And if George Baileys Relics Of Egypt won Band of the Year. James's tableau of this band is 17 by four feet and contains 180 figures: about 60 fancy sailors carrying 30 flowers and 30 fruit and about 30 panmen. to collect his money. “A woman at the exhibition see that and say. onlookers. Well. and James's figures are painted in all their resplendent detail. “Cito wanted to use white velvet but the stores didn't have enough—people tried as far as San Fernando to get. however. if you're crude. though. Charlie Chaplin alone stands cross-legged with an unnatural stiffness. because such was the style of the original character.” recalls James. and will destroy Flowers and Fruits. not only the masqueraders but also the bystanders are individual in their detail: the print dress of the little girl whose brother is buying a press. Ambulances will be used to carry panmen from San Juan back home. a sailor leans against a tree. the pivot of a shoulder. Balancing on one foot. while another flees from a Desperadoes man. Other woods are difficult when you cut against the grain.” In James’s recreation. And this it does by focusing on a particular band at a precise moment—the instant before it was destroyed. reminiscent of Pieter Bruegel’s boisterous peasant fiestas. in its static inner harmony it mediates between the eternal. it rests on the pavement. the paunch on the Three Card hustler. because imagination is what’s required to see the genius of James’s epic masterpiece—a hybrid midway between sculpture and mural. all out of teak. there are supporters of the band.” says James. on Independence Day 1962. they flake easily—teak too. and they complained—so he said buy any colour. majorettes. Flowers and Fruit was resurrected three years later. The pan pushers strain at the racks. diamonds. the snowball seller reaches forward. every finger on every hand. Carnival is colour. “Teak is the best for carving. In the steelband clash which will take place on Charlotte Street in front the Colonial Hospital. the tension in their immobility. ordinary sailors. More important than detail. stars. look she shoe drop off. casual pedestrians and vendors. and the ephemeral. A majorette's shoe has fallen off. firemen. every individual bearing his own combination of colours. Then there are men pushing and pulling the racks. she is slightly stooped. As yet in James’s tableau. and every one is minutely carved. Only one San Juan All Stars man is throwing a bottle. Thus the tableaux directs the imagination inexorably towards the as yet unsuspected future. is the movement in the figures. rather. “It was the first time fancy sailors were colours other than white. It was the first time fancy sailors abandoned plain white uniforms. like all great works of plastic art. which emerges from the play of muscles against the force of gravity—the arch of an instep. arm outstretched. to decorate Port of Spain from Duke Street to Independence Square.” Such people would miss everything.

Downtown.band’s flagman is off balance. and a policeman has spotted him. and has opened up to let San Juan All Stars pass through. A Windmill vendor looks at the band. things are still normal. Then Destination Tokyo closes ranks. because already a San Juan All Stars soldier is throwing a bottle. portraying M for Mango. playing Noah’s Ark.” says James. Destination Tokyo has sent Ebonites into Belmont out of harm’s way. and the most colourful sailors. their headpieces spread them out. firemen and majorettes. he's actually pouring away a beer. truncheons. A shepherd from Noah’s Ark with his crook is chasing another soldier . so Cito has Rhapsody from First Street jamming for Flowers and Fruits. already James's immanent humour had begun to emerge: unseen by everyone but a little boy in short pants. as far as Carnival can be normal. Behind them is the small St James band Crossroads. Rhapsody is playing their music. although. Cutting in from Gordon Street is Starlift’s Greatest Show On Earth. around 2. cupping the flame in his hands. He will never be caught. in James's sculpture. bolts. however. whisking away the supporters from Fascinators’ camp. overtake Flowers and Fruits and meet Desperadoes. Flowers and Fruit was a sensation. One peddler is selling roast corn and another. behind them all but moving rapidly. And James amplified this. It was similar to the steelband—you do something without ever knowing where it will reach. If I bringing out a band I must have music. “Then ideas came. they are halfway into Charlotte Street. suggests James—and a police-and-fowl-thief character. One man from Alphabet. has broken off his M to join Cito's band. “The first section was the steelband. and their steelband is Rhapsody. Battle Cry portrayed by San Juan All Stars with Lord Blakie. a cornucopia of fruits. 1959. The band is large. but this year Corregidores are already portraying Alphabet. wearing green fatigues and red wind-breakers. across New Street and now. cutlasses. People are as yet unconcerned. Destination Tokyo and. San Juan All Stars.30: Carnival Tuesday. With the band is a Midnight Robber. Cito captained Black Swan steelband and. have already smashed through Irwin MacWilliams and is barging up Charlotte Street. at the back a Jab Jab cracks his whip. Cito’s masqueraders have tramped all the way from Barataria: huge bouquets of flowers. In the poignancy of the moment. after that he played for Corregidores. An onlooker lights a cigarette. Nothing else even hints at the unfolding debacle which nevertheless colours everything. Lower down the street are Ebonites. a rack has run over a struggling man's foot. Their music is Lord Caruso’s “Run the Gunslingers”. Although they number no more than 200. Up Henry Street they chipped. having drunk too much. An all-white sailor from another band leans with one hand against a tree and appears to take a leak. Also there’s an Indian— “possibly looking for his tribe”.” In beginning with the steelband. its doomed innocence. so much so that at the back you can't tell it's Desperadoes. Crawling up Charlotte Street are the Desperadoes. It is a hot afternoon of February 10. in that split second. A pickpocket is plying his trade on an unsuspecting pedestrian. And today they have a tank full of bottles. who sang after a steelband clash years ago “never me again/to jump up in a steelband in Port of Spain”. the crowd jostled to see them. is flying their flag. and emerging from New Street is Flowers and Fruits. Formerly. the fancy sailors are portraying their mas and dancing their elaborate choreography. because even normal Carnival isn't just gay abandon: a sweet and soft drink vendor is picking at a sore on her leg.

An octave of a note. he grew up in the same spot on Nepaul Street.000. joining up with Harlem Nightingales in Guthrie Street for that first 1946 Carnival. because the fund has a target of $90. Theo Stephens. is about to fall. “I heard the sound of the octave C in the lower C—it produced a brilliance in tone that was .. a fitting tribute to the man who is perhaps the greatest all-round panman ever. because they were accustomed to the small ping pong--they used to hold it up in one hand and play ‘Mary had a Little Lamb’ and some simple calypsoes. RETURN OF THE MUFFMAN It’s a mark of his stature that when Pan Trinbago North Zone passed around a hat last Saturday to build Anthony Williams a soundproof workroom. naturally sing an octave apart. Already Williams’s innovativeness was apparent. a middle-C and the octave C fit below.” he recalls of what’s now standard practice for all tuners. “They found that they were too large. it’s Tony “Muffman” Williams’s “Fourths and Fifths” arrangement of notes which has become the standard design on most pans. And still that doesn’t exhaust his contribution to the steelband movement. Patsy Haynes. north of the Western Main Road. One of the most infamous steelband clashes has begun. St James. And in addition to his seminal technical innovations. the band he captained for 20 years. but Williams had moved ahead by inventing the tenor boom. Ellie Mannette.500 was collected. Born in 1931. “I introduced the oil drum to the tenor boom because it had a biscuit drum there. and already it was overlooked. Towards the end of the war he tramped around Bombay Street with an unnamed steelband of five or six boys. moving on that same year to Nob Hill and then Sonny Roach’s Sun Valley—winners of the first island-wide steelband competition.” he explains.. that Williams first heard pan and it was there he took root and blossomed as a steelband man. for instance. nearly $1. and was the youngest member of the famous Trinidad All Stars Percussion Orchestra (Taspo). Sterling Betancourt. Belgrave Bonaparte. Boots Davidson.” Within two or three years everyone was using oil drums for their ping pongs. Andrew De La Bastide. And yet this is but a drop. It was also he who created the modern steelband ensemble by putting pans on wheels. Dudley Smith. one leg askance. And only four—not including Williams—were official tuners for the band.I was working on two Cs. The flagman for Flowers and Fruits. is the same note but higher: a man and a woman.” All of the Taspo youths were tuners in addition to being virtuoso players: Sonny Roach. After all. he was also one of the greatest arrangers when he worked with North Stars. “When the war was over the Americans had a lot of drums that they dumped down Mucurapo. In those days. Ellie Mannette from Invaders tuned the sweetest pans by far. and for long after. “The biscuit drum was too thin and it used to sound like galvanise. “In Taspo I was tuning a tenor boom. But it was up in Kandahar. but Nightingale didn’t want them. Spree Simon. By then he’d left Sun Valley for the breakaway Northern Stars led by Roy Harper. so I went there with a friend and we rolled out two drums and we started to tune those drums.from Battle Cry.” recalls Williams. But it was Tony who discovered how to put the octave within a note so that when you hit it what you hear is really a harmony. heavy. you see. where he now lives.

so I resigned. the fifth and the fourth. Without knowing it I had discovered the cycle of fifths. F.” says Williams. in light of his subsequent accomplishments. he made all the pans chromatic. “But the road band wasn’t chromatic because they couldn’t bring a bass. Do. “The stage side had developed chromatically. A. the Sixties crowned him as a captain and arranger.” he says. all the while experimenting with a larger. I wanted to be able to go and play and just be a performer. Festival again in 1966. eight semitones equal five tones. so I put B flat there and kept skipping six semitones all the way around. to bring a chromatic pan.” he admits. “The ping pong had developed from a tenor kittle beat that was a major chord— So. Roy still in his old clothes.different. three drums. and his band went on to win the Festival in 1962. But perhaps North Stars great moment was in 1969 when they held its famous “Ivory and Steel” concert with world-renowned concert pianist Winnifred Atwell. author of Steel Pan Tuning. blending pan—I didn’t want that kind of hard work. And the great man . Still.” The band prevailed and Williams became captain. Describing this innovation as “ingenious”.” And fate had more in store for him. concludes: “In this way the harmonics of the octave.” Although they had long known that you didn’t place any note next to any other note. but pushed the logic of his discovery to its conclusion. Surprisingly. He didn’t stop there. though. “I didn’t want to take it over because I used to see the hard work Roy had. 29-inch pan he’d made himself of sheet steel. The following year the police stopped the greatest tuner from practising his craft at his home in Nepaul Street because it was creating a nuisance! He began tuning for Valley Harps at the Princes Building.” If the Fifties was his decade of invention. starting with the collapse of the band. mashing up the pans and the drums. so I realise the octave must be inside the note for it to sound true and clear. will surround each note and help up the harmonic spectrum of the tone. Williams tried to avoid leading the band. Williams was placing its octave on the inside circle. arranger and tuner for North Stars—the vehicle for both his apotheosis and his downfall. I counted from F to A and found it was five. Swedish physicist Ulf Kronman. “Whenever we had to play out. Thirteen of the band’s twenty stage-side players left for the UK and Williams wrote Pan American World Airways cancelling their 15-year sponsorship contract: “There is a saying that all good things must come to an end.” Taspo returned from England in 1952 and the following year Roy Harper left North Stars. trying to put on the road the beautiful orchestration of the Taspo stage side. I told the members in Taspo about it—nobody really said anything about it. When we dressed. he continued experimenting. (conductor) Griffith introduced the chromatic (scale) to steelband in Taspo. Me” he explains. “Someone had been sabotaging it. For every note on the outside circle. Panorama in 1963 and 1964. so I counted the semitones from C to F and found six. “That is C.” Six semitones equal four tones. I wanted to bring the chromatic steelband on the road so I started with the bass and put wheels onto the drums. come to play. Roy still there pounding pan. It was the decade of the Seventies which laid Williams low. I think the time has come for Pan Am North Stars to disband immediately and terminate our contract. different tuners in those days had different stylings. In 1979 the Princes Building was destroyed in a fire and with it went Williams’s experimental 36-note pans on which he’d tuned 30 notes already.

beginning a hide-andseek she'd play for many years to avoid blows with broomstick or pot spoon. which her brother appropriated. “We wanted to make a statement to the steelband world that women can play good pan too. hand-held instrument home. would help bring him back.succumbed to what some have termed “pan tabanca”.” explains leader of In Focus. the first female band to enter the competition. Sonny told her to play and she did. “Sonny said. without their mother knowing. probably tourists.” says Keith Simpson. A school principal had refused to admit her younger sister to enter the school on account of her brothers Sonny and Fitzroy being panmen. Before her Norma Callendar played ping pong with Hill 60. Not that women in pan are new. Gemma Worrell played for Desperadoes and Savoys in the Sixties. and other panmen such as Art de Couteau and “Patsy” Haynes. so what would have happened if it was known that Daisy played too? “The band would be in the road where I couldn’t go. building a room to do his research and tuning. and I had to just sit on the steps with my ping pong and try to follow what they were playing. Alison Dyer. Both brothers Ancil “Sonny” James and Fitzroy “Gaga” James were founding members of Casablanca and when Gaga brought this small. “I was amazed and shocked. but differently. “Women have a different touch. Even when the more peaceable players broke away from Casablanca after a riot with Rising Sun. which starts next weekend. and formed City Syncopaters under the James's house in Quarry Street. “After all. continue playing—the band answering you’. She'd never known there was such a thing as a steelband.” In Focus isn’t the first female steelband. This time it isn't in the nature of the competition.” she recalls. a mental breakdown from which he is yet to recover. rather. ‘No.” says Cape. “We hope that making him comfortable. though.” She also played with the short-lived Starlighters. The threat of her mother's wrath continued . She had to dodge her mother to play but big brother Sonny knew and one day. he was the ultimate panman and he still has a lot to offer.” A SOFT TOUCH ON THE IRON Once again the Pan Ramajay competition. but when the rest of the band fell in—pan in those days just repeated simple rhythmic counter-melodies—Daisy froze. “We don’t play as aggressively. the band was out of bounds for Daisy. softer and smoother. however. “I stood watching him play and when he went out I tried it. but that band collapsed after some Desperadoes men stole their pans. he took her to the panyard where to her great surprise she saw some white people.” The tourists gave her money.” she says. more elegant. that the instrument her brother had brought home was meant to be played in an ensemble. it's in the bands. nor its venue. Daisy was enthralled. And before them both was Daisy James w ho began in 1944 when at six years old she saw her brother Fitzroy with a pan. And then she returned home before her mother discovered where she'd gone. There were Trendsetters and the National Secretaries Association Vibrations in which In Focus player Jennifer Cape was a member. Pan Trinbago North Zone Treasurer. will break new ground. in particular one band—the all-female In Focus.

and increased dramatically in the 1970s with the newly-formed UWI Birdsong leading the way. It was then that Scrunter felt prompted to sing “Woman on the Bass”.unabated until 1956 when the People's National Movement was led to power by Dr Eric Williams. The Caribbean sun more than healed her and one day in her jubilation at becoming mobile. was a dancer with Beryl McBurnie’s Little Carib.” reassured Henley: “It's just like piano and have the same four parts. at the US base in Chaguaramas. Daisy was in a social group called Hilltoppers that used to hold parties and organise concerts and they'd planned a show which the Education Minister John Donaldson Snr was to open with a speech. for instance. Soon others fell in—two of the three Forde sisters. however. na. St Vincent. decent girls weren’t allowed to play in a panyard. And they would have travelled more if the Education Department hadn’t refused to allow them the leave. and the organiser called on Daisy who was in the audience with her parents to entertain the crowd. They visited Guyana in 1951—the same year the band was formed—and Jamaica in 1952. and like many members of In Focus today. the idea of decent girls forming a steelband was so offensive to some that a detective was sent to check it out.” Even so the more snooty classically-trained girls were disdainful. after all.” The tradition of Daisy James lives on in the In Focus pannists who all play for conventional bands as well. in the Little Carib. Henley and Maurice had piano lessons. This tradition comprised just a few isolated women in the 1950s and 1960s. “We played softly.” she recalls. she suggested to Maurice. she shamed her staunch Anglican family by showing them how she could wine to a passing Salvation Army band. He was late. But there's another more exclusively female tradition which began in 1951 when the irrepressible Hazel Henley got together with Pat Maurice and other friends to start Girl Pat: the first all-female steelband. and when Henley invited Lennox Pierre’s sisters to join they turned up their noses. “Let we beat pan. And in August 1951.” So they went by Invaders to buy a nine dollar Ellie Mannette pan. Joan Rolston. Celia Didier. “After that my mother allowed me to play. Robertson. “I improvised 'Somewhere over the rainbow' and got a standing ovation and Donaldson afterwards thanked me.” explains Henley. Indeed. “Yes. had brothers in Dem Boys from Belmont but she couldn’t play there. Of course nothing came of it—what could? And soon the band began to play at parties. But she preferred to jam calypso and began playing piano at the Little Carib where Maurice danced and the Invaders played pan. their parents knew mine. so it was all right. Henley as a child had been born in the US where she developed rickets and didn't walk until she was six and visited her mother's homeland. She too began to sing in the Trinity choir and became a teacher in St Agnes primary school. and taking it home they wrote the notes in chalk and began teaching themselves to play. . “We were all friends.” “You think we could do it?” queried her friend. Norma Braithwaite. Jean Ewing. Like many middle-class women in those days. And the band was formed in the Henley living room because. Irma Waldron. All Henley's aunts were musical and sang in the church choir and Henley was given classical piano lessons. Whereas Maurice. the daughter of a judge. we were in my house—not a panyard—and we couldn't go in the road because the pans were too heavy. Elie Robertson. at the start of the school vacation. the crowd started to become rowdy.

” says Henley. but with an earlier band called Atomic. One afternoon he heard them playing an Invaders tune and getting right a note he’d been having trouble with. Known affectionately as “Skip” Bernard.” recalls Henley. so they also lifted drums from neighbours’ yards. in March 1953. “Like you playing my music. but Vernon “Papite” Andrews used to hang around the yard then situated by where Melodians panyard is today. however.” shouted Mannette from the road outside. left and never returned.” Even their long-time friend and supporter Ellie Mannette. He went up in the American base and bring back some small drums and they ended up making kettle drums and du dups. He didn’t enter the pan world with Melodians. Mannette. tuned Girl Pat’s pans. “Atomic was at first just a group of fellas sitting under a mango tree on Cocorite Street. Once at a Roxy competition where they played a castillian.” recalled Skip in an interview last year. but when Henley attempted to show the choir's director Olive Walke how to play pan she found the older woman unteachable. got resentful of Henley’s greater musical knowledge. thinking he would know about those things.” the Invaders would call out to the girls.” says Papite. “The fellas used to put the drum on their head and another one would beat it. Kelvin Dove. beating tar drums on rollers. One of the Woodbrook bands star tenors. It still required dodging the servicemen. particularly in Arima. one Casablanca man swore. perhaps feeling insulted at her not responding. The tragedy happened around the same time the girls were beginning to pair off with boyfriends and husbands.They also accompanied La Petite Musical once. “because we couldn’t be a band without all of the others. Despite being house bound. Henley’s mother died. “She was too stiff. Skip wasn’t in Atomic in the days during and immediately after World War II. Soon after. from 1961 until his death. . “If two or three left it hurt us. Arima’s oldest surviving band. Being musically trained Henley was often asked for help in arranging some tune or other. It’s Boysie Watson who see them and say he go bring pans for them. the band enjoyed a close relationship with the Invaders. And at Carnival the Mannette band passed by the Henley house on Picton Street to take the girls out for J’Ouvert. so Reds Vernon had to ask my mother if I could play with the band. “I was a little fella about fourteen. “Hazel— what's that note? Play it again.” It was a minor note and Henley played it again but she didn’t say what it was. the fourth of eleven children.” THE PIONEER WHO SOUGHT MUSICAL REVENGE The steelband movement. they cyar do you nothing.” Watson drove trucks for the Americans and used to tell the youths when to come and steal drums from the rubbish dump on the US base at Wallerfield. but there was a slight resentment too. but they left them by Richmond Street just in case. “Come in the band. “I could stand competition from another man but not from a woman. and Girl Pat found itself unable to continue. which was formed in 1953. lost one of its firmest pillars on June 26 when Frank Bernard died of heart failure at age 63. who used to drop by the house to hear Girl Pat practising. captained Melodians Steel Orchestra.

cut a few people and was fined $180 by a magistrate. so when he decided he couldn't take the hard life in Port of Spain he fled to Malabar where for two years he brought a small unnamed steelband and a Ju Ju mas. “When we leave for parang we didn’t come back for a week. and even captained the band while Belgrave Bonaparte went to England with the Trinidad All Steel Percussion Orchestra (Taspo). starting in the Thirties with his brief involvement with Alexander’s Ragtime Band.” Years before Skull had hidden out in Arima.” recalls Papite. 1945. and even so it was only after his younger brother Charles “Charlo” Bernard had joined. but they limed up by the Dial. again breaking warrant for a gambling fine of $15. a badjohn who played bugle for them. “When the band went beating in town Yankees used to be throwing money all around me.” There was one other band at the time in Arima. My old man used to take it up and push it in my pocket. tramping with their heavy pans as far as Tamana. on returning home. . “It was Christmas time when Atomic mash up— some fellas went one way and parang. Valencia and Sangre Grande to serenade. was honoured in recent years by the Arima Borough Council. and continued after Bonaparte. Cumuto.” says Charlo. me. “People used to say when we come back we tired and could only give them the remnants.” says Mikey Bernard. Skull was a veteran of several bands. like Frank Bernard.” Alas. next door to the Bernard’s house. Born in 1921. under the expert guidance of Ivan “Skull” Henry who.The band had members like “Rugged Tommy”.” he says of that period. ra. the more belligerent Vigilantes. “I only stayed one month there—life was too hard. He got into a fight in a fete. and “Red” Vernon who was distinguished from “Black” Vernon “Papite” by his mixed blood and who tuned the pans. Knolly “Quasimodo” James. The police had tracked Skull to La Brea. however. “Some fellas take the rest so we raised a band by Aleong’s Bakery. Atomic eventually split. however. fa. so it was to Atomic that Skip gravitated after the war to cuff biscuit drum. just the scale they taught us in school: do. so he returned to Port of Spain to pay the fine and play with Trinidad All Stars.” It didn't last but out of its brief life Bakery Boys and another band called Harlem Boys gave birth to the Melodians in 1953 in Bellamy Lane. And they played for both Carnival and Christmas. another set went another way. They used to lift me on a box to play pan—ping pong. be a good thief or a good gambler. In La Brea he played bass in the Bonaparte brothers’ Southern Symphony. who cuffed the biscuit drum bass with his bare fist until it burst.” he explains. “I was about six years old and I’d pass by River Road and see ‘Reds’ Vernon tuning pans.” he says. “To live in Port of Spain you have to have a good job. “I couldn’t find the money so I broke warrant and went La Brea to work at the Pitch Lake.” Charlo was at Arima Boys Government school and when his teachers saw him in Atomic they invited him to play in the school concert. “My class always used to come first. Then he moved to Mission to Moscow (which later became Savoys) for VJ Day. “I start collecting condensed milk tins and I pounded them until I got notes—we didn’t know about sharps. coins all in my pan. got into a fight and spent eighteen months in jail. one of the great pioneer bands. Reds see me playing little tune on the condensed milk tins and ask my father for me to come practice. in a bamboo and cocorite roof tent.

tenors—they was a set of coloured boys and they decide they didn't want any black people in the band. Arima. And when Skull landed up by Green Street. lending it briefly to a La Brea band which had barely lasted two months: Melodians. levelling the drum. sinking it. Tunapuna. aided by discussions with more experienced tuners. seconds. They brought the pans down to Bellamy Street where Frank Bernard and Cyril “Snatcher” Guy constructed a tent. Published by the National Music Museum in Sweden. part description. “After I modernise Crossfire and tune three-bass. part speculation. he’d say ‘I don’t work like that’. and I came with revenge in my heart and raised Melodians Steel Orchestra. whose Director Kirster Malm set up Trinidad’s folklore archives in the early 1970s.” admits Kronman. tuning it. And though it cannot teach you to tune a pan.” says Ulf Kronman. to realise that Invaders were wrapping their sticks with rubber. “A tuner would laugh at what I’ve written. That would be like reading the rules of cricket at home and expecting to become Vivian Richards.” says Skull. the author admits that no one could read his book and with that alone learn what takes five to ten years to master in Trinidad. tempering it in fire. marking the notes. cutting the skirt. the book brings out the remarkable achievements of those men who invented the craft of tuning which is nothing less than the making of the steel pan.” SWEDES HAVE A GO AT TUNING No one would ask a violinist how he made such lovely music from that wooden box. . Kronman has not been able to tune very good pans himself because the craft is largely intuitive and can only be learnt with long years of practice. “I and four others left. another new Arima band. “People shouldn’t worry that I’ve publicized the secret so the Japanese can take it. and making sticks. the Swedish author of Steel Pan Tuning: A Handbook for Steel Pan Making and Tuning. and the Bernard brothers and the four Brown brothers said no.” Indeed.” How far we’ve come from the Trinidad All Steel Percussion Orchestra (Taspo) days when that band went to the Festival of Britain with instruments which were deliberately left unpainted and rusty the better to surprise the Europeans at the sounds they produced. backing and grooving them. Then he was invited to lead a rejuvenated Baker Boys.Now. “But people think pan is just an old iron drum. he became involved in modernising Crossfire. “But to explain it I had to separate things he would do simultaneously. boring holes for hanging it. Atomic had to enter a competition in Monarch cinema. Skull donated to the new band a name he'd seen in a magazine and had carried in his head since his Southern Symphony days. guitars. pan had never been as developed in the east as in Port of Spain. Indeed. The first practical section of the book describes choosing the drum. cellos. blending.” he says. part theory. finishing. Kronman’s Steel Pan Tuning is something of a grab bag: part practical tutor. “The book is intended to increase people’s respect for the instrument. a country band still cuffing biscuit tins when town bands were already playing three-bass. That band was in the process of splitting. fine tuning. some players trying to pull it into Caspar.

” After this “tempering” comes the task easiest to describe and most difficult to do: actual tuning—coarse tuning to soften the metal and put in the right pitch. But the pan note has to be tuned to get separately the fundamental note and its partials. is composed of the fundamental note—take a C tone for example—and several other different overtones known as partials. The partials are what allow us to identify the particular timbre of the note—that is. when pitch and timbre are adjusted. say to C. This is why different drums with different kinds of steel require different treatment. It’s also why the world of tuners is full of anecdotes of how difficult notes were tuned in the zaniest ways. what kind of instrument is playing the C—and its brightness.Sinking the face of the drum with a hammer or a shot put. until they “marry” at the right spot. are tuned and “blended” with the sound of the other instruments of the band. Tony Williams of North Stars. And yet although Steel Pan Tuning can’t teach this. This is done by first heating the metal and then cooling it. changing its timbre. taps that part. The tuner taps this part of the note. Neville Jules of All Stars. the higher the tone the smaller the note. having been chromed. “The grooving and the backing has also forced local tensions into the metal. come automatically and indeed can be explained by a simple mathematical formula.” says Gerard Clark.” explains Kronman in his book. Pans with higher notes require deeper sinking than those with lower notes: a modern tenor goes nine inches down where as a bass no more than five inches. more durable and louder. “The hammering during the sinking and the backing has made the surface of the pan stretched and soft. “That’s why every note on every pan is an experiment. trying to get a particular sound. and blending when the pans. then the various overtones. pulling another down. The notes vary in size. . If you tune a guitar you tighten or slacken the string and in so doing you adjust the tone. the dozen-odd partial overtones. of the tuner who lost his temper after days of failure with a note and flung his hammer at the pan only for it to hit the note and knock it right in tune. Before tuning the pan has to be hardened and the tensions have to be removed. moving the fundamental. The reason has to do with what is known as partial overtones. say a guitar. the discovery that this could be done was the accomplishment of specific tuners—mainly Tony Williams and Bertie Marshall. clarifying its sound. As a matter of fact. Then outlining the notes with a groove of softened metal allows the vibrations of one note to be separated as much as possible from another. fine tuning. it still manages to effectively convey the complexity of what two heroic generations of Trinidadian tuners have wrought—men such as Ellie Mannette of Invaders. Starlift’s tuner. How it is actually done has to be rediscovered anew by every tuner on every pan. marking and pounding up sections to form convex bulges (backing) are technical jobs that stretch and change the molecular structure of the steel. moving one up. Pounding the notes up into soft bulges creates tensions within the steel and enables it to vibrate. These men through a process of obsessive research and experimentation and brilliant intuition produced an instrument whose ability to generate musical notes still defeats scientists. making it easier to tune. And all the rest. the way a man and a woman could sing the same note but an octave apart). Every note you hear on an instrument. And none of this admits precise measurement. shifting first the octave partial (that is the same note only higher. Lincoln Noel and Alan Gervais and many others who contributed to the invention of the instrument. the expansion of its range.

It moves along several different planes.. which is also a physically demanding task. then let it stay D and see if you can get D two sections to the right of it. Previously. An early primer on pan making. vibrates along different waves. but also rocking left and right. it’s well-tuned. and part of it is to sharpen the ear sufficiently that it could distinguish the components of a note—the fundamental and its partials. notes were placed in arbitrary order. cannot give you low fundamental notes. ring after it.” And yet tuning is still an art. (The face of the tabla is modified by a paste put on the centre so it can make simple notes whose overtones support the fundamental. This is peculiar (although some Chinese gongs also do that) because the partials . but every tuner wishes he could as knowing how that was done might be the clue to how he could simultaneously stalk the note and its elusive partials. though less so because even if the drum face moves in crossing waves. How one man might tickle the fundamental towards its octave (the latter is usually tuned first) is unique.) The pan note is much more complex. and thus dissipating more energy. The second clue that Kronman pursued is the fact that the overtones follow a millisecond after the fundamental and. . This arrangement of notes has made tuning easier by making adjacent notes and their partials support one another. and the next time around even the same tuner might do it quite differently. but because they do produce the appropriate overtones you “hear” the correct sound—even though its main part doesn’t exist. Since the late 1950s when Physics professor Roger Kade at UWI. the partials the chiaroscuro.if for example you cannot get middle C on the Ping Pong to go below D. unsuccessfully attempted to understand the acoustics of pan notes.” The importance of partial overtones is indicated by the fact that small speakers such as those in telephones and portable transistor radios. Mona. you silence the fundamental and what you’ll hear is a higher pitch of the same note—it’s octave overtone. to produce the fundamental and its harmonics. science has been baffled.“If the octave partial is five Hertz off. and then to design the Spider Web pan which has become more or less the “Fourths and Fifths” tenor pan design (modified by Lincoln Noel) used by all tuners today. like a boat which is rocking up and down. “The overtones don’t support one another and the pan sounds like old time bands. If. the partial overtones are not harmonic—hence you cannot play a clear melody on a drum. first. With a drum it’s also simple. written by Highlanders leader Kim Loy Wong. most strangely. The greatness of Tony Williams is. What might work for one tuner wouldn’t with another.. Tuners can hardly have the time to sink the drums. generally fade away more rapidly. The fundamental is the outline.” explains Kronman. So if you put your finger on the centre of the note and tap it. to discover the octave in the note. Kronman’s still incomplete research follows two main clues. The long and continuing travail of pan makers is to master that art. all the other partials become distorted. With a stringed instrument it’s simple: the string vibrates to look like a wobbly snake slithering. of course. recommended that the tuner “trade the note’s place with another. CARIRI began large experimental project on methods of sinking the pan face. First is the fact that the pan note moves indifferent ways. being higher and vibrating faster. but it was discontinued and its interim results are unpublished And here is the heart of Kronman’s book—the acoustical theory of the most significant acoustic instrument of this century. and is additionally rising and falling.

even though everyone in the room wears ear plugs. lingered in the air for a few moments. and a notoriously violent rival steelband called Destination Tokyo. Then in 1944 he started the technique wrapping strips of rubber—cut from a bicycle inner tube–around his pan sticks. the first Carnival after the World War II hiatus. the Woodbrook Invaders. it’s too wide. This is where some of the most beautiful steelpans in the world are made by the most famous panmaker in the world: “Ellie” Mannette. developing the instrument that has once again poured a vast river of music into the Grand and North Stands. “Ossie” and “Birdie”. electronic equipment. at Carnival. Mannette was already known for innovation. Mannette was giving the finishing touches to his latest invention. THE MAN FOR WHOM THE STEEL SINGS Deep in West Virginia University’s labyrinthine Creative Arts Centre. He visits Trinidad every two years since 1979 when he first heard pan. A rich tone rose lazily from the chrome. that the wrapping of the rubber on the stick can make an important difference in how a note sounds. the Antonio Stradivari of steel. the Quaduet he’d designed for virtuoso player Andy Narell: four pans which in all have a range of 46 notes. he put fourteen notes on a sawed-off 55-gallon oil drum and thus initiated the dimensions of the most significant acoustic instrument invented this century—the steelpan. Kronman funds his own research. He encouraged his friends too. In 1941 he first sank the face of the rudimentary pan into its modern concave shape when others hammered it upwards into a convex bulge. Already his pans had a reputation for their range of notes and their tone. darkest corridor. down here tuners are still innovating. It seeps out of a workroom that’s well lit inside but crowded with racks of shiny steel drums. Shelves are covered with short-handled hammers. It was a natural creativity which was responsible for that seminal act a half century ago. when other boys were using broom handles whittled down and pounded soft. So on that Carnival Monday in 1946. he was .Here Kronman conjectures that the stick holds the higher frequency partials quiet for the millisecond of contact—which accords with what every tuner knows. and then melted away. “This note’s floating. and the gang called themselves Oval Boys because they lived across the road from the Oval cricket club. you can oftimes hear a muffled clanging in the furthest. And maybe Merchant can feel confident that pan is in a little less danger. It was to be unveiled in a few hours’ time at Mannette's Golden Anniversary Celebration in July. Born on November 17. lights. Behind glass doors are two sound-proofed cubicles where the noisiest hammering is done. he was the oldest of the three Mannette brothers “Ellie”. 1927. and had been knocking on old paint tins and dustbins since he saw the prototype steelband Alexander’s Ragtime Band in the late-1930s. Fifty years ago. boys like Francis “Peacock” Wickham and Kelvin Dove. but it was also spurred by a clash between his band.” said Elliot Mannette as he tapped the glistening face of the steelpan before him. observing whenever possible Rudy “Two Lef” Smith at work. The physics is still incomplete. down two or three floors. working one day per week at Sweden’s Royal Institute of Technology. And while he’s doing that.

That time we was little.playing a state-of-the-art “ping pong”. he sometimes played the mid-range cellos because he found it easiest to control the entire band from there. Mannette and his friends thought it wiser to allow Tokyo to keep the Barracuda. He saw the way bench fitters did things to steel with hammers. “Usually we never used to go in town. heavier 55-gallon drum.” With hindsight it’s an obvious step: the larger drum would have room for more notes. Within a few short years Mannette’s Invaders would develop the fighting ability to take on Tokyo or any other band in the country. Other times he syncopated on the brake hub iron. “In my father’s backyard I spied a rusting 55-gallon barrel.” recalls Francis Wickham back in Trinidad. (In those early days of rapid innovation outstanding pans were named. Mannette led the Invaders into battle against all east Port of Spain rivals which sought to keep the west out of town. we used to go around Woodbrook alone. until it responded like a lover and his pans sang more sweetly than anyone else’s. “Out of that frustration I became determined to build another instrument bigger and badder than the last. Soon the Invaders were famous for Mannette’s “sweet pan” and when the great Trinidad All Steel Percussion Orchestra (Taspo) was selected in 1951 to go to the Festival of Britain. they confronted another band led with a big T flag. they dared Mannette. But before that. So he pursued his idea of tuning the 55-gallon oil drum. Mannette was the band’s designated tuner. But wherever he was he created the most powerful steelband to this day for both music on the streets and for warfare.) So there he was: playing his Barracuda.. . though. Wearing the cork hat which still sits in the Invaders’ bandroom today. the ping pongs made from 35-gallon drums were held aloft in one hand and played with the other hand—you can’t do that with a pan made from a larger. and Tokyo men triumphantly carried off the Barracuda as a trophy back to the John John ghetto where they strung it from a tree. So we had to run. they mash we up flat.” He wasn’t able to hold on to his. A master of all the instruments in a steelband. This genius was also a man of action. tramping around Port of Spain with his young friends in the band now called the Invaders when. back in 1946. we didn’t play no mas—we was just in town the night. It was the feared Destination Tokyo from the east Port of Spain ghetto.. though.” Mannette shouted. until he put 14 notes and was able to play Brahms’s “Lullaby”. Mannette’s friends protested. It was made from a 35-gallon olive oil tin can and called the “Barracuda”.” Mannette recently told Kaethe George. its harder steel would hold them longer. working by himself on it under the bleachers in the Oval. “They played Ju Ju Warriors. as they swung from Charlotte Street into Duke Street. There he’d learnt about the work-hardening and tempering and moving of steel. And his intuitive feel for the material was sharpened. Come and get it. They would maintain a five-year feud against Casablanca—one of the top steelbands to major in both war and music. How could such thick steel be tuned? Besides.. That year we went down in town and that was it—they eh want we in town.. Mannette was one of the country's few scholarship students. even though ever member of that team of stars could tune. we didn’t know nothing about no cutting up man. But in 1946 it took a radical leap of the imagination. but had dropped out of high school and secretly apprenticed as a machinist in an iron foundry. “Hold on to your pans. Project Manager of the University Tuning Project. And the world of culture gently shifted orbit.

“We want to get a darker tone from it—I’ll pop it up here and make it longer.” he said.” recalls Faini. Mannette had trained the US Navy steelband back in 1957. when the notes are adjusted for their volume and timbre. It is the most delicate stage in the process. almost all of them living in Trinidad. and had visited Puerto Rico to tune their pans. How unlikely. orchestrate and tune the steelpan. the notes are tuned to give off the tones of the chromatic scale. the side of the drum has been cut to the required length and the whole thing tempered in a fire. the one where the tuner's aesthetic is manifest. He didn't look up from the pan on which he was working. the making of steelpans has been developed into a highly complex craft that still puzzles acoustic physics. These partials are what allow us to identify the particular timbre of the note— that is. In the five decades since Mannette first tuned that 55-gallon drum.” For his part. Trinidadians call this stage “blending”. their brightness. Next. Faini got Mannette to visit the university to tune a set of pans. And they’re so important to how a note sounds that when some very small speakers cannot play very deep bass notes. “I said it is like bringing Edison here. Every note you hear on an instrument. The pan has been built—its face strenuously hammered into a smooth concavity. But he was tired of the road. a quiet picture postcard town in West Virginia with few black people. There are only a few dozen master craftsmen. say a guitar. And for that he's had to invent a language with his students. Mannette's most senior apprentice. they play the partials alone and your ear reconstructs the whole note so you can “hear” it. and heard a steelband. teaching music students how to play. spending the last few years travelling from state to state holding workshops and tuning pans. its notes marked off and “bubbled up”.His note placement on the tenor pan with a large F# in the centre was the first design copied by other tuners. that he should have found a base in the tiny university community in the Appalachians—Morgantown. He wanted a more sedentary life to pass his art to a younger generation. Alan Coyle. because it’s when the many pans in a steelband are blended together for the best orchestral effect. . and if at present Mannette tunes along Anthony Williams’s “Fourths and Fifths” design. and the instrument is chromed or painted. what kind of instrument is playing the C—and its brightness. He asked Mannette if he’d ever considered settling. And he’d lived in the US since 1967. has studied under him for over three years and is now able to begin to learn tuning—so far he's only mastered the building of pans. Only then is the pan fine-tuned. then.” This is the last stage of fine-tuning. “I worked on our Provost. But the only master tuner formally teaching students in a classroom setting is Mannette. we have a chance to do it. is composed of the fundamental note—take a C for example—and several other different overtones known as partials. “Pop it up a little bit and shoot for the G. and Morgantown seemed comfortable. Two decades later. Simple? It takes almost a decade to become a tuner. there are many who will swear today a Mannette instrument is still the sweetest. So in 1992 he accepted Faini’s offer to became WVU's Artist in Residence. But WVU has one of the strongest departments of percussion studies in the US. who was both a cellist and a physicist. and its dean Philip Faini has loved pan since 1969 when he passed through Trinidad en route to Brazil.

” said Mannette.” But he goes on anyway. concentrating completely on the note he's blending but describing every step he takes for the benefit of whoever cares to listen. He explains that one has to discover the “temperament” of the steel in every individual drum to know which partials it can take. apart from Carnival. Indeed. he continued: “Pop this angle and maybe put a harmonic—yes. I created some rings on this outer C and now I’m having a problem taking it off. ERIC'S IMPOSSIBLE LOVE It was probably the Invaders who introduced Dr Eric Williams to steelband in 1948. Williams loved Trinidad and Tobago’s arts from early—perhaps he’d inherited this from his father. So shortly after he returned to Trinidad in June 1948 he attended the formal opening of the Little Carib Theatre. nudging one up. that is to say. “You can hit around it and change everything—the note begins to relate. Williams realised its significance.” The young woman gave him a smile and squeezed his shoulders before returning to what she was doing. He dislikes the bright. pulling another down—until they marry at the right spot.” wrote Williams in his autobiography Inward Hunger. moving the fundamental. and get a second octave.” recalls Beryl McBurnie. they can be explained by a simple mathematical formula. going instead for a mellower tone. “I’m trying to get a darker sound here. “He was always sympathetic to our cause—he offered to guide us politically and he did.” He tapped it gently with the stick and indeed it did sing. Glancing up at a young blonde woman. “He told me I didn’t know the value of the work I was . But each pan note has to be tuned to get its fundamental and its partials separately. The tonic will go down and we'll see if we can get a C out of it. the only form of music. trying to get a particular sound. the overtones play with each other. Invaders. the way a man and a woman can sing the same note but an octave apart). And playing there was the band from around the corner. “The family’s entertainment was bounded by the Police Band Concert in the Botanic Gardens on Sunday afternoons. taps that part. “But it can't work— I'm too tired. And once McBurnie had launched the Little Carib. Anthony Williams and Bertie Marshall made this discovery in the Fifties— although how it's actually done has to be rediscovered anew by every tuner on every pan. shifting first the octave partial (that is the same note only higher.You don't tune the dozen-odd partials of a guitar note—they come automatically when you tighten or slacken the string to adjust the fundamental. Despite his rigorously British education and the metropolitan culture he acquired at Oxford. He shifts the various overtones. the Trinidad fete par excellence.” demonstrates the maestro. And you don’t hit the fundamental note as you used to long time. an ardent Dame Lorraine performer. “She give me a hug to perk me up. “And when the overtones play with each other it sings more.” he says. ringing sound characteristic of pans tuned in Trinidad. He taps this part of the note. to which I was exposed. an apprentice tuner.

“What struck me was his dress. Kenrick Thomas. in the press and on the streets. which was true.” Eventually George Goddard and a handful of panmen arrived late. He lived in Rapsey Street. but I kept looking at him. “You should know that man!” Crichlow started the meeting immediately. it was from the Moyou yard in Sackville Street. “I did it because I loved it but if you see the records he had of music of various countries. had never seen him in the flesh.doing. the same year Rolf became involved in Dixieland—the first steelband of middle-class white and Chinese college boys. then you drive a nail in the coffin of our aspirations. Duke Street. Williams was a well-known lecturer on politics and history.” Other close associates of the Little Carib included HOB Wooding. Maraval and his personal contact with the steelband movement was almost certainly through the family to which he’d quickly grown attached—the Moyous of 42 Sackville Street. He defended the Shouter Baptists and the steelband movement in and out of Parliament.” recalls Thomas who. It was around that month that Williams accepted Crichlow’s invitation to the Steelbands Association meeting.” she says. “You don’t know that man?” snapped Crichlow without even breaking stride. followed by a bustling Crichlow. starting in September and running up to May 1955. appointing him campaign manager in 1971 when he wanted to woo the movement away from Black Power. explaining that Dr Williams had been invited to assist the Association in revising its rules and drafting a constitution. I didn’t say anything to him. “He was sitting there smoking profusely. he didn’t say anything to me or my friend. . In 1950 he’d written in the Guardian a 40-part series on West Indian history. especially George Yeates and Rudolph Charles from Desperadoes. He loved music and he backed the Little Carib all the time. “Williams and Carlton Comma and Albert Gomes were very friendly in the beginning.” But Williams was still a reticent man. he got there early. and Williams took the cue. The three men stared at one another without exchanging a word. Lecturing on idealism and youth he turned to the steelband: “If you let this movement die. and despite pouring rain. He was wearing a crash suit. arrived shortly after with another band member. And when Dixieland hit the road for the first time in 1951. despite having read Williams articles in the Guardian. emphasising his academic qualifications and his status. Then in 1954 he launched a blistering attack on colonialism through a series of lectures at the public library. He had dark glasses and this hearing aid—first time I see a man with a hearing aid. captain of Tacarigua’s Midland Syncopators.” recalls McBurnie. Thomas asked who the man in the suit was. Williams also had a more formal relationship with the organised steelband movement which followed a separate trajectory and began in 1955. And by the late Forties young Rolf Moyou had got an old pan from “Sack” Mayers in Merry Makers— the Sackville Street steelband. Gomes had championed folk culture. Bruce Procope and Albert Gomes. But he kept that link to the steelband movement through Rolf Moyou. Williams married Rolf Moyou’s sister Soy in 1950. which I didn’t expect to see in a steelband meeting. introduced Dr Eric Williams. In years to come Williams would develop close relationships with certain panmen. Besides those personal contacts. when President of the Trinidad and Tobago Steelbands Association Nathaniel Crichlow invited him to a meeting at the Good Samaritan Hall.

because on the day Goddard made the mistake of bringing along two influential Invaders supporters: Bruce Procope and Lennox Pierre. Pierre in the “communist” West Indian Independence Party with John Rojas.” sighs Moyou. Williams was wearing short white pants and a merino and he spoke to the panmen about their constitution and other things. was to the end determined by politics. making his way to the study annexed behind Dr Williams’s newly-purchased house. Woodbrook. Then he corrected Crichlow: politics is in everything. So Williams felt betrayed when the Black Power movement demonstrated that panmen wanted more: he scuttled the National Association of Trinidad and Tobago Steelbands when he couldn’t sideline its leader George Goddard. Desperadoes captain George Yeates was given a job in Whitehall. its ups and downs. he lambasted the 15 or so panmen there for their lateness. First.” recalls Thomas. “Before they took their seats. . he dumped the steelband like any other politician.” Then Williams spoke. but doesn’t think Williams’s irritation was aimed at him as much as at Pierre. everybody should be involved in politics. “I was just thinking about him academically. “In the end. he twisted businessmen’s arms to sponsor steelbands. Dr Eric Williams the politician had shown his teeth. Closing the meeting. He suggested they could earn money from pan abroad. his brother-in-law. Thomas was on that sub-committee so he returned to Port of Spain the following Sunday. he pumped money into the movement. the meeting just broke up. Although Williams was already gathering strength to storm the political stage. though. their relationship. Both men were in political parties— Procope in the mildly nationalist Caribbean National Labour Party with Ray HamelSmith and Telford Georges. it wasn’t public yet and the steelbandsmen were still more dazzled by his education than yoked to his political leadership.” Today Procope hardly remembers the incident.Introducing Dr Williams. Crichlow mentioned that he himself wouldn’t like the Association to get involved in politics. His time was very important to him. he buffed the stunned gathering. and he turned to a Chinese youth sitting on the back steps of the house to talk about his experience abroad. her family remained close to Williams. and he orchestrated the creation of Pan Trinbago. And he ended the session with an invitation to meet a sub-committee at his home in Cornelio Street. one-time campaign manager and steelband adviser. “We didn’t have no discussion.” recounts Thomas. you eat politics. “At that time I was so fascinated with looking at Williams I didn’t associate him with politics. you breathe politics. That meeting was not to take place. And although he enjoyed many years of mutual support with both the steelband movement and individual panmen. after the 1971 elections. Williams got annoyed and said a lot of hard words. Dr Williams invited the panmen to return next week and bring along a representative of the all-female steelband Girl Pat which he’d heard about. Although Evelyn Moyou had died two years before. The youth on the steps was Rolf Moyou whose band Dixieland had just returned from Jamaica and Puerto Rico. Williams launched the Special Works Program around the Desperadoes and Tokyo. his successor Rudolph Charles had greater access to Williams than some Cabinet ministers. And Williams had his own plans for the steelband movement which didn’t include other politicians.

Trinidad All Stars. Chicago. the founder and main inspiration of the Music Association. . The ensemble finalists to move into the TMA leg of the competition were North Stars. plus the test piece. The finals were held on March 10 at the Globe cinema. counterpoint and competition at the Guildhall School of Music. at the Cocorite Youth Centre. the professor of singing. The first Music Festival was organised by the Trinidad Music Association in 1948 and although several vocal and instrumental categories were adjudicated by a Barbadian musical expert. Southern Symphony chose Strauss’s “The Blue Danube” and Trinidad All Stars chose “The Dream of Olwin”. May’s daughter-in-law. The big guns blazed away with their heavy classics: Free French chose Handel’s “Largo”. but there was no steelband. however.” But the show went ahead.A FISH BAND Tonight at the Steelband Festival preliminaries. “Sticks must be flying. The adjudicator was a Welshman. Soloist finalists included three Taspo members—Dudley Smith from Rising Sun. “There were some scary moments. Gerald Hudson. Both solo and ensemble finalists included dark horses. But it wasn’t always so. finally. A compromise was made: the preliminaries to be handled by the Steelbands Association. a rhumba or a classic. A few TMA middle-class members were wary of the panmen. It was even suggested a piano accompany the ping pong soloists. Every band’s tune of choice will most likely be a faithfully rendered classic with what Pat Bishop referred as “a flowing melody”—that is. each band playing a folk song test piece and a tune of choice.” recalls Monica Johnstone. Twenty bands played two of either a calypso. but pans weren’t yet tuned to concert pitch and couldn’t blend properly with other instruments. There were also Carl Greenidge from Kentuckians and the unknown Hilton Jarvis of Central Casanovas in Santa Cruz.” The piece will also be “technically challenging” or. capable of playing every note from tenor to bass—alto pans and tenor booms had been invented to fill the gaps. By then the watershed Trinidad All Steel Percussion Orchestra (Taspo) had made steelbands fully chromatic. Most chose a mambo and a classic. a mambo. which was adjudicated by foreign musicians. harmony. things were different. but English-born Helen May Johnstone.” And. Not in the decade beginning in 1952 when steelbands were simply part of the Music Festival. “the listener had to be able to whistle a part of it easily. which was packed with “Stiff highbrows and noisy ‘pan’ enthusiasts” according to the Trinidad Guardian . Belgrave Bonaparte from Southern Symphony and Patsy Haynes from Casablanca. One had been sent to him at the Queen’s Park Hotel. By 1952. So the next step was unavoidable —participation in the Music Festival. which knew how to deal with the masses. appreciated grassroots culture and she overruled their objections. Free French and the surprise selection—Boys Town. Eleven ping pong soloists played one selection of any type of music. Southern Symphony. a fixed pattern will be followed. perhaps because pans weren't considered instruments capable of standing on their own. it will conclude with a “long and charismatic coda”—end with a crash and a bang. but he hadn’t been impressed. she explained in the last Festival brochure. “Red Army or some band was outside looking for another band. Dr Sydney Northcote.

But Boys Town was only launched in 1951 after Bellerand led the youngest players out of the village band. The Welshman had been pleasantly surprised by the sound of pans. for their variations of “Largo”. to discover that All Stars kept away from the Steelband Festival for nearly a decade and a half—from the second Festival in 1954 until 1968 . Today. “You are my Heart’s Delight” which he liked but knew only vaguely. the memory still brings a tear to 67. the “fish band” from Point Cumana.” And the band Northcote gave the first place to was Boys Town. It was a year before the festival when he named the new band after the Mickey Rooney film The Men from Boys Town. tuned their pans. As the festival drew nearer. And at first it doesn’t seem surprising. for instance. As for their tune of choice Bellerand decided on a ballad sung in an operatic style. “Why change the music?” he asked. And when the Globe stopped ringing and the applause died down. and the audience appreciative (too audibly so).“The pans were sweet. Bellerand discovered that Henry hadn’t remembered the entire tune and what Boys Town had played left out part of the chorus. But perhaps Northcote didn’t know the whole thing either. for All Stars have long been known as the classics band which kept form with its biennial Classical Jewels concerts. “And the point is what we played was well-played and it pleased Dr Northcote. Anthony Williams. ALL STARS VERSUS ALL STARS Even before Trinidad All Stars placed first in last Saturday’s Pan is Beautiful VIII.” he said after the competition. a victory which precipitated a week’s festivities in the tiny fishing village of Point Cumana. “I was astonished that they could make such mellow sounds. Their total of six Festival victories is twice that of the next runner up. Stardust.” Bellerand recalls proudly. the Duke Street band had already won more Steelband Festivals than any other. And he criticised others for playing too fast. “In those days we used to learn the melody by ear. Northcote announced the winners: ping pong soloist Dudley Smith from Rising Sun—no surprise there. explains that. But Bellerand hadn’t a radio—he had to rush across with the band to his wife’s cousin’s house where there was a Rediffusion so they could hear the test piece. mainly from the radio or a record. He buffed Free French. the music rich and varied. and then we would put anything we want in the harmony. arranged their music and led the unknown Boys Town to victory against the Goliaths of that first steelband festival 16 days after his first son was born. an old drunkard named Narsus Henry. Desperadoes.” But the adjudicator was less than satisfied with the top bands.year-old Clem Bellerand who founded the band. whose North Stars placed last with “Come Back To Seranto”. because the older members were exploiting them. “When I first saw steel instruments I wondered what kind of music they would make. the beaters capable. He sought out a villager who knew music. How surprising it is then. Long after his victory. and brought him from the rumshop to the panyard to sing it for the band. Steelband had begun in Point Cumana early—since Alexander’s Ragtime Band came to the St Peter’s Day in Carenage in 1939.” reported the Guardian. the test piece was played regularly on the radio for contestants.

so they eh want to do no soloing.” Stephens went on to become the youngest member of the famous Trinidad All Steel Percussion Orchestra. he had one thing to say about we.” he says. “They came down the morning. they went their way and they come back about four o’clock the evening and they start to play this ‘Anna’. After they returned from England Stephens left Free French to form his own steelband. they rest down their instrument in we pan tent and then we talk. and then open Southern All Stars. Merry Maker’s captain. which he left in 1954 after a Barbados tour. But Stephens was the main soloist. was Trinidad All Stars’ main man at the time. so my godfather say he got to take this boy to town and see if we could get him a good pan.when they came first—all because of Neville Jules couldn’t tolerate the adjudicators’ unpredictability in the early days of the Festival. The first time he played with the older fellas in the San Fernando band Free French. tuned their pans and arranged their music. Even his disapproving parents had given in after they’d heard him play. “I came back Christmas. Up come Mr Theo Stephens with ‘Anna’ and he start to solo. so Jules took note and planned for the next Festival. and was bitterly disappointed when the Welsh adjudicator Dr Sydney Northcote placed them third. He captained the band. because this man (Northcote) is a music man. Zola (Williams) and my godfather and a friend went up for the day. “Port of Spain was it and at that time Jules was it. It started in the first 1952 Festival with the upset victory of Point Cumana’s Boys Town. and he and the other youngster. Northcote had especially criticised the bands which had introduced solo parts into the classics. “Everybody studying what this guy say two years before. “So myself. agreed. Jules. “It’s a band you have. And as the time drew nearer. the leader of another constellation—Southern All Stars—had begun pan as a prodigy. and then we rest for a while. So we went to him and after a little bit of style he decide to make it and he did. He’d always preferred orchestration to individual improvisation and would discourage men such as Claytis Ali—the Mighty Dougla—from showing off his ping pong skills. Alfred “Sack” Mayers.” he says in explanation. “When he condemn a lot of the bands and thing. ole talk. but he hadn’t said much about All Stars’ performance of “Dream of Olwyn”.” One supporter of the band was also close to Merry Makers in Port of Spain.” Theodore Stephens. It wasn’t difficult insofar as Jules was concerned.” . and indeed. his godfather decided the boy obviously had a talent and deserved a better pan.” recalls Jules. selected their tunes. he immediately became the main ping pong player.” recalls Jules. Anthony Williams. “It was ten weeks before the Music Festival. finally not going down to the docks where he worked so he could remain all day in the yard to tune the pans to their finest.” recalls Mayers. They went about.” recalls Stephens. but nothing to talk about because they want to stay within the guidelines. learnt the most from the Taspo leader Lt Joseph Griffiths. something about crescendos was too hard or something like that. Metronome. It was an eight-note pan and we brought the pan back in the night. he began drilling the band. Northcote had criticised the bands which played classics for rearranging their pieces. who now lives in New York. so he asked the town boys if the southerners could take a last minute rehearsal in their Cobotown panyard before going to the competition at the Globe cinema. “When we hear it I say these people win already. “They doing a little thing.

Then the ensemble winners were announced. having played the same tune again: Beethoven's “Minuet in G”. Wiseman interrupted it with words that still echo in Neville Jules’ memory. he was less so. but their applause had put him off. and it was a great—and appropriate—compliment to Jules. BACK TO BATAAN It was a glaring omission that last week’s Eighth City Day Anniversary in San Fernando focused mainly on business or urban planning.” said Jules. until 1968 when the band got sponsorship from Catelli and re-entered the Festival fray to win their first of six Festival trophies. But the adjudicator was Dr Herbert Wiseman. and he complimented the Trinidad All Stars for their performance. thus prompting Neville Jules and the Trinidad All Stars to ignore the Steelband Festival for the next 14 years and create instead the Bomb Competition. “If the damn man mother eh go in we eh beating no pan. Jules was placed third. a conductor. and the audience went wild. “Here comes Sir Thomas Beecham himself. Northcote adjudicated in 1952. Theo Stephens insisting his band wasn’t going to perform if his mother couldn’t enter. 1956 and 1962. As they argued outside.” And he gave the prize to Southern All Stars whose ping pong improvisations had dazzled him. Jules was confident. for Northcote didn’t adjudicate that year.There was tense moment when Southern All Stars arrived at the Roxy for the competition when the gatekeeper refused to allow Theo Stephens’s mother in for free. however. the adjudicator was Wiseman. Dudley Smith of Belmont’s Rising Sun. As the cheer began rising for the Trinidad All Stars. “Yeah man. was the founder of the London Philharmonic Orchestra in 1932 and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in 1947. Ahhh! murmured the crowd as the players began to celebrate backstage. And Neville Jules sided with the southerners. got up and walked off. The adjudicator called him back and he started again. but in the second year steelbands performed in the Music Festival.” declared the adjudicator calling back Jules. Stephens unleashing his dazzling tune of choice. “Wait!” said Wiseman. “Anna”. the other stars arrived: Trinidad All Stars. And when the winners were announced. Beecham. After the performances that night. this time completing the piece successfully. And the second time around. 1954. the ping pong solo winner in the 1952 Festival. Fortunately the Express was able to sit in on the reminiscing of Golab Belgrove and Horace “Nickerdee” Nicholson as they privately celebrated the city’s cultural history while perusing Belgrove’s photograph archives in . was given first prize again. He’d started his test piece very stylishly. But Northcote had criticised Free French in 1952 for introducing variations into Handel’s “Largo”. “More runs to come after lunch. and left out the city’s rich sporting and cultural tradition. As a ping pong soloist. at least for the band.” She was let in and the bands played. Stephens had taken “Anna” and given it a Latin kind of flavour around which he improvised his own counter melodies. He forgot what came next. in 1954.

“When I bawl they get confused and I start to ramajay. shortly before its leader Sline “Pepe” David—who Nickerdee called “a minister of ignorance”—destroyed all the pans one day in a rage. dark dougla Belgrove and the small. and it was glorious. Bataan was formerly known simply as the Coffee Boys during the war. “Town had fancy sailor.his Fonrose Street home. I hit him the same thing: ‘Go on. I couldn’t reply at all. He took an axe and destroyed all the pans he could find. When he heard of it. But it was Belgrove who began playing Indian mas in 1949. cramming the language. laughing as he related Tarzan’s tradition of drinking rum.” he reminisced. “You couldn’t play Indian just so. while the youths fled and under the leadership of Emile “Zola” Williams formed a new band called Cross of Lorraine with those pans they’d slipped away with earlier. running from the black maria. a fisherman. But Nickerdee’s first band was The Snow. began visiting a specialist in the invented Indian languages. but South was Indian mas. “When I reach I start to bawl. Mack Copeland. the short-lived Buckingham Boys. perhaps the greatest early San Fernando band. however. Cross of Lorraine changed to Free French. He joined The Snow in 1944. “Three Blind Mice” or “Peppersauce Woman”. and one day the youths. copybook in hand. evoking the men in those tiny black and white images of steelbands and Indian mas. Walter couldn’t answer. they passed Globe Theatre. ‘Go on you dutty dog—you cyar understand’. fed up. emptied the washing on the ground. “He say in Indian. one of the great mas men who changed the face of Indian mas. . and the little boys had always liked the band because they used to hold a spree after Carnival with free biscuits and sardines and sweetdrinks.” explained Nickerdee. “Tarzan was a tall fella. Belgrove was nine years old and Nickerdee eight when they saw RAF come out for the 1940 New Year’s Day regatta.” That Ash Wednesday Belgrove. The first time I play Black Indian I bounced up Walter Gomes. and he lambaste me in Red Indian language. after months drinking honey and Paragoric to clear his throat. which had recently opened and was showing the film “Bataan”. On VE (Victory in Europe) Day. rowing his boat out to sea and lying down in it with a loud Tarzan-roar until he slept off the alcohol. Led by Herman “Teddy” Clarke. You coulda hear me quite down by the Library. The former tamboo bamboo band was led by “Tarzan” Callender. in 1942.” he boasted. Pepe was furious. when they were tramping down the Coffee.” Nickerdee said. he met Gomes again. Bataan. starting with the first in San Fernando— Royal Air Force. By then Nickerdee had moved on to Belgrove’s band. you dutty dog’. but whose members were sharper dressers. most of the conversation between the big. and he was looking for Gomes. It was in Nickerdee’s aunt’s yard that the elegant cuff boom player Rudolf Xavier—a trade unionist who was shot in the 1937 Butler Riots—formed Coffee Street’s first band. in the days when the most they could make was a quick illegal rounds of the back streets.” recalled Belgrove. progenitor of Theo Stephens’ Southern All Stars. so named after the chilly upstairs room in gambling club on the lower Coffee. had helped build the costume. beating a rhythm. another badjohn. a band of fishermen down by the King’s Wharf. “I coulda talk Indian from the Coffee to the wharf and back again without repeating a passage twice. one Sampson in Moruga. Pepe’s lover had a habit of using The Snow’s pans for soaking her dirty clothes. The next Carnival. grizzly Nicholson was about steelband.” And yet. which wasn’t as good musically as Free French.

elbow guard. “That’s why I always say pan is a gift from God. And even Belgrove himself is still part of the movement. as Jones recalls it. a youth whose creative imagination was alloyed to an incorrigible waywardness. he saw it could go much further. holding it up in front the band. “Once we played Usine Ste Madeleine—a team with several national players. but he get it through his mother who was always praying. holding competitions and playing football. In other words. Scaley was the kind of youth who could never resist a joke. it was mud so your jockey used to stick on the side. and Ma Jones. “You used to see piece of hand and foot floating down from the hospital. managing the New Wave steel orchestra. Well. He also organised them into a sports and cultural club. and his daughter. Such has been his involvement in the steelband movement that his two sons Darryl and Dwight are pannists. and he was good with it. and here Jones will tell you the story of Lenny “Scaley” Matthias by way of illustration.” surmises Jones. we touch the ball 23 times in the game and we get 23 goals. Jones was shuttled between an aunt in Oxford Street . grandson and granddaughter play pan too. but talking to Sonny Jones one gets an account which brings the two together by showing a link between the Hell Yard boys of Charlotte and Duke Streets. an OWTU man who helped many of Bataan’s members get jobs in the oil industry.” he recalls.” recalled Belgrove. “Everybody start bawling ‘Bataan!’ Bataan!’ and that’s how the name stick. the squabble between east and west over where pan originated has never been resolved. Rather.“Some fella pick up this board with ‘Bataan’ on it and he have it going down the road. Well. begging for pans from Southern All Stars and Silvertones. racing jockeys in the East Dry River. “Hamil couldn’t do that by himself—he never used to go to school. a sportsman of note who trained the younger ones in wrestling and boxing. raising funds. “Teddy was the captain of we side. “It wasn’t concrete then. A MAN FOR ALL BANDS Although the story that Winston “Spree” Simon invented pan is largely discredited today. wasn’t simply to begin knocking simple tunes on these milk tins. Born in October 1920. the grandmother whose Duke Street house abutted Hell Yard. he was both inspired and ignorant. like all the .” Next to Bataan’s panyard lived one Mr Forde. Sonny Greenidge the goalie was looking pretty—knee guard. chuckling as he recalled that Sunday morning. liming on its steps. A simple sentence and he could have everybody laughing at you. As a child he played football and cricket with the other children. but among the youngsters the leader was Hamilton “Big Head Hamil” Thomas.” said Belgrove. Perhaps it never will. for which he’s trying to acquire a second-hand drum kit. everything.” Hamil’s inspired vision. Hamil was got the idea to tune small milk tins which could be held in a smoke herring box so simple songs could be played with palette sticks. and the Alexander’s Ragtime Band of Newtown.” Belgrove withdrew from steelband to concentrate on mas—Bataan didn’t play mas—but in the sixties he jumped back into the fray when he organised the youths around Fonrose and Claire Streets to form Fonclaire steel orchestra.” The captain of Hell Yard was Walter “Sagiator” Drayton. And according to Jones.

Bar 20 was going South on an excursion and police pulled them off the train in San Fernando and beat every man jack. and preferred to move from band to band as the whim took him. Hamil took to his bed and remained there until Ash Wednesday. It was around that time. but Stowe wasn’t one to take lash so. “Our band didn’t have no name. so he returned with a razor and sliced up Sagiator. it wasn’t a steelband yet. the year King George VI was crowned because Edward VIII had decided to abdicate and marry Miss Simpson. Tutee and them fellas.” explains Jones. fellas from Belmont. But he wasn’t exclusively so. “You see what I was telling allyou?” Things moved on. Samba Boys of Belle Eau Road. and the talk drifted amiably on to other topics. and Jones was them all the way. Renegades).” confesses Jones. Sun Valley of Nelson Street. we eh cry but that is all. that same year Sagiator fought with Eric Stowe. With the timing of an expert Scaley waited until a lull in the conversation and he started poking fun at Hamil’s idea. but soon enough the all the youths in Hell Yard were knocking on caustic soda pans. and Sarge say: no. The gang cracked up in laughter. “When we see them fellas coming up the road playing ‘Run Yuh Run.others in the gang. 1938. six months for throwing missiles and six months for resisting arrest—consecutively. knocking out a couple of his teeth. Bar 20. The Bar 20 connection led him and his ping pong into both its offspring: Bad Men of Missouri (later. “When it come out good Humbugger. and such was its popularity that youths from other parts of the town would lime there for a knock. the youths formed Second Fiddle. But that was the least of it. for Jones also played with the sagga boy band of Duke Street. And Hamil struck out at Scaley. and Casablanca. calypsonian Popo and he brother Puggy and them. bundled him into a jeep and carted him off to jail where he remained until he was brought before the magistrate the following day to be given six months for making noise. whom he thought was horning him with his lady friend Lilly. then the bigger ones could do it too but better and louder. cinema or whatever.” While the youths of Hell Yard were doing all this. Waterloo. Scaley was sceptical about it when in the mid-thirties Hamil said contemplatively when they were liming at their spot on Charlotte Street. Once someone called the police while he was tuning a pan and they rushed over. that if the small tins could play a tune. Blanca led him into City Syncopaters. Police and them. changing to Cross of Lorraine and in 1945 the great Trinidad All Stars. Nobody took Hamil on. the older ones had their own bacchanal in 1937. youths such as Carlton “Lord Humbugger” Forde who lived in Newtown but worked as a messenger in the Cooperative “Penny” Bank. they couldn’t share his vision. and he bested Stowe easily. when we hear them with thing we learn them on Carnival Monday 1939. such as when. “Nobody would hear you because the pan was so loud. These were the days when society saw panmen as outcasts. they used to come in Hell Yard to play because no other where had pan. starting with the band led by his cousin Ancil Boyce. the revellers can’t sing the lavway. coming out the Thursday to say with tears in his eyes. that Sagiator decided he didn’t want none of the noisy pans in the Hell Yard bamboo band. one from Gonzales. The friendship cooled for a while.” It was then that the Newtown youths broke away and decided to do their own thing. Dead End Kids . for instance. “The people couldn’t sing. Kaiser William’.” explains Jones. Sagiator was a powerful man. and Jones felt his fair share of the law’s heavy hand. thus creating the famous Alexander’s Ragtime Band. football.

to Tunapuna. and then his tenor pan. 22. from North Stars. On January 21. 22. from Casablanca. was heading for solicitor Lennox Pierre's office in which the Association met. the first modern steelband. London at the Festival of Britain.000. paved the way for independence. from Tripoli. from Crossfire. after six weeks at sea. from Southern Symphony. from Rising Sun. and thus had a more consistent timbre. “Go and set up a committee or something to get Operation Britain. from Hill 60. Philmore “Boots” Davidson. These pans were the first to be real instruments. 21. More important.(later Highlanders) of La Cour Harpe. 20. “I want you to act now!” Gomes urged (according to Gollop). San Fernando and Arima. which allowed them for the first time to play full chords and to harmonise with any other instrument. 1951. from City Syncopaters. Sputnik. before the thought struck anyone here. Dem Fortunates. thus making him indeed one of the great pioneers of the steelband movement. but popular belief has it that being recently married he wanted and was refused money to .” And so by March the Association had decided to send a representative steelband to the Festival. The crowd was barely curious. all were tuned on The chromatic scale at concert pitch. On July 26. from Invaders. and Granville Sealey. 19. Dem Stars. Sterling Betancourt. the Guardian reported that: “Hell's Gate Steel Band of Antigua is likely to represent the West Indian steel bands at the Festival of Britain which will be opened in London on May 3. Winston “Spree” Simon. Belgrave Bonaparte. It looked like junk. were rusty. 24. a member of Crusaders.” This was the most important steelband in history and its impact still reverberates in Britain. Taspo also introduced the idea of multiple drums. and a team of the most gifted panmen was chosen: Theo “Black James” Stephens. so the Association decided to raise the money. Sealey dropped out. He claims that he was snubbed by the other players. from Free French. Dudley Smith. As for its significance back home. All were made from oil drums. Government refused their request for $6. IT WAS 50 YEARS AGO TODAY Actually. 1951. Yet the inspiration for Taspo probably came from Antigua. the Belmont bands Dem Boys. Andrew “Pan” de la Bastide. 21. which allowed the 3-bass and 2-cello pans to play full scales. 17. 24. 23. it was yesterday. for Taspo. Orman “Patsy” Haynes. The pans had deliberately been left unpainted and. when he was hailed by Albert Gomes. And that was just Port of Spain. by one newspaper account. neither musically nor even politically. Then. “ jaws dropped and eyes widened as the first sweet notes were struck and the band swung into 'Mambo Jambo'. 24. Anthony “Muffman” Williams. the Trinidad All Steel Percussion Orchestra (Taspo) opened in Southbank. nothing would ever be the same. Dodge City. for Jones also took his ping pong. president of the Trinidad and Tobago Steel Bands Association Sydney Gollop. Ellie Mannette. from Fascinators.” A month later.

the Little Carib. Either way he was replaced by Carlton “Sonny” Roach from Sun Valley. The musical director of the band was Lt Nathaniel Joseph Griffith. Then he led the Grenada Harmony Kings. Boots was on bass. He also insisted the bass have at least 14 notes. Griffith's knowledge leavened the genius of men like Williams and Mannette.” The public was even more dazzled. a rhumba. then use three drums. closed ranks.” But committees were established. “If I going to England with you. Fitz Blackman offered uniforms. light classics. and conducted the Royal Victoria Institute's orchestra. a samba. “'Come down an afternoon when we practising. “When we went we were shocked to see one man playing two pans. Sterling Betancourt was on guitar and Tony Williams on cello. you can't play any sort of wrong thing.” recalls Maifan Drayton. calypsos.support his wife. Now that Trinidad realised what a steelband could accomplish. and the Jaycees held fundraising dances. Born 1906 in Barbados. Bands held benefit performances all over the island: Fantasia and Mutineers in Princes Town. and discovered the technique of tuning two tones in one note. even the elite supported them. you're only wasting your time. when respectable society recoiled from the steelband movement in fear and loathing. “Boy.” And he set about teaching them. before joining the Trinidad Police Band in 1938. And so he taught them a repertoire that included a waltz. the Himalaya Club. And the steelband movement. riven by warfare between bands. Governor Sir Hubert Rance's aide de camp organised an auction: Winfield Scott bought a case of whiskey and returned it to the auctioneer. The Tourist Board and Sir Gerald Wight each offered $500. He put numbers on the notes and wrote scores. “You think they would ever send a steelband to England with them set of hooligans in it?” sceptics told Tony Williams. He left Barbados in 1932 to play clarinet and sax with an American jazz band. he joined the police band at 14. “I said to roll that note! You want me to roll your balls?” snapped Griffith. Spree queried one note on a Negro spiritual. then in Invaders. Here he taught at the Tacarigua Orphanage and led its band. La Lune in Moruga.' Ellie told us. When told that they couldn't fit. He made them tune an alto (second) pan with 14 notes. who promptly sold it again. Williams invented the oil drum 2cello. After a concert at Globe the audience emptied its pockets into the pans. he replied to everyone's surprise. This was at the height of the riot years. but was soon in Martinique arranging for the Municipal Orchestra. the steelband movement's greatest unsung hero. In 1947 he was appointed bandmaster of the St Lucia Police Band. Bermudez donated drums. mambos. Fundraising began. a bolero. a foxtrot. “You have to play real music. and they produced better pans than they ever did before. . We were mystified.” he warned the panmen. In 1935 he took over the St Vincent Government Band and founded the St Vincent Philharmonic Orchestra. for instance. and there he was when he was asked to lead Taspo.

private Notting Hill garden party into what is now the largest public street festival in Europe. the PNM.Edwin Lee Lum. forged the multi-class alliance which seeded the nationalist movement and ultimately. spent a week in Martinique where almost all the players picked up new girls and old diseases. The band left on July 5. Glasgow. and when his mother died during one of Wilbert’s terms in jail. but homesickness.) Late November Taspo returned to Paris for a two-week circus engagement and to catch the boat home. with Connor and with Boscoe Holder's dance troupe. few know about Wilbert. “Trinidad All Steel Percussion Orchestra sat outside the Festival Concert Hall? and tapped sweet. Wilbert. but on that side of his family too blood ran thinner than water. and experts predict it will sweep the country in a new craze. MAN FROM THE HILL “When I die. perhaps significantly. there was almost an appropriateness because Pacheco/Forde was one of the main men who shaped that family known as the Desperadoes Steel Orchestra which in turn eventually made of the hill known as Laventille one big family. swingy music out of rusty pans still with steamer labels stuck to them after their trans-Atlantic voyage. and a fight between Bonaparte and Davidson changed that. They performed with Kitchener. passed the verdict: 'The music is sweet and liquid similar to the xylophone but not so harsh'. They got a two-week contract with the Savoy. Fifteen years later Betancourt and two other panmen would transform the small. Haynes and Williams Had plans to stay in England. after which they toured Edingborough. Betancourt.” reported an English paper. but the rest went on to Bordeaux. and held a dance for Jamaica's hurricane relief fund. after which they performed at the Colonial office. hard as it all must have felt. And it turned out to be true. (Holder had actually been playing pan in London since the previous year. having found an Irish woman there to keep him warm. Sonny Roach got a sore throat and returned home. an oncoming winter. Ah. Only Betancourt. Davidson.000 cigarettes. When Wilbert asked his father’s family to build a house on a little end of the many acres of Pacheco land. to evoke that flicker of recognition you’d . a non-smoker. bought 2. your birth paper burn. and at the Festival. Taspo's first engagement was at the BBC. By then Trinidad and Tobago was an independent nation able to boast of having created the century's most important acoustic instrument. they refused and the young Pacheco renounced his father’s name and adopted his mother’s: Forde. London. and by extension the steelband movement. returned to cold London.” Venezuela-born Francis Pacheco once warned his son. Still. “A revolution in music reached London today. with tears rolling down. hearing a steel band for the first time. Thus Taspo. Leeds. either Pacheco or Forde. Paris.” They rehearsed in the basement flat of musician Edric Connor (Geraldine's father). Bonaparte. her land in Laventille was hastily divided amongst her other children so that none remained for him on his release. Londoners. And. If everyone is familiar with the Desperadoes. Manchester.

So from the start the greatest communitybased steelband discovered the humility and wisdom of recruiting help from the best available in or out of Laventille. and said. Bamboo. “Ne pas vrais bain!” he once as a youth retorted when a woman. When he . There were men such as Ivan “Brains” Bourne.” Edwards tattooed Be-Eh and most the others too. Laventille. “Get your needle and tattoo that on my hand. Tooksie. Steadman brought Crawl of the Crocodile. a policy that over the years would put the Desperadoes on top and keep them there with the assistance of people such as Carl “Bumpy Nose” Greenidge (Robbie’s uncle). demanding he bathe. when the new fashion drumming on paint pans and dustbins took over and Be-eh called his young friends together. when he went armed to the teeth looking for two men in Belmont’s Rising Sun. Red Army. The name was from a movie about a gang of orphans. Vance and them and we opened a little side called Dead End Kids.” he recalls. where. but to tune them he'd brought his younger brother Vernon “Birdie” Mannette. Mannette showed them how to sink. Beverly Griffith. “That eh a real bath!” And since then he was known to all who know about steelband as Be-eh. threw some water on him. Emmanuel “Cobo Jack” Riley. Winston “Talkative” Harrison and if they weren’t to hot on the pans. Then he turned to Glorious Spain. Operation Korea. Then he moved from sailors to design war mas: Sands of Iwo Jima. Rudolph Charles and Pat Bishop. To Hell and Back. groove and burn pans.” The fella from Toco (actually it was San Souci) was none other than the great Elliot Mannette of the Woodbrook Invaders. however. “We had no pans but I knew a fella from Toco and I heard his name ringing so I went to ask him to help. Born in 1921. Like many of the more violent Desperadoes. it meant. and so the two Mannettes men forged a friendship between the Woodbrook and Laventille bands—two of the most fearsome fighting machines—which endured through even those years when steelbands fought one another tooth and nail and Desperadoes rioted with Casablanca. “I called Fred and Brooks Banfield. so they changed to SS Morocco until Be-Eh saw a cowboy movie that left a great impression on him: Desperado Rides Again. Be-eh grew up in Cumaca. His prominence began with the decline of the bamboo bands. then Prisoner of Zenda. making of the newly-christened Desperadoes a family to which they would be forever bound with ties thicker than blood. San Juan All Stars and even with gangs such as the Marabuntas that wasn’t a steelband but just a group of ignorant men from the juvenile home. Translated. Rising Sun. Dead End Kids wasn't a satisfactory name. Tokyo. Back on the hill he called “Four Roads” or Rudolph “Crabby” Edwards. George Yeates. Raymond “Artie” Shaw.” admits Be-Eh. which is the French “bain” or bath. The Frozen North and the famous Noah’s Ark. Talkative organising the masqueraders and Be-Eh doing the designs for the band’s head mas. Donald “Jit” Steadman. they concentrated on mas anyway. “I had to ask a fella where to find the Oval. as a teenager he’d hang around the older men who allowed him to go cut bamboo for the side which tumbled down from the Hill every J’Ouvert morning. Once. drawing with its rhythm a river of Laventillians (some of whom never otherwise entered the town) waving branches in the air and singing their lavways. the police held him and carried him back up on the hill. Eventually he found the place and met the man and asked him to come teach the Dead End Kids how to make pans.have to call him by yet another name. Be-Eh was in and out of jail for steelband fighting. the patois “Be-eh”.

He continued as ever. explains that “lawa boys” meant rough. but by the late Fifties he began to look for promotion on the job. lawa (French. and although he can’t explain the origins of “lawa”. with drum. “Grow More Food wasn’t an organised steelband. Born in 1930. When we go we see him on the pavement sleeping with he stick under he arm. And so.” he explains.arrived back home with the police his distraught mother wailed. who became leader of the Desperadoes. “To build myself up I decide to resign as captain of the band. How many of them. The small band was called Spike Jones and its young leader. Granville Sealey. the police came for him at home. which was formed before the Second World War.” Then. I make a beast!” “No. Butcher had moved with his family to Ethel Street when he was about four years old. another Tripoli man. a man who enjoyed his Carnival. asking him as he sat on the stoop. And so he began working on the docks where he remained until he retired. “He coulda play stick too. scared even though they told him they were putting him in a job. was Rudolph Charles. was stricter and didn’t want her grandson hanging around the “lawa boys” when the young Lloyd was left in her keeping.” And often he was there in the melee. He got a shirt and went along. getting into fights and steelband riots. however. around which time his mother died and he came under the lenient jurisdiction of his father Joseph Butcher. know that the band. plebeian types. he says. but older pan aficionados would all remember that great St James steelband. with everything. even in the days when it was considered a hooligan thing to do. but it was the more senior fellas playing the pan. “le roi”—the king) “with stick. He would hide it by the gate because he didn’t want he mother to see it.” The old lady. was originally called by the unusual name of Grow More Food? “I used to take a little jump with them. he dress and when he going he reach under the house and get he bois. TRIPOLI Younger people mightn’t be familiar with the band Tripoli. with woman. perhaps it derives from the old batonnier’s boast. it was a community band without a definite leadership. the whole of St James going with them. for he lived around the corner. who lived in Woodford Street. during a big dock strike in the late Forties. “You make a man. I eh following him but one year he had too much to drink and he pass out and somebody come and tell he mother to look for him. with song. even if the Big Yard didn’t have stickfighting: I. “O Gawd. When they start to beat and head for town. he pushed for the band to accept as leader a prominent young man who was captain of a small talented side that paraded at Christmas time and was followed by many young people on the hill. with dance.” he replied. even on occasion acting as a strong arm man for the Chief Minister Dr Eric Williams. with fight. “Carnival time you eh seeing he at all!” says Butcher in explaining why his father never stopped him from playing pan. “Who is Be-Eh?” There was an English officer with them who told Be-Eh to come.” recalls Tripoli stalwart Lloyd Butcher.” .

“Even though these were wayward guys. Tripoli’s captain.” When a few years later the time came for Butcher to fall into the movement. That was the first time I heard pan. passed by with the brothers Addawell and Nooksin Sampson playing the newly-invented tune booms. they used to sound great: they’d be just playing a rhythm. chafed under Joe Crick’s abrasive leadership style and consequently broke away to form other bands such as Crossfire with Sterling Betancourt and Eamon Thorpe. Granville Sealey. real gun holsters and belts. because of a minor argument with the band’s main tuner and leading ping pong player. and Wonder Harps with Othello Mollineux. Butcher sneaked out anyway to peep in at the Big Yard on the corner of Tragarete Road. recalling the military mas when the band had a real sword and scabbard. no tune. he was a disciplinarian and when he coming out with something he want the best and to get that he used to get on. “He was drastic. “Popoyak” Cummings and others. sweeping along two blocks of people. Victor “Totee” Wilson. they never encouraged little boys around their yard—you had to keep a distance.” Butcher’s instrument was. “The pans used to stay under Joe Crick’s mother’s house but at first we had no yard. she had a property at the corner of Ethel Street and Mucurapo Road and she knew all the guys.” Tripoli was one of those bands with a surfeit of talented youths many of whom. Joe Crick—Joseph Christopher—wasn’t. “That tune boom make me feel shame on the road once and strike a pain in my heart. banned Sealey for 99 years.” is how Butcher describes the authoritarian leadership style of the man who. when the great tuner Sonny Roach’s band. recalling the time when Tripoli was jamming in St James. but when you know him he different. first. “Joe Crick wasn’t a bad fella. . These were the men who formed Alexander’s Ragtime Band. where now stands a Republic Bank but where in the late Thirties and early Forties was an open yard in which limed men such as Carlton “Lord Humbugger” Forde. a background pan with about three notes specially created to get a particular Latin sound Tripoli strove after.” says Butcher with a laugh. for it was quickly replaced by the tune boom which was made from a biscuit drum on which were tuned several notes.” says Butcher. “It was something to see them and hear them. Miss Christina Goolcharan. “Then a kind lady. The baylay pan didn’t last. even though where the fellas limed down by the water’s edge where the fishermen moored their boats continued to be called long after The Shores of Tripoli. Sun Valley. however. Carlton Blackhead.Despite his grandmother’s prohibitions. “If you come and hear him getting on you would wonder what kinda fella that is. and which would shorten its name to simply Tripoli. as an example of Joe Crick’s impulse for authenticity. Butcher reckons. Then he moved on to the baylay. which Grow More Food had metamorphosed into. The Shores of Tripoli. “The ban didn’t really stay as such-. the boom—the large drum which you held sideways and cuffed with your fist like a Hosay bass drum.but it make the relation kinda sour. for example. The younger fellas didn’t know this and they used to grumble and they leave the band.” says Butcher.” If Butcher’s father was indulgent. so she loaned us there to be our first panyard. the band he joined was called after a movie.” he recalls.

That year they won Best Beating Band on the road with Sparrow’s “Jean and Dinah”. “I have to make a living and it’s time to step aside and let the younger guys take over. His Carnival education was brief.” His grandmother would take him to see the mas but Darius couldn’t bear the violence of it. for instance. Born in 1923 he was only an infant when a neighbour into wild Indian mas.” he recalls. “It was a mas that the guys used to recite history and they were good at it. “I was always stooping down by the side of the road. “They had a whole bugle section that set people crazy. introducing as early as 1956 the first amplified pans on the road. “I used to be sick in my stomach just thinking about it. “After they pass. in 1939. was as pacifist as they come without being any less committed to the steelband movement. when you look back you coulda take a glass of water and wet the whole band! Sun Valley with they tune booms take everybody. The man who introduced pan to Fyzabad. “This call for a lot of practice. This same Herbert constructed it from two big speakers and a radio system.” . however.” He returned to Trinidad before the Second World War. a man who designed a walkie-talkie system so the movement of the front of the band could be controlled from wherever the captain happened to be. Julian Darius. was on the way out. “They had tamboo bamboo in Grenada and pierrot granade. for Darius’s mother died when he was five and he was shipped off to Grenada to live with his grandmother. One family was very good at it. Rosetta.” he says of those sorties to look at the mas. beat one another bad with long whips. “It was very bloody.” reckoned Butcher. the Briggs brothers—they would get bus head and go back to fight stick—although the most dangerous was an old man who wore a khaki suit. things nice. But they weren’t all so. He remained in the Spice Isle for 11 years.” THE FIRST MAN OF FYZABAD When people think of panmen of the early days. you feeling to beat pan. After Taspo.“We jamming. would take him where they practised their dances.” he recalls with a shudder.” tells Butcher. and by the end of the Fifties Tony Williams would put them on wheels. all the time they had to wait for me. they think of the warriors who fought both one another and the police. They used to come in gangs from different parts of the island to compete and they used to fight.” The Second World War stopped Carnival from 1942 but word was reaching the deep South about a new musical invention which Darius had neither seen or heard until Free French visited Fyzabad. when ups come Sun Valley. “They had a hole in the centre of the gayelle where they drained the blood from any bus head—I see it with my eyes but I didn’t like it too much. which is hardly surprising since pierrot granade is patois for Grenada pierrot.” And yet Tripoli made its fair share of innovations too. By then Butcher. the invention of Herbert Sampson. to catch the last Carnivals in Fyzabad where the fare was even more violent: pierrot grenade but also stickfighting to the rhythms of the African drums—no tamboo bamboo there. though. steelbands had 3basses on their stage side. applying the philosophy he holds to this day.

“It was where all the action was and all the bands were good. stopping their late night practising. always returned to pass on to the Fyzabad boys. and had recruited for protection the support of “Nancy”—a feared Cobotown badjohn. riling up the working class.” he says. “I figured Port of Spain is the place to be.says Darius who decided then and there he wanted to form a steelband too. That steelband wasn’t very good. The younger members such as Rudy “Two Left” Smith and “Sack” Mayers had grown fed up with Red Army’s constant fighting. “And both of them come true—I love it. however. just above Park Street. Under Texaco sponsorship Darius went to Tobago to help establish the Katzanjammer Kids in Black Rock. Merry Maker was a peaceful breakaway from Red Army. Kenrick Drayton. had told him about. recalling how he made the first pan for Belgrave Bonaparte who went on to become the leader and arranger for the great Southern Symphony of La Brea. A protest march was organised to Port of Spain and Darius. and after a year he left it for Merry Makers which a friend from Duncan Street. And there it was that Darius found his level. and travelled to the US and Canada.” He checked into a hostel in Duncan Street where he slept on a cot in a large dormitory.” he explains. one of the greatest stage sides ever. By the early Sixties Darius’s job at the telephone company was allowing him less and less time for pan and he hung up his pans. but soon Red Army folded up and many of the same badjohns became supporters of Merry Makers so to many people they were just Red Army under another name. but by 1947 the Chief Servant was on the loose again.) Thus was formed Merry Makers. They replaced Invaders as the house band of the Little Carib. There was none of the steelband violence as in Port of Spain but the Fyzabad police still harassed the boys. though he wasn’t an oil worker and had never been to the bright lights.” he concludes today while visiting Trinidad from his home in Florida. “Dowdy wasn’t a pan beater but he knew I was interested and I’d take what he said and try to improve on it. fighting. and to have it so a fella could leave South and play in town—standardisation.” .” says Darius. one Dowdy who visited Port of Spain regularly. “He’d tell me what he saw or heard in town. Venezuela and Suriname. And all the while coming from up North was the talk of innovations which a friend of Darius. (In those days panmen didn’t take lightly to men hiving off to form other bands. and he and his friends formed the Allies. And he joined Commandos in Edward Street. “I used to have two dreams for steelband: to see it play with other jazz bands. He got a caustic soda drum and made a pan with four notes and the face pushed upwards. not concave like nowadays.” Just as the war suspended Carnival in Fyzabad. he joined in with a friend from the Allies and made the two day march into the city which he never again left until he left Trinidad in 1971. With Merry Makers Darius played cello at the top local venues such as the Bel Air hotel and Tavern on the Green. so too it suspended trade union militancy in Tubal Uriah Butler’s heartland. fighting. “On a Sunday we’d go Erin and play or go Palo Seco and the people would get interested and ask me to help them.

” he admitted. noon and night. “It was before it had bass—you had tenor. “I always found it interesting to see what an arranger is doing with the middle pans—a lot has to do with how you voice the chords between them. “I went and I tuned a pan and called it the cuatro pan—it was a lower pan than the second pan. Still. Ironically.IF YOU PLAY THE CHORDS “I studied pan from since 1944. biscuit drum and stuff like that. especially since one of the top double guitar players in the country. So only the guitar pan has lasted into the present. although Jules’s Trinidad All Stars has always been famous for its background pans. thus forging a link with the steelband movement that has endured to the present. is an All Stars man.” said Kitchener. “My thing was the bass or the guitar. the leader. Kitch never felt the urge to play pan. “The band was Bar 20 and when I came to Port of Spain I stayed in their yard in Harpe Place—right by where Renegades is now. pumpkin vine to the famous Jules family of guitar. by happy coincidence. Jules’s cuatro pan (which Philmore “Boots” Davidson copied and gave it the name which stuck—guitar pan) was the lowest tuned pan in the steelband. tuner and arranger for the Trinidad All Stars and. and the biscuit drum tune boom.” explains . That situation didn’t last long. Strangely. recalling how as a child in Arima he’d hang around a bass player named Ralph. cuatro and bass-makers. “When music bands came to Arima to play in dance halls I used to get a tush—they enjoyed seeing a little boy who wanted to play the bass. second and guitar. listing the names of the Bar 20 stalwarts.” recalls Jules. though. He was explaining his perennial urge to write for and about the national instrument.” In those early days. however. It was shortly after Kitchener left for England that the guitar pan was invented by one of the youngsters he knew back in Port of Spain—Neville Jules. Panazz leader Barry Bartholomew.” When Kitch left Trinidad in 1947 pans were still rudimentary. when in 1950 Tony Williams tuned a 55-gallon 3-bass for Taspo. Shortly after his cuatro pan Jules came up with two other innovations that filled the background: a caustic soda bass with three low untuned notes that he called the Paul Robeson. Perhaps now they’re playing Kitch’s “Guitar Pan” for Panorama they’ll get a few double guitars. “I didn’t know anything about pan at all until I returned in 1962. “I was walking one night around Christmas time in Port of Spain and I heard a Spanish guy strumming a cuatro. he continued writing for tunes for steelband. and many a pan pioneer those days whey they waited anxiously by the radio on Carnival Sunday for Kitch to “send down” a road march from cold England in time for J’Ouvert.” he says. who now lives in New York. up to today the band still lacks double guitars. and all the rest was du dup. it was the background pan . Both these were superseded almost immediately. We already had the second pan and I didn’t want a pan strumming in the same range so I made it a little lower. not as a single pan but as a double or a triple pan. So it wasn’t mid range.” Actually. and for the next 15 years he was cut off from the steelband movement.” says Jules. he came to town in 1942 to sing in the Victory tent. I never heard it in Arima but in Port of Spain I hear pan morning. perhaps forgetting he’d met men such as Sterling Betancourt in London. but 1944 was the year he sang his first big hit “Green Fig” and penned “Beat of the Steelband”. relying instead on triple guitars and cellos for the mid range.

” That happened one Carnival in the late 1940s when the great south St James steelband. “It make me feel very shame in the road. which is why Kitch has a different “pram praram” chorus in every verse of “Guitar Pan”. Bartholomew says that it’s an easy pan to learn—especially the triple guitar. the Sampson brothers. “They pass us by Ethel Street bank. it was out of the world. . the chord has to be distributed between different players and even different middle pans: “If you spread the chords well you get a much fuller sound: that’s what we have to do in Panazz because it’s such a small side. Jit often has the middle pans doing some very complex runs. Additionally. Addawell and Nooksin. The notes are big and many arrangers just have them strumming a simple rhythm throughout. played it for Sun Valley. Perhaps this is why Renegades. Exodus and All Stars will be playing “Guitar Pan” for Panorama. Indeed.” Actually. Pelham Goddard and Eddy Quarless highlighting the middle range of three of the greatest steelbands ever. which is rare today. His younger brother Noel “Nooksin” Sampson was beating a baylay—a four-note caustic soda drum with a slightly higher range than the tune boom. you coulda take a glass of water and wet the whole band—they had two tune boom and take everybody. so unless the player is using three sticks. So the band has a double guitar and a triple guitar but no cellos or quads. A full musical chord. The pans was made by Sonny Roach. only Franklyn “Addawell” Sampson was beating a tune boom—a biscuit drum tuned to provide the band with a bass. which demands arm movements like the bass.” Playing double guitar for Panazz and triple guitar for All Stars.” described Butcher. Robert Munro notwithstanding. “You now feeling to beat pan. If you hear that thing.” Tripoli panman Lloyd Butcher once reminisced. But the pan’s essential role has remained the same. a fella whose talent stop in cobweb. “When they pass and you look back. THE SAMPSONS OF SUN VALLEY “A tune boom once strike a pain in my heart. Then Panazz often starts or ends a tune with them. one of the great pan tuners. But there are greater possibilities than that. “If we have a gig and one guitar pan is missing there’s an emptiness in the arrangement. the guitar pan will finally come into its own. however. The guitar pan strum was different when it was first invented. And with Jit Samaroo. emphasising the unsung greatness of Sonny Roach. Then along came the great north St James steelband Sun Valley. needs at least three notes. two blocks of people moving to the music.” he recalled. Butcher’s anecdote is true in its fundamentals. providing a rhythmic framework around which the music is built. and the importance of his two lieutenants Addawell and Nooksin Sampson. but if a tenor or a bass player can’t make it it hardly matters. closer to a parang cuatro (which. you see. rather than the wrist movements of the double guitar. was jamming in the road. the band which won the first islandwide steelband competition in 1948.Bartholomew. Tripoli. is a rhythm instrument). things nice. some arrangers such as Jit Samaroo use the middle pans to play counter melodies.” argues Bartholomew.

Nooksin got caught drinking the communion wine and was released from the Lord’s service but Fr Currant even carried Addawell. was different. “Is only one day he eh go to church—you is Mary?” On one occasion. we just form weself together to bring out a band. he was able to his knowledge of church to the benefit of the youths. He got a piece of newspaper.) “Sonny Roach put in five notes on a Sunrise biscuit pan and we called it tune boom—I is the only fella used to beat it. Mr Sampson. Their parents moved to St James in 1935 but the boys spent much time by their godmother in Newtown where they’d go peep at the seminal Alexander’s Ragtime Band. like many pan innovations. and though at first the big Irish priest Fr Currant used to enjoy them. noon and night. “He was whehar.” That was on Boundary Road by where the Catholic church was being built. She was fervent Catholic and wanted her sons to follow the straight and narrow path. Anyway.” “Sire. continue what we know from Newtown. however. We used to tune by the East Dry River—it’s the only place you coulda go and keep noise and they still used to send police. handing him the tune boom he’d invented. I eh lending it out cause they go spoil it. hit it too hard. “We had the most appropriate yard and it’s so the whole thing start with a tarpaulin what we get from a shop. “We hadn’t no name. Rialto. From St James to town and back. They began putting money in a bowl for him. himself quite whehar. where they lasted out the Second World War. Addawell closed the meeting and everybody went to the theatre. “That come like we tent—we had seats from bamboo and we start with the bamboo. to serve in high mass at St Theresa’s. And when in 1938 they met Frankie Soyer and other Newtown youths who’d also moved to St James. because his mother. “And he did let we play. Addawell. All this was right there on Bournes Road. he eventually got fed up with the noise and started complaining. said he had an idea. swore his talents were God-given. they were glad to see Addawell change his ways. however. Nooksin sang chorus. nobody beating my pan. (Neville Jules in the east also claims to have invented the tune boom. using the Hindu word for wutless.” recalls Nooksin. The boys wanted to go cinema. When it was time for theatre to start. “He is the first man to sink a pan four inches without bursting it. it probably occurred spontaneously in both east and west Port of Spain. Nooksin stood there discreetly counting the money and checking the time. “We had them little small pan with the bamboo. the priest eventually got his way and the band moved to Guthrie Street in 1940 by the grandmother of one of the gang. Despite their genuflection. who rang the church bell morning.“You beat that—don’t lend nobody. Addawell and Nooksin were long before Roach the pioneers of pan in north St James. however. He spread it on the ground and started a prayer meeting. . Mrs Sampson—Miss Hetty to the youths—didn’t too like the idea either. Johnathan Mayers.” Addawell recalls.” says Nooksin. “You go kill the little boy?” intervened his father. a religious woman.” they called Roach.” Both boys were acolytes. it too difficult to tune!” Roach instructed Addawell. Born in 1917 and 1925 respectively. and they had no money.” says Addawell. the Sampson brothers spent their earliest years in Picton Street.” Soyer had four sisters so they were roped in to play Dame Lorraine and the whole gang moved out that J’Ouvert. a man who played guitar and liked his waters. Everybody knew Miss Hetty son. the gang decided to bring out a band in the west too. Once he skipped church to practice with the band and his mother blazed him with licks.

refused to let the next bands come on stage. “If allyuh eh like it. war broke out. They shifted up Bournes Road where they were joined by members of a little struggling Kandahar band named Nob Hill. Roy Harper. recalls Addawell. One Nob Hill newcomer was the young Anthony Williams. Roach’s talents attracted talented youths such as Cecil “Bajan Cecil” Ward who knew music. The new band’s name was taken from a Humphrey Bogart movie. Tony Williams and Neville Jules. When Taspo was picked to go to England and Granville Sealey dropped out. It grew in size and volume and changed their name to Harlem Nightingales. Like the other great pioneers Ellie Mannette.” Roach’s mother complained. calling back Sun Valley. Roach began liming heavily with the Port of Spain jamettes and drinking hard—something not allowed in Sun Valley’s glory days. The yard they shifted to was by the home of another talented youth who’d been hanging around Harlem Nightingales—Sonny Roach. when audiences. so they moved a hundred yards down Bournes Road to the Shango yard of one “Giant” and formed a new under the leadership of Roy Harper. “We had to run with we pans. But decline had set in. slowly to succumb to solitude and resentment. this time borrowing from the musical Sun Valley Serenade. Unfortunately he fell ill and had to leave the group in Martinique and return home. The proud Roach said not a word as his best players left but. who’d learned to tune under Roach. arranger and captain. they protested. though.” The same thing happened in a club along the Wrightson Road “Gaza Strip” and in a competition in Arima. bringing out the famous scrunter’s burlap mas in 1946: St James Sufferers. “Look how the band change. When the younger players found that pair was taking the band fees to go drinking. who never beat a pan. when they bounced up Belle Vue’s Five Graves to Cairo at the bottom of Long Circular Road. The same year Sun Valley won the islandwide steelband competition. Again. “It was bottle and stone in we tail. “We was staying in D’Abadie—we run from Arima to D’Abadie. whose hearts were with the youths. Tony Williams and Addawell Sampson. And eventually Roach just left them to stay at home and beat tenor pan by himself.” So the Sampson brothers. and Winston “Badman” Jordan. Roach came first in ping pong solo. Mayers’s grandmother fell ill and asked them to leave because the noise was humbugging her. North Star. ping pong player. coasting a Shango rhythm “Ogun la la olaylay”. Roach quickly became a leading tuner.” says Addawell. One Carnival Tuesday Sun Valley. remained with Sun Valley. “By the time we reach Harvards.There was no Carnival from 1942 to 1945 but the band played at times like Easter and Christmas and took the occasional chance to parade up Fort George hill. And they changed name again. Is ice they was pelting at we.” Nooksin says.” Roach was ignorant. So too the band attracted the public. sometimes to their detriment. . “You coulda see it in his face. As with the Tripoli episode. Sun Valley passed by and all Cairo’s revellers joined the Bournes Road band. leave!” Roach replied. His closest associates were badjohns such as Charles Samuel. Sonny Roach was called up.

and another time they had a go at Bad Men from Missouri.” Born in 1927. or even of Bar 20. Once they tried on Ohio Casanovas for size. When Serrette found out. The rest dropped pans and scattered. “Pelican as a baby used to do that—we had to hold him up to cut. the band which is rivalled only by Desperadoes for its six Panorama victories happens to be one of the oldest steelbands in existence.THE SKULL AND CROSSBONES BAND Perhaps it’s the lateness of their greatness that makes Renegades seem a recent band. After that Serrette dropped out of the steelband movement and the youths regrouped with the few pans they’d salvaged and began stealing some more. or maybe it’s because for their first ten years they had no name. “It had a man walking backwards in front the cuff boom. possessing its own history reaching back to the days of tamboo bamboo.” During and immediately after the war the youths continued as a sort of unnamed band. the Charlotte Street steelband is sometimes said to be an offshoot of Casablanca. He’d told them not to carry out the band. but neither name stuck. Baird would have been around 12 years old.” Syms’s unnamed band crumbled when iron replaced all the bamboo.” explains Baird. “Lenus Syms had a bamboo band in Basilon Street and we’d run away to take a little beat while watching out for we mother. at Royal cinema they saw the Ricardo Montalban swashbuckling movie Mark of the Renegade. “It was tamboo bamboo and cuff boom in those days. only a flag made from flour bag and with a skull and crossbones on it.” says Baird. he was furious. And. Renegades captain Stephen “Goldteeth” Nicholson fought for Casablanca. All Serrette had to do was to get some pans from Bar 20. as luck would have it. and Serrette mashed up whatever pans he could get. . Nevertheless. Ethelbert Serrette. but it was Carnival and they went ahead anyway. and Bar 20 patroness Muriel White flew flag for Renegades. in a football and cricket club named Ohio Sports Club in Bonaparte Lane. who could run with their pan ran with their pan. cutting on it. and he was known to be ignorant. Owing to its misty past. “Bar 20 was in Bath Street but our parents didn’t want us to associate with them: them was fellas who gambling. they were his.” What made it easier is that they were already together.” says Baird with a laugh. ‘Look Ohio band’ because they recognised the members of the sports club. “Ethelbert decided to open a band around there—he did everything and get us together. True. Until in 1947 Serrette mashed up the band. He got a hatchet and went out for them and bounced them up on the corner of Charlotte and New Streets. Well. for the older men weren’t able to make the transition and the baton passed to an older youth. But it was the younger Kelvin “Pelican” Brown who at about six years of age began syncopating on the horizontal side of the cuff boom. they make prison.” recalls Joseph Baird. It was he who’d got the pans from Bar 20. “We had no name. “But when we was beating in the road Carnival day people would say.

“That time if you see the skull and crossbones it’s to keep far. Desmond O’Brien and Errol O’Brien.” Still. each one of us used to tune we own pan. And yet. they rioted with Desperadoes. to compound the irony. Goldteeth joined with their close neighbours. simian arms. Once Pelican and a few other unemployed Renegades took some pans to play in a Park Street club and earn some money.. “When I come back everybody saying Stephen looking for me. Wallace “Ako” Paul. It used to marvel me. “That’s when Stephen Nicholson come in and become captain. Nicholson would make both his band and himself infamous for ignorance and rioting. So notoriously ignorant was Goldteeth that when he got married to American anthropologist Judith Weller.” recalls Pelican.” Both Goldteeth and Yankee Boy are dead but Renegades has continued as ever. Milton Chandler. Despite their warfare with Invaders. A small section of the band began calling themselves Lawbreakers and terrorised people in town. they rioted with Tokyo. they rioted with Ebonites. a tall man with long.” says Baird. Prime Minister Eric Williams cabled a request to US President John Kennedy to investigate if Weller was right in the head or some kind of weird communist. Trevor “Rock” Stewart. all of them knocking and clanking under my arms. how they tuned and played.” says Pelican. ‘Mister Pelican’. Grafton “Poco Moco” Thomas. the new skipper. Before him. . both band and club.” recalls Pelican. when they were rioting too. they rioted with the Marabuntas.“Everybody come back to Basilon Street and put skull and crossbones on they arm and say we is Renegades. Stephen Nicholson. “He born in the States but grow up in Belgrave Street. Goldteeth wasn’t above doling out licks to his own panmen. better known as “Yankee Boy”. Desmond “Bad Nigger” Baird. He just start. He coulda tune a whole steelband in a day. And as if they weren’t fighting enough. Better known as Goldteeth.” It was the same young men from Ohio. Casablanca. Lennox “Madman” Calender. When I see him he start up saying.” Once some Belmont men beat Pelican and Dennis Baird in Olympic theatre. just humming right through.class “college boy” bands such as Dixieland and Troubadors—Alvin Benjamin. to which Pelican adds: “We don’t know where Yankee Boy learn to tune. They rioted with Invaders. Pelican had to duck a right hand. so they retaliated by thrashing whoever they caught catching taxi at the Belmont stand. As a matter of fact. Desmond “Mugger” James. was their ferocious pace bowler. Indeed. “You better run. Renegades produced the master tuner who was instrumental in helping the middle. “I went back to the club alone and bring every pan back by myself. without any individuals standing out like other bands had. Desmond “Preacher” Harris. And Joe Baird and Kelvin “Pelican” Brown ended the interview with a list of the pioneers of the Ohio Sports Club who built the most successful Panorama steelband ever: Joe Baird. Newton “Mouths” James.. Pelican admits he used to go Woodbrook to copy ideas from Invaders. Cecil White.

had a reputation. was also doing blacksmith work in his stepfather’s shop nearby. And then they went to Hell Yard where they met Fisheye Olliverre.” recalls Williams. “Give him a beat. “I only hearing pan knocking. And Williams would hang around the yard watching. “I start to beat and roll. his grandmother just smiled at that. until his grandmother and great uncle got to hear of it and they banned him. Mucurapo Street in those days—a “street of chance”. who were his parents. “He doing good. where he lived. “You like to beat?” asked Benjamin. until one day Benjamin inquired after his name. when his great uncle saw him there. “And he’s the best beater in the yard too.” Tall Boy and Williams stayed three days in Port of Spain and they left carrying a ping pong Fisheye had given the youth with a promise to bring another down south for the band. he ordered the boy go home. the captain of the band.” Benjamin told a youth with a pan. Benjamin promised Williams that any time he came to the yard the pan was his. you couldn’t see the yard from his home. “Leave the boy.” he recalls. He began frequenting the yard. an act of generosity which Williams repeated when he helped other south bands. Once. Williams. and when I go by the river where it had fellas gambling I see Jules tuning a pan. he told her he was going to the cinema. by a migrant from Belmont—Julian “Tall Boy” Benjamin. “He does do blacksmith work too?” she said.” And she dragged him inside for the worst licking he ever got in his life.” pleaded Tarzan. pointed out the boy was talented. But secretly the boy continued playing with them on the way to or from cinema. Then I notice he have a bigger one with different notes. and Williams nodded.” To Williams’s relief. and again Williams amazed them. One day a neighbour visited his grandmother.” said Williams’s great uncle. for even though it was within earshot. “I want to talk to you.” “Let me hear you. “They’d never heard that. and just at the bottom by Mucurapo Street and was where a steelband named German Camp was formed as early as 1940. including forming two in central: Eagle Squadron in Couva and Starlift in California. brother of the infamous Mano. “I stay there watching and listening. After that he got permission. How differently things turned out a few years later when he was discovered beating pan! The family moved across town to Johnson Street in 1936.) . na. They had some TGR grease pans with four notes. The grandmother.” agreed her guest. His grandmother was pleased— she played Martiniquan with them for Carnival. Around that time the band changed name to Pearl Harbour. and the lady recognised him.” After that. around 14 now. “Yes. pleased. Meadow Williams was considered good. “Wait. (Fisheye did bring the pan. That evening.” said his grandmother. Also around then did Williams get his hands on a proper ping pong and learned to tune. what with its clubs.THE PING PONGS OF PEARL HARBOUR Even as a boy knocking discarded “instruments” in the Coffee Street tamboo bamboo yard in the 1930s. Here’s how that happened: Tall Boy went to visit his family in Belmont and carried the young Williams. and the boy began syncopating on his two lengths of bamboo.

but now also discreetly helping out Red Army in Prince Street. Williams tried to regroup Metronome and outdo Stephens and his cronies. “All Stars get to find out I with Red Army. it eh make no sense trying. Some of the youths ran off but Williams and a few others remained: they weren’t doing anything wrong. Wellington (Bostock) vex. such as the afternoon towards the end of the war when the nearby St Joseph’s Convent complained of the noise coming from the band and the police raided. When the day dawned. I didn’t know but she’d taught herself to play when the pan was home and I was out. for when Williams and a few more serious panmen tried to improve for the upcoming VJ Day. Free French was still suffering from Stephens’s departure too and the two tried to join forces as French Metronomes for the upcoming Festival. “But he was blowing the bugle and it was Vida. “With the fellas not working that come like $96 thousand—it make some fellas leave Trinidad. the others couldn’t make the grade. although Williams personal ping pong was home.” he recalls. The police confiscated the pans they were charged and summoned before a magistrate who fined them each $96 or six months in jail. It didn’t make sense I stick around town. I thought it was Billy. all the while still visiting All Stars to see what Jules was up to. on the ping pong. “I wanted to show those fellas how I coulda do without them. “Zola say he cyar play it—too much music.” THE RISING SUN OF BELMONT Tambi Maximin is well-known among the underworld of drug addicts. hearing them by the Promenade. He finished his job and made his way downtown. but there were other women in the band—Mucurapo Street “regular girls” such as “Olga” on the boom. Fisheye vex.By the time Williams visited Hell Yard he was too big for his grandmother to beat. He say. (Red Army captain Leonard) Morris vex. The dark man with a full head of silver hair that falls in a long plait is the founder and director of . but the band wasn’t up to the tunes Williams had chosen: Perez Prado’s “Granada Mambo”. That was its moment of glory. “When I meet them by the Library I hear the pan beating.” recalls Williams whose grandmother coughed up the money.” he says. however. Williams and two others left to join Zola’s Free French. one reach America and never come back just to dodge that warrant.” recalls Williams of the day he left the steelband movement.m. Tall Boy and Williams went stealing drums to replace those in the police station. “Rudder vex. my girl. ‘Hear them strings and thing’.” And Williams gave the reply which took him out of the steelband movement for 20 years: “If you feel you cyar make it. Williams had to do an emergency job in the blacksmith shop so he arranged to catch up with the band.” It was her first time playing on the road. and “Gold and Silver Waltz”. but there were other travails to come. The war passed and VE Day came around when the steelbands were given license from 9 a.” Back in south Williams left Zola around 1953 to follow Theo Stephens into Metronome. only for Stephens to abandon them to form Southern All Stars with their best players for the second Steelband Festival in 1954. to parade. and “Stocking Dinah” who also took up the boom eventually.

“It’s when they start to share licks everybody start to run. for instance. “Belmont was like a clan.” So. Youths from both sides met at Olympic Cinema. As a youth he’d go look at the stickfighting by Yeates rumshop in Norfolk Street and at the Crown Lion Bar. They had a bugle section of youths from the Young Offenders Detention Institute (YODI). that he was a steelband pioneer in the great Belmont band Rising Sun. whom Maximin prefers to not name. rough ones like Carl and Arthur Byer.” So there were the youths from Warner Lands. “My father was strict but when he eh there I do what I want.” he says.” says Maximin. which came to call itself Rising Sun—the Japanese emblem—was based in Belmont Valley Road in an open lot opposite the Rada compound. Fewer people are aware. was filled with all the same contradictions. however. some in pit. but his brother “Big . Tokyo. “Once when Red Army was coming down Cadiz Road for fight with bottle and cutlass. Born in 1927.Rebirth House rehabilitation centre. it was after Maximin and his friends had heard a Gonzales band beating “pan” that Maximin joined the gang beating cement drums. razors or broken bottles and the band had a section from down by the river called Bottleneck. dustbins or any other piece of iron. Maximin grew up in Industry Lane in the district known as Warner Lands. Rising Sun. Rising Sun decided to ignore the ban. was chopped by another panman whom he chopped back in return. “Somebody would be beating cement drum and then another person would be walking backwards cutting on it—I did that. virtuoso pannist Dudley Smith and Carly Drakes. With its different elements the band couldn’t last and in the forties the Warner’s Land youths hived off to form Sunland in Industry Lane by the Maximin yard. the upmarket side of Belmont bounded by the Circular. “He make a jail for that.” says Maximin. for instance. Ray Apollon was a member and indeed there was a side of wrestlers they’d put in front the band. And their steelband. Although he recalls taking a little jump with the district bamboo band in which his father beat bass bamboo. and if the boundaries between them were sharply drawn they all came together for Carnival. ranging from upper class whites to lower class blacks. a lot of sagga boys—sharp dressers and good dancers like singer Nap Hepburn. And the rift widened until the two bands fell into a deadly fratricidal war. “That was before the war. Carly Byer.” says Maximin. “When they think I in school I in the dry river playing ground dice and wappie. When the two of them were carried to hospital. “We saw the police but we figured they couldn’t stop the Carnival. Casablanca—and if Maximin’s many bus heads can’t be seen today he can still show the scar where a man with a broken bottle almost severed his hand at the wrist in a clash one Carnival Monday. This was the more plebeian side of Belmont where the youths were more wutless. But there were also the Belmont Valley Road men. or attend the Rada feasts in the Valley Road to eat the food and hear the drumming. was the captain of the east side which became Modernaires.” Their band. the Rising Sun badjohn left the bed and sliced up his opponent with a razor.” Belmont was like that: an old creole district with the full social spectrum. Red Army. Rising Sun rioted with best—Desperadoes. all the middle class people sided with us to repel them. One man. Albert Thompson and others. Those days men fought with cutlasses. some in house. in 1942 after the government prohibited Carnival for the war.” he explained of how he came to play ping pong in the band. and Maximin in their company turned wild.

Pants” Byer was in Sunland when he was stabbed to death by Lorris Phillip from the other side. Sunland eventually split again over money and into a college boys side named Stromboli went Maximin and his brothers Monty, Tony, Tyrone Mike and Rawle. Valmond and Neil Jones were in that side. There was even an upper class band in Lockhart Lane, Dem Boys, from which splintered Dem Fortunates and Am Boys. And yet despite their internal fighting the Belmont people continued to support Belmont people, Maximin’s brother Mike sponsoring Sunland, then 5th Dimension— both the band and the football team—then Am Boys. And as for Tambi, he says, “The steelband built my character. And the street experience, well it’s helped me with Rebirth House because there I have to deal with people from the streets.”

WHEN THE JACK WAS KING
In the first decade of the steelband movement, Invaders set the pace, and to most panmen that meant Ellie Mannette. During the Fifties, however, many would have included a man who was seen in the band once again on Carnival Monday and Tuesday, having returned from New York for two weeks. One of his names is Emmanuel Riley, although he’s better know to the steelband world as Cobo Jack. Not only was he one of Mannette’s closest understudies in the pan tuning business, but Jack was perhaps the most well-known steelband soloist of his day, a man of surpassing musical talent and not a scrap of training. “He was way ahead of his time,” recalls Ray Hollman, then a youth now learning to play. “When I look back now it’s more amazing what he was doing then. He really motivated me to try to improvise, he was the father of improvisation.” Jack didn’t began an Invaders man, though. Born on Christmas Day, 1934, Jack’s early youth was spent in Methuen Street, just a block away from a little known band called Charlie Chan. He was about eight or nine and too young to play, but within a year or so that changed. It was in Methuen Street too that he got the nickname from an old Indian man in whose parlour Jack would help out. The old patois-speaker wasn’t good with English pronunciation and when he called the boy Herbert Jack (his father was Vernon Jack) it came out as “Cobo Jean.” By then the band had metamorphosed into Hellzapoppin whose captain, Ulric Springer, was better known as Chick Macgrew. He was a good mentor, for Springer once beat islandwide ping pong solo champion Ellie Mannette in a competition by playing his pan with two hands, some time 1947 in Astor, when everybody was still using one hand. “The way the community was, everybody knew everybody and ‘Chick Macgrew’ asked my parents,” says Jack. “It was during the war when they didn’t have Carnival. There was only a Discovery parade.” Hellzapoppin didn’t last too long, and Jack began moving to different houses, staying a while in St Vincent Street, or a while in Bournes Road. “My father lived in Bournes Road and up there I used to listen to Sun Valley but I couldn’t play because he didn’t like steelband,” says Jack. Moving back into Woodbrook in Gallus Street, Jack and some youths decided formed a little band. That was late Forties. “We begged for pans. Invaders wanted to

charge us 36 cents a note but we couldn’t pay. Sterling Betancourt from Crossfire gave us a pan and we got some old pans,” recalls Jack. “We used to play up and down the slipway off Wrightson Road and sometimes the police would chase us and mash up the pans.” They were hired to play in a club on Wrightson Road whose name the band took: Green Eyes. Having to repair the pans destroyed by police Jack had learnt tuning. Then he began to help their tuner Michael “Nazi” Contante who did some work for Renegades. “I coulda blend but not tune from scratch until Goldteeth ask me to try to make a tenor pan. I got a good B note,” he says. That didn’t last either. The leader left, they shifted to Ariapita Avenue and became Sombreros. And then Jack got his break. “We always wanted to get into Invaders: we liked how their instruments sounded, how they played, the type of tunes they played, but we were young and they found us too miserable,” he recalls. “Then the older Invaders were getting out and it had an opening.” Jack was tuning with Mannette, doing most the band’s background pans, and playing cellos. Ironically, the pan he made his mark with came from La Brea. “Invaders still had single seconds and Belgrave Bonaparte from Southern Symphony had double seconds. He brought a sketch for Ellie to tune a pair for him,” says Jack. “Ellie introduced it to Invaders. I thought it was a better pan to solo on so I went over.” Those Fifties were perhaps the greatest days of the Invaders, when the band was unbeatable for either music or warfare. Jack was tuning for several bands including Desperadoes in Laventille and Harmony Kings in Speyside. It was a time when Jack was perhaps the most famous soloist even though he never competed. “I didn’t like competitions, I just liked to play what came to me,” he explains. “In competitions you had to play what was correct and I could only do it my own way.” Jack went on to play with a Renegades stage side in the Stork club, and with Desperadoes after being charged and acquitted of having stabbed another panman. Still he remained an Invaders man. Although he remained neutral in Tobago when Invaders and Renegades rioted, Jack captained the Woodbrook band for a few months after Ellie Mannette left Trinidad in 1967, until Jack too migrated to the US where he still lives today and has most recently set up the USA Invaders.

A DAISY AMONGST THE THORNS
“My mother was very strict,” recalls Ancil “Sonny” James with a laugh. He was speaking of the 1940s when he became involved in steelband. “When she vex, anything she pick up you getting it; when you run away, make up your mind to get licks when you return.” It was understandable. After all, his mother, Alricia James, had two sons and eight daughters to raise. So when Sonny and younger brother Fitzroy “Gaga” James decided they were going to join the steelband movement, both their running away and the hiding she’d share out became a matter of course. “Once I gone I make up my mind to get licks when I come back,” Sonny says.

He was born in 1927, when the family lived in Oxford Street, and they moved to Quarry Street in east Port of Spain in 1936, so the band Sonny and Fitzroy joined was Casablanca. There was another reason too: their cousin Ossie “Tom” Campbell was one of the stalwarts of first Bar 20 and then Casablanca. “Is Ossie who break me out,” says Sonny. “I used to lift weights and had a big body, but I wasn’t in riot. Is Ossie who used to drag me. He say, ‘You go just stay and watch? Come!’ And I in front with a seta fellas with cutlass. I didn’t like that he teach me to defend myself.” In those days of the 1940s and 1950s young men around Casablanca had to learn to box and wrestle under the tuition of noted street fighters such as James “Batman” Anderson. “On Sundays at 42 Steps they bring boxing gloves and tell you, ‘Fight he!’ and you had to fight.” Nevertheless, when Casablanca was going out for a riot—which they did perhaps more than any other band in the forties—Sonny made sure to walk with his slim, sharp, stiletto-like shoemaker’s knife. Those days panmen were outcasts but the blows they got were nothing compared to what a young girl received for consorting with them. When Ma James tried to get her youngest daughter Lera into Miss Payne’s Private School in Quarry Street, Miss Payne refused to admit her because her brothers played pan for Casablanca. And when Lorna Baird, cousin to Renegades pioneers Joe and Desmond Baird, associated with Sonny, it was blows until they got married. “My wife and all get licks for me,” he recalls of Baird. “Licks! Her mother and father used to cut her tail.” How ironic then, that one of the earliest girls to join the steelband movement should be none other than Daisy, the second youngest sister of Sonny and Fitzroy. Born in 1938, she wasn’t a rebel or a tomboy or anything so, just a curious little girl about six years old in 1945 who was fascinated by this little pan Fitzroy brought home one day. “It had two-three notes,” she recalls. “To me it was like a toy.” Of course she had to wait until he went out, then she’d borrow this toy and practice whatever she’d heard him playing. She didn’t care if Sonny heard, though—it wasn’t his pan—so he knew. And one Saturday Sonny carried his little sister, without their mother’s knowledge, to Casablanca’s panyard. “Oscar Pile was standing on the steps, Art de Couteau was there too, Croppy, Patsy Haynes,” she vividly remembers. “They all had instruments. It also had some white people there. I didn’t know the pan I had concerned that. It was the first time I see a steelband.” The band was missing a lead player at a time when tourists had come to hear them, so Sonny had drafted the little girl in to fill the gap. He told her to play what he’d heard her playing. In those early days the ping pong would first start up with its rhythm and play for a while before the rest of the band joined in. Daisy didn't even know what a steelband was, however, far less how they co-ordinated their instruments. “When I hear the band start up it confused me,” she admits. “I forget what I used to play.” Sonny patiently coaxed his little sister—a lot depended on her—and she soon recovered her composure, much to the delight of the tourists, who began throwing money at her. Alas, Sonny took it.

“He take the notes and give me the coins,” she recollects. “After that he used to take me to play to play often and the white people would give me money.” Even the coins she'd collected and carefully hidden under a stone in the yard Sonny appropriated in her absence, leaving Daisy searching the yard wondering which stone she’d put her money under. “It’s true,” Sonny says today with the mischief still in his voice. Daisy continued playing with the band, much more than Sonny, who for all his love of pan wasn’t really a panman. She’d sneak out on her own when she could, some times getting caught by her mother and beaten with the pot spoon, other times being warned in time by the men so she could scurry away and deny any involvement. As for Sonny and Fitzroy, Mrs James, along with the parents of a few other Quarry Street youths such as Philmore “Boots” Davidson and Kenny and Kelvin Hart, decided if she couldn’t stop them playing pan, at least they could get out of Casablanca. They called the boys, who agreed, and snuck out of Casablanca around 1950, when some of the badjohns were in jail for a riot with Rising Sun in Belmont. “When we formed City Syncopaters, Ossie, James Anderson and them used to come and bus up we pan,” says Sonny. “We report it in the station and the police called Kenny Hart and Oscar Pile and said, ‘Talk to your men and stop it’.” Daisy wasn’t part of that, though, until one day she heard the sweetest music coming over the hills. She rushed out their Quarry Street house to see the boys tramping down the hill playing pan, moving straight into the James’s yard and under the house. “I was glad,” she says. “After that every day I pounding this one or that one, even though I still couldn’t let she see me.” As before, she’d listen to them practising across the road in a vacant lot and quietly with her ping pong try to learn it. Until one day in 1956, when a little drama group she was in decided to hold a concert and they asked Daisy to play. The show was carded for 8 p.m. but by nine Education Minister John Donaldson, who was to open the proceedings, hadn’t arrived. The crowd was restive. They began making noise and pounding chairs, and the organisers called on Daisy to entertain them. She resisted but they insisted. “They pulled the curtain and I bowed and played ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’. I played it straight and then I started to rev (improvise). I got a standing ovation and they called for more,” she says. “I was frightened—good thing I had learn two tunes. I played ‘Indian Love Call’. When I finish people clapped and Donaldson congratulated me.” After that Daisy was never hindered from playing pan, which she continued up until the end of Synco in 1981. As for Sonny, he’d dropped out long before, shortly after he got married, contenting himself thereafter with making mas for his first love, Casablanca.

RED ARMY'S RELUCTANT SOLDIER
Alfred “Sack” Mayers was perhaps one of the most unlikely pan pioneers, and also one of the most long-standing. Starting in the days of tamboo bamboo, Sack has remained up to today an active pannist, playing at the Wisconsin Summer Fest every year, even though much of the early steelband movement repelled him.

as it pretty much still is. Still. Pan was just rhythm. “Better he do that than go out gambling and get into trouble. “He didn’t want me take no part in steelband at all--but he eh coming up Prince Street to see me. This thing was terrible and I didn’t used to go nowhere near it.” After that he began to take a little knock.Born prematurely on January 12. What made Red Army doubly attractive to the Cobotown youth was that it had some of the baddest men in town. and in those days the more noise you make the better because it’s the further away from you people will hear and they will come. who get licks.” Why not? Red Army was located quite up Prince Street. But years later his voice would become booming. “The first Carnival in 1946 I didn’t play. Some people come with them sweet-oil tin—O Lord.” says Sack. even though he was good on the ping pong. “It used to be nice but the bussin of the head—I didn’t like to see that.” he recalls. “Every Saturday used to have bamboo and stickfighting. when one Carlton Grimes collected some tin pans and started a little side called Boys from Bernardo (named after a movie about a juvenile prison) in his barrack yard in Sackville Street. so when the war ended and the great saga boy band Red Army was formed. he moved over. but still he kept a distance and when the first islandwide steelband competition was held later in 1946 at the Mucurapo Stadium (where Fatima College is now). eight he tight and he want to know all what go on for the whole day. He grew up in London Street in Port of Spain and as a child he’d see the Cobo Town tamboo bamboo players. 1927.” he says. so nobody would mess with them when you were with that band. that was terrible. “Come up the road and join a big band.” he explains.” Mayers’s father kept his sons away from the Cobo Town bamboo yard when there was stickfighting. initially Sack was cautious. People used to be jumping up just as now they jump up with steelband.” Seabee coaxed Sack and the other boys from Bernardo. “I walk on the pavement because everybody so fraid that band. the young Sack wasn’t keen on it anyway.” But Seabee Mayers was something of a saga boy.” Still. “When he come home all around seven. admitting. who misbehave. though. If you feel to play bass you walk with your biscuit drum. “It didn’t have no tuning. either.” he says. . and besides.” he says. “Sacky Winky” his mother called the tiny infant she had to hold in a pillow when his eyes filled with tears although you could barely hear his cries.” Fortunately. Sack didn’t try to get into the Red Army stage side. “That was around 1937. “It’s a really noisy thing. I just walk and follow them all where they go cause my brother was with them. so there was little chance of their disapproving father discovering they were in a steelband. “Why allyou don’t leave this stupidy band.” He wasn’t too keen when the bamboo instruments were replaced by metal. you had to get that written permission from the police.” she’d intercede for the son who’d been so fragile as a baby. But I couldn’t take it. man. his mother was more sympathetic. “During the war we just used to stay in the yard and play—we couldn’t come on the street at all. “They started with a sweet-oil can that was terrible to the ear. who do what. “From lunch they’d buy two-three bottles of rum and they all assemble in a yard to play the bamboo and chant songs. Sack’s older brother Clifford “Seabee” Mayers joined and encouraged Sack to do the same. he was frail as a baby.

” Sun Valley won. which was just as well. because they got into a riot down there and ended up making a jail. until somewhere in Spain the Merry Makers Steel Orchestra dwindled into nothing.” he explains. Shorn of the badjohn image and back in Cobotown once more.” says Sack. and they were rehearsing when Sack made passed by the yard and couldn’t resist taking a knock. who brought along his equally ignorant brother. “They used to come in the yard when we practising and they’d come and stand up by me because I’d mix and make joke with all of them. so any time I take up a pan they couldn’t make the stage side--so I coulda get lash from about three people. then Canada in 1958. you’d see a tall dark man beating iron. Two older members accosted him. THE IRON MAN IN THE ENGINE This year. “They was a bunch of college boys and white children and I figured. but he’s better known to the steelband world by the name David Rudder uses for him in “Engine Room”: Maifan. For protection from Red Army they enlisted the assistance one of the Red Army badjohns. “Boy. They got John Slater from Crusaders to tune for them. “You focking me up? I want to go BG.” warned Sack. dropping off panmen to take root like wildflowers in different countries. (Eventually many of the old Red Army became their supporters. fighting. By the end of the Forties the younger players in the band were becoming fed up with Red Army’s continuous fighting. or indeed any of the past 40 years. travelling from place to place. “When Red Army hear we pull out is licks in all of we backside whenever they see we in the road. And they began touring overseas. fighting. so Leonard Morris decided he was leaving to start another band. let me see if they go put that stigma on to the white children too. “Nancy”.” They hived off anyway. you got to be careful. if you looked in Starlift’s engine room.” Merry Makers began getting the big jobs playing at hotels and restaurants. day or night. starting with a Suriname gig in 1956. until 1962 when the band left to perform at the US bases in Germany and remained in Europe. one of the great stage sides. “So I just go and stand up in the yard and hear them practice. but Red Army had the sharpest panmen and they were given the prize for best-dressed band—which led to their being chosen by promoter Ranny Phillip to tour British Guiana. . His name is Carlton Drayton.” Sack backed off. Merry Makers almost immediately began attracting a different kind of youth: St Mary’s College boys like Ernest Fereira and Curtis Pierre. even replacing Invaders as the Little Carib Theatre’s house band in 1957. “Whe you doing?” one flashy but untalented panman named Basil Lucas asked. look when you playing a pan you is a badjohn? Well. It was the first time a steelband ever went abroad. taking the younger players (including one youth named Rudy Smith who walked as if he had two left legs).) And thus was born Merry Makers Steel Orchestra in Sack’s yard in Sackville Street.“I was scared to go and play—I figured if I go to play I putting somebody off and I mighta get my head bus. It had a lot of men I was better than.

he entered the band two blocks away.Born on August 14. Red Army and Fascinators. “I found they sounded so good. Desperadoes didn’t have. introduced myself and asked to join the band. for an accomplished musician from the St Lucia police band.” That was 1946. Invaders passed along Macdonald Street.” The police bandsman had calculated the notes which were needed for a steel orchestra to have a full symphonic scale.” recalls Maifan.” says Maifan. ‘Youall go see something youall go marvel at’. a car brakehub.” he says. though. Hill 60. including first runner-up Ellie Mannette.” With a big brother playing such a prominent role in such an infamous band. Growing up in Buller Street. We were .” He didn’t remain in Hellzapoppin long. for which he blew bugle. “I’d be amazed at how he could do that.” he recalls.” Maifan was playing ping pong then. had been chosen to take charge of the Trinidad All Steel Percussion Orchestra (Taspo) for the 1951 Festival of Britain. The older brother. which was also Emmanuel “Cobo Jack” Riley's first: Hellzapoppin. when Maifan was ten and Springer won a bicycle in the first islandwide steelband competition by playing his pan with two hands when all the soloists. But pan was soon to change. “Only bands in that area (east Port of Spain) had bugles—Casablanca.” recalls Maifan. and it would still sound nice today. and the west never got involved in that. and it would remain almost unchanged to the present. I took a little jump with them and followed them all the way to the Oval.” says Maifan. Sterling Betancourt was on guitar and Tony Williams on cello. remembering the quantum leap pan took under Griffiths’s direction. became involved in Red Army. who was several years older and the first one to be called Maifan. though. “Ernest Arthur was the leader. “They were in 17 Macdonald Street in Woodbrook. when Carlton entered the steelband movement he became known as “Little Maifan” until the big brother stopped playing pan and the younger one inherited the full nickname.’ Ellie told us. One evening a year or two after Maifan had begun playing ping pong with Hellzapoppin. Griffiths replied with a suggestion that shocked the Taspo players and the wider steelband community: “Then use two pans. he beating and in time. “He got a bugle borrowed and came home with this thing keeping one seta noise. It was there I met Chick McGrew—Ulric Springer was his real name. “He is a man what never get the recognition he deserved. Although most pans at the time were rudimentary in the extreme—eight notes on a ping pong. Williams explained to Griffiths that no more notes could hold on a pan. who was working at the Trinidad Guardian and was something of a dandy. Lt Nathaniel Griffiths. Tokyo. It looked so difficult. Maifan (the younger) never followed his brother into Red Army. were still using only one hand. and he soon moved to tune boom—the biscuit drum with a few notes that was the bass in the band. was there already. It was very strenuous. “When we went we were shocked to see one man playing two pans. two on a du dup—the iron. and had ordered Tony Williams to invent the necessary pans and put the notes on. “A week after I went to the panyard. 1937 he inherited the name “Maifan” from his brother Kenrick Drayton. Ellie (Mannette) came into the yard and say. “About two weeks after Taspo formed. It used to sound nice. “Gerald Gittens used to beat that. Boots (Davidson) was on bass.” “‘Come down an afternoon when we practising.

French Creoles. and the following year Maifan. holding it shoulder level between his thumb and forefinger. They’d joined forces with another small band. ever. “And. Not only was their captain Ellie Mannette the greatest tuner ever. ‘Na man. Saigon. “When it come to iron they cyar touch we with that. “After some years fellas realise you have to tune iron: some C. and Kent Jones. You should see Eddie Hart with a scratcher: he very good. But few were as versatile as George “Bigger” . until one Sunday morning in 1968 when the band was rehearsing Ray Holman’s arrangement of “Jane”. “Fellas used to come in Invaders with they iron and Ellie would tell them. Thereafter Maifan has concentrated on iron.” In the forties and fifties Invaders had the best sounding pans by far.” he says.” says Maifan. “It was about seven of them in Eugene Peter’s yard with a set of old Hit Paraders’ pans Kelvin Dove had tuned. and when Starlift formed it was the same. “That was Brian Griffith’s band and it had a lot of Chinese. the double cello. his cousin Herman Gomez. ‘Tune?’ they asking.mystified.” says Maifan. Hit Paraders was Chinese too. “it just blossom. In that band even the iron was tuned. “People look slight at the rhythm section but it important. but their rhythm section wasn’t up to mark. Maifan was gently knocking his iron which rested on the rhythm stand and he picked up another “twig” and began to tap someone else’s brake hub. Maifan Drayton.” But they weren’t. “this thing could never die.” Thus was invented the two-tone iron rhythm which every band uses today as its basic timing. along with Francis Wickham. They played football and cricket. panmen were often good sportsmen. jammin and jammin and jammin because. some F. Maifan only moved into the engine room after he’d left Invaders in 1956 to help out a tiny new band called Starlift. And as for the inventor. “Only five negroes you could say was in Starlift—all the rest was Chinese.” Monday they played “Rock Around the Clock” and Tuesday “Undersea Kingdom”. some G. I does take a knock with Phase II and I could tell when the fellas not from the west—they play a different way. he still there in the engine room. ‘Allyou mad?’ I asked. but Lt Griffiths had the vision and it still have the double guitar. Kelvin Dove and Cobo Jack.” says Maifan.” THE BIGGER THE BETTER In the earlies. like Silver Stars.” Mannette himself played iron for Invaders. the captain Albert James and the previous captain Eugene Peters began to play iron. who still does.” In the sixties Maifan was playing iron like everyone else. and had organised to get some more pans from yet another small band. as Rudder sang. even though he still takes the occasional knock on the guitar pans. Take the scratcher— listen to Renegades rhythm section and hear how nice the scratcher is. Cow bell—All Stars is number one for that.” points out Maifan. Starland. “Then around November they say they want to bring the band out on the road. you cyar do that—that iron eh tuned’. they wrestled and boxed. You know a west band from how they iron sounding. The band also had several excellent tuners such as Mannette's brother Vernon “Birdie” Mannette.

“We used to go down by the sea and practice to not disturb anybody. Their example was immediately followed by Pearl Harbour on Mucurapo Street. though. for most of the Broadway youths were good swimmers.” the others suggested. “They practiced on evenings just for Carnival and you had to chant.” Bigger explains. Bigger got licks when he got home. he realized to his dismay that the boat was steadily drawing away from him.” They didn’t only beat iron by the sea. It didn’t have no notes. Next door was the community tamboo bamboo yard. however. but you still blowing. taught ballroom dancing and had a music band. “I don’t know why I used to be hitting it so hard. Cross of Lorraine on the track joining Prince and Cipero Streets. “Those days bamboo was for Indian and little stick bands. Bigger also began to tune them. who also played basketball and lawn tennis (he umpired the US Open in 1981). Bigger grew up in the house where he still lives on Broadway. and the bottoms began bursting off. So he began swimming. he begged them. when the fishermen on the wharf formed a rudimentary steelband called Royal Air Force. Bigger joined the older boys one afternoon to steal a boat and row to the Main. and you blowing them old car horn what bus up all your lip. tears running down his cheeks. once Broadway Syncopators began to weld their pans at the railroad garage (where one Randolph Burroughs was a mechanic). where he’d take a knock on the cutter. Pans weren’t as easy to get as in Port of Spain. Bigger had a change of heart and decided he didn’t want to go. Bigger and his friends began rehearsing on their old paint pans. Bigger jumped overboard to compel them to return to Trinidad. then I began to box. their aquatic habits had already served Bigger in good stead when he was about 14 and decided to join some older youths planning to run away to Venezuela.Braithwaite. Indeed. 1945. . only old paint pan. “A man from India teach me to wrestle—he showed me all the points on the human body—but when I started to weigh 200 pounds. and Broadway Syncopators. but nothing compared to what the others got when the Venezuelan police held them and deported them all back home weeks later in flourbag clothes and alpagats.” Perhaps it was because of his enormous strength or maybe it was his penchant for boxing and wrestling. In desperation. the first of three boys and one girl. so the Broadway boys had to get the bases welded on. He reached San Fernando about eight that night and ran all the way home. San Fernando. they changed their name and brought out a band of reckless sailors. After some weeks of saving up whatever cents he could and learning a little Spanish. however. “I chose the name after Archie MacLean’s music band Broadway Syncopators.” All that changed from about 1942. but the two rowers continued straight ahead. just approaching Farillon Rock. to turn around the boat. Born to Charlie and Theresa Braithwaite in 1924. “I used to cuff a drum from here to McEnearney and it used to burst.” he recalls.” he recalls. The pans weren’t any good. Historical mas had guitar and cuatro.” Whatever the reason why they mashed up the pans. not looking back as he sprinted past the silk cotton tree by the cemetery. As he trod water. nah. About a mile out. And for the 1946 Carnival. As darkness fell. The war ran its course and the Government gave the steelbands licence to celebrate on the streets on VE Day. “Swim back.

“I had a nice understanding with my family.” It was a foregone conclusion. but once that was over he concentrated on making the band’s mas. All the while Bigger was also involved in dancing—he came third in an islandwide dancing competition in 1946—and in a music band.” recalled Mason. in 1945. George Brathwaite and the Tinpanny Five. “Fred Corbin bring the bugles for the band—about seven of them and two trumpet-bugles. like a stampede. After some years he moved over to Starlight. He also played with great bandleaders like Edwin Payne and Al Timothy. Bigger has remained a close supporter of the community band he formed a half-century ago. they called on him once again. “So even though I was an acolyte in the church. “I don’t know where he got them. The picture had now stopped and I hear people running. explaining: “A friendly society would have their annual march.” says Bigger.” Mason said.” It wasn’t his first steelband. Since then. And Casablanca was a Gonzales band from its inception under the house of the Masons on 11 Blackett Lane. Renegades pioneer Joseph Baird interrupted to recall when he first heard a bugle. Casablanca. My father didn’t play mas but they would give me money to play. drumming for the Melody Masters in 1942.” . which they named after the Bogart movie. until he formed his own band. christenings. after a horror picture. “I’ll show you something.” Bigger withdrew from Hatters in the early Sixties. I used to take a marching for $20. putting the decorations on hundreds of naval costumes. As Mason reminisced about the first members of the band last week.” he says. Why. “Come by me. “I was in Royal Cinema. calling to mind one of the band’s pioneers. he even had the bugle still. so when the Broadway youths decided to revive the band around 1966. though. for Mason and his younger brother James were members of the Gonzales band Bataan until the group of youngsters formed their own band. it wasn’t no problem to have the pans under my house. “We used play in weddings. and a mentor to its younger members. “So we called the band Broadway Hatters.” said Mason. who still visit the house on Broadway whose fence advertises the classes he still gives in ballroom dancing BLANCA’S BUGLE BOY Once someone bet Kendolph “Cokey” Mason a bottle of scotch that steelband never had bugles. for the country’s top musicians were mainly from Belmont or Tacarigua. We called it Hatter’s Castle.“Kenneth Vincent’s grandmother had a room where we used to lime after she died. when they’d go from the hall to a church service and back to the hall. He raised over $1.” Bigger was playing bass for Hatters on Jouvert.000 to buy pans from Cavaliers and for a brief period started back playing bass.” It was partly its link with the Belmont orphanage that made Casablanca one of the most musical of the early bands. for not only was Mason a bugler for the band with the greatest bugle side—Casablanca--but he also had proof in the form of a photograph. after which it collapsed.

and you have to dance till you go back home. “If you concentrate on a drum it carry you anywhere. they weren’t loud enough. Pan was just rhythm too. Tripoli’s Joe Crick carried a bugle with his admiral’s uniform. “It had horn. the whole-scale imps. using the old word for the home-made skin drums.” “Neville” Chamberlain was from Tokyo.” Mason explained. In those days Casablanca played French Sailors on Monday and some mas on Tuesday. executioner with mallet. Rising Sun. Either way. bell. talking about the halfscale imps. But the bugling bands up north were Red Army. Since his childhood in the Thirties he’d liked mas: Indian mas. Once he made so many costumes. and Mason turned his hand to mas. “Conrad was better than me but he never played on the road. All Stars and. . Mason himself began to build mas for Casablanca. and which he played until two years ago.” And he described the many characters in the dragon bands of long ago. but other bands also got them from the Americans on the base—the bigger trumpet-bugles. But it was devil mas—Casablanca once played Dante’s Inferno and Satan’s Kingdom—which Mason became known for. bent so much wire for different bands. Hill 60. Sonny Cummings and others.” And when steelbands became melodically complete. That is our ballet. “The nearest thing to dragon mas is ballet. dragon mas. “The strongest thing in the world is keg. I loved that. In St James. but we lose that when we get melody. “When bands met. executioner with axe. that he sat in a rocking chair for a rest after Jouvert and had to be awakened to play on Tuesday morning. His was the Book of Justice.” said Mason of those days in the Forties and Fifties. it was the town bands which specialised in bugling. and Badman from Sun Valley called the players to practice with one. it’s then the bugles excelled to drown out the next band. Tokyo.” he argued. who carried the book and pen to note the names of evil people. Crusaders.” So there Mason found himself. besides. The character whom people refer to today as the Bookman was really Beelzebub. such as Masai Warriors. “I played all characters in that.” Casablanca men got their bugles from the nearby orphanage. “It was VE or VJ day and I run out too and I see Chamberlain—he was tall.” he said. the wooly man who danced like a skittish mimic. among orphanage boys Clyde Holdip. His stepfather played with King Tempters devil band. the upper man whose top half was scorched from feeding the fire-breathing Beast. “He was a trumpeter and played during Carnival for a music band. just as the Dinsley band Boom Town got its bugles from the Tacarigua orphanage. Casablanca.said Baird. These instruments came into the steelband movement when panmen began to aspire to playing melodies but their lead ping pongs couldn’t yet make the grade: they had too few notes and. especially. Conrad Jones. “I used to play second pan but I liked a challenge too bad.” Mason recalled. the bugles began to fade out of the movement. But those were the rioting days and the bugles were also valued for their martial sound and their link with the military world. and some credit him with starting the bugling tradition when he began blowing a car horn with a trumpet mouthpiece attached. It manifest in you. big—blasting the bugle.

displaying the wire scars on his pointing finger. “If you touched the rail in front you. Anybody he want to lash. hid his copybook under a nearby bridge. the speed of the tram. “I didn’t know about fishing but a friend give me an old pants and shirt and I helped him on the boat.” A man. He played football for the school and was planning strategy with the team when the teacher approached silently.” Still. it’s me. “He used me as a target. Instead he sprinted straight towards it.” he says with a laugh. “He clout me from behind on my head—I still don't know why. and she ruled him strictly. From young he practiced the dangerous art of jumping on to the moving tramcars which circled Belmont. And that continued until one evening when he was 16 years old and in Fourth Standard.” Thus began the fishing career which Arthur Tramcar followed for 34 years. USS Mischevious. however.” said Mason And he explained how the mas became manifest in you just as the African drums did. His grandmother's influence didn't always turn out so well. nor did a maritime vocation interfere with his terrestrial hobby of tramcar hopping. “My mother had a left hand that hit you like a jackass. “Give him a chance and let him have a good time. however. But Arthur “Tramcar” Andrews wasn’t always so. which earned him the nickname by which he is known today. the household matriarch.“But all dragon men does smile behind their mask.” she ruled and she paid the five shillings for his sailor suit. Thus Arthur Tramcar was set on the track that would lead him to fame as a steelband flagman.” ARTHUR TRAMCAR Now 72 years old. as most people would who chose to ignore the clear prohibition against tramcar hopping. Belmont. launching himself airborne about six feet away.” recalls Andrews. He didn't run behind the tram to jump on. “Long time I couldn't touch a lady’s face with this hand it was so hard.” Calloused hands didn’t impede the delicacy with which he learnt to fly a flag. until it became second nature. Alphosine Andrews. would pelt you off. and tramped to the wharf where he hung around by the fishermen. he walks slowly. timing the vehicle’s speed so as to land on the footboard exactly between its vertical handrails. allowed to jump in the Belmont tamboo band when they passed by his house. playing with my life. and when she told a relative who taught at Rosary Boys to keep an eye on the boy. “Then you know the step you making before you make it. it backfired. “You see what come from inexperience?” he says. That is. once challenged him just in front the Oval to see who was better.” says Arthur Tramcar laconically. He wasn't. hearing of his skill. through the more benign influence of his mother's mother. he left home as if for school. Born in 1925 he grew up the only child of Camilla Andrews in Erthig Road. A pinched spinal nerve has made recent years a haze of pain.” he says.” So he ran away to sea. Arthur Tramcar rode his bicycle down Wrightson Road and told the tram . the jerk. “I did it just for fun. I used to stick pins in it and they'd stand up. bent by the rheumatism which hardly allows him to even sit comfortably. “I get enough lash from that. when he waved flag for the Belmont band Rising Sun. “But I stopped him instantly: I put him down. Once he was agility and poise itself. for instance. he began playing mas from age eight with Jim Harding's sailor band.

heading to St James.” he says. “Sometimes a flag will fall—no matter how good you is. he working hard. Steelbands on the road were all led by flagmen. repeating the manoeuver all the way down to the end of the tram. He leapt for the front.” Ironically. and he rode back to the Oval to wait. or women in the case of Trinidad All Stars for whom Mayfield Camps and Yvonne “Bubulups” Smith waved flag. the tram barrelling along at its flat-out six mph.driver about it. “It was on VE (Victory in Europe) Day when the band came out. “What you doing here—you don't know they in riot?” Casablanca fighter Daniel Barker asked Arthur Tramcar one evening when he was walking home from work along Observatory . “We having a competition—I’ll leave him to you. the cloth just under a yard wide—anything smaller being dismissed as “a little piece of bunting”.” So when Arthur Tramcar waved in front Rising Sun to clear the road. jumped immediately back to the ground while pivoting on the rail behind so the road would kick his feet back up on to the floorboard at the third rail which he grabbed.” he reminisces.” he says.” The bamboo pole was about seven feet long with a flag a yard and a half wide bearing the Japanese symbol of the rising sun. “From the time he touch the rail—goodbye!” recalls Arthur Tramcar. explaining how he soon learnt the correct balance for a flag. but the cloth was too heavy too so I cut that shorter also. The tram trundled up at top speed.” It’s an art hardly seen today—only perhaps in Exodus or Invaders. “I don't know who made the flag but as I see it I fell in love.” Then Arthur Tramcar's turn came. it was a Casablanca man who began edging Arthur Tramcar out of the steelband world in the early Fifties when that band rioted with Rising Sun. “He down on the concrete. a flag bound to fall if for instance somebody bounce you from behind. “Then when the rhythm take you you could do whatever your mind tell you to try. touched down briefly on the footboard. was to go first. that’s when the music talking to you and you dancing and putting in all kind of moves. The challenger. with the pole being slightly heavier than the cloth. so it was coasting fast. not parting the crowd by threatening to hit anyone but by his sheer skill at the dance. he liked to beat boom so I took it. the driver reduced the electricity powering the car. As the tram approached. which shouldn't be. “Jim was the best. “That flag was labour! It was too heavy so I went home and cut the pole shorter. working that movement into my dance too. It was a similar audaciousness and grace he brought to the flagwaving which steelbands began in earnest at the end of the Second World War. “If you see a man with a little pole and a lot of cloth. the only man who mighta been better than me. “Then I catch it before it touch the ground. But most of them Arthur Tramcar considers mere flag carriers without knowledge of the true art of twirling the flag so it was always flying without rolls or falling down. It jumped forward.” he says.” he admits. Short George had it but he didn't like that. “But there was a difference between us because I danced sailor while he danced fireman.” he warned the driver. “The pole must be able to carry the cloth so when you hold it at the junction you just using your fingers.” And yet the flag had to be big enough—six foot for the pole. he labouring to keep the flag going. yet moving slowly enough so the writing could be read. and as the man jumped the driver powered the tram up again. But even in his era there weren't many whom Arthur Tramcar felt was in his class: just a few like “Black James” from Tokyo or “Jim Bill” from Casablanca.

” says Milton.” he concludes wistfully.” Even during the war. He wasn’t into sports but musically he had real talent. told me they were tuning pans now. swam in the sea and hunted crabs. “My brother Harold was working Pointe-a-Pierre and one day he brought home two pieces of drums. piano or guitar. Then he said to pound the bottom of the pan out. Billy. They also played at sporting matches in the village. Harold. and competed informally against the nearby Vistabella bands such as Black Swan and Rising Sun by the beach known as The Iron (judging was done by their parents). “Rising Sun was unlucky—other bands what died left behind sub-bands but they didn't leave anything. Except. Milton suggested Music Makers.” says Milton. of course. scattering when the police came. Sonny.Street. for Milton was born in 1931. another brother. “Except in Lent or on Sundays. That was towards the end of the Second World war. they paraded the Marabella streets. Hollis and Lloyd Green. someone else offered Village Boys. Southern Marines was founded mainly by the five Lyons brothers and their neighbours. Milton went to learn a trade with Battoo Brothers bus company (sweeping the garage for no pay until he graduated to 60 cents per week) and in 1946 the elders suggested the band choose a name. Milton and Fitzroy Lyons and Malcolm. limed. it was different. before the band had a name. for he hardly had time to shout “Look out!” when another Casablanca man slashed Arthur Tramcar in the back. and that was it. “Once the others come around Harold had to get more paint tins so we could make pans for them.” recounts Milton “Squeezer” Lyons. Barker’s warning came too late. A year after. the other boys fell in automatically.” They’d already heard pan when one youth produced one and played it at a Christmas fete in Marabella. they added Southern. Whereas most bands might have had two or three brothers such as Invaders’ Ellie. give it some dents with the hammer.” says Milton. So it was John. And they practiced. and then within a year or two his back problem began. Ulric. the distinction of having been led by one of the greatest flagwavers in steelband history. MILTON LYONS If ever a steelband was a family affair. “Leonard. however. “It all began when I was still at school.” Once Leonard “Sonny” and Milton Lyons began knocking on the two pans. But bands at the time were choosing more warlike names so when Sonny came up with Marines it was accepted. He played mas a few times with Rudolph Corby’s historical band from Belle Eau Road but his Carnival days were effectively over. Thirty three stitches worth of slashes cooled his ardour. “But Sonny who was the musical one—from school he coulda sing and was taking some music lessons. He spun around only to get the army penknife in his chest. “I don’t know where he learn but he told me to light a fire and burn the drum first. . it was the Southern Marines of Marabella. the five Green brothers with whom they went to Marabella Boys EC school. But this time when Harold brought home the two cut drums. By the time the war was over the band was sounding good. Ossie and Birdie Mannette or Casablanca’s Kelvin and Kenny Hart. to distinguish them from a band they’d heard about in Port of Spain named Marines.

playing “La Macarina”. and indeed their parents and other village elders such as one Mr Griffith—an accomplished mouth organist and singer—managed and advised the Marines. “A good tune never dies.” By the early Fifties Milton had graduated to repairing bus engines.” recalls Milton.Like most panmen at the time. who also was determined to drop out if his choice wasn’t played. .” says Milton. The band was till based in the Lyons’ yard. “I postponed the meeting until the following night. but again his band was a victim of pulling and tugging. that is. he had their mother try mediation. just in time to confront the greatest crisis to which steelbands were prone—a split down the centre. for the semi-finals. Depressed. “Hug him in the night and tell him he cyar let me down like that.” says Milton. simply because Harold was older.” It was in these sessions that Milton got the nickname many call him today: “Squeezer” from his penchant for “squeezing” the cards in romey. so a meeting was called at which the captain was to decide one way or the other. Harold Lyons was the captain even though Sonny was more involved in the band and Milton the most outstanding pannist.” argued the youngest brother. The Marabella youths weren’t at all warlike like Port of Spain panmen. He asked friends of both brothers to talk to them. died. “We didn’t join because we had no badjohns and we all decided to stay out. “If allyou play the same tune. which he did throughout the many changes in ownership of the bus company (right down to 1990 when he retired from PTSC). Nothing worked. Both brothers were able to convince a section to boycott. Milton remained the captain of Southern Marines until the early Seventies when his mother the band’s matriarch with whom he’d lived all his life.” And in the interim he lobbied. Milton fared better for he went on to top the overall ping pong solo category of the Festival with Winnifred Atwell’s “Saronata”. Sonny had chosen the tune but had decided the band should play a different tune. they gambled. he got influential elders and supporters like Everton Smith to intercede. others supported the union. “Love Walk In”. I staying in my house. so they changed tune and failed to qualify for the finals. Why. “We used to play under the Pointea-Pierre bridge. when the 1950 steelband association was formed to stop the riots. In the mid-Sixties he also formed the Public Transport Service Corporation Steel Orchestra. Southern Marines wasn’t the only band Milton led. “The company wanted us to continue and the shop stewards said. however. “Police even make a raid and lock up a few but I dived in the river and get away. so Milton folded up the band and donated the pans to a small steelband on the wharf. so I made no decision. “I was a favourite in South with Theo Stephens and Belgrave Bonaparte. Southern Marines abstained. Fitzroy. ‘No way!’” Some players agreed with one side. The occasion was the fourth Steelband Festival when the band topped the scores in the South preliminaries at Naparima Bowl. lamenting that only members of the association were eligible to be picked to go to England in 1951 with the Trinidad All Steel Percussion Orchestra. though. Consequently. Milton even spoke to Sonny’s new wife.” he implored. in 1959. Personally. Later in the Fifties Harold got married and moved away.” he says. “It was during the big ‘69 strike. this time on a larger scale. But Milton reckoned Sonny’s loss would have weakened the band more than Fitzroy’s. and Milton took over leadership. “I was the captain but I and all was confused. though.” threatened the recently-married Sonny. never handing out what another man might want.

“Affair in Trinidad with Glenn Ford and Rita Hayworth.” French corrects. would have been 16. King had already gone to live with an aunt. what became Sun Valley when Sonny Roach took over. St James. where he grew up as a boy. “Northern Stars. during the Second World War. “We used to go races at the Savannah—it had fair and dance after in the Princes Building—and we wearing flannel pants and Brazilian shoe and we used to have a T-shirt with a cross printed on it. John “Daddy” Cole was one of the Crossroads limers. King.” When was that? Wolf scratches his face and squints his eyes but still can’t say.” In Sun Valley King learnt to tune under the great Sonny “Sire” Roach. They hadn’t always been a band. Hell’s Kitchen (an early Tunapuna band had the same name) was taken from a film. arranged and designed mas — Crossroads. Wolf. named after a William Powell movie. King’s nickname. though. “What was the first movie made in Trinidad?” Fire Down Below. When steelband emerged. “Every evening my old man wind up a thing that does go ticktock and all the children have to sing: ‘White sand and grey sand’. I ventured.” he explains. “We learn to dance there. came from a film too: Harlem on the Prairie. THE WOLF AT THE CROSSROADS Hell’s Kitchen was around the corner in Church Street opposite the school. “Hell’s Kitchen mashed up when people get bigger and migrate to bigger bands. French moved from Sun Valley to Nob Hill and then North Stars.Milton felt he couldn’t cope and he passed leadership to the band’s present captain Michael “Scobie” Joseph.” recalls King.” said French.” recalled King. In those days it was called Mary Street.” reflects Cole. even though he’d sent him before the war to music classes. King’s father like his involvement in steelband. who was born in 1926. says Winston “Wolf” King as he sits in the same Quamina Street home.” .” Cole recalls. giving the title of the Humphrey Bogart film after which Tony Williams’ great band was first called. and Bournes Road because of the pauper cemetery and the hangman cemetery. however. Before that they were just a group of youths liming at the corner of Jerry and Angelina Streets.” That puts it around 1942. when it was just a dirt road. “As long as school over and we eh have nothing to do. He summons Ralph French. “No. “Maybe they wanted the last rites to be a smooth ride.” says French. “In those days St James only had pitch roads where it had cemeteries: Nizam Street. says French. “It was just a lot of youths beating all kinda milk pan. we gone and we beating pan. Cole grew up in Ranjit Kumar Street—Stone Street it was called in those days. dustbin—anything you could get to make noise.” He disappeared to get proof and King continued his narrative. about a gang of black outlaws led by “Wolf King”.” Born in 1929. “I joined Harlem Nightingales at 20 Guthrie Street. Long Circular Road because of the soldiers’ burying ground. jitterbug and foxtrot. who lives in the same compound and was also in Hell’s Kitchen. “And I was born in 1936. French warms to his topic and asks. “I was around five or six. practicing with no music. and from there he moved to the band he led and for which he tuned.

“I didn’t like to beat calypso on Carnival. . “Everybody. “He’d use pitch oil tin instead of copper to make the helmets of the Toltec Warriors. “Immediately. which was meant to stand out straight. “I make four. majira and dhantal. “Mascall show us how to bend wire and weld. who learnt from him. however. drawing on what he’d learnt as a child.” he says.Just up the road a group of them began beating Dancow milk tins and makeshift bass drums in the Forties.” Another year they dug up the pauper’s cemetery to retrieve the skulls for their costumes. grooving the inner notes to form the petals of a rose. He got married under bamboo. For sticks they’d use cocoyea stems on which were stuck tiny. He didn’t play pan but he made the mas. “Crying” was such a hit in the party they played it all the way back to the panyard.” he says. King and Mascall also made a baseball mas that got into the Saturday Evening Post. Unfortunately the bomb.” says King. “I was still in short pants and Short Arthur was much older but he liked me. where it was rearranged into calypso tempo for the road. Those days I’d go around and help beat dholak. Once he tuned a few pans in a style he called “The Rose”. joined them. Born to an Indian mother and African father. however. and together they brought out a Mucumbi Warriors mas that was carried in Time magazine. and when the band reached Park Street. His wife had recently given birth. By then King was a good tuner and a good tenor player and so he was invited to practice with the Trinidad All Steel Percussion Orchestra (Taspo). The first year they brought out a head mas. “By the time the band come back it eh have none: people thief them. “called it Totee Nose. succumbed to gravity. actor Van Heflin. round green mangos. “We also used to take OK keg butter—salt butter pans—and stretch motor car tube over it. so he didn’t bother with them. I say that’s the end of that. Atomic Bomb. using mops to look like “dada head”. so they moved to Wolf King’s yard in Quamina Street.” says King. a straightener. “Then take any old bowl—‘tensil and all we used—and put about six layers of brown shop-kite paper and soft breadfruit across the top. lived opposite King. was from Arthur Joseph—popularly known as Short Arthur—living one house away.” he says. Then King started to arrange for them. from whose movie the mas was taken.” And it was Short Arthur who got the Crossroads limers to form a steelband and asked Wolf King to tune for them. “He used to mind gamecock and turn Red Moon for Hosay.” says Cole.” He also designed mas for Crossroads. Short Arthur was big in the St James Hosay and he taught Cole to play gatka—the Indian form of stickfighting in which a stick is held in one hand and a small shield in the other. “We start thiefing pans from all about. I beat things like the ‘Warsaw Concerto’ and ‘Serenade from the Student Prince’.” It was the Sunday before Carnival when the band played for a christening in Cocorite.” Crossroads was formed around 1950 in Short Arthur’s yard but the neighbours complained of the noise. I always liked percussion.” Cole’s introduction to real pan.” recalls Cole.” It wasn’t a good start but Crossroads improved considerably once King and Gary Mascall got their length. Mascall. explaining how Crossroads played their famous “Crying in the Chapel” on the road in 1954. “I was the only one with musical ideas.

Cole himself went to Hit Paraders. The reason was that in peaceful St James Crossroads early on developed a reputation for getting into fights. “We get lick up too. “Scaramouche cut off somebody hand and get three years. I tell the masqueraders find a band to jump in and we bring the stands back to the yard.” says King. pickaxe. in their belt every one have an enamel or galvanize cup. pretending to be 21. they fought with Renegades.” Thereafter Wolf King stopped tuning. playing Apache Warriors.” He couldn’t have guessed how close he’d come later in life to joining them.” The younger players began to leave them. Santa Cruz. So too did Norman Darway. but around 16 years old he developed greater ambitions so he borrowed an older brother’s khaki trousers and.” he recalls. and of none is this more true than of Rudolph Xavier.” says Cole. She was a marchande who sold in the market. One of his most vivid memories from those days is of the nearby quarry. “I used to stand every morning by the gap to see the prisoners from the jail marching under turnkey protection. Xavier moved to San Fernando as a teenager with his mother. After that I closed shop. take it. and limited himself solely to building stands for steelbands. Born in 1911 in Victoria Village. Jap.” says Cole. KING XAVIER It’s well known in this country that a man’s mouth can get him into trouble.Crossroads never became a big band. who in the African tradition sang for work and for pleasure and for his pains was shot and sent to gaol. “When we leave the yard fellas used to say if you cyar come back with the pan. As in Port of Spain. He moved as an infant with his mother to Besson Street. he stuck with Crossroads until 1959 when the band became embroiled in a serious riot between Desperadoes. They skirmished with North Stars. sledge hammer—marching from the Royal Gaol to the quarry. explaining that they’d never had enough “relief” players to take a pan to if you needed a rest. “We was swinging from New Street just when the riot start and Cito’s Fruits and Flowers get mash up. Hugo Besson went to Invaders with Vats Duncan. he sought work in Pointe-a-Pierre. one of Trinidad’s last surviving chantwells. going to work. all the stands get mash up. they bickered with Invaders. which eventually became Starlift. Port of Spain. Scaramouche—they were some of the fighters. “The men were wearing flourbag jail clothes. Major Domo. . San Juan All Stars and Tokyo on Charlotte Street by the Colonial Hospital. and they carrying tools—shovel. arranging and playing pan. “Smacky. It had a gang in Belle Vue that used to terrorise people and we ban them from St James—that was how we start putting pitch oil in bottle to pelt at man. Xavier was the second youngest of his mother’s seven boys and one girl. Opposite was a barracks yard where on Sundays the little boy watched small-islanders holding their African drum dances. he assisted her vending in the market. As for King. One section hived off to form a band by Isaac Terrace called Stargazers. crowbar.

which was a hit this carnival. and the men would be heaving as they responded to the call of a chantwell. men dragged the sheets there from the nearest spot where the trucks dropped them. Xavier was helping his mother in the market where people were grumbling about the attempt to arrest Butler.He started rolling pitch oil drums in the bond for six cents an hour. ‘Hold it. no tractor. “Everything was man-handled.’ but when it going good the fellas get a zeal and they vex when the work stop.” they told him. hold it. If they had a tank to build. On the Monday Xavier was working by Coffee Street when a large crowd marched up calling for King Xavier.” Back home with his friends Xavier also sang. even though he was living on Coffee Street by then in the Thirties. one player was so filled to overflowing with grog and gladness. Xavier took the exclamation and turned it into the chant which would become the most famous: I don’t want no one to wear me clothes When ah dead bury me clothes Not even me brother must wear me clothes Today he isn’t known for composing that chant. they all wanted Xavier for the power and sweetness of his voice. “My job was to sing and to see if everything was going properly. but for his role in the 1937 Butler riots which began on Saturday. “Point-a-Pierre shut down and we going to shut down Using Ste Madeleine. And although every gang had its chantwell.” says Xavier. If we working near the road people passing by would stop and join us because we working with harmony and love. when that ended he got another job on a pipe-fitting section. “There was no machines. The next day. His was an invaluable role which depended on the inspiring qualities of the singing. June 19. And as was inevitable. Call: Mary gone a-mountain Response: High land dey Call: She gone for yellow plantain Response: High land dey Call: Hooray. That was where he limed.” They’d put the steel sheets to roll on four-inch pipes.” he explains. and there it was that he began singing for his supper. at a christening. Sunday. shorter ones to lift rigs by. “If you singing too fast the men might bawl. this time to the rhythms of Key brand gin bottles and lengths of bamboo. nine hours a day. Sometimes he’d sing with more orthodox instruments such as a guitar. stacatto spoken call-responses for threading pipes—every one of the many different manual gang tasks was done in the African fashion to song. he waved his shirt and began shouting that he didn’t care if he died. and he quickly became known as King Xavier. and the leader who set the rhythm of work was the chantwell. no crane. when Corporal Charlie King was burnt to death in Fyzabad. One Carnival Tuesday when he was leading the band from competition in Skinner Park. or else I’d have to stop the gang. no forklift. when he died bury his clothes. Toll Gate bamboo band from Cipero Street. and his sense of timing because it determined the pace and efficiency of work. he became the chantwell for a tamboo bamboo band. and he . Miss Mary Response: High land dey Call: What you going to cook today? There were songs to drag sheets by.

then to the power station. going so far as to take a turn in a calypso tent during the Second World War. but Xavier never returned for a follow up.” he says. I’m trying to make myself an aviator. Once he was back on the streets Xavier continued his singing vocation. Buckingham Boys. Eventually they forced his hand. There he was charged on nine counts of leading the rioters—one count for each street—and eventually sentenced by a magistrate to three months hard labour. your desire is at hand. leading the crowd with his singing. Instead. but at his bachelor apartment in Coffee Street—a place noticable for its neatness and the long row of potted palms he’d laid out. “Now ladies and gentlemen. unifying the determination of hundreds of men and women with his improvised call: We eh working at all. I hold it and lie down then the fella shout ‘Cease fire!’” The bullet had passed right through his forearm. then moved on to Usine. for the human . “People going by used to say. They moved to the railway station and closed that too. hurrah! The demonstrators closed down the market.” announced the MC. but the crowd still moved forward as men behind shouted “Is blank shot they firing!” Then the officer ordered. steelband. Empire theatre.” recalls Xavier. Someone flung a brick at the soldiers and the white officer barked an order: “Raise your arms and shoot!” The volunteers shot some rounds up in the sky. shattering both bones. we want money Hooray. Xavier didn’t make it to the prisoners’ quarry of his youth. “The great King Xavier!” He stepped up and began: Mabel. “But my foot cyar move at all. but the more I drink rum the more I cyar build a head to go on that stage. The crowd went wild. hurrah! Monday morning give we we money Hooray. which would knock a little pan during the war. “Lower arms and fire!” “From that I hear people bawling ‘O Gawd!’ ‘Jesus Christ!’ and I see a fella fall. I’m going to fly to America Darling. laboured by candlelight to patch up wounded strikers.” he recalls. but just whiled his sentence away in the Colonial Hospital. It was the beginning of the end. With Xavier in front they decided to go to the telephone exchange which was surrounded by armed soldiers. He used to beat biscuit drum boom in the bamboo but now he started collecting pans and was joined by youngsters like Emile “Zola” Williams. I’m leaving home I’m going to take a chance on the battle zone (repeat) I can’t remain in La Trinity I mean for Hitler to rein king in Germany Girl. around 1942 he turned to the latest craze that was sweeping young people. however. Xavier was taken to the hospital where over the next days Dr Henry Pierre (who became Sir Henry). “I went to the tent in Port of Spain with a friend and I see Lion. Then I just feel bam! on my hand.joined them. however. stopping all work. though. Globe theatre. So he called that first Coffee Street steelband. all of them. Xavier didn’t keep the pans by his Toll Gate bamboo yard. ‘Look King Xavier in Buckingham Palace’.

known as ping pongs. which Philip would look at on the way home from playing football or cricket. would help out the boys in Torrid Zone. By 1947. Down the road was a cinema whose poster board advertised a John Wayne movie. never to participate again. Philip was beating tenor for them. there are a dozen others that collapsed along the way.voice was about to be removed from the streets the steelband with its greater volume and melodic capacity. take some of the pans and leave. too. the most common cause was money—which is the story told by Errol Augustus Philip of the bands which grew up in the Old St Joseph Road district of Success Village. though. Greenidge and others built a shed to practice by Lloyd “Blackie L” Taylor’s house. were now getting a range of about 12 notes and Casablanca’s tuner. “On VE (Victory in Europe) Day when we parading. But back in the yard some youths had to make do with a drink or two of rum. “The majority of men from down Old St Joseph Road were dissatisfied. I on the boom. And although the reasons are many why the casualties didn’t make it. who was seeing a girl in the district. THE KENTUCKIANS’ LAST FIGHT For every steelband today with a history stretching back to the Forties. which was at the time known as Sixth Street. Laventille. “Those days when you win prize you get it right away—when you leave the stage you get a case of rum. Torrid Zone only lasted two years after Philip joined. better known as “Tank”. for he was one of four children born to Albert and Terecita Philip in Chaguaramas and spent his first few years in Hardbargain in Central. “I could see me with an old hat and this hot sun and how I sweating and looking miserable and nasty. . It was there that Philip first heard pan around 1940—the kittle pans and biscuit drums of Tin Pan Alley. The band changed its name to Mission to Moscow during the Second World War.” Xavier recalls. Philip. ‘Come out of this thing’. “Croppy” Simmonds. then a fella would pay the captain by the paddock. coming up High Street I watch in a store and saw myself in the showcase. led by Sonny Charles. Terecita didn’t work—she had servants—and there was a piano in the house. after which it became Torrid Zone. Success Village. say we opening we own band. for the band mashed up in 1949 after Carnival.” recalls Philip. while others who were given money were drinking scotch. The Fighting Kentuckians. wasn’t originally from there. 1939 by malaria or some other such disease and things went downhill. and by the late Forties Greenidge was tuning for the band. His father was a schoolmaster and the family was well off. But Albert was felled on November 7. take up the wares. The Venezuela-born Terecita had to leave the house the family occupied on the school grounds and she moved to Marcella Street. We went in the house. and I say. and once they saw that they knew they wouldn’t have to search for a name.” The following Sunday Philip. Carefully observing everything Simmonds did was Carl “Bumpy Nose” Greenidge.” He gave his biscuit drum to a masquerader and walked away. In those days lead pans.

‘No bag—the string cut’ and he drunk. so when he supposed to be buying liquor for the band he saying. “I did never like steelband. She sent him to Belmont Intermediate when he was seven. and dispersed. splitting temporarily in 1953. I couldn’t do that—if somebody see me knocking tamboo bamboo and tell my mother. one of the stalwarts of Crossfire steelband in St James.” replied Philip. however. He was going St Benedict’s at the time (now Presentation College).” And they had talent too. it was a hooligan thing and I was not one. I knock out six of them—no wounding. and she had grand ambitions for her son. carried off the tenor pans and sold them to a tourist shop down the road. the one and only child of Hilda Hercules. you is my man.” he recalls. and permanently in 1954. HERCULES IN THE CROSSFIRE Steelband. a club upstairs at the corner of Queen and George Streets.” That Ash Wednesday a group of them went and smashed the prizes the band had won. “As for taking a knock. “It had some other ones there and they come too. His mother was a registered midwife.” says Philip. recalling 1954 when the band played Feast of the Canadian White Indians. People say he let his girlfriend cut the bag and thief the money. “The same money thing caused them separations. Philip too got his alias—Tank.” Born on May 8.right now. “I used to hear tamboo bamboo on the road and might take a little chip behind the band. Less acknowledged. “The captain play the big chief and he had all the money in a bag. He snatched their bottle of rum from the table and Vernon “Ringo” Bellerand hit him with a flask. My mother a nurse and I beating tamboo bamboo—you mad?” .” he tells. just fisticuffs. “I cross him a right to the jaw. “I became a hooligan through steelband. “I never believe you coulda fight so—from now on Tank. Philip snatched it up and the Grenadian grabbed for it. Victor grew up in a good household. 1929. and Philip to Tokyo. where he has remained to this day.” “All Kentuckians. is the role of those men who more sceptical about this great movement and had fewer illusions of its preciousness. where they were drinking when a big burly Grenadian man began throwing his weight around.Shortly after Kentuckians got its name. But the fighting Kentuckians lived up to their name. which was as decent a profession a woman could have in those days. as everyone knows. for Carl Greenidge was good enough as a player and tuner to be selected for the 1951 Trinidad All Steel Percussion Orchestra (Taspo) although he eventually dropped out.” recalls Victor “Sufferer” Hercules. By his recollection it was in the Spike. “is fighting Kentuckians. was created and developed through the love of countless young men who nurtured and protected it in its infancy. all now my tail red.” A whore working in the club who’d seen the fight walked up to the victor and whispered in his ear. Greenidge to the Desperadoes his nephew now leads. and then around 1938 she was transferred to San Fernando and took the boy with her. Let’s go and f--. It bounced off.

Sam and Gandhi Boodhoo. Sterling Betancourt.” he says. that’s all. “That.” recalls Hercules of his leader’s famous discipline.” And when the following year Harlem Nightingales played St James Sufferers for Carnival. May 8. and I was gambling turn down romey with ‘Cody’ and ‘Slick’ Rollie in a barrack yard when I hear the noise—steelband coming.” Had he remained under the jurisdiction of the mother he respected and feared. Still. who got both the band and himself into the 1956 finals of the Steelband Festival. now a 15-year old teenager. The moved to the Hyderabad Street yard of Cyril Jackman. Dr Herbert Wiseman. who had no money to play sailor with Tripoli. and he idolised Joe Crick. and that is where VE (Victory in Europe) Day caught him. he was a true leader. “It was my birthday. Hercules was a Tripoli man. a leading tenor man. who lived nearby in Gandhi Street. Hercules feels he might have continued his education and gone on to become perhaps a lawyer like his cousins Wilton and Ralph. an ex-policeman turned house commission agent. 1953. Felix Griffith. Emmanuel Camps. He’d set out that morning with six cents and already had won nearly two dollars. for his forceful masculinity. Emmanuel “Eamon” Thorpe. got into a fight and was killed with baseball bats. Hercules feel into the outcast world of pan. the home of Tripoli steelband. Instead curiosity took him around the corner to the bottom of Ethel Street where south St James youths congregated to beat in the yard of Joseph “Joe Crick” Christopher. was getting out of control.” Liming with youths such as the Theodore brothers “Shark-bite” and “Vatican”. Granville Sealey. “I say that’s my birthday present and I gone to jump up. “Once he hit a man with a blackjack for coasting— Emmanuel Camps.” says Hercules. Hercules. the band was on the rise. “Any young fella coulda learn from Joe—self-reliance. by 1944 nurse Hilda felt her son. so too his admiration for Joe Crick didn’t stop Hercules from joining the bunch of young men who broke away in 1949 because they couldn’t bear the band’s regimentation. Then. The band suffered in 1951 when Sterling Betancourt went to England with the Trinidad All Steel Percussion Orchestra (Taspo) and stayed there. Still. St James.” he recalls. and a gifted arranger. a foreigner. “Eamon came second to Nerlin Taitt in ping pong solo and he tear up the certificate. Hercules boarded with his aunt in Carlton Avenue. it was Harlem Nightingales. “I went there through fastness.” . Still. Sterling Betancourt as tuner/arranger. not to learn to beat pan. the band’s martinet leader. The name has stuck ever since. “The band played ‘El Mambo’ with a lot of bass and the adjudicator. one Mr O’Connor.The Second World War came and stopped all of that.” And yet. disqualify we—he say bass don’t play tune. just as Hercules’s love and respect for his stern mother didn’t stop him from breaking away once he got the chance. nastied up an old khaki shirt. Thus was formed Crossfire with Eric Drayton as captain. and went with the Nightingales. called himself King Sufferer. a place they called the house of Shuvay Morgan after a Raymond Massy civil war movie Santa Fe Trail.” says Hercules. on Coronation Day. “made me worse. They had the support of saxophonist and bandleader Sel Duncan. “I learn five-note kittle and du dup because it was the easiest thing to play. So she sent him up north to work with his father. if you eh come to practice march he fine you six cents. how to deal with manhood. attempting to drive a car through the Crossfire.

Eamon Thorpe had left for England. Butler was agitating for industrial action again. Hercules remained with a revived Modern Crossfire in Nepal Street. running from the law after he’d smashed a bottle in a player’s face for querying the $15 Hercules was paid as a nonpanman. as well as waver of their skull and crossbones flag. That was our moment of glory. Sydney Gollop. Roy “Scorpion” Hunte was the captain of Modern Crossfire and the band limped along into the sixties. they were also the most violent. By then Crossfire was on the way down. In the late 1940s the society was in turmoil. there’s no doubt that the genius of those men who invented pan. In response. was a 30-year-old member of Crusaders steelband in St Paul’s Street when he came up with the idea in 1950. and we hit them with ‘Another Night Like This’. but after the 1958 debacle he took the “social” players away to form Symphonettes. If those two bands were musically the best in the country. already disdainful. when they came upon All Stars in Prince Street waiting for Invaders. GARVEY’S GHOST Whatever Pan Trinbago’s problems today.” For the baton had passed to Nathaniel’s Symphonettes in whose Benares Street panyard a little no-pants four-year old boy would play any tune they called for and whose name was Boogsie Sharpe. was also secretary of the Trinidad and Tobago Youth Council. was also manifest in the organisation they created half century ago to see after its interests.Hercules had long abandoned any attempt at playing pan. however. “I say I eh able with that and I dropped out of steelband. And if this organisation was the labour of countless men. In November 1949 a 10- .” It was that victory which spurred Neville Jules to secretly rehearse Beethoven’s “Minuet in G” the following year and wait for Crossfire to demolish their “Indian Love Call”. The end of the War and the departure of the American soldiers left unemployment in their wake. Panmen throughout the city were fighting one another tooth and nail. and then we went back home. “After that skulduggery most the fellas get disenchanted and move back to Symphonettes. a socialist. and they were hot to trot with “Another Night Like This”. even going so far as to win an Independence Competition and Hunte appropriated the prize money. recoiled in fear and loathing. “We caught them flat-footed now trying to form up. Respectable society. which are as wide as they are deep. “They clap we. Calls were made for the return of the cat (abolished in 1940). Indeed he was waving flag the 1957 Jouvert morning of their greatest musical achievement—bettering the great Trinidad All Stars. and in the process creating the Bomb competition.” he recalls. who was honoured two weeks ago by Pan Trinbago for his contribution to the steelband movement. His role was a sort of manager of the band. it was conceived by only one. Rupert “Shadow” Nathaniel had taken over. particularly those in Invaders and Casablanca. Invaders supporter Lennox Pierre. It was after playing all night in the Rainbow Terrace club with Sel Duncan. and through his influence the Youth Council petitioned Albert Gomes about the police brutality towards panmen. No month passed without some panman stabbing or steelband affray. the police were brutal with the panmen.” concludes Hercules.

Beryl McBurnie (Little Carib). and everyone was jumpy.member government committee was set up to study the Port of Spain bands and suggest what could be done about them. Bertie Thompson (Colts). to James and Emelda Gollop. why don’t you fellas. Gollop’s steelband. The rest were representatives of concerned organisations: Carlyle Kerr and Lennox Pierre (Youth Council). Another group was the Lecontine Sports Club (named after Learie Constantine). As he grew older his impulse to organisation carried him into many sporting and cultural clubs. Pearl Carter was secretary. He was born in March. the bands signed a non-aggression pact. the Vanguards. The Youth Council had also held a meeting at the public library. was a highly-respected man of Bajan stock. Accordingly. Casablanca’s Oscar Pile Vice-President. The previous year schoolteacher Harold Blake had formed a Steel Band Music Association with about 20 bands in Chenet Alley. “It was such a funny feeling that day when you look at the situation and for the first time you looking at a bunch of heavyweights get together and you get the feeling they might start a fight. Mortiner Mitchell (Friendly Societies). deeper source. They asked the police to back off. Charles Espinet (Folklore Society). His father. a meat vendor in the market. no matter what happen. and Hill 60’s captain Patcheye Pacho’t. and shared drinks in the Black Lion rumshop. Canon Max E Farquhar chaired the committee. Tokyo. thrash it out hand to hand. “I was standing in a strategic position—I will be truthful with you—I was standing in a position that the first time I hear something click I was getting ready to cut loose because nobody know that part of St Paul Street or Clifton Hill much better than I do. From the Committee were an uneasy Espinet. After that declined he moved into the Cubs. 1919. and an impatient Ottley. But by Carnival 1950 Invaders had 17 men in court for fighting. Crusaders’ captain John Slater. Carlton Ottley (Education Extension Services). but rather came from a different. who demanded an explanation for the fighting. Invaders’ Ellie Mannette was President.” All the big guns were there. Gollop’s suggestion that night in the Public Library in favour of an organisation wasn’t a repeat of Blake’s idea. “Instead of all this cutlass and bottle and stone. in one drama group he acted with De Wilton Rogers and Donald Granado. and the 1949 Christmas was quiet. who with his wife was an executive member of the Port of Spain branch of Marcus Garvey’s United Negro Improvement Association (Unia).” recalled Andrew “Pan” de Labastide from Hill 60. Early in March. if you want to settle. But for some unknown reason Blake’s Association never took off. and it was there that Sydney Gollop from Crusaders called on panmen to form an organisation. He remonstrated. As a child Gollop joined the UNIA youth group. were there too. George Mose (Probation Department). For instance. He was also a voluntary social worker for the City Council’s Health Committee. Crusaders. was one of the most formally organised bands of those days.” . and their panyard in the old prisoners’ quarry on St Paul Street (now site of the sports complex) was the chosen venue for peace talks between the warring bands. a calmer Mose. however. for which he briefly played biscuit drum. was there too. another Invaders’ enemy.

Lavina’s son. Of far greater long-term significance was to elect a provisional executive of a Steelband Association.” Ottley said. I’ve been assaulted and I took it. he describes when he was in his twenties: “I used to push cotton in my ears and put a big car brakes on my head. Its name was Charlie Chan and it came from 23 Macdonald Street.” The meeting worked out well. the small Charlie Chan.” The uncle on whose shoulders young Val perched that Carnival in the mid-1930s was Earnest Arthur. “Bucket wasn’t easy—when he start to roll people would go mad. Invaders and Trinidad All Stars. whose talent. where it showed its mettle. always had metal percussion. “If you fellows don’t know how to use it I will show you. “Mando” Wilson who also limed with the Gonzales men. and Claude Harewood as General Secretary. he had led the steelband movement through the formation of Taspo. Casablanca’s Nathanlel Crichlow as Vice-President.Ottley produced two pairs of boxing gloves from under the table. even though its contribution to the steelband movement was of fundamental importance.” he says.” This team was re-elected when the Association held its first general meeting at the Youth Council headquarters in Cocorite.” Other members included Ben “Tabby” Downs who was a master on the biscuit drum. you had a problem to get rid of them because they felt from the time the organisation was formed that they had no position again. “When I was three I played long-nose sailor with my uncle in Charlie Chan. “The badjohns or the warmongers. one result of which was to get off with a reprimand the many panmen on criminal charges. symphonic steelband ensemble. I was being assaulted. right behind the house of one Lavina Arthur. And by the time Gollop resigned the post in 1956. “It was a Chinee-type steelband with two tong-ting. “You guys can use this. Newtown and Hell Yard all known today: Casablanca.” says Gollop. Woodbrook. named after a movie and led by Ray “Bucket”. however. Now 82 years old. like that of Casablanca’s Art de Couteau. I will teach you. “I was the captain of a Shell barge and I took paint pans. “So they lost their position. tong-ting notes on the pans. who was born in 1932. Other bands had a little piece of iron and I used to drown them out—you know how much bois get let go because I humbugging them?” Although he and his friends would take a jump in the tamboo bamboo bands of the time. burn them out and make two notes. which created the modern. .” recalls Valentino Arthur. because then the captain of the band and the officers of the band control the bands. HELLZAPOPPIN’S SECRET WEAPON The offspring of the great progenitor bands of Gonzales. One other seminal steelband has been largely forgotten. eventually led him out of the steelband movement. so they had no control again over these bands. and Ulric “Chick McGrew” Springer. and when he carrying his nephew he was Charlie Chan’s main iron man. and into the Trinidad Music Festival. with Gollop as President.

including Orman “Patsy” Haynes from Casablanca. Errol Quamina. playing in parties and excursions but keeping away from Port of Spain where the big bands held sway. Hellzapoppin remained a small band.“Around 1942 the elder fellas phased out and the type of thing coming in with steelband—jersey with print. “If a pin had drop you woulda hear it. Percy “Lizard” Thomas was the tuner and captain. Even masters such as Tony Williams thought they could learn a thing or two from how he tuned the high range pans. fighting—that drove them out.” And for starting a new phase in the development of pan Chick McGrew was given the first prize. .” From his home next door at 21 Macdonald Street “Chick McGrew” Springer. so when Chick McGrew hung the pan around his neck and took out two sticks. Mervin and Everest Barquain. eyes widened. By then Val had shifted to Invaders. drums and bass and for weeks before we’d hear him playing ‘All Through The Night’ on the piano.” recalls Val. Rudolph Peterkin invited them into his parents’ yard in Arapita Avenue. The younger Hellzapoppin members had no such outlet though. “And when he finish people couldn’t talk—everybody was just looking at everybody else. and then he launched into “All Through The Night”. And once the war ended Hellzapoppin showed its pedigree in the first Islandwide steelband competition in 1946. one of the younger Charlie Chan fellas. but Hellzapoppin wasn’t confident enough to enter the group leg of the competition. and a talented man he was. Emmanuel “Cobo Jack” Riley. playing and designing mas with a “section leader” of the band named George Bailey. But it was with the newly formed “college boy” steelbands that Thomas made his mark as a tuner. located where Fatima College now stands. with Woodbrook contributing Peterkin Val Arthur.” says Val. Frankie Mason. “He knew piano. their tuner. he rolled on his pan. Sonny Roach from Sun Valley and Ellie Mannette from Invaders and money hung in the balance. Thus was born Katzenjammers. Roland Pelletier and others.” recalls Val. Chick McGrew. Springer left the steelband movement to play drums in a brass band (he went to England to play bass at a Commonwealth Arts Festival in 1965 and is still there). they dropped out and by the late Forties Hellzapoppin was no more. To get the attention of the few who hadn’t noticed. they had a bomb for the soloist leg: Chick McGrew. occasionally coming out to make a fast rounds before the police were alerted. joined with youths such as Val and his older brother Hugh Arthur. and Percy “Lizard” Thomas. The venue was the Mucurapo boxing stadium. “Then we started hearing it on pan. Kent Jones. Carlton “Maifan” Drayton. In those days the ping pong was rested on the seated player’s knee.” On the night nobody was talking about this unknown youth from a small insignificant band: all the big guns were there. a Humber bicycle. came on stage with the large ping pong he’d tuned from a CGA pan. and when around 1951 some youths they knew from Belmont decided to form a steelband and needed a panyard. Vincent Boorman and Arthur Lewis coming from Belmont. held with one hand and played with the other hand. “So the younger fellas asked Theophilus “Man” Gittens to captain a new band. The new band was called Hellzapoppin—another movie name—and during the war they kept to themselves in their yard. As for the older players. All the others played and leading the pack was Mannette when the second to last competitor. making around 1952 for Dixieland the first ever double second pan. Still. Nevertheless.

” says Val. It’s well known that all Bajans at the time knew music. he was an approachable fella. for singing was on every primary school curriculum. To tell that story. also won in the ensemble category. So he made sure the boy learnt well. He had a good job on the sea. and by 1954 their lead tenor Everest Barquain entered the Steelband Festival and was only edged out from first place by Dudley Smith. “I joined the music class to be in the church choir. And in 1956 the band took on the big guns once again in the Steelband Festival. “ ‘Home Sweet Home’ had an F# in the passage that I will always remember. in 1939 he came to Isaac Terrace. “Besides.” Katzenjammers was small.” As for Teacher Sergeant.” Be that as it may. So Val continued focussing on mas for Carnival. So when the film crew returned to London. By then Val was married and starting a family. And when he was in Ebenezer school’s sixth standard. “I didn’t know her and I wanted to meet her.” recalls Ward. just as his uncle did before him. his mother having early on migrated to greener pastures in Trinidad. and there was a piano at home. and Teacher Sergeant had taken a fancy to her. and the first Islandwide ping pong solo winner was Sonny Roach whose band. “Teacher Sergeant hit me a lash with a tamarind rod on my hand because I couldn’t expand enough to reach the F#. “My stepfather was a joiner and he worked in Macqueripe where I first heard tamboo bamboo.” . St James. winning with “The Breeze and I”. however. they didn’t even play in the nearby “Gaza Strip” of Wrightson Road nightclubs. But Katzenjammers was ambitious. Sun Valley from St James. and he let the band sail out of his life. he had a particular interest in instructing the boy in music: Ward’s half-brother’s older sister taught in the school. Teacher Sergeant offered to teach him music. unlike the anarchic Trinidadians.“The college boys got Percy to tune for them because I think they liked Katzenjammers style and seeing we were non-violent people.” he says. to live with his mother. the band left with them to do the background music and make the nightclub scenes. branching off with Bailey when they quarrelled with Invaders over the band fees. Perhaps that disciplined nation was especially amenable to musical training. but that victory was a more collective one due not only to the genius and the talent of Sonny Roach but also to a little known man called “Bajan Cecil”. one has to go back to Barbados where one Cecil Ward was born in 1923 and grew up with his father and grandparents. “Next door to the school was the church and there was an organ.” he says. they didn’t come on the road. Springer’s victory actually came about a year later. His father and grandparents sang in a church choir. and they hired Katzenjammers to play in the nightclub scenes. BAJAN CECIL In the last Pan Pioneers article there was a small error in placing Ulric “Chick McGrew” Springer’s solo victory at the 1946 Islandwide Steelband Competition. That year The Fire Down Below was being filmed in Trinidad with Robert Mitchum and Rita Hayworth. allowing him to concentrate on his domestic affairs and the mas he’s played ever since. but Ward’s background was even more musical.

and Ward would play a sort of counterpoint to it on his pan. says Ward’s mother didn’t want him to go out with his stepfather’s white shirt. Sun Valley would only be invited to play in Royal Theatre. the Barbadian had Roach make a pan with higher notes to his nine and he taught Roach “Home Sweet Home”. that the judges— Major Dennison from the police band and either Auntie Kay Warner or one of the Padmore sisters—took notice. with an arrangement never heard before in steelband: Sonny Roach on lead pan and Cecil Ward on second. Roach played the basic melody while Ward accompanied him three tones lower. however. he got a lift in the car of one Ramkit.” recalls Ward. with members like young Tony Williams and Nooksin and Addawell Sampson. Once Ward heard a band playing in the Bombay Club in Kandahar with a “boxbass”—the creole variation of the African thumb piano in which you plucked bent pieces of metal attached to a resonating box—and he made a small one with bits of clock spring. “Sonny Roach and I were making pans so I said ‘Let’s get a few more notes’ and he got some sweet oil drums and got eight notes in 1945 plus F#. but his stepfather did and he encouraged Ward. he was faster than me. “It was alto to the song.” Accordingly.” With those nine notes Ward played “Home Sweet Home”. a shopkeeper in Kandahar. He was faster but I was the basic fella.” recalls Ward. “Dennison—he had he foot cock up—he sit upright. “When I play the alto pan and hit them the F#. a band which many people refer to by the mas they played once the war was over—St James Sufferers.” he recalls. however. “Sonny Roach had the gift for playing. I’d correct his bad notes. unlike the other panmen who had uniforms of some kind. a difficult tune which went down well. So when the Islandwide Competition approached. Sonny Roach took the idea and transferred it to a biscuit drum to get a bass pan. But Sun Valley had the talent. it played like a chord with the ping pong. Be that as it may. Still. would be chosen as th e Best Dressed Band and would be taken on tour to British Guiana in 1947—the first steelband to go abroad. Nooksin Sampson. “We had a contrary beat and at a certain time they had a little pan beating and I realised they had three notes on the pan what gave me ‘Rum and Coca Cola’. “I’d only play the basic thing but he’d play in a stylish rhythm. We take the shirt and gone and later when he come we give him the shirt. But it was when the band hit them with “Home Sweet Home”. an arrangement that drew from all the music Teacher Sergeant had beaten into Ward years before. And though Ward was a law-abiding young man and Roach was more wayward. who became friendly with Sonny Roach.” On the night of the competition the Sun Valley players wore ordinary clothes. Before they’d made the nine-note “Home Sweet Home” pan Roach used to play “Mary Had A Little Lamb”.In St James.” explains Ward. the musical partnership between them gelled. who placed second. One tune they played was “La Paloma”. “When he played ‘Home Sweet Home’ I followed on the second pan. “He went inside and pass the shirt through the window.” . Indeed. that night Red Army. the band which dazzled them all with music at that first Islandwide Steelband competition was Sun Valley. for Ward says that he had no problem going to the competition. Ward’s mother didn’t too like his involvement with pan.” says Sampson whose own mother was similarly disapproving. Ward heard the real thing: the Harlem Nightingales. a third below. There is a conflict of memory here.

in a competition. shaved his head to leave a big Z on the back. “The whole place start to laugh at him—that come like a big joke. Wiltshire as a child followed the village tamboo bamboo band before World War II. It’s not surprising. “They called theyself Boys from the Centre and on excursion they’d be dressed in raja shirt and flannel pants—real sagga boy clothes— and I admired them. 50 years before the modern fashion. Three months later it’s everybody using that. “I had a little 12 inch cooking oil tin and I pound it and get some notes with some naked stick. “The other people go up and they play but when this guy come out with this pan. which he dates before the war but which Thomas places in 1945 in the yard of his uncle. that Wiltshire became involved in the Tacarigua’s first prototype steelband.” recalls Jules of that night in Monarch. He was nicknamed after a vaudeville artist Phil Marsden because as an infant he’d dance and sing whenever the neighbour put on a gramophone record. because all took Phil as his real name.” Hence the additional nickname. Notwithstanding Wiltshire’s cooking oil tin. and when he was with his friends they’d always ask him to play that steelband lavway “Alan Ladd. Born in 1926 in Tacarigua to Barbadian parents. the unknown panman was Cyril “Snatcher” Guy from the Tacarigua steelband Boom Town. the youths gave him another nickname— Ladd. “Kenrick’s father was in that group. then. Dead End Kids. With Lyn Belle flying their flag. Ward was out of it. Shango devotee Bernard “Zorro” Thomas—a man who. but the boy persisted. whereas Sonny Roach was drawing closer to the more rango types in the band. Ladd.” says Wiltshire. unpublished book on the steelband movement in Tacarigua. DAYS AND NIGHTS IN THE BOOM TOWN Neville Jules always admits it: the first time he saw with a tuned 55-gallon oil drum was around 1947 when some youth from the East played one at Monarch cinema. Ishmael “Penco” Best.” Even then Wiltshire was musical. Sonny “Shango Sonny” John and others. so the Beddoes checked out the side . and his pan was tuned by Andrew Beddoe and Randolph “Phil” Wiltshire. Wiltshire’s parents disapproved strongly. the theatre cracking up laughing at that man. Tunapuna.” says Wiltshire.Thereafter Ward withdrew from steelband. until even his schoolteachers thought he was really named Phil. the Dead End Kids included Percy “Giant” Waithe. And by the time the talented Sun Valley youths such as Tony Williams and Roy Harper broke away to form North Stars in 1950. he had was to sit down with it. The palais was next door to Zorro Thomas’s yard. this gun for hire. Indeed. He was always a disciplined kind of fellow and he was getting ahead in the construction business. Harvey “Snooze” Skeete. for the family was a respectable one in the neighbourhood. Thomas relates that it was only when Andrew and Jeffrey Beddoe attended a week-long Shango feast in 1945 at Rosina “Mother Gerald” Skeete’s palais that the youths were introduced to state-of-the-art pan. in Kenrick “Daba” Thomas’s marvellous.” Well. and was regularly asked to perform at social functions in the village. From early on he had become known as a singer and mouth organ virtuoso.

and they had minor scuffles between steelbands in the circuit from St Joseph to Arima. was there and town band was town band. Lower Tacarigua was a more respectable district and added to the respectability Wiltshire brought to the band was that of the handful of women who joined.” is Wiltshire’s account. And they began pelting bottle. “Penco” Best asked one of Blanca’s buglers for a blow.” said Guy who shoved Penco aside. And some days later Wiltshire was charged and convicted of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm.” The band grew. including Swanee River (George Street) who were playing with rubber on their sticks.” Penco later commended him. “We cut it and heat it and pound it with a hammer—no grooving—and we get three notes and find that was good. and put on two or three months probation. Boom Town’s main clash. Some fellas came out of the bus to fight and they were chased away so they couldn’t return to the bus. This early presence of the fairer sex didn’t keep Boom Town from being pulled into the vortex of steelband violence that Port of Spain generated. where the band went on a fund-raising excursion. “You is a real snatcher. and a belligerent Red Army whose badjohns picked fights and generally molested people. However he had to surrender leadership in favour of “Shango Sonny” in whose yard it was relocated in lower Tacarigua. Although Wiltshire admits Beddoe was well-known in the village because of his visits to the palais. though. such as a skirmish with Arouca’s Wake Island steelband. Casablanca.” recalls Wiltshire. We didn’t come to fight so I say it’s better we go home and by 2.” . such as Ruffina Thomas—Zoro’s sister—and Eva John. however. grabbed the bugle and dashed through the police yard. “The next thing is I see my men running down the beach. Snatcher. took place at Manzanilla Beach on Easter Monday.30 we were back in Tacarigua.and Andrew tuned a pan for them. near to the orphanage which supplied Boom Town with players and in particular buglers. It was an oil drum. “They say the fellas coming to thief we bugle. And they were mesmerised when he began playing some simple Shango tunes for them on the pan. Other bands were there too. But the fellas say they eh taking that.” The excursion busses all had to pass through Tacarigua. The loss of the bugle was bitterly resented by band members and at a competition in Tunapuna he decided to do something about it. so the young men armed themselves with bottles and as the Battoo Silverbus came they closed the railway gates blocked it off. decided to form a proper steelband. Wiltshire named it Boom Town after a Clark Gable movie and designed a uniform for members—yellow towelling T-shirt with an oil derrick monogram. he doesn’t accord him any tuning role. With Wiltshire’s musical flair and Cyril Guy’s talent Boom Town easily outplayed other country bands by introducing “Mary Had A Little Lamb” into the rhythm. all the way to Tacarigua. who had the most famous bugle section. scurried along the back streets and the canefield tracks. “We decide when we get pay on Friday we going to buy a three dollar drum because we hearing about this steelband thing and we going to try it. “We eh come to blow no bugle. Wiltshire was working at the Caura Sanatorium at the time and there he and a new Tacarigua resident. “Boy. It was due to that incident Cyril Guy also got the nickname that stuck with him ever since. Cyril Guy. 1946.

” explains Renegades pioneer Kirton “Eddy Boom” Moore. he got a place to stay at Muriel until he could find his feet. rests on being the one who played that 55-gallon drum Jules first heard in Monarch cinema. although their accounts vary. where they’d store their pans and practise. many a band would have not survived the Forties and Fifties. Without these women.” She smoked a pipe. and all was left was for Snatcher to move to Arima where he joined Atomic. big ear-ring.” recalls Muriel. and remained there long enough to acquire the accent she still has.Guy’s claim to fame. “You get more from it than cigarette. he organised a tour to Tobago and encouraged Sterling Betancourt from St James to tune their pans. White moved to Barbados as a child. a mere handful. “If you in distress and thing. If you come from the country and have nowhere to sleep. Most times it was women who controlled the yards in which bands found their homes. she will give you lodge until you catch yourself. Casablanca.” So when. after that. however. Pearl Harbour from Five Rivers and Boom Town. “She was like a mother to all the fellas and them. Atomic play and Malabar All Stars play. but don’t be fooled: women were vitally important. as she still does today. And when in 1951 Wiltshire left the village to live in San Fernando where he captained Hatters Tacarigua’s boom fizzled out. Born in Trinidad in 1904 to a Barbadian mother. then another. “Muriel used to be what they call a matador. whose flag was waved by Yvonne “Bubulups” Smith. the captain of Bar 20. . QUEEN OF THE STEELBANDS Not many women played pan in the early days. Red Vernon from Arima had a big pan and ‘Gillis’ from Vigilantes had a big pan.” Wiltshire’s leadership was inspired. when Phyllis decided to wave a steelband flag. Throughout all of this Muriel was there in Bath Street helping first one generation of panmen. “Like a saga girl—fancy clothes. calling the Arima bands. east of Observatory Street. A tall. unbent woman. “You also had Hell’s Kitchen from Tunapuna. it was for the young boys who formed Renegades. For instance.” recalls Guy. and not only for providing support and solace for the outcast panmen. liming all the time in snackette. “Phyllis always liked that kind of bacchanal. you could go there. Russel “Screebo” Maloney came to town from San Fernando to join Bar 20. for instance. and she supported the band. Her daughter Phyllis White became involved with Ancil Boyce.” once recalled Ossie “Tom” Campbell of Bar 20 and. “That night Vigilantes play. before returning to Trinidad. The tradition continued when Phyllis and Boyce had a son. Cecil White.” she explains. One such pillar of the early steelband movement was Muriel White. she still has her loud raucous laugh from the days during the Second World War when Bar 20 was opposite her house at 9 Bath Street. Later on. however. who became one of the pioneering captains of Renegades.

“How Renegades come: Ethelbert as captain of Ohio told the players he not bringing out the band some day.” says Muriel. They took the pans and went and beat. Some fellas run with they pan and save them. I think it was Carnival Tuesday. less fearsome. I never hear that name. “From the night Ethelbert mash up the pans they decide to form the band. at which Muriel laughs. especially as regards Renegades. cackling at the high jinks of the young delinquents she recalls from those days. And in a sense Muriel White was like a mother to the movement. He continues: “She used to sit with she legs wide so. from the district. for that was steelband territory.” she says. to Ethelbert Serrette’s steelband in Basilon Street. and another one who was unfortunately for him.” Dr Rat adds: “By the time morning break. when she still sleeping.” said Joseph Baird in January. and nowhere is this more so than in steelband history. “He did only smelling bad. In the other direction. you cyar ask me nothing. and we would take it through the tunnel to Bath Street.” says Dr Rat. “That brownskin one. “That was when it had gang fight between Desperadoes and Renegades—you cyar sleep at night.” recalls Dr Rat. and this was used as a sort of two-way escape route for the youngsters hanging aroundgambling in the yard.” In all the conversation White is attentive.” she says with a wink at Winston “Dr Rat” Bruce. “Once they want to come through the gate—I slam the door in he face.” said Baird. fus’ stone pelting. to Renegades in Basilon Street.” Right by White’s house was also a tunnel which led down to the East Dry River. she looking at your hand.” “I remember when you had to close your window at six o’clock. relating the blank front she gave the police inquiries. through Muriel yard and up Basilon Street. and while we studying to look under she.” explains Dr Rat.” In the yard behind her house the younger Renegades such as Winston “Dr Rat” Bruce gambled with her daughter Phyllis and her grandson Cecil. “When we thief pans from the gas station on Observatory Street they throw them in the Dry River.“I used to run them with some big stone. The truth is.” It was this what allowed Muriel to come and go as she pleased at any time of the day or night in one of Port of Spain’s rougher districts for the 42 years she lived in Bath Street. “Then. Baird and Kelvin “Pelican” Brown were recalling to me how they’d moved from Lennus Simms’ tamboo bamboo band in Basilon Street. the tunnel was used to transport stolen drums to the Renegades panyard in Basilon Street.” says Muriel. “We coulda run up the river when police coming.” She talks of a bad police. “If the boys wanted somewhere to sleep because they cyar go home. RENEGADE REALITIES It’s taken for granted by journalists and judges that all Trinidadians share a single reality. I never know. . “Phyllis used to beat all of we. When he discovered—he was a joiner—he took the joiner hatchet and mash up some of the pans. “That was me and Mr Lee work. every man carries his unique reality in his head. they used to come by me. we by she gambling. Auburn.

” said Pelican. That evening we coming back.” explained Ako. according to Ako. the as yet unnamed band was launched. “In the Harpe we had our side when Ethelbert side mash up so we find long time it eh have no Basilon Street band and I say ‘Let we open a band’. Mark of the Renegade with Ricardo Montalban. “A Discovery Day I leave East Side Kids to beat with them. and when I spoke to him last month. She son used to be in the band. better known as Ako. including Wallace “Ako” Paul. Then we move to Harpe Place. agreed. Then.” said Cecil Dead.” That was after the War had ended. It had a band in Stone Street at the bottom of Duke Street and Kim Loy and I went . Raymond was a kind of captain. “One day we got together. and were discussing pan. when Red Army clash with them and the band mash up. but rather hailed from La Cour Harpe. “After Ethelbert punch up the pans we decide on Ash Wednesday to form our own band—we sat down in Basilon Street to form our own band. Kenneth Johnson. he told a very different story. East Side Kids came up and joined with us and formed one band—that was the end of East Side Kids. Shortly after they saw a movie which gave them the name Renegades: The Renegades with Larry Parks.” they recommended. Food and drinks were collected from people throughout the district and on Empire Day. a Basilonian. who also began in the tamboo bamboo era. “It was almost the same spot as Ohio that Renegades start up. according to Pelican. although he dates both the bands at the end of the war. under his house. then we move to the lime kiln where it had a big shelter.” It wasn’t enough.” Shortly after that.” says Ako whose mother had by then moved to Laventille. though. a Basilon Street youth. wasn’t a Basilonian.” Wallace Paul. They began collecting pans. and when I asked Renegades present captain. “East Side Kids and Ohio was the same 1945. by Ako’s account. they got together. beating in George Street. gave yet another story of how the link was made between Basilon Street and Harpe Place. “Desmond (Baird) was to be the leader but they say ‘Ako not living here—nobody eh go tell he mother’. 1948.” And Cecil “Dead” Hinkson. “You have to speak to Cecil Dead. the same year Ethelbert mashed up Ohio. they moved to the quarry where they decided to hold a fete. though. whose father was in charge of the quarry’s lime kiln. “First the band was in Ethelbert Serrette yard.” Baird and Pelican were earnest and they gave me a list of names of other pioneers I could interview. Then we moved to upper Johnson Street under Tantie Baby house. tells it. Almost immediately Ako began tuning his own pans and soon he was also tuning for Eighth Army on Siparia Hill. Which is how Renwick “Ricko” Alexander. Eighth Army also collapsed. “Talk to him. May 24. Kim Loy and I. or very near. Then the band move to Ludin Lane in a bamboo shed off Basilon Street. Those days nobody eh want to be captain. “Kim Loy used to lime around with Herman Macwarren who lived at the head of Lubin Lane. “We used to cook and do everything there. for Red Army was formed on VE Day. “I take the pan and run through Hell Yard. the Harpies had the same idea.” he says. He began playing pan during World War II when East Side Kids was formed in the Harpe by Kim Loy Wong and other youths. he said. So far the stories coincide but for small details: the Basilonians had an idea to form a band. including those of the defunct Eighth Army.” he recalled. “Ako does remember. so at first nobody know who is captain.Pelican.

” he says. So if Ellie Mannette is credited with switching to the 55-gallon oil drum. where he now is a bishop in the Spiritual Baptist church. “Chaguanas was bush. to form a band. And even in the sleepy village of Chaguanas there was a man who switched to tuning a 55-gallon oil drum quite spontaneously. and the village was only from the market to Henderson Street. lived there as an adult. the decision was made by himself. “It was to be Desmond Baird—he was the biggest one—but he refused. Herman and Teewee had pigeons and we keep some pans in the coop until things expanded and we move to the kiln. “After it mash up I used to lime by the school with Pelican. Tampico and about two others. Sun Valley’s Tony “Muffman” Williams in St James and Boom Town’s Cyril “Snatcher” Guy in Tacarigua also made the same breakthrough. Looking on. The first person from Renegades to beat that pan was ‘Brokofoot’ Raymond (Pierre). FIGHTING AMONG THE JAPS Old talk might never end as to who invented what first in the steelband movement. “We had no captain and only when the band get bigger we get Desmond (Baird).” The village also had a mas band in which the women dressed in douilettes.” In his childhood there were three tamboo bamboo bands in the district.” says Cecil Dead. Tilolie and some others and we get some pans from other bands.” As had Ako before him. “We thief people water drum and thing but we had nowhere to put the pans. Broko. “They was in the kiln—I was a little kid. Ancil Phillip was born in March 1926 in Chaguanas.there and he got a tenor pan.” They started beating pan by the school and Broko suggested they form a band. however. and there we started beating the pan.” says Cecil Dead. “It was the elderly group having a good time. that there was a first Renegades which broke up.” he recalls.” he says. Renegades. but the truth is many inventions were arrived at by different men quite independently. Tampico and some others. When we were coming back we reach Calvary school on the steps and we met Raymond (Pierre).” Soon after. He grew up there. Phillips wondered: “How them does tote that?” . head ties and masks. Music came from guitars. Piggy (Hollis Cassidy). “About three times I was captain. including one that emerged from the Public Works Department. “They didn’t too long mash up so we decide to use the same name and everybody come and join back up. “Renegades form under a house in Lubin Lane—Herman and Teewee lived near. “As a child you had to stop by your mother and just watch—you have to stand by her and hold she dress or else is licks. “Those days from the roundabout to the market was cocoa on both sides.” Brokofoot Raymond says. and he had no part of that. in light of Ohio’s destruction.” he says.” No wonder it required the extremely authoritarian leadership of Stephen “Goldteeth” Nicholson to hold together such a fissiparous group. flutes and a double bass which the player lugged around with a strap over his shoulders. They moved to Martineau Lane and used the earlier name. according to Cecil Dead. Cecil Dead claimed to have been the first captain.

but Japs Alley. Phillip tried for a bigger sound. Then quarter inch smaller. his wife said: “You hear what happen?” . Not Rising Sun. “They liked to fight—I didn’t like it but they always getting in fights with cutlass and thing. cut it about six inches long. I get a 20 gallon coconut oil drum. At such engagements they wore their peaked caps with a monogram of two swords and Japs’ Alley. Still not satisfied. Phillip had somewhere else to go. and so on. “The pan tent was at the corner of Henderson and Frederick Streets. cut it. In 1950 Phillip got a deathbed wish from his grandfather to quit steelband. so he came late. I sink it. however. but it was for different reasons. so Big Bill name band Japs’ Alley.” As the only band in Chaguanas they had a monopoly. in addition to small fetes. When he passed home. He sat next to him and put the old man’s head in his lap. working at Woodford Lodge estate and married. under a chenit tree in an empty lot where they played cricket. “It was a different trend of noise. It was just instinct. His parents had never chided him about it. He was the only of his mother’s six children who’d got involved in pan. stop beating pan.” When Phillip’s mother came and saw the old man.” They didn’t stray far afield. “We never went in Port of Spain—we was fraid. so we was never eager to go.” “Alright. “I was beating nice. and she began to bawl for he was dead.” he says. Phillip did leave pan after that. Marcus. though.The generation who came of age towards the end of the Second World War.” he says. I took a tape and measured from the bass note—six inches.” he says.” says Phillip. VJ Day came and for the same obscure reason as those in John John and Belmont. until they had a band which only lacked for one thing: a name. and they came on the road for holidays.” said Phillip.” said the old man to his favourite grandson.” Sometimes town bands came into the country. they all clamoured for pans too. but the old man was sick.” he says. she knew better. not Destination Tokyo. Christmas and Carnival. were drawn to a different kind of music. “I used to sink it because it was easier than beating it from the inside. Every time you turn in Port of Spain it’s fight. Longdenville Couva. groove it and make notes—I get ten notes.” And from that rhythm Phillip began to innovate.” he says. There was bands there but they didn’t even have a name. “The idea just come. Like many steelbands at the time. just a gay noise to make you feel good. He was a good boy. sink it about four inches and put on 16 notes. the Chaguanas youths took the name of the defeated side. “We start to pick up old dustbin. “Son. Then one day the band had an engagement in Carapachaima. and once Phillip got a chance to compete with Rudolph “Fisheye” Olliverre from Trinidad All Stars. playing ‘Ave Maria’ but my rubber bus and he win. “I get a barrel. though. He called his mother: “Grandpa sleeping.” When the teenagers in the neighbourhood saw him playing tunes. about 15 inches circumference. After a while Phillip noticed the old man’s eyes were closed and his neck was loose. nobody never show me. Buboy. with no intention whatsoever of doing so. “We always remain in County Caroni—Couva. One day he fell out of his bed and Phillip saw him on the floor. Japs’ Alley had its fair share of warriors: Big Boy. “Stop playing mas. “We was the Japs and down there was called the alley.

but he is the proud father of Jim Phillip. and before that. the district’s tamboo bamboo band. “Ovzovy” Antoine.” Although Byer. one of the tuners whose pans are bought as far afield as Germany and England. And when the band members came. “They used to beat skin drum and they hand was so fast that in pan they was tops because they coulda roll a note for long. there can be no doubt of its African provenance. and Phillip decided to leave the band. Although Rising Sun formed opposite the Rada Compound in the Chinee Savannah (so called because the owner of the land was Chinese). Vivien and Hugh “Delimo” Baptiste. Vernon. is a born and bred Belmontian from Braithwaite Street. He took a hatchet and mashed up the pan at home. “I done with that.” says Byer. Those from Warner Lands. Tamboo bamboo start from there.The band had got into a fight at St Mary’s Junction and police had locked up the whole side.” said Phillip’s wife. and during the Second World War they formed the steelband that was named Rising Sun on VJ Day. class. There are similarities but the Rada are from what is now Dahomey. Notwithstanding this. Phillip has never returned to the steelband movement. and who organised for Red Army to go on the first steelband tour abroad to British Guiana. . Belmont is a large area and there were splinter groups. and he stuck to his word. who included men such as Tambi Maximin. an open spot where cricket and football used to play. one of the very few such places during the war. making sure to stop at the Hunter and Tiger Cat rumshop. Rising Sun. “Good thing you wasn’t there. 75. he does what most other Trinidadians do and refers to the Belmont Valley Road Rada devotees as Shango. Now. Another important stop was at Warner Lands (which produced Kathleen “Auntie Kay” Warner) where a more “respectable” side joined the band.” says Carlton “Carli” Byer. formed Stepyard. But they all came together for Carnival to form the steelband Belmont United. after them. “The tamboo bamboo came from the Valley Road—Nanny’s yard. There was another reason why up there was something of a cultural centre—the Rose Bowl. 45 years and twelve children later. whereas the Orisha are from Nigeria. WHEN THE SUN ROSE IN BELMONT Pan is the instrument of Trinidad and Tobago—it belongs to everyone. Hence Dudley Smith’s first place as pint pong soloist in the first two Steelband Festivals.” he told them. emerged from the heart of African Trinidad. he returned the trophies he’d kept for the band as its captain. creed or sex. and it was owned by Ranny Phillip—the man who held many of the early steelband competitions including the first islandwide competition.” Most of them were charged for affray. and nowhere is this more clear than in Belmont whose mother band. And in Belmont. This was a nightclub. the Rada compound was the base for many tamboo bamboo men and. “Opposite the Shango yard had the Chinee Savannah. “Anytime they want to fight I move out—who get lock up it’s their business. many of the district panmen. He replied. Byer from Braithwaite Lane formed Corsican Brothers. for Carnival it moved through Belmont picking up different sides. regardless of race. Patrick “Zaba” Anthony and Dudley Smith were all Rada devotees in Nanny’s compound.

“Next year they take pau pau stem and cut it to fit your lip and blow it like a bugle. and Percy Thomas from Rising Sun would form Katzenjammers in Woodbrook. Neither band lasted very long or made any significant impact on the steelband movement. Belmont United notwithstanding. One was called Wake Island. “Mama. spun top.” Thus was formed Sunland in Warner Lands. . REQUIEM FOR WAKE ISLAND Some time around the end of the Second World War two steelbands were formed in Arouca. “The bugles used to send you mad. Years later the band would become better known as Gemini Brass. plywood and cedar. both of whom were selected for the first National Steelband.” says Mackie. Some of the short-lived ones enjoyed an afterlife by contributing players to the larger bands. “A gas tank give a good tone. because bugles were considered to incite the panmen’s aggressiveness. Most of these bands lasted only a few years and no more than one or two survived and grew. and the other North Star. 65. Up in St Francois Valley Road was formed Modernaires. in the drain by Farrell Lane. then a young Rising Sun member.” These youths weren’t only into pan.” Eventually they collected the discarded pans from Rising Sun and formed City Kids.” “When the police take we bugles. just expired without a trace like tiny wildflowers in a forest. especially those in the countryside. “I learn through Malcolm Holdip and Cokey Mason in Casablanca—it used to make you feel a zest. Belmont United got into fights. “The fellas get a contract to beat at Piarco Bel Air. a five-gallon drum coated with tar for a bongo sound. a scratcher from rolled galvanize. and beat rhythms on a derelict car. for instance. There the boys played pitch. Near to Rising Sun panyard. and Robbie Greenidge. both names taken from movies.” says Miss Girlie’s son McIllwain “Mackie” Toussaint. “The rhythm was in the back. Even Rising Sun itself had its divisions. the district had its divisions. Like Wake Island. “They start to sift out the bad behaviour fellas and it make a split. 53.” Apart from up in the Valley Road and at the Tiger Cat rumshop. they formed a group called The Galvanizers. flew kite. amongst whose members also included Miss Girlie’s other son Roderick Toussaint. and was once banned from coming on the road with the bugles they’d got from the Orphanage. “put up with a lot of young fellas.” says Bailey. Their instruments consisted of klim milk tins.” says Byer. but most. the younger side. leaving one to wonder if this isn’t why steelband in Belmont took a down turn and has never risen ever since. a guitar made from balsa. They just added to the vast number of small bands that mushroomed in every nook and cranny of this island from 1945 onwards. and that was the yard of Juliana Toussaint—Miss Girlie.” recalls Leo “Bams” Bailey. and the two fought a bitter fratricidal riot. there was another gathering place for Belmont panmen.Like most steelbands of the Forties. The more respectable youth formed Dem Boys and Stromboli—parallels to college boy bands like Dixieland and Silver Stars—although Dixieland would move to Belmont and be supplied with players from City Kids.

and no bugles—the San Juan band had about four. the oldest. Cantonese and creole. “So we tied for first place. Victor wrote the skits which Defiance would perform for the village concerts. who was one of the most important tuners of those times. down by Golden Grove Road. the Aroucans gave a good account of themselves with “In The Mood”. until by 1951 Wake Island was no more. Every village in those days had a Chinese parlour and Arouca’s was the centre of attraction for youthmen in the district. who were. But the Croisee band was a riotous one and they intimidated the country boys. this one to England. North Star. which Anthony played. for their leaders were Anthony.” he recalls. They had a sports and cultural club called Defiance in which they played cricket and organised variety concerts and debates. Anthony went to school at St Mary’s and had begun working in Port of Spain as a public servant towards the end of the war. Cpl Dennis. Wake Island wasn’t completely parochial. from north Arouca. One night they were on the road when they shouldn’t have been and a policeman. They didn’t leave the bounds of Arouca.” They were a peaceful bunch. Still. After that Anthony would visit Sun Valley and he even bought a tenor from Roach. that one to the US. you wouldn’t think Hugo Besson has trod this earth for 73 years. And he hasn’t only preserved himself . Nevertheless.The band was formed by the 15 to 20 boys who limed south of the road through Arouca. Carnival. of course. The officer ordered them to stop beating so they turned around and went back to the panyard by the Look Loy parlour. “We used to beat the pans out—not sink them in—and then make some indentations to make the notes.” Immediately the Defiance members fell in. and they began to play around the district at weddings and christenings and. Born in 1926. respectively. who started the steelband. when he got interested in pan. the rest to support. and the only real competition they entered was held with a fete in Olive Hall. about ten to actually beat pan. Victor and Martin. But it was Anthony Look Loy. was there. “I used my own initiative to tune them. They didn’t meddle with the nearby North Star because that band had the rougher type from the district. Wake Island had only one tenor. By the late Forties Wake Island was in terminal decline. as were Boom Town from Tacarigua and Red Glory from San Juan. stopped them.” says Anthony. THE COCONUT HEAD MAN From his full head of hair and the alertness of his mind and body. He’d seen and heard the town bands and decided to form one back home. Those days steelbands were all a fraternity and a panman going to any other district would seek out a panyard to lime in. The two Look Loys were devoting more time to their jobs and the other members of the band were migrating one by one. Once Sonny Roach from Sun Valley visited some friend or relative in Arouca and checked out the band. the three sons of shopkeepers Ambrose and Ivy Look Loy. “The judge say people feel we win. but it had one set of supporters from San Juan.

The fishes have huge gaping mouths but still the twist of the horns give them the grace of the swimming motion. “They used to gamble in the back of a shop. in form they retain the gentle taper of their raw material. Besson moved as a child to his grandmother’s house in St James where he ran wild. even if you’d only see them when they’ve fallen from the trees and are still lying around because once they’ve been collected for sale the husk is removed. The wings of his birds and their feet are carved. Some are eating watermellon. the stickfighters. But he also still carves the dried coconuts and cow horns of yesteryear.beyond the alotted three score and ten. by the time Besson is finished carving them adn this friend George Hinds has painted them. Besson has also preserved intact some of our weirder long-time crafts. the horns of water buffalos which Besson must buy at $100 per bag. Besson explains. hustlers. many sitting atop a small cylindrical penny bank. and usually are fashioned from the hooves of the buffalo. ‘Look. spending nights wherever was easiest. Dried coconuts are normal enough. species. hustling coppers wherever he could. For that he got a small cut of the day’s takings. they’ve become grotesque monkeys in different poses. crafts which have in common the fact that they both use cheap natural raw materials which are sculpted along traditional lines. fitting neatly into small holes in the body of the horns. The creatures shaped from Besson’s cow horns derive their wierdness from a different source. He also began to make the cow horn sculptures just as he’d seen his uncle doing. whose slight curl make the birds seem like graceful and delicate but slightly quizzical long-necked swans. He has made prize-winning fancy Indian mas. sagga boys. and makes ornate goatskin drums. carving dried coconuts and cow horns today as it was done decades ago. The birds’ wings and fishes’ fins are also detachable. Born in Point Cumana. A man would say. some bananas or pineapple. as are the fins of the fishes. me eh opening my mouth. because I eh going to school: I have to have some kinda knowledge so these people come as my teacher. However. I want a mauby and milk— Besson. bad johns.” says Besson. Although they come in a wide range of sizes and. indeed. Besson stayed in the bum boat while the men went aboard the liner. “Nobody don’t see when I’m working them. Their wierdness arises not out of the shape of these carvings but out of the material itself. begging a roti from the Muslims living by the poor house. recalling how he hung around the demi mondaine—the men who brought out the district tamboo bamboo band. gamblers. Other times he’d go out with some of them on the bum boats—small craft they’d row out to the passenger liners anchored in the gulf—that was before the harbour was dredged to accomodate them—to peddle goods to the tourists. one or two are beating a drum and others are plain faces without limbs. You can take them off. which are not unusual things to do. I want a snowball and milk.” Sometimes they’d send him up a tree to sentry for police. “I din go to school—I was a street child. horns.’ And I gone.” he recalls. Most have alarming little fangs for a final touch of weirdness. go for that for me. so they could be packed—a legacy of the tourist market for which they were made and a reminder of how Besson learnt the craft. If they wanted more stocks they’d lower a rope and he’d send it up. . although that is just a prejudice because we see nothing wierd about leather goods or tortoise shell goods. so he started to make the coconut monkeys he saw some of the older men selling. “I was a street kid but I always had discipline so when they talking I would just stand up there.” he sighs.

And now in the evening of his years Hugo Besson can look back through the years to the way he’s managed to make the best of a bad hand life has dealt him.” Hanging out between the older men in the St James bamboo band. “All my sweat went into that and the docks and now I can’t even fix my glasses. where he first became enthralled with the music of iron. blink. playing a three-note background pan. another panman turned to mas but this one from South.” he explains.” he says of Cairo’s genesis.” explains Lord Kitchener with a gap-toothed smile. bending wire the way he’d been taught by Mack Copeland. “You have to have some weight to do that or people eh go listen to you. blink.” The morning is cool. a status which attracted the attentions of both the police and the fairer sex. Besson was also there when they moved into the era of iron and indeed as the street child grew into the sweetman bad john he was very much in the forefront of the steelband movement when he led the rowdy Belle Vue band Five Graves to Cairo. a breeze weaves through the porch of Rainorama. blink.” he says wistfully. they own family and they girl family. perhaps because of his pleasure in recalling those days 60 years ago. Stephen Roberts was his name. “Panman fight four seta people: the police. his home in Diego Martin. “When a woman have a bum boat man. “I was making the monkey head and a seta boys used to come round so I decide to make a little band myself and we start to beat right there. church. manifest this year in the tune “Symphony on the Street” on his album of the same name. nor from the government—and that Pan Trinbago hasn’t recognised his pioneer status. “was a blacksmith and a wheelwright. The calypso is about a Frenchman who arrives in Trinidad and hears some music so sweet he’s convinced must be coming from a symphonic orchestra. though for different reasons and with different consequences—and the one-time unloved. By then he was concentrating more on making mas than playing pan. it was after the war I give it the name. and then continues with unusual fluency: “They used to make music—purposely make it while slimming down a piece of iron.” MR PAMP AND THE SOUND OF STEEL “My father. Besson had long acquired considerable notoriety as one of the more fearless bad johns.“Them bum boat men was the high men. she have a man whe have money. and Kitchener is relaxed as we search for the roots of his long-standing romance with the steelband. “It didn’t have no name.” By the late forties he’d left Cairo for Invaders. The notorious stammer which usually cripples Kitchener’s speech is almost completely absent. . and his only complaint is that he still doesn’t collect a pension—neither from the docks where he sweated for over 20 years. so Kitchener points out that it’s a steelband he’s hearing and that pan can sound like any instrument. ignored street child revelled in it. moving in front the band to clear the way.” he says. But our conversation starts with his childhood in Arima.” He blinks several times.

it is straight and unaffected and tells the truth and nothing but the truth. in a famous book. and the musical instrument which drew the young Kitchener was the double bass. but they were in their own way musical. Kitch’s brother Rupert inherited that ability and once placed second in a whistling competition. bup-tangalang—that was sweet music. Mr Griffiths and the young Aldwyn’s father. Here was the African sensitivity to the rhythms of life and not surprisingly a description exists of this same activity from the same era. in her memoirs of her years living on a coffee plantation in East Africa. Blanchisseuse. she was singing. the steelband had not yet emerged. audacious fancies were set forth to the inspiring hammer-song.There were three blacksmiths in his hometown: Mr Horne. Out of Africa. “One man was beating the iron with the sledge and my father would hit it with a smaller hammer. He even formed a little band and they’d play in country dances. “The Native world was drawn to the forge by its song. and the talk flowed freely. “Nobody could interfere with her child. According to an ancient Nordic law a man was not held responsible for what he said in a forge. Cumuto. It is so virile that it appals and melts the women’s hearts. and Kitch recalls fondly how children from the neighbourhood were drawn to his father’s smithy when the time came for Pamp to start pounding on the iron in those days before automobiles drove the horse-drawn carts off the roads and made redundant the blacksmiths who fabricated cartwheels. travelling to Sangre Grande. The tongues were loosened in Africa as well in the blacksmith’s shop.” Around that time.” “She was calling me she ‘whoopsin’.” explains Kitch. however.” explains Kitch. back in Trinidad. monotonous.” she’d sing. it is obliging to you and does great things for you. who wasn’t called Mr Roberts but rather was known as “Mr Pamp” for some inexplicable reason. . as in play. sprightly. Indeed. described how the Kikuyu tribesmen were attracted by the hammering in the farm’s iron forge. was a well-known dancer in the district and could also whistle up a storm. Danish writer Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen). He hung around a bass player named Ralph. Sometimes it is very outspoken. “Killing them for she thing like a thing. Mr Pamp.) And in Mr Pamp’s smithy. as probably in Mr Horne’s and Mr Griffiths’ and other such institutions throughout the island. The Natives. It wasn’t through his whistling so much as his rhythms that Mr Pamp influenced the young Aldwyn. Bup-tangalang. The only difference is that the book isn’t about Trinidadians in Arima but about Africans in Kenya.” Kitchener’s parents weren’t Carnival people. the late 1920s. from whom he picked up a smattering of technique. His mother improvised songs for her children. the smaller hammer would go ‘tangalang’. (The young Kitch was known for his tallness as “Stringbean”. “When the sledge come down ‘bup’.” observed Dinesen.” His father. the rhythms of iron drew a crowd. willingly. It has an excess of strength and is gay as well as strong. “Mama will be killin them for she whoopsin. collected by (the blacksmith’s) hut and felt at their ease. one of which can still get Kitch misty. who love rhythm. bup-tangalang. “The treble. and surprising rhythm of the blacksmith’s work has a mythical force. and whenever bands came to Arima he’d ask for a “tush” on the bass. which became “Bean Pamp”.

What’s worse. STRIKE THE IRON It’s a difficult pill to swallow in this country where people like a definite winner. “Pan in A Minor”. and genius less so. Killey’s shell case was a hit in the large Rose Hill band and fellas would always be asking for a knock. “Aha!” thought Killey. Only. Well. In the late 1920s Killey was still in Rose Hill where he grew up. “Pan Harmony”. Bitterman. When did this occur? Killey can’t say for sure. the sound was muffled. celebrating pioneers like Zigilee. “The Mystery Band”. “Pan Night and Day”. he didn’t beat a bamboo. that the steelband movement was seeded in three different places in Port of Spain in the late 1930s. and that was the tamboo bamboo band which he joined. “Iron Man”. so it had to just rest in your palm. he encountered the steelband for the first time.” recalls Killey. And the steelband movement has returned the compliment by playing at least one Kitch tune in every single Panorama finals. he’s certain his Gonzales band was all-metal because they paraded around town in June for the Coronation of George VI. As for where the idea came from. that was way back. but the truth is. and in Tantie Willie’s Orisha compound in Gonzales where Wellington “Killey” Yearwood got the idea to dismantle some derelict cars and beat their metallic parts instead of bamboo.) Kitch was also singing in a bamboo tent in Arima (a penny to enter) and when he eventually moved permanently to Port of Spain to hustle in 1944. “Pan Explosion”. it was as a calypsonian with the hit “Green Fig”. they were raided by the ferocious Sergeant Caesar and the man who was . however. even though despite his 85 years he has a memory as sharp as an elephant’s. It was the nearby Bar 20 from Bath Street. chances are it would break.(Apart from the drum. “Sweet Pan”. including 19 winners. however. By 1937. Barker and Ossie Campbell. a band which played better than all others or a man who came first. long before Killey was living in Gonzales and liming in the yard of Orisha priestess Wilhemina Harriot—Molly Ahye’s aunt. He has sung “A Tribute to Spree Simon”. and Kitchener immediately was inspired to write “The Beat of the Steelband”. in Hell Yard on Charlotte Street. a real shell case of brass. “this could work in the tamboo bamboo band. Living in La Cour Harpe in east Port of Spain. If you gripped it too tightly.” He goes on to explain that the younger men weren’t too good with the Key brand gin bottle that provided the bottle-and-spoon rhythm. who was better known as Tantie Willie. It began in the Big Yard on Woodford Street. one day when the band was making one of its illegal rounds in Laventille. But Kitchener’s long-standing romance with the steelband must have surely been seeded by the rhythms of his father tempering iron. Creativity cannot be explained by cause-and-effect reasoning. if you tried to get a louder sound and beat it harder. the bass is how the African feel for rhythm translates into modern instrumentation—you can hear it in reggae or R&B. “Guitar Pan”—it’s a long list. “My cousin Willie Grovenor was a returned soldier from the First World War and he brought back a shell case as a souvenir.

sneaked up behind the sergeant. Lionel and Rupert Cook.” The Gonzales band only lasted a few years. That is all you looking out for. David Dyer.” advised Killey. He gave chase and began to gain on the handicapped Dyer. until everyone had some piece of iron on which they could knock a rhythm. Immediately they began to stip the vehicles. The lecture was a success and it was repeated at the Victoria Institute. Reginald “Piggy” Joseph (who later on wrote for Sparrow) and a few others. Killey says: “I go tell you something what a band. Sergeant Caesar. they couldn’t get their act together to go as a group for the bamboo. going up Red Hill to cut bamboo when Carnival came around. that’s a feather in my cap. “What I go tell my cousin?” A desperate attempt was made to recover the shell case. and thereafter Killey returned to the domestic concerns which had begun to pull him. a good runner.” Explaining how the Belmont fellas were so demoralised when they heard the Gonzales band with their scrap iron percussion. another going for a piece of fender. a tamboo bamboo band does feel proud of and feel he’s a champ whether he beating good or he eh beating good: if you passing another tamboo bamboo. “Two of we alone cyar go. that when I pass you I can’t hear you at all. Whatever the reason. he suggested they substitute car parts for the missing bamboo tubes. “We make Belmont band throw they bamboo over in the river. Sergeant Caesar picked it up and strode off with his characteristic duck walk. by which time they’d chosen a name: the Gonzales Rhythm Makers.” It happens every year. even today. Dyer dropped the shell case and escaped. this one taking a gas tank. So too it happened a half century ago when the urge to beat bamboo gripped the hearts of the First Eleven. predisposed him to the concept of hammering iron. however. when people decide they aren’t playing Carnival and then at the last minute withdrawal symptoms prove too stong and they rush about in frantic search of a costume. In 1944 the band was revived for a lecture/demonstration given by Edric Connor at the Bishop’s Anstey High School. snatched the shell case and bolted. . for after all it was a prized possession of the band. Come 1937. despite his splayedfoot gait. And that was the end of that. like everyone else. So that is what happen when we first came out with Belmont band. for that year his first child was born. “When I passing my band could drown your band and they can’t hear your band at all—that is the kudos. Maybe his trade. for he was a tinsmith. liming in Tantie Willie’s yard. fled. Killey looked around at the derelict vehicles in Tantie Willie’s yard where they limed and perhaps he recalled his cousin’s shell casing. was also fleet. Years later saw Killey living in Gonzales.” lamented Killey. only it was too late to go and cut new instruments. “to arse with that. and the sergeant collected it once again. “When we really hit the road.” recalls Killey.beating the shell case dropped it and. It’s like we lick you up. “O Gawd! Look the man gone with the shell case. Alas. Raymond “Saucy” Deane. your band drown he band. “How I go go?” said one man protesting the lack of co-operation. with the “First Eleven”—men such as Conrad “Musso Rat Roach.” “If they eh go.

Once again they meet. tuner and arranger of Trinidad All Stars. starting with the bacchanal between the George Street men and the Charlotte Street posse. Matura.By then. coming out of the younger Gonzales generation. and Maximin Thomas. grew up where most Port of Spain Chinese lived—in Charlotte Street: specifically. and it was years ago I first read of Hamilton Thomas. Accordingly. he used to push a cart and he was a fighter: long. Casablanca. The only thing that made me feel bad Knowing that they fought for a pack of card. the man to whom Neville Jules. another one—and they used to have the prostitutes with them. he was the son of Eva Thomas. Fitzgerald. also known as “Hamil” or “Big Head”. “Prince Batson states that the first person he saw obtaining notes on a pan was Hamilton “Big Head” Thomas of the Hell Yard. however. a Chinaman who worked in Pantin’s Bakery in Prince Street. WHEN HAMIL WENT UNHEEDED The research process can be agonisingly slow.” Words tumble out of Hamil as if they’d been pent up for years. “Look. paid homage as his captain. and it had ‘Demsee’. the great captain. however. and Sonny Jones.time fight. which eventually became the book The Steelband Movement: Formation of a National Art. my pores raise. Nigger.” says Hamil in a rush. both told me early last year about Hamil’s combativity and innovativeness. Once again they meet.” wrote Stephen Stuempfle in his 1990 PhD thesis.” . and only when Jules himself returned to Trinidad to celebrate his 70th birthday last year did I meet the man known as Hamil and arrange to interview him when the Pan Pioneers series began once again. the historian of Trinidad All Stars. Brown Boy. ‘Lulie’ and Bruce— ‘Dr Rat’s’ father. 90 Charlotte Street. “The George Street fellas used to come there too—Tom Keane. Batson himself years later did tell me of Hamil—not as an inventor but as a leader of the Hell Yard fighting side. Born in 1920. next to one of the passages to the open lot known as Hell Yard where there congregated the inheritors of the old jamette culture. Tripoli and. ‘Tall Black’ and ‘Short Black’. wrestling and boxing and stick. I say riot in the wang with Hell Yard and George Street. Then Jerry Serrant. Neither knew his present address. But the pelting of the bottle and the throwing of the stone They made George Street a battle zone.” he says as he bursts into song. evoking the riot which broke out in a rumshop and gambling club called the “wang” at the bottom of Charlotte Street: “Riot in the wang with Hell Yard and George Street. jumbling any sense of narrative as he describes places and people and events. Hamil—not me. a pioneer from the band. “Sagiator and his brothers—the Draytons—was there. who now lives in Diego Martin. the steelband movement was already in existence and the early iron bands had been eclipsed by steelbands such as Invaders. an African woman.

Laventille. BREAKADOOR . “Listen to that!” said Hamil. Back in the 1930s. “What I was telling allyou? Listen!” After that everything changed. “They cut we before we raise we hand.” recalled Batson in 1995. ‘Everybody have to pass. they must come down Charlotte Street to go to the market for food and we will deal with them.” recalls Hamil.” he says. If you see the man—with he top hat he looking like Death. SS Bad Behaviour. The steelband movement was born. At that time Hamil tried to mobilise the Hell Yard men to bring out an all-metal band in keeping with a vision he had. tong tong ting ting.” “What you mean?” asked his bemused friends. They had to go by force.’ He line up bottles both side of Charlotte Street. He raises his T-shirt and turns to show a scar on his back. “They had one misunderstanding with Casablanca and they make Casablanca men go to the police station. They had to pass the other way around to go to the market. Hamil marshal the forces. the sand bus my back—it had a piece of steel in it what cut me. Old-time medicine. That’s all—only two notes I did have. the older generation still held sway. listen. training the men in the martial arts and instilling in them self-discipline. He say. bush medicine. they couldn’t pass there. known as “Lord Humbugger”. “I take a yeast pan and I dent it and it going: ping-a-ling. even though Andre “Lulie” Abbott had for years been knocking a piece of iron in the bamboo rhythms of Hell Yard. showing a man a fall. “O Gawd. Those were the tamboo bamboo days of the 1930s when the Hell Yard men produced a famous sailor band every Carnival.” wailed Hamil. Hamil was one of its younger members and a leader amongst the youth whom he trained in boxing and wrestling. “Wrestling. after the steelband movement was formed. ping-a-ling. “Like God inspire it in me.” In later years. men such as the Stowe brothers and Edmund “Waj” Raymond. The Hell Yard youths began collecting dustbins. led by Carlton Forde.” he says. It was sounding very nice but they didn’t want to hear: when you is a floor member no character doesn’t want to hear you.” For Jouvert that year—it was 1939—the Woodford Street band Alexander’s Ragtime Band hit the streets with all metal percussion. The man thin. I take cobweb and cocoa—young cocoa what I scrape—and put it in. one of the greatest steelbands ever. “I eh go to no doctor. and they coming down: tong tong ting. “He had a scissors-tail coat as the bandmaster coming down Charlotte Street. nah. he like galvanise.As a result of this riot the George Street men ended up forming their own band. Hamil would take over the self-defence of the band. but the youth had no standing in the eyes of the older men. as did all the other traditional tamboo bamboo bands— John John. which after the war became Trinidad All Stars. anything out of metal. Casablanca men couldn’t come down Charlotte Street. Basilon Street. Now bent and slow-moving. Hamil still possesses a full head of grey hair. however. the Hell Yard boys caught up when they formed Cross of Lorraine. paint tins. And if Alexander’s Ragtime Band got the jump on all the others. ting. ting.

children. insofar as there was one. “From J’ouvert morning we played mas right through. Years later a community centre would be built there. “By the corner we sit down and decide to name weself Desperadoes. Indeed. because even then the Hill moved as one.” The birth of the steelband movement. not one by one. followed by Orisha drummer Carlton “Mimp” Francis. another movie captured their imagination: Glen Ford in The Desperados. “That night we was going up Basilon Street. and the torch passed to the younger generation. under the houses of different matriarchs who didn’t mind helping the youths out. who now lives in New Jersey.” .” Born in 1927. so they cleared the bush around a spot where they used to lime and make cooks and there the band settled. but Laventillians didn’t ostracise panmen as did most other communities. everyone was there on Carnival. extended Bowen family brought out the J’ouvert band from 19 Laventille Road. men. “He was quiet but very dangerous. placing the band symbolically in the heart of the community. It means desperate men and from there we start to get into trouble. After all. Reynold “Singco” John. the Dead End Kids. the way everybody take care of each other in those days.” he says.” Of the group Jit and Talkative were the slightly older ones and they weren’t averse to bullying their younger friends. except on Carnival day. their biscuit drums and paint pans and dustbins. what is right and what is wrong. “It was a set of bush in the road when the band coming down. and the Laventille youths took it for their new band. signalled the immediate death of tamboo bamboo. That was around 1940 or 1941. Laventillians in those days rarely came into town singly. That was when Joseph and his friends decided to form their own steelband. “You have to have shoulders to keep beating the bamboo in the road.” he explains. around the time a movie showed at Royal Cinema about some youths who were able to beat up a gang of older men.” Still. didn’t really get into trouble. Way back when they first moved to that location they might have still been Dead End Kids but around that time. “We didn’t knock about town by weself. “When we going in town to cinema it was a group.” he says. they felt for their own place. We always figured nobody in town didn’t like Laventille people. Wilbert “Be eh” Pacheco. “The big fellas did that. Members included “Four Roads” Collins. “Mimp always had more knowledge—where to go and where not to go. For their T-shirts they stencilled a red heart on the front. the 1930s. Donald “Jit” Steadman and Wilfred “Talkative” Harrison—a group who limed together. “It come like you on Laventille Road. women. recalls Ricardo “Breakadoor” Joseph—ever since the days of tamboo bamboo when the huge.” recalls Joseph.” The band hadn’t a yard yet. “When you on the road it was like you home because everybody taking care of each other. so they left their instruments.There was always a togetherness on the Hill. however. however. was first Wilbert “Be eh” Pacheco. with a bow and arrow in it. those living higher up didn’t come into town at all. just before the end of the Second World War or perhaps just after it. but the leader.” recalls Joseph. We liked the name and most steelbands had movie names. for all their combative name. he was in those days. too young to beat tamboo bamboo. Dead End Kids was the name of the movie.” says Joseph. Brooks Banfield. Eventually. the same mas—trees they holding up in the air.

Panmen all over were targeted for police harassment but especially those from the east Port of Spain fighting bands: Casablanca. this band eating and sleeping in one shed. Tokyo. A policeman pulled out a megaphone. Ivan “Brains” Bourne made a jail for some criminal behaviour or other. make a raid somewhere. Raymond “Artie” Shaw from the police band. “Don’t run—we eh come to lock allyou up!” said the officer. Joseph quietly shifted over to the mas side of the band. It was felt that only panmen could have withstood the intimidation of the dock workers. Red Army. and put to unload the ships with other panmen. Carl “Bumpy Nose” Greenidge from Kentuckians. arrangers and players from wherever he could find them: Ellie and Birdie Mannette and Emmanuel “Cobo Jack” Riley from Invaders. It was out of this the Special Works project was created to reduce the violence.There had already been a fight with the Gonzales men. Joseph became known as “Breakadoor” after breaking into a house to beat a man.” The men were taken to the docks where workers were on strike. “Once we was in the market and ‘Bake Nose’ hit a fella from up by we. Ivan Bourne do something and he wasn’t with we but so long as people get lash the police holding everybody from the band. After Tony Williams put the bass on wheels so more drums could be mobile.” says Joseph. Then there was a fight in a fete at SWWTU and it escalated into a feud with Tokyo which lasted for years as every minor incident became blown out of proportion. “When we assemble we get into mischief. some of whom were stabbed or chopped. Beverly Griffith from Starland. he eh know what going on. but he unlucky so he get plenty lash. Clive Bradley from Clarence Curvan’s dance band. sucking in both communities. I get lock up for assembly when I was about 21. Rising Sun and Desperadoes. until people from both John John and Laventille were afraid to go out at night. THE MAN WHO FORMED NORTH STARS . he’d never been very good.” Both sides dug in for a war of attrition and matters got worse and worse. Every man ran. Charles was determined to build a winning steelband and he used his considerable charisma to bring in top tuners.” recalls Joseph. A biscuit drum and two-note bass player. Internally. He was from a small but highly musical band called Spike Jones and his name was Rudolph Charles. By then Joseph was out of it. We meet a fella from John John—he wasn’t there. however. “All the time police was making a raid and hold we for illegal assembly. “We come to give allyou job. so they used to run we. George Yeates from Desperadoes was brought to work in the Prime Minister’s Office and the band was given a community centre. another band in another shed. it was about 17 of we who get charge with assembling for the purpose of committing a felony.” One day towards the end of the 1940s the Desperadoes were liming at the side of Laventille Road when a black maria pulled up. Yeates and Donald “Jit” Steadman decided to bring in a youth who was already showing outstanding leadership qualities. “He tell we and everybody say nobody eh have no right hitting nobody from Laventille Road.

Those days there was a tamboo bamboo yard with stickfighting close by in Ranjit Kumar Street. and that’s how Harper got on the band’s stage side. Harper followed.” he recalls. give you a cut tail and send you home.” said Roach in exasperation. They didn’t carry you in courts. or if them police bad they walk with they bull pistle and give you two if they catch you. Steelband didn’t start to riot yet but when they come down the road to beat.” He started hanging around Harlem Nightingales in Guthrie Street in 1946. he was brought to Trinidad once his mother was able to travel. Come Christmas Sun Valley was moving down Bournes Road just when Invaders passed along George Cabral Street. . police used to run them. On the night of the competition Harper borrowed his older brother’s trousers and played with Sun Valley. Sun Valley. and you’d hardly know this was one of the pioneers of the steelband movement in St James. Roach flew into a rage and the following day he banned them from entering his yard where Sun Valley was based.” Roach turned to Harper. and when Sonny Roach decided to branch off and form his own band. especially at Christmas time. “He does only play pan once a year and I sure he could beat that. “you could open a little part between th e coconut branch and peep but if they see you they give you one cut arse and send you home. After that his mother relented and he was allowed to openly be a part of the band. including Harper. sick with chickenpox. “Look Roy Harper here. You might get a good piece of wood across your back. but he also had a streak of ignorance about him. or a tamarind rod. like how Bournes Road used to be. Once the band was playing some African mas and Roach slit his own dog’s throat so they could get the animal’s bones. “You have to have a good pair of foot because once you see police jump out the bush it’s licks. until he dropped by the panyard one night when the band was rehearsing for the first Islandwide Steelband Competition. but Harper hardly got to see it. on VE (Victory in Europe) Day when the infant steelband movement legally took to the streets for the first time. When you see we come down with we ping pong and we baylay we go run them off the road. “To be in a steelband was the most degrading thing. Harper. and all the St James people left Sun Valley to jump with the Woodbrook band. being at the time under his mother’s jurisdiction. the captain replied. took a jump in the rain: “I get good tap for that. as he emphasises.Today. Still. “I eh have that to study.” he says. Born in Barbados.” It didn’t work out that way. Sometimes you sitting here—Wap! Across your back and you can’t complain because you go get it when you reach home too.” And. “Take that pan and beat it. secretly. which came first. they just used to carry you in the station and lock you up. and eventually settled in Luknow Street in St James—Blue Stocking Alley it was called in those days. at 69 years of age. “It had a big river running down almost in the centre of the road. Roy Harper can still be heard playing with Pan Vibes every Monday night at the Trinidad Hilton. and Sonny Roach was teaching some simple lines to one particularly unreceptive panman and making rough weather of it. “As a little fella. Sonny Roach was a gifted tuner and a hard worker.” Harper played with them for Carnival but he wasn’t too involved. Harper and some others played mas that Carnival.” he explains. though. And when Harper saw Ellie Mannette playing a second pan and told Roach.” he ordered. his mother didn’t eat sorf.

WITNESSING SPREE “Why they don’t put Lara Promenade in Santa Cruz?” said Neville McLeod vehemently. taking with him the band’s best players. Harper relocated down the road in the Polydor’s Shango yard. one of whom was the young Anthony Williams. staying with them through all their metamorphoses from Dixieland to Texaco Dixieland. a friction developed between him and Harper.” Harper was reprimanded and discharged. “That’s how I leave North Star. “I was the captain and it was the captains who picked who did the picking. taking the young Othello Mollineux went along with him. as “Bake Nose”. “The fellas who captain a band. “Your honour. so Harper moved to Kandahar where they renamed their band after a Farley Granger movie called the North Star. as long as they could play they went. . “The police bring about four bags of bottle.After that relations got worse and worse until Roach gave up the band and threw them out his yard. and they put it there for the magistrate.” he recalls. who pleaded on his behalf ridiculed the police. “He couldn’t even play a toc toc and he want to rule. I could see the magistrate laughing. no big riot like what took place in Port of Spain but enough for him to be brought before the magistrate on a trumped up charge. Lennox Pierre. who’d learnt both to tune and to be ignorant from Roach. who was working at the time and was reluctant to give up his job. “If they could name a little park what nobody could see in John John after Spree Simon. all kinda thing. I’m the person who picked Tony Williams to go Taspo. and Harper joined Curtis Pierre’s Dixieland in the 1960s. conch shell.” And McLeod. 71 years old and better known far and wide. where he still is today. and there he has remained. I must be was the only jackass captain—I could play and I send a man. decided one Las’ Lap to leave North Stars. “He would have to be an Indian god to pelt this amount of bottle and stone and conch shell here as evidence. to Sky Chief and finally to Pan Vibes.” he says.” says Harper.” After Williams returned from Britain. “I take up the pan and t hrow them in the St James river and walk away.” He moved to Tripoli where he remained for a while tuning and sometimes arranging. until he fell out with captain “Big Boy” Inniss. Shortly after the newly formed Steelband Association and began picking a team to play with the Trinidad All Steel Percussion Orchestra (Taspo) at the Festival of Britain.” said Pierre. stone. because of his flat profile. began talking about the man John John claims was the first to put enough notes on a pan to beat a full tune. Starniks didn’t last long. until Harper.” says Harper. Eventually Roach decided to take back Sun Valley and informed them that Bournes Road was too small for two bands. Like many other panmen at the time Harper got involved in a fight or two. who left to form the short-lived Starniks.

I eh want to know what happen. Then he make another one with five notes. and their respective communities—John John and Laventille—until Eric Williams. You have the iron and an angle iron make out of steel. The SS Oregon sailors had to make do with a mouth band.I remember Broko take up a violin and Abraham had a cuatro and we went over the hill with about 150 people. dodging the police. I going.” He was but a child at the time. If a man want to go and fight somebody.” said Bake Nose.” The captain of the band was Dudley Rouff.Bake Nose explained that Spree was a tenor singer. There was no music in those days other than the tamboo bamboo. that led in the late 1950s to the riot between Tokyo and Desperadoes.” Those were days when the John John band had now got its name from a movie they’d seen in theh Odeon cinema about an American secret serviceman on a wartime mission to Japan.” he said. mainly over women. he have cutlass home but he coming to borrow mine because I going too.” he says. according to Bake Nose. the caustic is like a bass. Bake Nose wasn’t so much into the pan business as its corollary—fighting. “What do you want?” asked Williams. And we go by the fort where the Yankees give we money. “I always in the front line. Come World War II and Carnival was banned for four years. I know from the first pan he make in 1945 with four notes. its name changing to DEWD. “He had a good voice and he always humming. . “We want work!” Thus was born the Special Works project in Laventille and John John. always singing. Bake Nose explained. called a meeting of the combatants in the old prisoners’ quarry in St Paul Street. “You take up one tenor pan.” Winston “Spree” Simon. “When he come from the country he come and live by we—my mother married to Spree’s brother. not joining in the John John military mas SS Oregon but seeing it all from the vantage point in Tamarind Square where his grandmother sold souse and mauby at Carnival. Spree was putting notes on his pans. Still. which would grow to cover the entire country. “One time I even had a band what used to go up Picton Road up by the fort where the Yankees had they camp.” It was rudimentary.. or try to jump with someone else’s music band.” said Bake Nose. “To have a band you only have to get four or five drums. and the John John youth would have to make do with quick forays up Laventille. Donald “Jit” Steadman from Desperadoes shouted. wanting to end the warfare. “And when VJ Day come. “It was in 1945 right on Broadway near Cipriani Statue. LID and now URP. “He’d sing only classics like ‘Ave Maria’. For his part Bake Nose used to beat the caustic soda drum whose face was divided along the diagonal to give two tones.” he said.” said Bake Nose. “It eh had a man in John John with more case.” he recalled. “We sleep on the ground together. was practically his half-brother.. “On the right had a stand and the Governor was there when Spree beat ‘God Save the King’. By war’s end. “We paint we chest and back on we skin: Destination Tokyo. who was chosen because his father was well-off and Dudley was able to pilfer the old man’s money and buy paint for the caustic soda drums they’d stolen from the soap factory near the abbatoir. but by the time they reached up the hill there’d be about 60 people jumping with them because in those days anything that gave a little rhythm attracted a crowd. and that was hardly mobile.” It was that constant fighting. carbide and caustic soda drums—the carbide sound a little finer so it’s the tenor.

” said Baird. the seedbed of Invaders. having first bought his first club for $800 in the early 1950s. who was even more strict. who felt a bit better after he decided to personally take on Nathaniel “Monster” Martin from Invaders.” he said. “I never employ villainists.” He packed his bags and went off to London where he remained for 18 years. however. and one Christmas he realised it wouldn’t cost him a cent. “Everything was going alright until we put up a sign marked ‘Off limits to police’.Bake Nose was by then more into club life. CLASH OF THE TITANS The story was first told to me a year ago by Joseph Baird. he was beginning to feel uneasy. hustling whatever they could. being the ignorant man he was. by the early 1960s.” Still. “I feel shame for Renegades. For a home. and Monster. Born in 1930. opposite the Big Yard from whence emerged Alexander’s Ragtime Band. And the story Slim recounted was much the same. a Renegades supporter from the band’s inception. only from the Invaders point of view. Next. His wife was studying nursing in London and kept asking him to come. but Fowl chickened out.” . hand-to-hand combat.” admitted Baird. along with three or four other wayward or homeless boys. like Fowl before him. They called it “The Ship” and from there they’d sally forth to lime by Invaders or to gamble in a place near Roxy. into four. Stanley “Ponehead” Hunte from Invaders beat Stephen “Goldteeth” Nicholson from Renegades. “Seven o’clock.” he says. demurred. “He made Stephen look like an ass. and London. In Baird’s account. and Bake Nose. and Slim only caught stolen glimpses of the men there gambling. “I realised the money I was going to spend could pay my passage. “Next time Slim come down. “I’ll put him on to you and you could get the story from him too.” And very much a man of his word. he moved into an abandoned house near Roxy. And I was fighting too long and winning—the day I lose I felt I might dead. His grandmother didn’t allow him to hang around the Big Yard. And when she died. “I used to buy presents and almanac for all my customers. and beating their old dustbins and paint pans.” Bake Nose explained. taught him that it made more sense to avoid a fight than to go in bold and brave. fighting with sticks. however.” said Baird.” he says. Harold “Fowl” Lewis from Renegades was chosen to grapple with Invaders’ Leonard “Slim” Joseph. never had to hire a bouncer. Baird told me last week that Slim was in town for Carnival. beat up them guys. As he put it. cooking whatever was available. “And I start to pay the man back from the profits.” So as a teenager he ran away to lime in Woodbrook and hang around Invaders. who recalled an incident in the Basilon Street quarry when some Invaders men and some Renegades men sought to settle a feud between the two bands in the manner of the cowboy movies: by individual. because he was sent to live in Barataria with his aunt. and offered to make the contact. which could tame a lion. “they have their gate lock. and starting further back. things got even worse. “They come and mash up everything.” The one club grew. “I borrow a case of beer and a bottle of rum. Leonard “Slim” Joseph grew up on Tragarite Road.

The Mannette brothers were fully in the forefront of those battles. a lot of them come from decent homes. ‘Listen.” he explains.” said Fowl. But. Norbert Greenidge was the captain. ‘Listen. He say. The next year we reach a little further. they enjoyed a following of many prominent middle-class people. led by former Casablanca fighter Stephen “Goldteeth” Nicholson. And it was this new feud which led to the incident Joe Baird described to me. for Renegades. and Zigilee was a Casablanca.” The chain of events which led to the fight in the quarry began with a fight between Carlton Blackhead and Zigilee over Muriel “Little One” Granger. “was the riot side. “No blade. and scores from either side jailed for affray. wearing their short black jackets and armed with iron bolts for throwing and short cutlasses for chopping.” It was Stanley Hunte (better known as Ponehead from when he used to carry on his head the pone his mother sold for a living) who decided enough was enough. It was hell but we used to have fun. “He eh do me nothing. Carlton Blackhead was there too and he whipped out a knife. playing the tune boom. “We (Purple Hearts) was young guys not working nowhere. was in the band’s other division. “Na. they mash up all we pans. had become perceived as a young Casablanca. the Invaders/Casablanca war eventually ended. we had time to go and make riot in the day. “A band they call Salome. listen. na. rather. accompanied by Ponehead and Joe Baird. Blackhead wasn’t an Invader but he was from Woodford Street. His role. .” says Slim. Slim stood for Invaders. according to Slim. they’d always had the sweetest pans. I want to tal to allyou!’ We wasn’t annoyed with he because the Casablanca thing was done. “One day we was in town when the riot was going on and we meet some Renegades by Park Street and bottle and thing start. “The first year we try to come in town a Carnival Monday morning. we didn’t really call it dangerous. and the domestic squabble poisoned the friendship that had existed between the two bands until it grew into one of the bitterest feuds in steelband’s early history. but only on the road for Carnival—never on the stage side. ignorant of what was going on. “We. the Renegades decided he’d fight first.” says Slim.” said the Invaders men. we reach St Vincent Street and Red Army come out from a corner there and mash away everything.Slim also began to beat pan for Invaders.” Harold “Fowl” Lewis arrived. A body-builder. and as he was there looking big and bad.” says Slim.” So the two sides went in the quarry. let we settle this thing. But not before it had spilled over into an Invaders/Renegades riot. and perhaps that’s why they were resented by many town bands. as were other top players such as Francis “Peacock” Wickham. let we go in the quarry and a man take a man’. The only band in town we didn’t riot with was All Stars. and we riot with Casablanca and Renegades and Desperadoes and Tokyo. the Purple Hearts. which was a biscuit drum with three notes. “Na. during and after Carnival the gang which limed by Roxy. After many heads were bussed. “The guys in Woodbrook wasn’t bad guys. many men chopped.” And he quickly departed. Tokyo beat them up and took Mannette’s state-ofthe-art ping pong named “The Barracuda”. “Ossie (Campbell from Casablanca) start shouting. and led them into battle the following year. me eh fighting Slim.” Invaders was a Woodbrook band. he was muscular. mashing up bands like a flood through kitepaper. the side which carried on the war before. the furthest we reach was by Edward Street.

Noel “Nooksin” Sampson recalled his hot-headedness. who had to grapple a furious Goldteeth and pin him down. Stanley use he brain. They circled one another and then the titans clashed. “Look. A few occasions they paraded with the tin pans up to Belle Vue.” says Baird. “But Stanley take him and put him on the ground. Norman Darway.” recalls Slim. . THE LIGHT IN SUN VALLEY For years I have circled the late Sonny Roach from St James. and he too refused to fight. Born August 6. the youths around Roach began to knock on their tin pans on afternoons when they were idling. “Stephen eye getting red. Monster was no more in a mood to trade cuffs than Fowl had been. Cecil Ward related how they won the first Islandwide Steelband Competition. however. but Ponehead was more experienced. “Three or four times that happen and I stopped the fight. 1924. “There was this Shango tent in Guthrie Street. St James.” Thus victory was in one sense given to Stanley “Ponehead” Hunte of the Woodbrook Invaders. “Goldteeth was hoping to catch Stanley standing up because Goldteeth was a better standing fighter than on the ground. Roach replied that it was just mischief that had him beating old pans around 1933 when he was 11 years old. Nathaniel “Monster” Martin. The Renegades captain sought to rely on his strength. however. And again Ponehead got the better of Goldteeth. thus putting him beyond reach of journalistic enquiry. but because the fight ended one of those senseless riots which had had done the steelband movement such a disservice. Recently. but soon the police stopped them and that was that. From that perverse beginning. who spoke in a surprisingly formal tone throughout the entire interview. “What influenced you to become involved in steelband?” asked Goddard.” The reason they chose to make noise on old pans was because the Shango drums were loud and old pans were the loudest thing they could get their hands on. They were separated and faced one another again. in a wider more profound sense both bands were the winners. lent me a taped interview between Sonny Roach and George Goddard. stepped forward and challenged a brawny Invaders man. he (Baird). The Invaders warrior was in the evening of his days while Goldteeth was big just like him but younger. hearing that his greatness as a tuner was second only to Ellie Mannette in the early days.” They separated and began again. Tony Williams spoke of his inventiveness.Slim does not mention it.” says Slim. Quickly the Invaders man tripped up Goldteeth and began to pummel him on the ground.” he said. we go make this thing settle with two fellas: Goldteeth and Ponehead. them guys eh want to fight so what we go do. And so the fight started. but according to Joe Baird. “We decide if we can’t go inside we going to get old pans and make noise so they can’t hear the drums. thick just like him but stronger. feeling the Renegades humiliation for Fowl’s cold feet. Carlton “Sonny” Roach unfortunately died in 1986. an historian of the St James steelband movement. The sides were even in their shame but nothing was being accomplished. and going to the Shango on afternoons it turned out that I cannot come inside. Ponehead was making him look like an ass. dated around 1980.

but the organiser Norman Tang said. because he was tuning pans in Siparia. “Beat one tune—it getting late—and finish. and began selecting members for the famous Trinidad All Steel Percussion Orchestra: Taspo. and Roach fell ill. By then pans were playing simple tunes. he left to open Nob Hill in Kandahar. But first outrageous fortune had to deal him another blow. tuned his four notes from the sound of the bugle revilles at the nearby St James barracks. Invaders. and he agreed to join the team which sailed for England on July 6. as did All Stars and Casablanca. however. Belgrave Bonaparte (Southern Symphony). and finding he hadn’t been paid what he felt he’d deserved. so Roach went off to form Sun Valley. removing the loudest instruments—the iron and the bugle which were standard in every steelband—and ran away with the first prize in the first islandwide competition. and would make some of his most talented players leave him to form North Stars. Dudley Smith (Rising Sun). and Roach. however. Things turned sour. Theo Stephens (Southern All Stars). but the single alto pan counter-melody was always drowned out by the rest of the band. Again. Andrew de la Bastide (Hill 60). Included were Ellie Mannette (Invaders). Orville “Patsy” Haynes (Casablanca). They wanted to enter their arrangement of “Home Sweet Home” in the first Islandwide Steelband Competition. however. the first Carnival after the Second World War.” said Roach. Roach rose to prominence after he invented the alto pan— forerunner to the modern second pan—on instructions from “Bajan Cecil” Ward. reputed to be the greatest steelband. much to the chagrin of the other bands. . Invaders and Sun Valley. he fell out with the captain after Carnival. Trinidad All Stars. Each band was to play three tunes. but according to Roach. The next competition was between the four top bands in the country: Casablanca. the Steelband Association was finding difficulty in establishing their legitimacy for sponsorship of the Taspo band. played a rhumba—”It’s Magic”—and was given first prize. knowing no music.” Sun Valley beat a calypso. Sterling Betancourt (Crossfire) and Anthony Williams (North Stars). when Sonny Roach wasn’t on the team. Tony Williams and Addawell Sampson. Sun Valley’s arranger. When the ship first docked in Martinique he left them and returned to Trinidad alone. and he never did compete again. however. Despite his musical ignorance. contenting himself to have the band sing: “Sun Valley coming down/Invaders bound to run/And when they see the sun/It’s the valley coming down/Invaders only farse/With they dutty sailor mas. Roach reduced the band to about nine players. By then Roach was tuning the band’s pans.That group in Guthrie Street became Harlem Nightingales which brought out the mas St James Sufferers in 1946. They approached him again. Come 1950 the Steelband Association decided to send a band to the Festival of Britain. “I get vex and I say from that I not going back to no competition. Philmore “Boots” Davidson (City Syncopaters). Winston “Spree” Simon (Fascinators). Normally that would have been the end of that. “I spoil about six tin pans before I could get this alto. 1951. taking along the most talented players such as Roy Harper.” It was this impulsiveness which would exclude Roach from much of the glory that he deserved.” recalled Roach. Roach couldn’t attend the meeting which chose the team.

It had the Harbour Scheme when the Americans came and occupied the area. Woodbrook. some of them are still there.” he says. “Those—two tone we used to call them—those pans came from the base. And some .” After three years Carnival was banned in Trinidad because of wartime austerities and Alexander’s Ragtime Band swiftly declined. In 1935 he apprenticed at Craigwell’s Joiners Shop on the corner of French Street and Robert Street. Alexander’s Ragtime Band. Some drifted east to Green Corner where they eventually formed Red Army. But the main men were Victor “Tutie” Wilson and Frederick “Mando” Wilson whose virtuoso instruments were the two-note paint pans.” were the bassmen. And here was Warner’s real contribution to the band. Warner beat the large biscuit drum. in addition to two others. With Howard he worked first at the Jews prison on Serpentine Road. and then at the American camp on Wrightson Road where the deep warter harbour was being dredged. Police. “I used to take the paint pans from there and I walk over because Woodbrook at that time had some long alleys. car brake hubs. LEO WARNER To connosseurs Leo Warner is one of the foremost intuitive artists in the country. “When the three of us came together we had a special skill so that everybody sounded like one. one of the steelband movements earliest and brightest stars to burn out in solitude and resentment. staying home to play tenor pan by himself. also known as Lord Humbugger. But to me his name was first associated with the steelband Commandoes which he captained in the 1940s. and I used to walk through the alley and come right up. “We had a hell of a dump on Sea Lots but they used to dump certain things like clothing. which later became Invaders. So since I had access to the whole place I saw the pans were a special steel— hard—and they were five gallons. But paint pans and things like theat they used to dump down there by Mucurapo. for he was the one who’d got the paint pans for them from a dump. myself. As the war progressed some members drifted westwards to the young Oval Boys band. Born in 1922 he grew up with his grandmother on Frederick Street and was schooled in Richmond Street RC Boys School.” he explains. There he met Roy “Buddy” Colston who limed in the Big Yard at the bottom of Woodford Street. How did that came about? It all began when he was offered a dollar a week by architect James Howard. “Peche. paint pans. he recalls. and thus left Craigwell’s Joiner Shop. a Baptist leader whose artistic inspiration is profoundly spiritual. led them through Port of Spain that Carnival drumming only on metal percussion: biscuit drums. where Alexander’s Ragtime Band was formed.Sonny Roach began to fade out of the steelband movement after that. which gave the band its bass. a gramophone horn. The pleasant surprise was to discover that before Commandoes was formed Warner had been in the great pioneering band from Newtown. That is the band which many claim to have launched the steelband movement in 1939 when Carlton Forde.

Now living in Belmont he began bending wire for fancy sailor bands. Patcheye graduated to drums. Archbishop Pantin’s funeral was supposed to begin just then. either as neighbours. March 18. which gave his face a sort of twisted grimace.” “Cap’n. The exact date and time was Saturday. and like the pied piper he drew the youths from the . Laventille.gravitated to the Edward Street home of the Alphonso brothers.” he replied in his rapid stammer.” When he first began beating that cement drum on Clifton Hill. One of the greatest biscuit drummers ever produced by the steelband movement. was better known (in the steelband world) as Patcheye. also known as Popo. “It had Shango tents all over. So I become a very good drummer. “Y-you ever hear of a one man steelband?” Patcheye asked me years ago. they had in John John—a woman called Miss Thompson. according to Warner. that was me and me alone. “You could do better than that.” he had recalled.” The 71-year-old Pacho’t.” they said to Warner. And although he was a Catholic. one year producing the costumes for Desperadoes and thereafter judging mas for the CDC. Patcheye founded Hill 60 steelband at a time when bands were all born out of gangs of youths who limed together. they saw the sailor’s nose was made out of cardboard. As a child he used to take a knock in the yard of the Clifton Hill bamboo band. the first bent-wire cobra-nose appeared in the Commandoes sailor band. until he withdrew from even that in favour of full-time art. “Nobody ever know about that—the first steelband ever beat for a sailor band. he found a cement drum which he began to beat. through school or some club. having been Alexander’s Ragtime Band’s main iron man. A-and I learn to beat the drum. who followed Pantin three months later. Reginald Alphonso. In 1946 Carnival was resumed and Commandoes were hired by sailor bandleader “Diamond” Jim Harding. owing to the coincidence between his French name and a permanently closed-down eye. shuffling through a crowd along Independence Square south of the Cathedral. “Well. “When they have feast I as a little boy would go because they sharing food. “Oy.” Two of them took a piece of wire and bent it in the shape of a cobra and showed him. they had in St John Street.30 in the morning.” I hailed as he approached George Street. at 10. Patcheye was already an experienced percussionist. By the 1960s Warner had begun to shift out of steelband and into mas. T-they had in Belair Road.” Around 1938 he’d seen a well-known character named Cook beating one in Gonzales and in 1940 when Patcheye was 18 and living on Clifton Hill. “h-help me to g-get home on Nelson Street please. And those boys what beat with me at the time. There in Edward Street was formed Commandoes under Warner’s leadership. “Patcheye. He knew he could improve on it and the following year. THE LAST BISCUIT DRUMMER The last day I met Henry Pacho’t he was leaning on a cut-down broomstick. Even then Patcheye was no neophyte.

district.” de la Bastide once told me. begging for contributions until he had it. Elders passed by the cocoyea tent in Patcheye’s yard and requested favourite dance tunes. and he was the top man when it come to the biscuit drum. When Spree saw the youths in the band he calmed down. told them about a place bitterly contested in the First World War. and the Clifton Hill youths took it for the name of their new band. all coming for a knock in Patcheye’s yard. The Lawrence brothers—Raymond. filled with the the musical knowledge he’d acquired from playing and liming with the best panmen in the world. Kenneth and Gerald—joined. “You take Ray. they stole a man’s water barrel and he investigated and found out it was the Hill 60 boys. he was spotted.” It was a small fortune in those days but Patcheye traversed the neighbourhood. and at 3. Unfortunately. One youth who knew them but never touched a pan.” he told Patcheye. cap in hand. “Patcheye was the only man I knew—and you would find a lot of people that would tell you the same thing — that would take his right hand and play a drum and it seems to me the fingers would work and it sounds like it playing a whole drum set.00 p.” Patcheye indignantly asked the officers. lover of the famous jamette known as Bubulups. “Keep that biscuit drum—I’ll tell you where to get them and when youet one give me back mine. Andrew “Pan” DeLabastide. and De Labastide was on the team. One talented Casablanca youth. burned. was responsible for them all. the captain and elder of the band. And like every other steelband they had to steal drums. Once. In 1951 the Trinidad All Steel Percussion Orchestra (Taspo) went to the Festival of Britain. But they had three good tuners — de la Bastide and the two Lawrences.” she said in time for them to run all the way to the station. who was followed by other little boys. “Just make sure ou bring him back safe. Patcheye handed over the leadership of Hill 60 to the better musician. And to return the compliment. you take Kenneth. at 3. Patcheye. although they worked closely together. The place was known as Hill 60. Later Winston “Spree” Simon boarded Patcheye with some Tokyo badjohns. now the Germans capturing it.30 she relented. George Blackman. tuned and painted the drum. . He went to the Besson Street station and returned with a policeman for Patcheye. “Now you coming for Gerald?” Then. “Go Duncan Street in the Sunrise Biscuit factory and get one for $2. “If we thief the pan. He stole one from Destination Tokyo in John John.m. now the British winning it back.50. well-loved by the community.” she complained. “Patcheye was a genius with the Shango drum.00 the churchy Mrs Lawrence hadn’t budged. starting with Errol “Mummy” Anderson. By the time the police arrived they had already cut. the bélé drum.” he told me. sunk. joined. and Patcheye decided to catch up with the times by replacing his old cement drum with a new-fangled biscuit drum. VE (Victory in Europe) came. the bongo drum. the band learnt many foxtrots and waltzes. They began to play out with the Invaders when the latter had engagements in San Fernando. “When she come back home I gone back begging. “Once I had to beg Gerald Lawrence mother from eight in the morning till she gone to work to let him come South with we. Weeks later he returned. under the direction of police bandsman Lt Joseph Nathaniel Griffiths. By VJ (Victory in Japan) Day the band was bigger. “Where it?” Hill 60 was a small band of youths.” The train was leaving at 4.

and I thought that life had brought low this warm. Once you had no job you had to leave.“He had that kind of a beat that was so beautiful. The competition was stiff. the band and the troupe combined for the audition. They crossed the Rio Grande into California and headed for Hollywood. “I married a young girl. my heart went out.” he said. they drummed for the Les Enfants dance troupe that practised in a Piccadilly Street school. Peru. He let his bucket down here. Things went well for a while but after some time the jobs dried up. And the funny thing about it. John “Kittler” Austin. From the third floor you could see them lurking in the shadows below. With one eye shut from birth. he jumped off his seat and began to dance. maybe he was making a joke out of it but it was a very very good joke because you would hear. about ten dancers and eight panmen. When he stop you know he wasn’t playing. I think he threw acid on the other man. the union changed its mind and ordered them to pay $3. “I’ll give you three months grace—you can get married or you’ll have to leave. “For months we try to join the musicians union but they wouldn’t accept we. and when I spotted him fumbling by the Cathedral in March. told them. never to play in a steelband again.” Immediately all man Jack married American women. El Salvador. and drumming for them was Andrew Beddoe—Patcheye’s erstwhile schoolmate.000 and join. Julia Edwards’s group was there. In a sort of matter of fact way he complained about the pipers.” Once the band began to get gigs. when a Brazilian impresario came to Trinidad in the Fifties to hire an act to carry to Brazil. With de Labastide and another friend. Ecuador. he tried to go through the proper channels. it might seem to be some kind of a joke but when Patcheye tune his drum—he used to also tune it. he played percussion—timbales.” Instead. the only one from the band to do so. Fate had more knocks for Patcheye. and spent the next two years playing their way through Brazil.Thus. For the stage side. Guatemala.” said Patcheye. their 24-hour cursing and stealing. “I go mash him up. you give him $100 and you get the visa. however. Costa Rica. “But I didn’t know that. Mexico. and there his past caught up with him. An immigration officer. a cataract had now darkened the other eye. moving from the biscuit drum to a three-note bass. though.” Around the early 1950s he changed instruments. He’d planned to hire a dance troupe and a band separately but here was a talented all-in-one outfit! They left Trinidad for Brazil in 1958. He was blind. however. Years before he’d got in a fight over some gambling winnings and was convicted of wounding. Chile. who had taken a liking to these easy-going Trinis. Colombia. The woman who fix that up used to do it for money. When I interviewed Patcheye three years ago I was struck by the squalour of the Nelson Street planning where he lived. Honduras. Panama. “Don’t worry. .” Patcheye told me. “It had a fella there.”On the night Patcheye had the band play “Brazil”. When the impresario heard it.” He returned to Trinidad to apply for a new residency permit.” Patcheye reassured de Labastide. the best in the island. Argentina. “Some of them still married. When the police report went to the Consulate they turned down Patcheye’s visa application. “They say it’s only garbage can we beating. unassuming man.

it was yesterday. All were made from oil drums. and thus had a more consistent timbre. So we continued our agonisingly slow way across Independence Square.” . The crowd was barely curious. Yet here is where I felt His Grace would have wanted to be. which allowed them for the first time to play full chords and to harmonise with any other instrument. It looked like junk. not traipse around with an old ragged panman. I knew his market bag must have indeed been heavy for this small. on to Prince Street. 1921. London at the Festival of Britain. for Taspo. I took his bag and we backtracked to Nelson Street and headed north. were rusty. nothing would ever be the same. On January 21. born November 7. The pans had deliberately been left unpainted and. More important. Crack cocaine. and returning home he had missed his turn off. which allowed the 3-bass and 2-cello pans to play full scales. “I woulda appreciate the help on account of the weight. “From that I know we near home. “jaws dropped and eyes widened as the first sweet notes were struck and the band swung into 'Mambo Jambo'. the Guardian reported that: “Hell's Gate Steel Band of Antigua is likely to represent the West Indian steel bands at the Festival of Britain which will be opened in London on May 3. Then. the first modern steelband.” Patcheye replied. died June 3. Yet the inspiration for Taspo probably came from Antigua. neither musically nor even politically. 1951. Nothing of the funeral pomp and ceremony just two blocks away penetrated into these parts. 2000. We slid past a knot of pipers gathered to smoke in the dark stairwell. I had to report on the Archbishop’s grand funeral. “You could make it from here?” I asked hopefully. the Trinidad All Steel Percussion Orchestra (Taspo) opened in Southbank. About three buildings up the street Patcheye and I swung into the planning. These pans were the first to be real instruments. by one newspaper account. frail man. On July 26. As for its significance back home. paved the way for independence. Taspo also introduced the idea of multiple drums. I felt edgy but Patcheye knew his way. “Y-you see the Seamoss place?” said Patcheye as we approached a bright yellow wall advertising curry and seamoss. before the thought struck anyone here.Desperation had compelled him to feel his way to central market. Young men were openly selling and buying tiny rocks like bits of gravel in a crown cork. after six weeks at sea. up to Queen Street. Henry “Patcheye” Pacho’t.” This was the most important steelband in history and its impact still reverberates in Britain. 1951. and climbed two flights. IT WAS 50 YEARS AGO TODAY Lieutenant Griffith Taught A Band To Play Actually.” That’s why New York taxis are painted yellow: it is the brightest colour. Even people very close to being completely blind can see yellow objects. all were tuned on The chromatic scale at concert pitch.

calypsos. for instance. riven by warfare between bands. he joined the police band at 14. Spree queried one note on a Negro spiritual. from Hill 60. When told that they couldn't fit.” But committees were established. Dudley Smith. and a team of the most gifted panmen was chosen: Theo “Black James” Stephens. “Go and set up a committee or something to get Operation Britain. Ellie Mannette. was heading for solicitor Lennox Pierre's office in which the Association met. Andrew “Pan” de la Bastide. 21. Sterling Betancourt. La Lune in Moruga. closed ranks. He also insisted the bass have at least 14 notes. “You have to play real music. from Free French. from Southern Symphony. The musical director of the band was Lt Nathaniel Joseph Griffith.” And so by March the Association had decided to send a representative steelband to the Festival. you're only wasting your time. then use three drums. a rhumba. Bands held benefit performances all over the island: Fantasia and Mutineers in Princes Town. 24. Government refused their request for $6. In 1947 he was appointed bandmaster of the St Lucia Police Band. 24. the steelband movement's greatest unsung hero. a member of Crusaders. before joining the Trinidad Police Band in 1938. Then he led the Grenada Harmony Kings. president of the Trinidad and Tobago Steel Bands Association Sydney Gollop. when he was hailed by Albert Gomes. light classics.” And he set about teaching them.” he warned the panmen. And so he taught them a repertoire that included a waltz. from Fascinators. Here he taught at the Tacarigua Orphanage and led its band.A month later. Sealey dropped out. “Boy. He made them tune an alto (second) pan with 14 notes. This was at the height of the riot years. a samba.000. he replied to everyone's surprise. a foxtrot. you can't play any sort of wrong thing. so the Association decided to raise the money. 19. 22. from Tripoli. 22. 17. Belgrave Bonaparte. from Invaders. from North Stars. “I said to roll that note! You want me to roll your balls?” snapped Griffith. “If I going to England with you. a bolero. And the steelband movement. but was soon in Martinique arranging for the Municipal Orchestra. Fundraising began. and conducted the Royal Victoria Institute's orchestra. . and there he was when he was asked to lead Taspo. Anthony “Muffman” Williams. He claims that he was snubbed by the other players. but popular belief has it that being recently married he wanted and was refused money to support his wife. from Crossfire. 24. “I want you to act now!” Gomes urged (according to Gollop). Orman “Patsy” Haynes. from City Syncopaters. 21. from Casablanca. Born 1906 in Barbados. Winston “Spree” Simon. mambos. Philmore “Boots” Davidson. 23. and Granville Sealey. 20. He left Barbados in 1932 to play clarinet and sax with an American jazz band. “You think they would ever send a steelband to England with them set of hooligans in it?” sceptics told Tony Williams. when respectable society recoiled from the steelband movement in fear and loathing. He put numbers on the notes and wrote scores. from Rising Sun. Either way he was replaced by Carlton “Sonny” Roach from Sun Valley. In 1935 he took over the St Vincent Government Band and founded the St Vincent Philharmonic Orchestra.

Governor Sir Hubert Rance's aide de camp organised an auction: Winfield Scott bought a case of whiskey and returned it to the auctioneer. with Connor and with Boscoe Holder's dance troupe.” recalls Maifan Drayton. and by extension the steelband movement. The band left on July 5. Thus Taspo. the Himalaya Club. (Holder had actually been playing pan in London since the previous year. and held a dance for Jamaica's hurricane relief fund. The Tourist Board and Sir Gerald Wight each offered $500. but the rest went on to Bordeaux. and discovered the technique of tuning two tones in one note. Bermudez donated drums. Glasgow. Sterling Betancourt was on guitar and Tony Williams on cello. after which they toured Edingborough. after which they performed at the Colonial office. and at the Festival. We were mystified. Leeds. having found an Irishwoman there to keep him warm. Davidson.” They rehearsed in the basement flat of musician Edric Connor (Geraldine's father). an oncoming winter. spent a week in Martinique where almost all the players picked up new girls and old diseases.' Ellie told us. Manchester. and a fight between Bonaparte and Davidson changed that. swingy music out of rusty pans still with steamer labels stuck to them after their trans-Atlantic voyage. Now that Trinidad realised what a steelband could accomplish. who promptly sold it again. “Trinidad All Steel Percussion Orchestra sat outside the Festival Concert Hall? and tapped sweet.” reported an English paper. Williams invented the oil drum 2cello. They got a two-week contract with the Savoy. even the elite supported them. After a concert at Globe the audience emptied its pockets into the pans. “When we went we were shocked to see one man playing two pans. and the Jaycees held fundraising dances. then in Invaders. Londoners. Boots was on bass. By then Trinidad and Tobago was an independent nation able to boast of having created the century's most important acoustic instrument. Only Betancourt. forged the multi-class alliance which seeded the nationalist movement and ultimately. with tears rolling down. Betancourt. hearing a steel band for the first time. They performed with Kitchener. Sonny Roach got a sore throat and returned home. Taspo's first engagement was at the BBC. London.) Late November Taspo returned to Paris for a two-week circus engagement and to catch the boat home. Edwin Lee Lum. passed the verdict: 'The music is sweet and liquid similar to the xylophone but not so harsh'.Griffith's knowledge leavened the genius of men like Williams and Mannette. the Little Carib.” The public was even more dazzled. Paris. a non-smoker. returned to cold London. . Bonaparte. Haynes and Williams had plans to stay in England. and experts predict it will sweep the country in a new craze. and they produced better pans than they ever did before.000 cigarettes. the PNM. bought 2. but homesickness. private Notting Hill garden party into what is now the largest public street festival in Europe. Fitz Blackman offered uniforms. “A revolution in music reached London today. Fifteen years later Betancourt and two other panmen would transform the small. “'Come down an afternoon when we practising.

after the tour the calypsonians absconded back to Trinidad without paying the musicians. Taitt is well-known to cognoscenti as the musician who deserves more credit than he’s been given. Alas. points out that “Lynn Taitt. because those days steelband was considered a form of delinquency. Angus and Cedric had harmonicas while Nearlin played a cuatro. Small gigs at school fairs gave Seabees enough respectability for Mrs. was snapped up by the astute businessman and bandleader Byron Lee. is given the most credit as the man who consolidated the various musical advances and solidified the rocksteady style.” Yet reggae historian and author of The Rough Guide to Reggae Steve Barrow describes him as.” He was also playing guitar with another group of neighbourhood friends.THE PAN BEHIND REGGAE Nearlin Taitt enjoys the distinction of being famous for being not famous enough. and in 1962 they were hired by some calypsonians for a Caribbean tour culminating in Jamaica. DeVlugt had a club on the wharves. “He decided from small that music have to mind him. The boys recovered the pans and took them to the house of their friends Stephen. “so they sell it to me. though. until its leader Herman “Teddy” Clarke gave them a few old pans. Mr.” Taitt told music writer Jim Dooley. Angus and Kenrick Lalsingh.” Perhaps this is because Taitt is Trinidadian – born in 1934 in San Fernando – and cut his musical teeth as a panman. moved back and forth while fighting for acceptance. a nearby steelband. In the late 1940s Nearlin and his brother Cedric Taitt and the other boys of the neighbourhood hung around Bataan. so the gang returned them to the Taitt home. the Dutchy Brothers: five sons of Surinamese immigrant Leonard “Dutchy” DeVlugt. He immediately began to teach himself to play. whose solid-body electric guitar was new to Jamaica. and Lloyd Bradley in This Is Reggae Music. One night a drunk sailor had left his guitar there. She coulda stop me but she woulda have to kill Nearlin. He has been the subject of a prize-winning documentary. Kenrick. now named Seabees after John Wayne movie The Fighting Seabees.” And Wikipedia states that “Taitt’s contribution to Jamaican popular music includes his often-overlooked role as arranger and session leader for many. who had to lend him clothes to perform in. Taitt. “one of the great unsung heroes of Jamaican music. Taitt threw the pans in the ravine. Lynn Taitt: Rocksteady.” says Cedric Taitt. Mrs. “My mother couldn’t stop Nearlin. the Dutchy Club. Having created the sound of modern Jamaican music. . Lalsingh threw them in the ravine. By then he was a committed musician. Either way the guitar was given to Taitt to hide. And thus the band. Taitt to tolerate them although she never approved until Nearlin won the 1956 Music Festival prize for ping pong solo. “When they came back for the guitar I was playing it. At Christmastime the boys put aside their pans to go paranging. if not most of the recordings that he appeared on. or maybe someone stole it from him. The Story of Jamaica Music.” Taitt played electric guitar with the Dutchy Brothers for two years in the late 1950s until he formed his own Nearlin Taitt Orchestra.

which is now standard repertoire for Jamaican guitarists. Yet it was precisely his Trinidadian background which gave him such prominence (in addition to his considerable appetite for work). Bob Marley.’ says Taitt. The entire music industry fell in line behind Taitt.” Taitt’s innovativeness was also deeply ingrained in his personality. Ken Boothe. The Comets. Over the five years he would arrange and record over 1. Everybody wanted something new – the musicians. the crowds.000 copies in a single weekend. “Everybody loved what Lynn Taitt was doing. After he learnt guitar he taught himself piano. to produce the sweetest melodies. working with all the important producers to provide music for every important musician at the time: Derrick Morgan. Asked if during those years he played dominoes. a message perfectly in keeping with the times. having him reapply every year for a work permit. Other songs are claimed to have launched rocksteady: Alton Ellis’ “Girl I’ve Got a Date” and Derek Morgan’s “Tougher Than Tough. “Lynn Taitt was keen to try new things.” Once offered leadership of the Skatalites Taitt refused because he thought it should be led by a Jamaican. the song get longer and slower. It caught on like wildfire. Such phenomenal output was only possible because Taitt possessed a singleminded focus on music that bordered on the obsessive. the Jamaican national pastime. when the urban unemployed “rude boys” affected a cool. where Taitt and his band the Jets were working. In countless sessions Taitt would first lay out his slow.” It doesn’t’ matter: Taitt arranged and played on all. This was not simply a slower version of ska but a completely different. whose band backed almost every important rocksteady hit. “But as you do that.” guitarist Ernest Ranglin told Lloyd Bradley. and in 1966 it put him in leadership of the whole music scene.Although he helped Taitt in the difficult period.” “Take It Easy” sold 10. so there is a lot of spaces because it's not fast any more. Delroy Wilson and the Skatalites. Focussed exclusively on music. Lee Perry. saxophone. after he learnt pan he taught himself to read music. organ. composing it. But the song wasn’t right at ska’s fast pace. including Desmond Dekker’s first. “Nearlin was always trying to improve. he replies: “I don’t play any games. giving room for the other musicians. It happened one day when Hopeton Lewis came to record in Ken Khouri’s studio. attempting to take things higher. Ernest Ranglin explains. Lewis’s song was “Take it easy”. “I tell Gladdy Anderson. practically sleeping in the studios and when he wasn’t playing music. Phyllis Dillon. Desmond Dekker. cool guitar chords. even lending him clothes to perform in. whose influence we hear in today’s reggae. the producers – but it hadn’t come together as such until he start to organize the sound. slow down that pace. trumpet and especially the vocalist. For instance.500 songs as session leader. As a boy. let's hear how it would sound. “007”. new sound. Lee sought to keep him on a short leash. Alton Ellis.” recalls . I say: ‘Gladdy. the electric bass plays clusters of notes rather than a continuous line which are followed by the guitar that them all to the fore. laid-back menace. Striving for the sound of a tenor pan Taitt developed a percussive “bubbling” style of guitar picking. Joe Higgs. he was and remains continuously trying something new. He became a highly-demanded session musician. He swung the music away from acoustic to electric guitar and was soon able to establish his own band. Nonetheless Taitt took to ska like a hog to mud. it doesn’t teach me anything in music.

Instead he stayed a year and then decided he liked the place.. chant in their space. is now flavour of the month here. producer and maestro of ska. Down south they form a whole organisation to honour pan pioneers. he opened it up and was pulling the wires because he didn’t like the key it played in. very musically talented band and I was particularly. It was as if he had never left home. U-Roy. and the new sound they discovered. “Southern Symphony—a very very musical band — they were actually reading from musical arrangements at that time when nobody else was. going on to the Sixties. introduced properly-arranged music to steelbands. like his 1962 sojourn to Jamaica.his brother Cedric. Scratch Perry signed a group of rebels avoided by other partners. THE GREAT BONAPARTE Nowadays everybody is being honoured for their contribution to pan. Even Tony Williams. He is unwell but until recently jammed with La Gioventu. got a passing mention by Pan Trinbago.. where he hasn’t deigned to set foot in 33 years. Even though he was the person who really bring in rocksteady as we know it today. Sydney Gollop name get a plaque and plenty pictures in the papers. the greatest panman ever ignored by this country. Because Belgrave Bonaparte and Southern Symphony. 2010. by tomorrow it’s better.” Prince Buster. how they must harmonise their sections. such as the rise of new producers Lee “Scratch” Perry and Bunny Lee. singer. “He was an excellent player and was never a man who was satisfied with how things were if they stayed the same for too long.” Junior Pouchet once recalled. Once he tried to retune a music box. There were several reasons. “A very. his band from La Brea. “If he do one thing today. where the sets were mainly ska but Taitt dazzled audiences on the tenor pan. a group which plays from Motown hits to Jewish traditional music at parties and weddings. At the peak of his fame Taitt was invited set up a band in Toronto for the West Indian Federated Club. having been recognised in the US. the Wailers. Although I belong to the West and I love Invaders. In 2002 he performed at the Montreal Jazz Festival. to last a fortnight. the restless Lynn Taitt.” Then in 1969 rocksteady was abruptly supplanted by reggae. But central to the demise of rocksteady was the sudden abdication of its king. Southern Symphony — whose members included talented .” It was Bonaparte who demonstrated how steelbands should play chords. particularly impressed with them. Of course Ellie Mannette. Sterling Betancourt received an honorary degree in London. he was always looking for ways to move it on as soon as it was established. And the wake of the Pan Festival week is a good time to recognise the man and the band who together introduced real music to the steelband movement. Another documentary is being made on his life and times. says. It was meant. the new artistes they had to groom. still writing and arranging and creating new songs. Today 74-year-old Taitt lives in Montreal. engineer Osborne “King Tubby” Ruddock. King Tubby moved in another direction by omitting vocal tracks and having a DJ. Nearlin Taitt died on January 20. I think they were particularly impressive in those early Fifties.

Ranking with the best and better than most. Alan Gervais and Lincoln Noel — introduced the practice of playing with three sticks. Bonaparte returned to La Brea with Block. “Ellie Mannette fly upstairs. But the matriarch was also an Orisha. he have to meet me.’ That is how second pan and guitar pan and all them thing come out. was invited. He became popular and was asked to sing at weddings. because all they used to do is drink that white puncheon rum and they switch from.” When he was six and his brother Clifford (better known as “Block”) four. as were his maternal grandmother. Winston “Spree” Simon (Tokyo). and he used to do the bass. because while in the early pan days I used to sit down and think about scales. That’s how my father really did get in with my ma. Is the first time they ever hear that. Bonaparte leans back in a rickety porch chair and explains with an immodest laugh: “My uncle on my mother’s side. and they used to have a man with a big baritone named Mr Cudjoe.. was a bad saxophonist. they went to live with their paternal grandmother in Carapachaima.panmen and tuners such as Earl Rodney. by joining that band. There were jobs for unskilled labourers. I born with the music. Bonaparte was there amongst the other greats. Born in 1932 in La Brea into a musica family. Tony Williams (North Stars). to attend St Mary’s primary school. Philmore “Boots” Davidson (City Syncopaters). Around 1944 when he was 12. And then he ask: ‘How you do that? How you do that?’ I tell him. He continues telling his story in his slow drawl. one of the country’s leading bands. and the next time you pass you will think its a big dance inside of there. “When you pass by our house you will think they have a dead now. Uncle Victor. Theo Stephens (Southern All Stars). Andrew de la Bastide (Hill 60). Together with Julian Collymore and a cousin. “We start to play ‘So Deep Is the night. They used to go for him because he was blind. going down in the other pan. his mother. I always had my musical knowledge so I used the scale from C from this pan. He say he have to meet me. Living today in the “over the hill” slums where Bahamian black people have been coralled. so I born in the music. so he also drummed at Shango’s feasts. . and it was a good place to hide from the law. The old half-blind lady was Catholic. so Bonaparte sang in the church choir.” recalled Bonaparte. smoking. In the late-1940s panmen visited La Brea regularly. his father and most his uncles. blending graphic detail with a peculiar amused detachment. From its humble beginnings when the four boys serenaded white folks’ homes for apples and drinks. And in 1949 Invaders.” Bonaparte sits shirt undone. they formed a small steelband to tramp around at Christmas and serenade for handouts from the houses of the oilfield managers. such as Ellie Mannette (Invaders).’ First time when Ellie Mannette hear pan playing chord. Southern Symphony remained small. And then his brother. I say. start singing different hymn. they will. and I gone with C from this one. Their house rocked. he used to play guitar or bass. People coming in and going out of the yard greet him.. Sonny Roach (Sun Valley).” So when the Trinidad All Steel Percussion Orchestra (Taspo) was chosen. Ormand “Patsy” Haynes (Casablanca). another country band). it became great without ever ceasing to be a stage side (akin perhaps to the Samaroo Jets. and Sterling Betancourt (Crossfire). ‘Well. both grandfathers were musicians. That time I experiment and bring out all that already in La Brea. And my grandfather used to play either saxophone or clarinet and violin. Some beg a cigarette. Uncle Oscar.

Trinidad. In ‘58 they went represented at a tourism conference in Cuba. The two of us sometimes go when I get away from work early. That same day an old friend who needed someone to play on a cruise ship immediately called Bonaparte. His unrepentant commercialism. knocking around Europe for years. he has a youthful ebullience that is amplified by an American informality — see how he has me referring . I meet the woman. We had already been in the water for some time when Eugene came down from the car park with Ray Holman. yes boy. In 1971 Sparrow had a disagreement with one of Bonaparte’s sons who played in the band.” Returning home through the French islands. they played for mas bands. We used to have to duck from them. I’d guess Eugene to be in his forties. Ray waved. the awareness that his music should be paid for. “They used to line up in the night. (Another was Casablanca panman Art de Couteau. and we call Donald Bain the Tourist Bureau man and tell him we want to get out from here. my two-year-old daughter. And we meet some rich one. enjoying the wine. where he remains to this day. I shouldn’t be working today.) The Bonaparte Brothers became one of Sparrow’s bands. the music and the women. laughing at the roller coaster ride that’s been the career of one of Trinidad’s greatest panmen. Dixieland and San Juan All Stars. with Belgrave on tenor sax. so Bonaparte left Birdie. In 1961 the Bonaparte Brothers dance band returned to Trinidad. Block on alto. arranging for bands such as Renegades. Saskia. you know them car what mark Peugeot? That woman husband died and the woman come and I and the woman going sweet sweet. Port of Spain. the steelband arranger. making it the first sponsored steelband. Oliver Nelson on guitar and Lincoln Noel on bass. arriving just in time for the Bay of Pigs Invasion: “It had a big set of shooting and thing. The oil company took them up to the Normandie. and when they waded into the water he introduced us. and Esso was somehow involved. they were stuck for months in Guadeloupe. plenty. both on clarinet. THE UNIVERSAL CYCLE OF MUSIC Eugene D Novotney 19:10:00 interview. Bonaparte still plays pan for a living. A first invitation to Paris was scotched by the Algerian war. Next day he was winging his way for The Bahamas. I met Eugene Novotney one Thursday afternoon at Macqueripe beach. plenty woman. because we was all under the bed hiding. some of the few panmen to make the transition to conventional music. grumbling.” One Swiss well-wisher bought them conventional instruments and they formed a band. people get shot all in the road. in the Nassau Breezes hotel to American tourists ignorant of the stature of the man on the double second. Earl Trim on trumpet. My girlfriend come and nearly break up the people house. led Bonaparte to offer to advertise for Esso one day in the mid-1950s. A US crew had landed that same day to film a steelband. but Belgrave and Block continued their link with the pan world. and I were there first. Cascadia Hotel. Southern Symphony got the job. playing in the poshest nightspots frequented by movie stars. and the hotel manager was so impressed he made Southern Symphony the house band.They played at fetes. but they went later that same year. diabetic. Although balding.

I began with an account of my ideas on music and its relationship to the existential condition modernity. He was in Trinidad to adjudicate the World Steelband Festival. Pythagoras.” He mentioned Pythagoras. one combination only excepted. who got his name in Egypt. although I’d come to feel that Williams was more deserving. which he had just bought. . There are few antique African buildings or sculptures because they deliberately chose to make them out of ephemeral materials. and which quoted from Iamblichus’ Life of Pythagoras: “As he was walking near a brazier’s shop. His father was Czech and his mother Italian — he mentioned that when I spoke at our second meeting about us all being migrants. said Eugene. He saw. The quintessential and ephemeral African arts of music and dance momentarily submerged the mortal individual into the enduring community. that the sound which was between the diatessaron and the diapente was itself by itself dissonant. yet.” Eugene quoted Goethe: “Architecture is frozen music. considered to be the inventor of harmony. the diapason. the diatessaron harmony. I quoted Thelonius Monk: “Writing about jazz is like dancing about architecture. the sun had fallen behind the hill. and producing sounds that accorded with each other. My daughter splashed around us as Eugene and I stood waist-deep in the gentle swells and he recalled his first encounter with a tenor pan. Talk turned to Ellie Mannette. and we chatted about it. African and Greek civilizations confronted the existential problem of mortality in different ways. I contrasted the Greek mother of arts — architecture — with the African — music. But he recognised in those sounds. or at least of it’s mathematical theory. Partly because he was destitute — whereas Mannette was very efficient at blowing his own trumpet and received the US President’s Endowment for the Arts last year — but also because Williams’ achievements were wider than Mannette’s and encompassed arranging. It was after five. whose arts strove for permanence. discovered harmony there when he heard blacksmiths hammering iron. and thus gave immorality to its creator. Mostly I felt that his design of the Fourths and Fifths tenor pan was the pinnacle of individual insight attained by any panman. Eugene and I agreed to continue the discussion another time. Eugene lifted Cy Grant’s otherwise dreadful book on pan.to him by his first name. who was due to arrive in Trinidad to receive an honorary doctorate from UWI for his work as a steelpan tuner and educator. in Eugene’s room on the fourth floor of his hotel. the diapente. starting with C at the bottom and moving around a circle twelve semi-tones which was precisely how Williams laid out the notes on his tenor pan. leadership as well as tuning. The Japanese rebuild their wooden Shinto temples every twenty years. The European sought to externalise himself in works that outlasted him. Years before I had recommended that Mannette be given the award along with Anthony Williams. however. Sas didn’t complain. Ring Of Steel. dance. Without having seen a tenor pan before was he recognised it at first sight. That’s not unusual. Since sixth or seventh grade he had been taught that the principles of music were contained in the Cycle of Fifths. a topic which I had explored in a recent lecture to bemused graduate students in Mona. but her lips were dark and her fingers wrinkled. I posited that the African sensibility emphasised transience in its arts. and that’s what we did that morning of Friday October 19. he heard from a certain divine causality the hammers beating out a piece of iron on an anvil. and the water was chilly. in contrast with the Graeco-Roman civilization.

I felt. but not from the force of the strokes. 5. not just the death of the individual life but the extinction of Life itself. 5. In a history of zero. therefore. That. the easier it is to be broken into equal segments. 4. and found harmony while listening to the smithy’s hammersong. that African music was not linear but circular. drawing a diagram. twelve divisors. and with a laugh pointed at his wristwatch. 2.. On the left side is a question. Contrast that with 100.” said Eugene. As a matter of fact. If you didn’t at a Bob Marley.” Eugene also referred to Kwabena Nketia’s The Music of Africa: “He uses the term ‘time-line’ but explains that it’s a circle. “He represents the time-line in Zimbabwe music as a circle. the poet laureate of the steelband movement. Thus. 10. It was the modern ontology of despair.nevertheless. which is so unfashionable in these decimal times. 3. It could go on and on and on. That is. or if in the same arts. He cited Paul Berliner’s The Soul of the Mbira. The Nothing That Is. and indeed the linear concept of time European civilisation adopted in the nineteenth century.. 6.” “He’s the father of European harmony. 12.” The conversation returned to African circularity. The more times a number can be divided. I recalled the point which anthropologist Barry Chevannes made at my lecture and which I accepted. different civilisations approach the same arts in different ways. Being delighted. The right is the answer. just like the tenor pan. “so it moves from question to answer to question to answer. gave completion to that which was the greater sound among them. and as it were an infallible rule. and found by various experiments. he’d feel insulted. therefore. he afterwards extended the experiment to various instruments.” he said. then in different ways. the point was made that the divisibility of a number made for greater usefulness. 15. 60 is divisible by 1. 20. “but measures it in a circle. he went into the brazier’s shop. It’s divided into twelve. “and he discovered it in Africa. Eugene said that Greek architecture was designed along the same mathematical ratios as the harmonic principles Pythagoras had discovered. 25. . 60. even while they were being seduced by it. which emerged from the scientific theory of entropy. employing this method. Time’s arrow. of course. which is larger but only divisible by nine divisors: 1. different civilisations manifested them in different arts. I contrasted that with the linear beginningmiddle-end structure of European music.” I added that the calypsonian Lord Kitchener. that the difference of sound arose from the magnitude of the hammers. Eugene agreed. 4.” said Eugene. 50 and 100. If you snapped your fingers and tapped your feet in a Bach recital. also had a father who was a blacksmith in Arima in the 1930s. 10. By the second principle of Thermodynamics everything led irrevocably to heat-death. The Greeks used a sundial. 20. nor from the transposition of the iron which was beaten. I surmised. I had recently read an explanation of the appeal of the duodecimal system (using base 12).” In my mind something fell into place. as a basis. was one reason why Europeans first thought it monotonous. I suggested that even if the principles were universal. you would be shushed. 2. to find that the thing which he was anxious to discover had succeeded to his wishes by divine assistance. nor from the figure of the hammers. “I live in a world that sees time as a straight line. 30 and.

To put them into a system where they can be transposed.” he said. This is like years of music theory study. because we’re so used to hearing the artificial adjustments that have been made over time.” said Eugene. “OK. the way it’s taught in western music theory. divided into twelve segments. The way sound is in nature is not exactly the way it is represented on a piano. a symmetrical way. Wherever the musician started — and it was always a different place — that was the introduction. And in music it’s the same way. to our ears right now. very complex. which has six divisors (as opposed to 10. said Eugene. restatement. was Tony Williams tenor pan! Only then did I switch on my tape recorder. “The whole system of harmony is built on the way sound exists in nature. What we have in the piano is a very excellent representation of the way sound actually occurs in nature. the practicality of the circle of fifths. “You think a violin is just a string. theme. which in turn comprise 60 seconds. “Oh yeah.” . but it is manipulated.. He had missed that because each musician had started at a different place.That is perhaps why we created hours of 60 minutes. It has to do with temperament. 12 of night. the black keys are the accidentals. the way sound exists when air moves through a tube. Here was no European linear sense of an introduction.” I interrupted. It’s a philosophical tool to help students remember how to form scales. Sometimes we view them as sharps if we have to raise a pitch. In nature there’s only one scale that actually is in tune. Who couldn’t make a violin to sound good? Well. who travelled around Africa studying music.” “Why are they called naturals and accidentals?” I asked. the circle of fifths. What I can simply say is that human beings always try to manipulate nature. and so forth. we have white keys and black keys. sometimes we view them as flats if we have to lower a pitch. every different scale sounds slightly different. The white keys are the naturals. Because the model of that pan. the construction of instruments is so complex. “When I first saw a tenor pan I absolutely saw the tenor pan as my friend. which only has four). it had been my head since probably I was seven or eight years old and the means of. for instance. a little bit. It was quite some time before he realised that he had heard a song several times before. With the circle of fifths. while Eugene. the way sound exists on a vibrating string. So we get twelve hours of daylight. The thought was just a flash that was gone in a split second. Nketia said that the realisation had folded his line into a circle. “On the scales on the piano. they have to adjust the way sound actually functions in nature.. the reason why it’s so hard to make some instruments is because you’re actually manipulating the way things naturally occur in nature. The piano is an instrument of equal temperament. He replied: “That really goes back to some Latin usage of the formality. the terminology of music. This is why. In nature. Especially as one of its divisors is 12. All the other scales. and 12 months in the year. continued talking about Nketia. “It’s very. The idea struck him that there was no set beginning or end. the fourths and fifths. is it’s a tool. would he out of tune. And that circle. To put the notes on a keyboard that would be maintained in a codified way. Does that make sense?” “I’m not sure I understand. It is according to a way that I can start a scale on any of those keys on the piano and have it sound the same.

Before that they used to change keys in Festival. but if you were to accurately compare the two you would find that the way sound exists in nature is not the way we as a society have represented it on the piano or our other instruments. The symmetry of scales in nature — there’s only one scale and some people call that the scale based on the note G. It’s very. That’s the main idea. If you tried to do that on the piano you would need many more keys than what is on there right now. created his instruments to exist as sound exist in nature. “In 1964. is a very complex study of ratio.” he continued. My friend Eddy Odingi once described to ethnomusicologist Shannon Dudley. “No. for instance. he won with ‘Mama Dis is Mas’. which must be supplemented by one day every four years. absolutely symmetrical system. Other elements were added to it over the years to create what is almost a Panorama ‘formula. So what we’ve done is put it into a nice concise system where we can recreate it time and time again and have it be absolutely symmetrical. But Tony changed three keys in ‘Mama Dis is Mas.” . I wondered. So if I play a key. It would sound a little off.” Dudley pointed out in his PhD thesis: “Tony Williams’ approach to form became the model that all other bands adopted for Panorama.” And then a female vocalist comes in. All the other scales get stretched a little further as you go up. Because we used to do calypsoes in Music Festivals. “Pythagoras. a big thing is moving to different keys that make sense. how Williams introduced the idea of changing keys in Panorama arrangements. because on the road is something you dance to. “In the Western world we wanted to be able to play music in different keys. so she says. In nature it doesn’t quite work that way.. I’m in G. I have a natural voice that has a range that’s different from somebody else’s range. Those instruments wouldn’t sound in tune with the piano that we know today. A perfect fifth is a relationship of 3:2. So he set the pattern.” Eugene continued: “We all have different voices. We refer to that today as Pythagorean tuning. you just moving and dancing. An octave is a relationship of 2:1. we all have different vocal ranges and transposition of the piano into this mechanical. There’s only one scale that absolutely exists perfectly in tune with the piano. and get condensed a little flatter as you go down. “We can look at sound as mathematical ratios. maybe my key to sing in is D.” That pianist has to be able to take D and G and it’s all got to be symmetrical.“How or why?” I asked. I’d say. but not on the road. A minor ‘mood’ is suggested by Williams’ reharmonization in the second verse of ‘Mama Dis is Mas’ and every winning arrangement since includes a section (usually a whole verse or chorus variation) in minor. Even in the Panorama competition. to the ease with which the Fourths and Fifths tenor pan shifted key? You could start on any note anywhere on the pan outer ring and play a scale by following the same pattern. was done so different singers could sing pieces in their natural voice. “Hey. ‘Stella by Starlight’ in G. and you’re the pianist. a variation in a minor key is almost always included.. “The reason why is because of mathematics. her voice is different from mine. We used to change keys in Music Festival.’ Gone again. because what we have done is created a mechanical instrument that allows us to transpose. very close.’ For example.” Was that related. Tony changed three keys! First time ever in a Panorama competition. thinking: perhaps this is like our 365-day year. Why that is. In other words. we’re gonna do ‘Stella by Starlight’ in D.” “You’d need microtones?” “Absolutely.

But in nature. it doesn’t occur that way in nature. look it up in a dictionary. If I have a hose one length. As I start spinning it faster. of course when I spin it I’m going to get one pitch that maybe we’re going to recognise as B. Then. So when I say sound in nature. no. The early experiments in instruments like Pythagorean tuning and instruments that are called Mean Tone — we didn’t just go from the way it occurs in nature to where we are now. When we then fold all that down into a line we get our scales. “So when I say the way sound exists in nature. You don’t just all of a sudden start getting microtones. you jump from one to the other. and then the wind starts blowing faster.I suggested: “Instruments have discrete notes. Some musicians refer to it as partials. a 2:1 relationship. many different cultures recognise the same things and taken them tremendously different directions. 4:3. I get the octave. the next note I get is a fifth above the octave. I do this experiment in a class that I teach to explain this to people: take a length of hose and start spinning that hose. They’d be referred to as partials or different steps to the overtones series. you’re going to hear a perfect fifth from there. Fibanaci noticed that it’s the way that rabbits procreate. we need to manipulate it. If I cut the hose in a mathematical proportion. I don’t know if I can simplify it more than that without going into deep. I’m really referring to the way natural sound would occur if the wind is blowing through a little cave of rocks. That’s just different lengths of hose. It occurs in leaps in nature. You’re going to hear an octave up. There been countless books written on this topic and . It starts blowing faster again. it’s one of the most discussed and most referred-to mathematical sequences in the history of mathematics. As I start spinning it faster. It’s an infinite series.” EN: “That’s not true. I would expect nature to have an infinite number of microtones in between. which might be a very minor discrepancy but it allowed somebody to take the instrument to a piano and transpose in any key and have all the keys be absolutely symmetrical. I’ll send you my dissertation and there’s a bunch of references that you can further look. we’ll call it the fundamental. Very famous mathematical sequence. 3+5=8. microtones start existing. With my voice I need you to play the key in B. but what I can simply say is that human beings like symmetrical order. The very first pitch that you hear. Trust me. there were several steps in between. of course. There’s a ton of books written about Fibanaci. yes. I cut it off in a proportional way and start spinning it. but when you break it down to the basics. 2+3=5. A female needs to play it in G. though. 1+2=3. I don’t get a microtone. I hear the pitch G. the same as what a scientist would be able to reveal as it appears in nature. a piano has individual keys. That series is very much like the overtones series in music. To take that on the piano. It goes: 1+1=2. It’s an addition process. 5+8=13. deep discussion. “Explaining this is about a two-year theory class. 3:2. That’s just language. to things that end up being like 368 over 212. You start hearing whistling. I’m talking about the way sound comes without any manipulation by man.5. it’s different words for the same thing. What Western civilisation decided on was to adjust those mathematical relationships from things that should be as natural as 3:2 or 5 over 4. different pitches come into play. “The Fibanaci series. As it goes up and up and up. And this is what we call the overtone series. There are no discrete notes in nature. which is a very famous mathematical series. Mathematical relationships start appearing: 2:1. you’re not going to hear a microtone up. “Harmony in the Western world was based on the recognition of that sound in nature. These basic principles that exist in nature have been manifested in different ways by different cultures. So what we put in a linear way on the piano.

This is why certain Greek structures. In the United States I have an Invaders tenor. I hypothesise that it’s the reason the Fourths and Fifths has become in my view the most used instrument world wide. I don’t know one culture that studies harmony that does not present the circle of fifths as the model. “But I do appreciate the complexity of what mankind tried to do to create this symmetry that really doesn’t exist in nature. the proportional beauty. It is no new idea. the most musically uneducated panman also somehow must be able to recognise that logic. My God.” EN: “I understand that. I claim ownership of that instrument as much anybody does. How come those other tenor pans have gone by the wayside. I’m playing it. I have a tenor modelled after the Renegades thirds. Everybody runs to the fourths and fifths pan. “What tenor pan do you play?” He goes. which starts at the bottom with C. I love all the instruments because I love the sound and I’m a percussionist. Why . I fell in love with it. a lot can’t. They walk up to that pan they recognise the beauty in it. It’s a lot of mathematics and some of it. I feel like I had a natural affinity to the tenor pan. It is I spoke the other day with a gentleman visiting here from Japan and he is a tenor player. So whether they can use the language or not there is something about the logic of that particular instrument that allows them to function. “The circle of fifths. rather than just a theory in my head. “I play a fourths and fifths tenor. and this one has caught on? Human beings move towards — this is what I said a long time ago — we recognise certain patterns that exist in nature. A — three sharps. I didn’t invent it but you know what? I understand it totally. because as students. So it’s no surprise that I saw this instrument: it’s mine. and I have a circle of fifths tenor. “Oh my God. I said. or they wouldn’t be able to play.” KJ: “Starting anywhere. the thing that fascinated me: when I walk up to a tenor pan and see that as an object.” KJ: “There were other types of tenor pans. some can talk to you about sharps and flats. What I’m telling you: for me it was so easy because I knew the circle of fifths first. Of course the original tenor pans had nothing to do with the circle of fifths.” KJ: “The proportions. starting on any key.they will spell it all out for you. then as you move to the right. I fell absolutely in love with it. this circle of fifths. D — two sharps. It’s the way music theory has been taught for generations now. It allows us to walk up to the piano and recreate the same sound. I was a pianist and a drummer from five. this is an idea that I thought only existed in somebody’s head and I’m playing.” EN: “Starting anywhere. In my opinion. so the steel drum for me is the marriage of the melodies that I loved on the piano and the act of physically beating something that I loved so much from the drum. even with a PhD in music I’ve got to sit back and shake my head and say. if they’re music students in school they have memorised the circle of fifths from years ago. but there’s something eminently logical about this circle of fifths diagram. My God. we recognise as having a beauty to them that we can’t describe.” EN: “Yes. G — one sharp. “When we had our first conversation. some can’t. but for some reason they’re all able to play that instrument. just like me. This is what allows us to do so. as beautiful. And that’s how we came upon this circle of fifths. Nobody wants to play that Renegades pan. Nobody wants to play that Invaders pan. “I would also say that we know different panmen that have all kinds of different ideas: some can read music. this is so far removed from playing a G on the piano that it’s hard to conceptualise. just at different sonic levels.

” said Duncan. He wanted to put it into a line. so I put B flat there. Tony Williams is an absolute genius in my view. It’s fascinating to me that these concepts are all revealed in the circular nature of this fourths and fifths tenor pan. that other very intelligent people over time recognised at different points in time. As soon as he folded it into a circle it made sense to him. I just counted the semitones from C to F and found that there were six. So that is this circle. but what I hypothesise is that in his own intuitive genius he recognised something that Pythagoras recognised thousands of years ago. but the other night one of the bands played an arrangement of Jit Samaroo’s that was kind of based on.” Here was a confirmation of what I felt about Williams’ achievement. He didn’t create the idea. So 4x3 = 12. He didn’t invent it. after which you return to the beginning?” EN: “Exactly. And I counted from F to A and found it was five. C F A is So Do Me too. the former Renegades captain. Just like (Paul) Berliner in The Soul of the Mbira. and I kept counting six all the time and work out . or based on threes. On the ping pong you had So.” KJ: “How did Nketia arrive at twelve?” EN: “All he did was observe. Much of the music in Trinidad is based in duples. Steelband developed on a major chord—Me. So. we didn’t talk music theory at all. once told me about their early unsuccessful years when Jit Samaroo first began to arrange for them. Me. Do. I think it was based on a parang. It’s fascinating to me. he couldn’t understand it. he observed it and reported it. We have these two structures that a lot of Westerners call triplets that is sometimes represented as 12/8 time. when he drew the circle and these twelves. I recalled his account of how he arrived at the Fourths and Fifths arrangement of notes on what was famously known as the Spider Web pan: “Before the Spider Web we had C F A. really. and Nkeita represents in his books. At that time I didn’t know anything about F or anything like that.would I want to play anything other than that?” This is somebody from Japan who is obviously coming out from the same type of. Me there. So. it was in 6/8. Many people believe. it’s beautiful to me. He observed it. or sixteen notes: 4/4 time. Almost pan music that I heard is based in fours. He is just another example of a human being using an intuitve nature and coming upon the same discovery that the ancient Greeks discovered. so I couldn’t say. Your foot beat is going. is the same number of semi tones that we have in what we call an octave.” KJ: “That’s the bar. so I counted the semitones from C to F. and you’re dividing or twos or fours. because the ping pong developed from a tenor kittle beat that was a major chord. I asked how he liked Trinidad. by that very strong statement that he made it was obvious to me that he recognised the fourths and fifths pan as being so musically logical that it was the instrument he wanted to play. How he came upon it is just by recognition and observation of his own culture.. It’s based on four foot taps. Me. and each of those foot taps is divided into three. At first. Eugene continued: “All around the world you have music based on twos and fours.. “For me to think he was trained in the circle of fifths music theory — I don’t know the man. Do. That was the major chord and it develop on that. he didn’t really invent that. “We didn’t understand his rhythms. But still. who felt that Samaroo was playing Indian music.” I recalled what Andy Duncan. and it just so happens that that same basis in African music of 12. that the most ancient African music is based on threes. when he observed with his Western ethnocentric point of view. Do.

her mother was a singer and played the guzang and played the cheen and the yancheen and all these different stringed instruments from China. my wife is Chinese. which came from China of course. years ago. does nothing but play perfect fifths. A lot of philosophers say that the first time that we see something we don’t understand it. “In pan music and in Western classical music and in the folkloric music of the Americas.in the cycle of fifths. playing jazz and classical music from five years old — every single musical culture that I’ve observed has within it the interval of the perfect fifth. I don’t want to get too deep and too philosophical here. If you really look at structural principles of what the strongest angle in architecture are for load-bearing and weight-bearing. were ‘twice-born’.” KJ: “Because what we’re talking about is existing as species-being.” Eugene continued: “This is something that religion has taken. Christ needs to come again. I’m going to say that every single culture whose music that I’ve studied — and I’ve studied a wide range of music. the rabbit. I’ve studied the music of Japan. which transcends the individual. It’s what you also get in procreation. if you believe in Christianity. it takes the repetition. “Again. Did they want to create something that would outlast them? That’s very interesting what you said. Other points of view are that what they did was try to represent the strength of nature in their architecture. I’ve studied the music of China. Without knowing the cycle of fifths we discovered the cycle of fifths. Eugene continued: “I know I’m driving this point into the ground. is the most common interval that you’ll ever find. In East Indian music the tambora does nothing but — with all the microtones going on and the sitar — the tambora.” I recalled that the Hindus believed that the highest caste. It’s interesting that — how to say this in a sentence? — I do believe that we can’t always speak about it intelligently but we ceratinly as human beings recognise these reoccuring things in nature that we find beautiful and harmonious. sensing with no musical knowledge its fundamental correctness. You’re absolutely on the right track in my view. I’m a produce of the United States music scene. All these ideas you’re talking about are very much related and very much observed by others. The steelband movement had selected the major chord for its tenor kittle beat. it takes the re-coming for us to believe. We’re all waiting for that second coming. I’ve studied East Indian music from the Indian sub-continent. I’ve studied Javanese gamelan music. Which is in tandem with what you’re saying. but we as human beings universally recognise that certain proportions in nature keep recurring. If you look at the . so I’ve been very much exposed to that music in my life. the perfect fifth. That particular relationship mathematically is 3:2. the basic fundamental drone instrument of that culture. the motion from five to one. you’re going to find that they are in the same proportion that the Greeks recognised in these buildings. this is something that music has taken. To what? To reaffirm our beliefs that we’re going to live forever. It takes two. it was an observation of procreation among a very repetitively procreative species. this is something that architecture has taken. The primary relationship of the gongs in Balise and Javanese gamelan is a relationship of the perfect fifth to the tonic. Absolutely. the Brahmins. In turn Williams picked it out and extrapolated into a physical object.” EN: “And it’s interesting you mention procreation because the Fibanaci series I talked about.” There was the perfect example of a relationship between collective and individual genius. my dissertaion of West African music. but Christianity is based on that principle.

he doesn’t believe that any of the music in his particular culture is exact in that particular sense. huh. For him. followed by a more measured three-part motion: behind the back. first in rapid up-down. Ladzacro. one. the difference is more than just a feeling. It seems that all music starts more towards threes and ends up more towards fours. he’s from Ghana and he’s on the faculty at UC Berkley — I did some postgraduate work at Berkley — and in his African LA sensibility he either sees the 4/4. In other words. is that when you go back to the way the human being functions. huh. boom. You still have that beat underneath but in between you’re going da-da-da. up-down strokes. the duples. I’ve got a sledgehammer and I’ve got to break this rock. and then down. If I am picking up a hammer. being more duple-based. or being based on threes. the early rock and roll was all swung. Now you move to way most rock and roll music is today. hah. two.” concluded Judy. and I was lost in parts of the mathematics. as really coming from the threes. Certainly one of the strongest arguments I’ve seen. but I got a sense that Williams had instinctively tapped into something universal which we all feel without knowing why or how. He feels it’s a stretch of emotion. the busiest for Sunday Express journalists.” KJ: “What they call the backbeat?” EN: “Backbeat can exist in the other one. He sees them as more similar than more different and what he’ll also say is that the acculturation of the mechanised world is a duple phenomenon. huh. All the music has an underlying pulse of a footbeat. . K. and that has become pretty much universalised popular music?” EN: “My primary teacher in the States of African music is a fella named C. I’m talking about the sub-divisions in between. two. huh. over the shoulder. It’s going to be more in threes. Rattle and Roll”. it all sounded like “Rock Around The Clock” or “Shake.Parthenon in ancient Greece. It was mid-day and I hadn’t gone to the office yet. I switched off my recorder and took my leave. I doubt that I’ll do it like: boom. boom. “Instead.” KJ: “So why did they move to a 4/4 beat. Some people write these very philosophical things about moving towards the mechanicalised world. and that on a Friday. he considers the three and the four just a different emotional level. hah.” Genius was my word for it. Why that is? Many people claim that it’s just an emotional response. we’re more comfortable in threes than we are in twos. and repeated to my students. one. Threes in between. whether it’s four or whether it’s three. “I don’t know about the technical aspects of music. backbeat is just an emphasis. It’s the subdivisions in between. If you look at rock and roll. African-American music in the United States. and down. huh. This is a very much of a generalisation but what you’ll find in almost all musical evolution is moving from a feel of threes to a feel of fours. boom. To him. over the shoulder. I’m probably going to be: boom.” He mimed someone swinging a sledge hammer. “It’s eerie. you’ll find that the strongest angles in that structure have the principal mathematical relationship of 3:2. if you study that architecture. and it is the subdivisions in between those beats that we recognise as being based on twos and fours. da-da-da. behind the back. my companion. reading the transcript I made some days after the interview.

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