April 06, 2001
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WERE Mark Twain at Friday evening’s Pan on the Park concert, he might have described news of the death of Tobagonian pan tuner and musical arranger, Vernon Dennis, as “greatly exaggerated.”
The small crowd at the concert, which was held in the car park of Pan Trinbao’s headquarters at Victoria Suites, reacted with shock’s on hearing the information and even observed a minute of silence in Dennis’ honour. The tribute came after we were told in solemn voice through the public address system by Pantasy bandleader Duvonne Stewart, that Dennis had passed away earlier that day.
With this news coming so soon after the death of another celebrated pan legend, Herman “Rock” Johnson, whose funeral was taking place in Florida at the time Stewart made his announcement, a buzz soon developed about how the old order was slipping away.
Talk came up too about those who were recently diagnosed with this or that debilitating disease and went as far as including opinion on how some of the living was looking these days.
It was not until about 30 minutes later the update came by way of a whisper network, that Dennis could not yet accommodate so final a description. Dennis was taken to hospital on Thursday morning, but up to yesterday was alive and described as stable.
Meanwhile, in far off Boston, news of death also spooked the audience at a pan and calypso show, when the announcement came that calypsonian Sugar Aloes would not be appearing as advertised.
Aloes, who was billed along with Baron and three steel orchestras, had to miss the show, organisers said, in order to fly back home on hearing of his sister’s death. Brother Marvin filled in for him and the event proceeded.
And the bands played on at Pan on the Park too. Woodbrook Playboyz and The Pantasy combo, featuring Stewart as lead performer on the single-tenor, performed well into the night, serving up a palatable blend of dance music.
Supplemented during their rest periods by DJ Steve Neaves, each band rendered two sets, for an audience that included Pan Trinbago president Patrick Arnold, Poison chairman Mike Headley, former Miss Universe Janelle Commissiong-Chow and Scotia Trust general manager Ingrid Lashley.
For the second week running, the advertised top-drawer act failed to turn up. Pantasy was, in fact, filling in for PCS Starlift, who had earlier been asked to substitute for the originally scheduled TCL Group Skiffle Bunch.