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Oh What A Night! Pan gurus predict
best Panorama final in years

Terry Joseph
February 09, 2002

PAN Trinbago executive member Richard Forteau is among those touting a widely held view that tonight’s National Steelband Panorama final will carve a special space in pan history.

Speaking yesterday to the Express, Forteau said: “I more than suspect we are going to have the best Panorama climax in the history of this competition.

“We have done everything on our end to ensure the patrons are secure and comfortable and I think everyone agrees the orchestras are outdoing themselves with the music this time around.

“It has also been a mix of nostalgia and the future. Public response to judging of the preliminary round in the panyards has been overwhelming and points the way forward and at the same time provided a kind of nostalgia for those who love going to panyards.

“We anticipate keen competition and systems have been put in place to ensure it runs smoothly,” Forteau said. “The event will begin promptly at 7 p.m., once the Junior Carnival Parade gets done in time for us to clean and prepare the venue.

“As far as seating is concerned, we have instituted very stringent controls on the numbers in each section of the stands and colour-coded the tickets, using red for the Grand Stand boxes, yellow for the forecourt and general admission tickets are blue; at prices of $250, $150 and $100 respectively. It is as much as we can do before showtime,” Forteau said.

And the public seems more than ready for tonight’s joust.

Conversations this past week suggest everyone but the seven-member panel of official adjudicators has already selected a winner.

While conceding so-called “power bands” have no monopoly on what calypsonian David “Happy” Williams calls “The Prize”, pan pundits almost invariably selected one of the past decade’s top three.

But the fact that frontrunner at the national semi-final round, Neal & Massy Trinidad All Stars, was not in that triumvirate dilutes (and perhaps dismantles altogether) the top-three theory.

Pan punters are applying all kinds of “capiche” to the situation, some saying the last time Witco Desperadoes performed at position one was 1981, when they emerged victorious with Robert Greenidge’s arrangement of his composition “Musical Volcano”. Despers is again playing in position one tonight.

Others argue that the two-week interim since the semi-final stage allowed bands to do so much work on their selections that an upset could result. In 1998, Arima’s Nu Tones cut through the ten-year stranglehold on the title shared by Desperadoes, BP Renegades and reigning champions, Exodus.

Desperadoes is, well, desperate to win again and for a number of reasons. Firstly for the prestige. Their return to winners’ row in 1999 was after playing second fiddle to Renegades and Nu Tones since 1994 was concomitant with the band’s re-engagement of arranger Clive Bradley.

They repeated the victory in 2000 but lost to Exodus last year. A win tonight would also enhance their record ten victories and not just in sheer numbers, but provide them with a more comfortable distance from nine-time winners Renegades.

Exodus is equally intent on maintaining its position on the top rung. Band manager Ainsworth Mohammed spoke of a special presentation for tonight’s final, using the “Good News” theme taken from their song. Indeed, Exodus has been practising as if it is playing in the last Panorama ever, turning down engagements in pursuit of The Prize.

Because the band was not scored at the semi-final stage (quite unlike other defending champions who merely wished to know their standing at that level of the contest), Exodus remains, literally, an unknown quantity in the present joust, except that the Tunapuna based band’s unquestionable excellence remains intact.

To date, the known quantity is that of the legendary Neal & Massy Trinidad All Stars. With the North Zone title already under its belt, a victory it had not tasted since 1981 with Blue Boy’s “Unknown Band”, the band is currently enjoying broad support for its rendition of de Fosto’s “Firestorm”. Already several pan gurus have accorded the Duke Street band victory. Alas, the prophets are not the official judges.

Phase II Pan Groove has been working night and day on Len “Boogsie” Sharpe’s “Do What You Want”, hoping to regain the top spot, a feat last achieved in 1988. InnCogen Pamberi is even more determined to carve its first notch on the coveted prize, as is Owen Serrette’s Solo Pan Knights, whose resident arranger Robert Greenidge copped it twice when he worked for Desperadoes.

Renegades has been drilling its players into a finer version of Crazy’s “Ramona”, with Jit Samaroo spending much time on the band’s mid-section and PCS Starlift, three-time winner of the national title is just as eager to update its 1978 victory.

Each of the three bands in the south/central region, Tropical Angel Harps, zonal winners TCL Group Skiffle Bunch and Trinmar Hatters, would certainly like to be responsible for bringing the title back to that region, breaking a jinx that has beset the zone since Hatters last won in 1975. Tobago’s Redemption Sound Setters is eager to create history by taking the title to the sister isle.

Those then are the theories. Tonight’s judges will deal with the practical.

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