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Exodus Farewell Pulls Multitudes

By Terry Joseph
July 15, 2003

Producer Ainsworth Mohammed has apologized to the hundreds of steelband music fans who were on Sunday turned away from the Exodus panyard for the band's farewell concert, after organizers decided it would be unsafe to exceed the more than 2,000 already inside the rudimentary amphitheatre.

Billed as Panyard Sensations, the cross-country showcase of winning steelbands presented by the Tourism and Industrial Development Co (Tidco) and Pan Trinbago, the Exodus production far exceeded the standard and attendance of previous concerts, as the Tunapuna-based band turned the occasion into a farewell performance.

Taking advantage of the ludicrously low $20 admission set by Tidco, some fans got to the panyard from 90 minutes before the advertised 6:30 p.m. showtime, while later arrivals parked as far away as the UWI intersection in the west, to get at taste of the band with the most impressive string of victories in steelband history.

A 16-member group of Exodus players, plus musical director Pelham Goddard and manager Ainsworth Mohammed leave at 5:p.m. today for a 15-city tour of Japan. Sunday's concert presented much of the repertoire specially prepared for the trip, which is being hosted by Min-On, the legendary concert-tour promoters.

Among those taking in the performances were President George Maxwell Richards and wife Dr. Jean Richards, Culture and Tourism Minister Pennelope Beckles, Minister of State in the Ministry Eddie Hart, Planning Minister Keith Rowley, Tidco CEO Dr. Brian Harry, Bureau of Standards CEO Lawford Dupres, former Petrotrin chairman Trevor Boopsingh, PKF senior partner Ainsley Mark, former Pan Trinbago president Owen Serrette and current executive members Keith Byer, Anthony Mc Quilkin and Ricardo Herbert.

They heard a variety of work from eight guest artistes and during the 300-minute concert, listened to the band play 19 pieces in orchestral and ensemble configurations, that roster including Barry White's "Love's Theme", David Rudder's "Ganges and the Nile", MJ's "Rock With You", two Kitchener medleys, pieces from Simon and Garfunkel, Bacharach, Ray Holman, Lionel Richie and King Shortshirt, plus one French and three Japanese folk songs.

All accompanied by the band, the guest artistes created much excitement. From the Exodus stable we heard vocalist Sophia Subero and Goddard. Pan virtuoso Earl Brooks risked busting the applause meter in the first half with his ramajay on Stevie Wonder's "Isn't She Lovely". Closing that section was former chutney-soca bacchanalist Chris Garcia, who stunned most with his new gospel idiom, delivering "Jesus is Love".

Part two opened with Minister Beckles trotting out the band's sparkling resume, praising its consistency at producing mas, discipline and management model, conceptualization and production of Pan Ramajay, saying too that the State's love and prayers go with the band as it travels through Japan.

On the music register, guest artistes again held the spotlight, with Adesh Samaroo culling massive response to the run away chutney hit "Rum Till I Die", the former gardener taking time out to praise Exodus for its achievements and letting on that it was the first time he had sung with a steel orchestra, happy it was the prize-winning band.

Goddard on Yamaha piano, shared the next guest space with globally acclaimed, keyboardist Raf Robertson, the pair turning in exemplary work on Kithchener's "Margie" and "Pan in A Minor", notwithstanding less than complimentary sound for the scatting sample-tone produced fro Robertson's Roland RD150.

The piano pair remained with the orchestra to accompany Mavis John, resplendent in satin and silk, as she rendered the Eddie Cooley/John Davenport jazz classic "You Give Me Fever" and, in keeping with her pledge to include indigenous music in every presentation, rolled out Kitchener's "The Carnival is Over."

The crowd responded readily to her coaxing and sang along with the hook-line, as they had earlier hand clapped to the rhythm of "Fever"; in the sum a performance former education minister Gus Ramrekersingh s p o n t a n e o u s l y described as "Shakespearan" and one that fiercely competed with Samaroo for the night's stoutest applause.

The final guest, saxophonist Francis Prime, enjoyed no less respect for his soprano rendition of "On Broadway", the Mann/Weil/Stoller hit made popular by George Benson, during which he stunned listeners with his cyclic breathing ability, which afforded him the facility of holding notes of extraordinary length.

Exodus then rounded out the evening with Duke Jordan's "Jordu" and the De Fosto calypso that earned them this year's National Panorama title. "Pandora".

But late as it was, the crowd simply didn't budge, calling for more and accompanying itself with hand clapping. The band obliged with a medley of festival type calypsos, only to find audience demand yet unsatisfied, forcing the players to perform yet another calypso medley before the lights finally went down.

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