Sharpe rules at Pan Fiesta
By Terry Joseph
September 03, 2003
Of 62 bands registered fro Pan Trinbago's Republic Pan Fiesta, 27 are performing tunes composed by self-taught musician Len "Boogsie" Sharpe, this triumph coming mere days after his work, performed by London's Mangrove Steelband, won the Notting Hill Panorama competition.
Prime Minister Patrick Manning has lent his patronage to the event, which will open with a number of free performances at preliminary level, then move to the Queen's Park Savannah for the September 20 final.
The preliminaries will be staged regionally, kicking off on Cipero Street, San Fernando, then moving to O'Meara Road, Arima on Saturday evening and on Sunday, September 7, parading along The Pan Promenade (Ariapita Avenue, Port of Spain). On September 13, the action moves to Tobago on Milford Road in Scarborough.
Bands not exceeding 45 members (conventional) or 35 players (single-pan) will each play a six minute rendition at the first stage. From that lot, the winner of each region will automatically qualify for the final, with eight other bands (in order of merit) comprising the 12 finalists in each category.
Speaking to the Express from his Diamond Vale home, Sharpe said he was grateful for the tributes.
"Don't mind how many people tell you they like your song, when fellow-arrangers, competitors really, select your tune for a contest, you know it has passed the test," he said.
"After all these years, to see that other steelbands chose my work means I must have been doing something right all the time, even if the Panorama judges felt otherwise," Sharpe said. "I have the conviction that people who understand the instrument better than others should be writing more for it. If you look at classical music is the same thing.
"I was in the first contest where an in-house tune made it to the final. That was Ray Holman's 'Pan on the Move' and when we split and formed Phase 11 Pan Groove, we at first went with 'Miss Mary' by Sparrow and we didn't win, so I said is best we go with our own tune, our own stamp, if we not winning anyway and that is how it really started.
"I still respect Kitchener and Sparrow for their contribution, with some giant tunes, but you might hear a sweet tune and then it in a key that makes it difficult to transpose without losing the sweetness, so that is why I personally want to see more arrangers and composers who are familiar with pan writing music for the instruments. We have statement to make, something different to offer from people who just writing music for the piano," Sharpe said.