May 25th 2014
Youlou Pan Movement launched Pan for Vincy Mas 2014 on Sunday, when Heritage Square was transformed into a ‘Steel Pan Village’. The top 6 Steel bands in Vincy performed for the small crowd of familiar faces. The pan lovers came out to support Elite, Potential, Sion Hill Euphonium, South East, Starlift and Symphonix.
South East were the first to ‘beat de pan’. An intensely drilled band, they delivered a well rounded performance with heavy arrangements in all songs. I look forward to hearing from them for Steel and Glitter.
Elite was up next with a pan favorite ‘Saga Boy’ by Bomani. Their repertoire was heavily Vincentian as they covered quiet a few classic Carnival pieces from Winston Soso and Signal, to Rosario. Their drummer, Tafa, was still celebrating the Madrid Champions League win from the day before in his Real Madrid jersey.
Just then, the Miss SVG Carnival Queen contestants took to the stage, a stage that was entirely too small and had most of them looking squished and uncomfortable. I think they needed a bigger stage. Miss LIME and Miss Lotto seemed to be the crowd favorites. I hadn’t paid the girls much attention until then, but when I heard Miss LIME speak, she became MY favorite and not just because she was from my neck of the woods. I like the whole package, best thing from LIME for the year. She was stunning in an African print dress designed and made by her chaperon, Kimon Baptiste.
The next entertainment package was the Socitia bank sponsored, Jr. Pan Soloist Competition. The winner would receive a music scholarship, appearance on some CDC shows and mentorship from Pan Extraordinaire Rodney Small, who was also a judge. Little Arique Brown from Symphonix was my winner, his rendition of ‘Cherish the Love’ by Kool and the Gang was amazing, heartfelt and entertaining. I was a bit surprised to learn that he was beaten by Cassique Olliver of Potential, obviously the judges were not considering crowd response. Congratulations to young Mr. Olliver, make the most of it.
The action then moved to the Sion Hill Euphonium tent. They delivered numerous Trinidad Soca tunes, a little too much for the occasion in my opinion, but it was done in typical Sion Hill style. With seamless transitions between songs, the reigning Senior Champs delivered with high energy and enthusiasm. Rodney could be seen on percussion having a good time, and that was to be expected, as he was also celebrating his birthday.
Cassique Olliver then rejoined his band Potential for their performance, they started with popular calypso tracks then the tempo steadily built with ‘Whine of Your Life’ and ‘Behaving the Worst’, I actually think that was my first time hearing a Skinny Fabulous song on pan, a testimony to just how sweet that track is. They played mostly Vincentian music and Potential Steel Orchestra turned out to be the most entertaining pan side for the evening.
Although seemingly the least prepared band of the night, Symphonix had some of the sweetest pans. Thanks to the Pan Against Crime movement, they were lucky to have fairly new pans that had not yet lost their tonal quality. They began with yet another Bomani tune ‘Wet’, Pan obviously loves Bomani. Jomo, the band leader was encouraging his team from behind the drums and Rodney could be seen at the back of the band having a time on percussion. The man was clearly in his zone
The final performance of the night was from the Star Lift Euphonium. Their presentation began with another Bomani ‘Ain’t Missing’ and ‘Up In Dat’ by Shaunelle another popular track for the night. Frankie was blazing on the drums and even as they brought the event to an unceremonious close the band kept playing, taking requests from the pan enthusiast in the crow who weren’t quite ready to go home.