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(2008 - 2009 Archived Steel Pan Page)

 

This is the Steel Pan section of Rainlore's World of Music, covering all types of steel pan music and anything relating to this.


In order to secure its future as an ongoing project, and indeed resume regular activity such as new reviews, Rainlore's World of Music urgently needs to raise substantial funds through some kind of sponsorship or similar. (Please also see The Future of Rainlore's World of Music on the About page, and the News entry for 2008/11/09 on the Home page.)

It has regrettably become impossible to keep Rainlore's World of Music going on a purely spare-time basis. The amount of work involved is simply too overwhelming. At the rate that for example CDs kept arriving for review and gigs were covered during 2004, there was enough work to keep two people busy on a full-time basis!

Of course, I wish to preserve the non-commercial and not for profit nature of Rainlore's World of Music, but without some kind of sponsorship the site simply cannot continue in any meaningful active way. Despite not having had any updates for about four years until its re-launch in October 2008, Rainlore's World of Music remains a popular site. The reviews and artists' profiles have always achieved excellent visibility in search results, and have also been referenced widely. There are also many new features I would like to add to Rainlore's World of Music, such as a Gig calendar to replace the old one and a Features section that should have been added during 2004 already, plus more. Sadly, without some form of sponsorship none of this will be possible and the site will at some point soon become purely archival.

If you think you might be able to help in any way, please get in touch through the sponsorship form.


News

 

2009/12/03

The good news is, I hope to be able to catch up on the remaining special steel pan features that were first drafted back in 2004/5 in the not too distant future. The first part of the first one, Composing and Arranging for the Steel Pan, certainly seems to have proved popular so far and is, AFAIK, the only place on the web where this detailed info can be found easily and in one place.

Which brings me to the general state of pan on the net. Given that we are approaching the second decade of the new century and that the web has long become a commonplace, the current state of affairs regarding pan and the web strikes me as most lamentable. Web hosting and domain registration have been available at bargain prices for years now (certainly, outside of T&T), web content creation has become easier than ever, at least at a basic level, and commercial creation services are more affordable than ever if/where needed.

Yet, how many T&T pansides have their own web site? A pitiful handful! And some of those haven't been updated in years. Despers, whose web site was one of the better ones - the mighty Desperadoes' web site disappeared completely a couple of months ago and hasn't been seen since (apart from a notice saying it will be back soon). Renegades - try googling them. A very sad state of affairs. Surely, say 1,000-2,000 TT dollars per year (or even less) for maintaining a reasonable site with sufficient bandwidth should not be beyond the means of all but perhaps smaller bands.

Given the current state of affairs, perhaps I shouldn't really be surprised at the popularity of the basic A/V pages on this site for some of T&T's finest pansides.

Something else that seems to be near impossible to find on the web that my attention has been drawn to is sheet music for pan, free or otherwise. It has been suggested that this site could perhaps carry 'free' pan sheet music in some way or another. Well, if there is sufficient response, I may consider it. So if you arrange or compose for pan and would like your work to be available for free, please get in touch using the 'Feedback' form, accessible from the Contact page. Arrangements would have to be of material that is no longer subject to copyright, of course.

 

Rainlore's World of Music

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2009/10/18

A few more A/V pages for some more of Trinidad's finest steel orchestras. They are, in alphabetical order, Casablanca, Fonclaire, Silver Stars (this year's Panorama Champions), Starlift and Tokyo. There is also a page featuring smaller or medium sized bands or those with too few videos available on YouTube to justify a page of their own, Miscellaneous Steel Orchestras of Trinidad & Tobago - Pt. 1. At present, this features the new Highlanders, Merrytones and Valley Harps (Petit Valley).

 

Rainlore's World of Music

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2009/10/01

Some more A/V pages for some more of Trinidad and Tobago's finest steel orchestras. In alphabetical order, they are Exodus, Invaders, Phase II Pan Groove, and Trinidad All Stars. At last you can find most of the best (or least bad) videos in one place without having to hunt all over YouTube for them. As stated before, the quality of videos on YouTube, both in terms of audio and video, more often than not is severely lacking. I have tried to pick out the best I could find, and in some cases lousy quality may still be acceptable for historic interest or the sheer merit of the performance or arrangement (or even in view of the lack of anything better!). More pages will follow as and when possible, however, regrettably there are not a great deal of videos around yet for some pansides.

 

Rainlore's World of Music

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2009/08/30

There are new A/V pages for the world's three greatest pansides. First, there are the one and only mighty Desperadoes, then the fine Renegades, and the superb Skiffle Bunch - see and hear for yourself why these three are in a league of their own. Sadly of course, the quality of videos on YouTube, both in terms of audio and video, more often than not is severely lacking. I have tried to pick out the best I could find, and in some cases lousy quality may still be acceptable for historic interest or the sheer merit of the performance or arrangement. More of Trinidad and Tobago's other finest steel bands to follow.

There is also a new index page listing all available A/V pages.

Still no change on the financial front. While there have been a couple of offers of (text based, discrete) advertising, this doesn't seem to be a solution and in any case the amount of revenue this could generate for the site seems too small to even consider it. What this site really needs is substantial sponsorship of some kind.

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2009/07/26

Courtesy of a friend and the use of his computer, a brief article from among the steel pan features first drafted back in 2004 has made it for this rather unexpected update. Titled Composing and Arranging for the Steel Pan - Part I : Basics / An Overview of the Special Issues in Writing and Arranging for the Steel Pan, its subject matter should be rather self-explanatory. If anybody thinks they spotted an error (and there are bound to be some), feel free to contact me.

No change in the situation here, alas. I'd love to devote a lot of time to this site, even all my time, but sadly the realities of my financial situation make this impossible at least for the time being. Substantial sponsorship of some kind certainly would help change things, but until such time it is unlikely that I will be able to work further on the site.

 


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2009/07/01

Well, I must say I was left a bit puzzled to say the least by The Secret Caribbean with Trevor McDonald on Sunday 28th June 2008 at 8pm on (UK television channel) ITV1.

For a start, in general, pretty much just the usual stereotypical Caribbean fare there - rich man's paradise, sun, sea and beaches, carnival, a bit of steel band. (Granted, the Cuban segment was a little bit more detailed though hardly in-depth.) Often also, poor Sir Trevor looked distinctly uncomfortable and even ill at ease, especially in the segment on Trinidad. But it's the steel pan bit that concerns the most here, obviously. This little sequence with tuner Roland Harrigan really didn't give any half serious idea of what the pan making and tuning process is like, and it was really neither here nor there somehow. Wouldn't it have been so much better, given a short segment, to have taken Sir Trevor to a panyard, say for a practice session, and perhaps speak to some ordinary pan people? Surely, almost anything would have been better.

Sir Trevor also remarks that (unlike today), pan was sadly not part of the national curriculum in his day. Well, it hardly could have been, given that pan was still in its early stages of evolution then. I wonder if Sir Trevor even remembers how different pan sounded then? Certainly nothing like modern pan. If you have any old vinyls from as late as the 1960s, even if you weren't 'around' then, you'll know that even as late as that pan still sounded considerably different from say the 1970s onwards.

As for Sir Trevor's evident unease - lighten up man, life's not all serious. Go for a lime and perhaps pick up some doubles or bake and shark, just take it easy man and get back into the Trini way. Perhaps not easy after all these years, despite occasional visits? Forget how to let go? Perhaps some hard-hitting investigative journalism might have been better, after all is said and done.

The final 'catch up' update of some pan features will, I regret, likely be some considerable time in coming. I don't have the loan of a computer anymore, no computer at all for some time most likely and certainly no regular internet access, no assets left, and my financial situation is critical. So certainly in the absence of some kind of sponsorship, this may be good bye for some time.

 

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2009/06/04

At last, we've reached the penultimate of the 'ketchup' updates of reviews, from the period 2004-2006! Just one album review this time, Trinadad's excellent Exodus Steel Orchestra's Exodus II - The Power And The Glory. Quite a cracker of an album, too.

The last of the old catch-up updates will be a good bit longer in coming along. There is still much work involved, including editing and re-writing one or two (or possibly more, if time permits) special steel pan features drafted during 2004.

Rainlore's World of Music

© 2009 Rainlore's World of Music/Rainlore. All rights reserved.

 

 

2009/05/24

Another 'ketchup' update from the 2004/5 period, just one album review. Trinidad's exquisite Skiffle Bunch Steel Orchestra's Live: In The Rainforest, an album I simply cannot live without even now and I'm sure every true lover of pan would feel the same about it.

There is one more old 'new' album review to be caught up with, and then I'll try and catch up with as many of the special features on pan that were first drafted in 2004 as I can. One or two are already in progress, occasionally.

Rainlore's World of Music

© 2009 Rainlore's World of Music/Rainlore. All rights reserved.

 

 

2009/05/10

Some more pan reviews in this current batch of 'ketchup' updates from the 2004/5 period. Among the albums is the first review of an album by a British (or, any non-Trinidadian) panside, London-based Ebony Steelband's Best of Caribbean Steeldrums - a title that rankles somewhat as it is so clearly something that is way out of the league of any non-Trini panside, and thus not just over-ambitious but pompous. And given the quality of the album itself, it is most immodest. Sadly, it is disappointing. I take no pleasure in posting a not-so-good or bad review, and I try to be constructive about it, but truth must prevail in the interest of integrity and credibility. By way of contrast, there is the excellent Trinidadian Exodus Steel Orchestra's Exodus. (No biblical connotation, the reference is to the origin of the band as a breakaway faction from another band, the Gay Flamingoes.) This album is almost everything that Ebony's is not. Nonetheless, at least the latter adds to the very slim catalogue of British pan recordings. And as a band, I must add, Ebony can certainly be a whole lot better than their album might suggest.

Also, there is a review of the premier London world music event of 2004, Cultural Co-operation's Diaspora Music Village 2004 Festival Weekend at Kew Gardens, London, on Saturday, 3rd July 2004. This brill event, presenting an astonishing variety of music from around the globe, also featured the outstanding Skiffle Bunch Steel Orchestra (or rather, an eleven piece ensemble of the cream thereof, to be pedantic) from San Fernando, Trinidad, and Tassa Drummers, both of whom we have already encountered here.


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2009/04/26

A further small batch of "catch-up" updates of reviews from the 2004/5 period is now up, comprising two albums and two gigs. Trinidad All Stars Steel Orchestra from East Port of Spain is one of Trinidad's oldest and finest conventional steelbands, and we have their excellent albums From Tabanca To Rain and The Nostalgic Panyard - not to be missed. Equally unmissable are two gigs, in the same day, by an eleven-piece ensemble of the cream of San Fernando's Skiffle Bunch Steel Orchestra (plus Tassa Drummers), probably the 'youngest' premier conventional steelband, having converted from traditional 'pan round de neck' as recently as 1993. Both gigs were part of Diaspora Music Village 2004, and there'll be more from the fabulous Skiffle Bunch soon, including a performance at Cultural Co-operation's Diaspora Music Village 2004 Festival Weekend at Kew Gardens.

A small start has also been made on the Steel Pan Links Page, but please, no requests for links at the moment.

I am trying to catch up as fast and as best as I can, when I can - as before, I can't put any kind of time scale on this. About another three batches or so of "catch-up" updates should finally see the period 2004-onwards covered. Several features on pan were drafted in 2004-5, and I'm certainly planning on completing and including at least one or two of these, probably in the last batch.


Rainlore's World of Music

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2008/12/21

Another steel pan album review from the 2004/5 period that had not previously made it onto the site is up! And a finer recording of steelband you won't find, for this is the mighty Desperadoes Steel Orchestra's From the Hills of Laventille - Steel in the Classics, a selection of popular classics performed and recorded to perfection. Also known as Despers, they are the world's greatest steelband and have been in a league of their own from the beginning until they were joined by first one, then a second "pan side" in the 'Premiere League' of pan only over the last couple of decades.

More steel pan with the next site update, including at least one or two "new old" gig reviews of the fab ensemble from Skiffle Bunch who visited the UK's shores in 2004, ASAP, but this will take time.

Please note that the old Rainlore's World of Music site has now been defunct since the end of November - almost two months of re-direction should have been enough. So if you haven't done so already, please update your links to the site. Bear in mind that the structure of the new site is different from the old, and so are many file names, so if you are linking to any particular page please check it out first.

Season's Greetings or Chag Sameach to you all, and a Happy New Year!

Rainlore's World of Music

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2008/10/21

At last the first steel pan review has been added! Dating from 2004, this is of the fabulous Trinidad steelband Skiffle Bunch's album Skiffle Bunch & Stalin - Live At The Naparima Bowl. Skiffle Bunch, who hail from Coffee Street, San Fernando, are one of Trinidad's very finest "conventional" steelbands today and have managed to join the stratospheric elite of Desperadoes and Renegades, who until Skiffle Bunch converted from a traditional pan around the neck band were in a league entirely by themselves, the lonely "Premier Division" of pan. It is therefore a matter of great sadness, deepened by the circumstance of this being the very first pan review to go up on Rainlore's World of Music, that I had to give this outstanding band's album Skiffle Bunch & Stalin - Live At The Naparima Bowl such a mixed review. However, there is better news to come - a review or two of a small ensemble from Skiffle Bunch performing live in London in 2004, lavishly illustrated of course. These guys and gals really were breathtakingly sensational! Hopefully, these reviews will follow fairly soon.

The next update may be longer in the making as it will include at least one or two gig reviews from 2004, whose photographs still await editing. This is a fairly time consuming process.

Rainlore's World of Music

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2008/10/07

No updates or news at present.
 

More soon.

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Reviews


Reviews are one of the major features of this site. Generally, reviews feature CD albums, but they will by no means be limited to CD releases. Previews and live performances, and even the odd demo, will also be covered as and when opportunities present themselves. Also, reviews are not necessarily of the latest releases only, rather, I aim to generally cover the best of what's around and that will often include reviews of older releases. Also, there is an index listing all CD reviews available on Rainlore's World of Music, which includes reviews of music from other genres, for example Jewish music, world music, classical, in fact just about anything, and another one listing all live music reviews.

Reviews added 2009/06/04:


Exodus Steel Orchestra :  Exodus II - The Power And The Glory (2005/01/31)

 

Reviews added 2009/05/24:

Skiffle Bunch Steel Orchestra :  Live: In The Rainforest (2004/08/18)

 

Reviews added 2009/05/10:


Diaspora Music Village 2004 Festival Weekend, Kew Gardens, London, Saturday 3rd July 2004, 12.30pm (2004/07/12)

Ebony Steelband :  Best of Caribbean Steeldrums (2005/09/01)

Exodus Steel Orchestra :  Exodus (2005/01/20)

 

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Reviews added 2009/04/26:


Skiffle Bunch Steel Orchestra & Tassa Drummers :  The October Gallery, London, WC1, Wednesday, 30th June 2004, 1.30pm (2004/07/06)

Skiffle Bunch Steel Orchestra & Tassa Drummers :  Theatre Square, National Theatre, South Bank, London SE1, Wednesday, 30th June 2004, 6.15pm (2004/07/08)

Trinidad All Stars Steel Orchestra :  From Tabanca To Rain (2004/10/26)

Trinidad All Stars Steel Orchestra :  The Nostalgic Panyard (2004/11/14)

 

Reviews added 2008/12/21:


Desperadoes Steel Orchestra :  From the Hills of Laventille - Steel in the Classics (2004/10/18)

 

Reviews added 2008/10/21:

Skiffle Bunch & Stalin :  Skiffle Bunch & Stalin - Live At The Naparima Bowl (2004/08/11)

 

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Artists' Profiles

Another major feature, the artists' profiles consist of brief profiles, complete with discographies, contact/booking and other useful information, for artists whose work has been reviewed on Rainlore's World of Music, or that have been given a special feature or profile.
 

Latest profiles as of :

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Articles & Features

An index of both formal and informal articles, both on as well as off site, on all manner of topics relating to steel pan music. Titles are accompanied by brief descriptions of the content where necessary.


Features/Articles added 2009/07/26:

Composing and Arranging for the Steel Pan - Part I : Basics / An Overview of the Special Issues in Writing and Arranging for the Steel Pan By Richard A. Sharma

 

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Info

 

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