Gig Review:
Skiffle Bunch Steel Orchestra (Ensemble) with Tassa Drummers
Diaspora Music Village 2004 - In Association With
The National Theatre's "Watch This Space" Summer Festival
Theatre Square, National Theatre, South Bank, London SE1
Wednesday, 30th June 2004, 6.15pm
Photo of Skiffle Bunch
Skiffle Bunch Steel Orchestra 11-piece Ensemble, with Captain Junia Regrello at left in background
All photos this page by Richard A. Sharma and Copyright © Richard A. Sharma 2004. All rights reserved. Any reproduction, copying, or storage by any means whatsoever including but not limited to electronic/digital means without written prior permission prohibited. Linking to individual photographs on this page prohibited.
Photo of Junia Regrello
Long-serving charismatic Captain (Leader),
Mentor and Founder-Member of Skiffle Bunch,
Junia Regrello, here on scraper

Skiffle Bunch Steel Orchestra (Ensemble) with Tassa Drummers

Cultural Co-Operation Presents
Diaspora Music Village 2004
in association with
The National Theatre's Summer Festival
"Watch This Space"

Theatre Square, National Theatre
South Bank, London SE1
Wednesday, 30th June 2004, 6.15pm


Skiffle Bunch Steel Orchestra
San Fernando, Trinidad, W.I.

Captain (Leader) Junia Regrello

Tassa Drummers

Date of Review: 2004/07/08

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Photo of Tassa Drummers
The Tassa Drummers, with members of Skiffle Bunch looking on
For more photos of Skiffle Bunch and the Tassa Drummers please see the slide show near the bottom of this page.

Skiffle Bunch - Pan Sweet Fuh So!

Photo of Skiffle Bunch's star tenor pannist
Skiffle Bunch's star tenor pannist on a
'bore pan'

Photo of Skiffle Bunch - The Three Tenors
The Three Tenors

Photo of Skiffle Bunch
"Follow that!"

Photo of Skiffle Bunch's four cello pannist
Skiffle Bunch's four cello pannist

The Diaspora Music Village, a biannual series of (mostly free to attend) cultural events spanning approximately a fortnight, organised by Cultural Co-operation, this year included a series of evening concerts of extended performances by visiting international artists.

The 30th June early evening concert, presented in association with the National Theatre's summer festival "Watch This Space" at the Theatre Court at the NT, featured an 11-piece ensemble of the cream of one of Trinidad's premier large conventional steel bands, Skiffle Bunch Steel Orchestra from San Fernando with Tassa Drummers, also from South Trinidad. For a little more about Skiffle Bunch, please see the review of the same morning's performance at the October Gallery.

The NT's Theatre Court was still bathed in summer sunshine, though a light shower was threatening (and eventually materialised, briefly), started filling up slowly as the thunderous, booming sound of the Tassa Drummers started the evening's performance, while Skiffle members looked on. A typical group of four, the tassa drummers comprised two tassa drums, respectively known as the cutter and the fulley, the jhanj (cymbals), and bass drum. This kind of tassa ensemble is well capable of an ear-splitting volume (but can only give a small foretaste of the massed tassa drummers during the Hosay festival in Trinidad), and the glorious noise certainly had no problem getting the attention of the crowd. The four South Trinidadian Tassa Drummers gave a polished and accomplished performance that would have brought back fond, nostalgic memories of Hosay, a Shia Muslim festival with a distinctly Trinidadian flavour, to anybody familiar with it..

Photo of Skiffle Bunch
Skiffle Bunch - from L-R, the 'bassman' (on the uncommon 7-bass), three tenors, double tenor, triple
guitars, congas, and four cello
(For more photos please see the slide show below.)

Skiffle Bunch followed with their set and got things really swinging, with a big sound for such a small ensemble. The eleven piece ensemble consisted of three tenors, a double seconds, a double guitars, a triple guitars, a four cello, the uncommon seven-bass, and an "Engine Room" consisting of congas, trap set, and other percussion such as the iron, scraper, etc. played by Captain Junia Regrello. The "big sound" referred to was no doubt greatly aided by the fact that one of the tenors was a bore pan, which has considerably enhanced carrying power over a normal tenor pan and can make the section sound considerably larger than it really is.

Skiffle Bunch put their hearts and souls into presenting a small selection from their wide repertoire with gusto and a totally infectious enthusiasm. Their performance was utterly breathtaking, exuberant and exhilarating. The soloing by the high tenor and bore pan pannists were especially sensational and oozed star quality. The irresistibility of Skiffle Bunch's performance certainly also won over the audience fast and even had a few people "grooving in the aisles".

The exuberance and enthusiasm and the sheer enjoyment of the players of Skiffle Bunch were pure joy, and for the duration of their performance one almost felt transported back to Trinidad. This 'bunch' certainly displayed star quality all over, and one really would hope to see and hear the full-sized band in Britain one of these days. Skiffle Bunch were pure magic - "de pan sweet fuh so!", as it would be put in Trinidad.

As this wonderful event resulted in a fairly sizeable number of excellent photographs that it would not really be feasible to use in a short review such as this, a selection is presented below in a slide show.

Skiffle Bunch also featured at the Diaspora Music Village 2004 Festival Weekends and are also covered in a forthcoming review of the Saturday, 3rd July event at Kew Gardens.

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NB : Please note that since preparing the original first draft of this review in 2004, most of my notes relating to the event have sadly been lost.
Hence, it is possible that mistakes may have been made in the identification of the pans, that is, the high tenor may possibly have been just another low tenor, and the four cello just conceivably some form of quad (although these are more usually arranged with two pans mounted in a rack above the others, and the sticks would suggest cello, maybe tenor bass, as well)? In case of error, if anybody from Skiffle Bunch would like to get in touch please contact me and I'll gladly make corrections.
Likewise, if anybody from Skiffle Bunch could fill me in on the names of the individual players please again contact me and they will all be added.
Furthermore, I have lost the contact information for the Tassa Drummers and names of individual players - again, please contact me if you can help.
All help would be most appreciated. TIA.

For help with the slide show and its controls please see the Help page.

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