By Cecily Asson Sunday, February 23 2014
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Elated 'Elder': An elated member of Pan Elders during the band's performance at the Panorama medium band semi-finals at Queen's Park Savannah, Port-of...
DON’T BE fooled by the name, Pan Elders (Steel Orchestra), there are only three “elders” playing pan in the popular medium band that comes out of Carib Street, San Fernando, said one elder, captain/player Hollister Smith, 60.
His “elder” fellow panmen are Ronnie Williams, 60, and Carl James, 69. All the other players, Smith said, are under the age of 35 with the youngest being 11.
Since the preliminary round of the 2014 Panorama competition (Medium Bands), when Pan Elders beat their nearest rival Courts Sound Specialist by three points and kept their winning ways last Sunday by soaring six points ahead of defending champions NLCB Buccaneers of Tobago in the semi-final round at Queen’s Park Savannah, Port-of-Spain, the band’s name has been on the lips of pan lovers. Southerners yearning for a national pan title and are rooting for their success.
Smith said the band owed a big “thank you” to ace Tobago arranger Duvonne Stewart and his magic which brought a turnaround in fortune following their dismal showing in 2012 competition when they did not make it to the finals.
At the semi-finals on Sunday, the band played Lord Nelson’s classic “All Ah We is One Family” and thrilled patrons. Last year under Stewart’s baton, the unsponsored band placed fifth in the finals.
“We couldn’t see ourselves using any other arranger but Duvonne this year. We are seeing results and we know Duvonne made the difference in our music. He worked with us for the first time last year and we always had the confidence that he could take us a little further. The players have gotten accustomed to him and his style and here we are today vying for first place,” Smith said.
He said the players are confident they would be victorious on Carnival Saturday, March 1, when they come up against their rivals in the Savannah.
“We are going to bring glory to San Fernando this year,” Smith declared.“That’s all we are praying for.”
There is one sad aspect for the talented band. Despite winning the Panorama in the small band category in 2008 and being runners-up in previous years, the band has been unable to attract a sponsor.
The band, formed in 1999, began competing the medium category in 2010.
“Most companies have told us they are already sponsoring bands. We hope that changes for next year though,” Smith said, captain for the past 13 years.
He is not deterred by non-sponsorship as it is the good the band is doing in the community that keeps them strong.
“The youths keep us doing what we are doing. We keep them off the streets, our pan yard presents a safe haven for our players,” he said. The band is a 90-member strong side.
The band committee comprises June Christopher (manager), Ronnie Williams (PRO) Hollister Smith (Captain), Quincy Smith (vice captain) Dorian Smith (Vice captain), Joycelyn Caesar (treasurer).