Steelpan Jamboree thrills masqueraders

Hearts of Steel Orchestra revved up the crowd at the WIADCA Steelpan Jamboree on the grounds of the Brooklyn Museum.
Photo by Tangerine Clarke

Proof of negative rapid COVID-19 test and or proof of full vaccination, and masks requirement for all patrons were the prerequisites to enter the Brooklyn Museum tarmac, on Saturday, Sept. 4, to celebrate Steelpan Jamboree, presented by the Caribbean American Carnival Day Association, (WIADCA), New York Carnival 2021.

Revelers had a frolicking good time reveling to the high-spirited sounds of live performances by D’Radoes Steel Orchestra, Meyer Levin Youth Steel Orchestra, Heats of Steel Orchestra, Pan Evolution Steel orchestra, Metro Steel Orchestra, and Harmony Music Makers Steel Orchestra, under the carnival theme Rebirth.

This is the second year, the hugely popular Annual Caribbean American Carnival on Eastern Parkway that turned 54 years, was sidelined due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The presentation began around 8 pm and showcased the talents of various steelband orchestra players. The bands performed a medley of songs, while putting on riveting performances, massed to the infectious steel pan sounds heard across the museum grounds.

Cheers and applause, helped to put pan players in the carnival spirit, as they vied for the approval of spectators who judged the night’s performances.

Defending champions D’Radoes put on an exciting performance with panists, Martin Cain and Dane Gulston at the helm.

Showman Panist Dane Gulston revs up the crowd at the WIADCA Steelpan Jamboree at the Brooklyn Museum ground. Photo by Tangerine Clarke

The energetic Moko Jumbies stilt dancers were one of the highlights of the scaled-down carnival presentation that WIADCA publicist Anne-Rhea Smith said despite the COVID-19 derailing the celebration, organizers wanted something festive and representative of the carnival.

“We could not present Panorama because it’s a competition, and it just wasn’t feasible this year because of the limited number of people allowed at the event due to COVID.”

“Jamboree is the essence of some of the things we did previously with Joyce Quamina. She conceived this idea and we wanted to bring that back to the people so they could enjoy the instrument, the music and the culture in the midst of the pandemic.

“Jamboree is really what saved us, by understanding the history of what Jamboree really means. It’s a wonderful jam-down, everybody bouncing up. They are having a good time and especially pan enthusiasts, who can still hear their favorite band,” said Smith, adding that the winning band would receive the People’s Choice Award, as it was the audience who would select the best band.

She said spectators had a 360-degree view of the yard, where the orchestras were situated, giving them a chance to immersed themselves in the music, being more connected to the bands themselves, something that was never done before.

Moko Jumbies perform at the WIADCA Steelpan Jamboree at the Brooklyn Museum grounds. Photo by Tangerine Clarke

The presentations included six steelband orchestras as well as, tuner, educator, panist, and keyboardist, composer and performing artist Khuent Rose.

“The theme of this year’s carnival is Rebirth, the emerging of young talent.

“We have another 54 years to go, and another after that to continue to train future generations of pan players,” she said, adding that most of the orchestras comprise Trinidad players since pan music is a part of that country’s culture.

She however noted that the bands were multi-cultural, showcasing the talents of American, Asian, European and Spanish players.

“Once you like the instrument, it doesn’t matter where you come from. The instrument speaks to whoever is willing to listen,” she said.

A Moko Jumbie decked off in the national colors of Trinidad and Tobago performs at the WIADCA Steelpan Jamboree at the Brooklyn Museum grounds. Photo by Tangerine Clarke

Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke said its important for continuity, noting that much was done with the young people over the summer that went unrecognized, and rewarded, and highlighted the importance of leaving a legacy for the next generation.

“I am proud of the fact, that despite this pandemic, organizers found a way to keep the continuity, to celebrate the pride of who we are as a people, in our music, in pan music and the origins of pan, that unites us, regardless of what island nation we come from.

“I am here to say to our community, that we’ve been through a lot, we’ve lost a lot of soldiers, but while we are alive, we continue to be vibrant and resilient, and in the midst of it all we haven’t forgotten from whence we’ve come and who we are.

Clarke said the community inspires her to do what she can in Washington, and reminded constituents to wear a mask, and get vaccinated.

Congresswoman Clarke also joined her mother, Dr. Una S.T. Clarke to present a citation to Brian Nicholas of Pantonics Steel Orchestra.

Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke (left) and Dr. Una S.T. Clarke present Brian Nicholas with a certificate from the Congresswoman’s office, during the WIADCA Steelpan Jamboree on the Brooklyn Museum grounds. Photo by Tangerine Clarke

Public Advocate Jumaane Williams also reminded the crowd to stay safe, continue to wear a mask and become vaccinated.

“We are not out of the woods yet, but we can be if everyone get vaccinated and wear mask in a crowd, especially indoors, as we try to get back to better than normal.

“I am very happy to see you all out here. I know we are not celebrating Labor Day like we usually do, but it’s good to come out and celebrate the culture. where are all the flags, one Caribbean, Labor Day ah coming,” yelled Williams.

Also in attendance were Council Member Farah Louis, and longtime WIADCA member, Randy Brewster, the first so start educational programs for youths in the organization.

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