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A Guyanese Steelpan Surprise

Author: Rudy Kendall

Happy New Year to all the readers of the KaribPAN blog!

A much needed hiatus was taken from the online steelpan blogosphere as family, travel, and international movements took precedence for the better part of 2018. And what an absolutely fabulous year 2018 was in terms of getting boots on the ground in numerous Caribbean territories on the lookout for fertile steelpan soil. 

Needless to say, as progress has essentially been stifled in the motherland of steelpan, until Trinidad gets her house in order it is apparent that fresh and new opportunities for growth are to be had elsewhere, especially elsewhere in the Carribean. 

After spending the better part of the past year traveling through off-the-beaten-path Caribbean lands such as Suriname,

French Guiana,

 

and Guyana,

it was clear that opportunities for growth are abundant in the Caribbean territories south of Trinidad. 

While traveling to more touristic destinations north of Trinidad such as Jamaica,

Guadeloupe,

 

and The Dominican Republic,

it was also clear that there are numerous possibilities for the instrument to gain a foothold in the collective consciousness of those respective populaces with tremendous results.

Without spilling the beans on KaribPAN's particular blueprint for steelpan growth and development, it is apparent that of all of these previously named Caribbean destinations, one stands out in particular for both personal and non-personal reasons.

 

 A Steelband Surprise in New Amsterdam, Guyana

 

There are few things that are more pleasing to this steelpan enthusiast than a totally unexpected steelpan street performance. 

While driving through Main Street in New Amsterdam, Guyana on a recent fine, hot Caribbean evening, I stumbled upon the Guyana Police Force Steelband performing on the roadside in the center of town. 

Guyana has a long relationship with ther steelpan instrument, which goes back to 1947 when Red Army, a Trini band first arrived in Georgetown, Guyana and made an impressive appearance. As the story goes, a fracas broke out during Red Army's performance and when the dust had settled, one of the band's lead pans went missing. By 1953, steelbands began springing up all over Guyana from the then ''mudlands'' of Bartica to New Amsterdam. Some of these bands included Quo Vadis from Robb St. near Bourda Market, Invaders from Regent St. and Wellington, and not to mention Pagans, Sun Valley, Chicago and Casablanca. 

Rudy Bishop who is an icon and known as one of Guyana's steelpan pioneers has made public his belief that the local Guyanese steelpan industry needs to be revitalized. What better time to do this than the present, when it is apparent that Exxon Mobil will likely be a ready supplier or oil barrels once they start drilling for oil in the Stabroek Block, not to mention a potential local steelband sponsor. The BP Renegades come to mind in this respect. 

In any event, here is the continuation of the previous video of the Guyana Defence Force Steelband performing their arrangement of Simon and Garfunkel's ''Bridge Over Troubled Water''.

 All of those young pannists in the Guyana Police Force 'B' Division Steelband are part of the legacy of steelband movement in Guyana, and the sight of them brings back fond memories of the Rising Stars Youth Steel Orchestra and what bands like these actually accomplish as far as developing the younger generation positively through the steelpan instrument.

 

 

 

 

 



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