From the blog



I’ve been in Port of Spain, Trinidad, West Indies for just shy of two weeks. I have been practicing and rehearsing with Silver Stars Steel Orchestra on Liam Teague’s arrangement of “Edwin’s Legacy.” Playing in the National Panorama Competition of Trinidad and Tobago has been a goal of mine for almost 15 years. I’m honored to have been asked to play this year, and I’m honored to play on a tune like “Edwin’s Legacy” – one that so thoroughly speaks to the tradition of the steelband, of panorama, and of the steelpan community. Silver Stars is a wonderful family of musicians. The Pouchets (The late Edwin’s family legacy) are some of the kindest people I have ever met. They are so dedicated to the ensemble that they live their lives to support it. Christine helped me so much in organizing the safety and logistical elements of my trip to Trinidad and her daughters do a huge amount of work to keep the band running.

The Semi Finals round of competition was last night, preceded by preliminaries on Thursday. Both rounds were vastly different, but fun experiences. In preliminaries, the judge at come to each band’s rehearsal space. Eunice Peters, the calypso singer who sang the radio version of “Edwin’s Legacy,” performed for the judges and the composer of the tune introduced the band. The audience in the panyard was at least 250 strong, and I’m told it spilled out into the street! We had a great run of Liam Teague’s arrangement. We were even able to capture a recording of prelims to use in the next few days of rehearsal. Silver Stars falls in the “Large Steelband” category. That means moving 100+ instruments (must be almost 350 total drums) to the drag for final rehearsals then into the Savannah Grandstand for out performance. I was able to wander around and see some of the big players in the competition warming up. Renegades had a great arrangement, Exodus has a killer rhythm section and all the bands manage a large crowd of followers.

After rehearsing in the street for a few hours we were on deck to perform (almost 2 hours earlier than I had anticipated). The stage is huge and crowd is definitely there to have a good time. The north grandstands were filled with people limin’ drinking and having a good time. There were 2 live bands playing in the stands all night! Once the band was announced and we got ready for what was one of the highest energy performances of my career to date. It was incredible. … I have never sweat that much in my life… And now you know that! We moved our gear back to the panyard (luckily we are one of the closest yards to the Savannah), talked and debriefed. We were all feeling good and waiting for the results. A few of the players headed back to the Savannah to listen to the last few bands and await results. At 1AM we heard it, we are moving on to finals! 6TH PLACE! There is a lot of musical work yet to be done. Finals are 2 weeks away. We have made it this far and still have a long way to go.

SILVER STARS 2015! Thanks for checking in!

— mike

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