HOT PANS STEELBAND
For photos and videos see Swedish version of this text HERE
A week before Carnival the members of Hot Pans Steelband from Stockholm, Sweden, arrived in Trinidad. The band had planned for years to participate as a steelband on the road in the Port of Spain Carnival. Now this was for real! They set up headquarters and a makeshift panyard at The Cove Beach Resort in Chaguaramas. The resort houses are on pillars. Thus the band could rehearse comfortably in the shade underneath the house where most of the members stayed. Some instruments were brought from Sweden, others were borrowed from Merrytones Steel Orchestra in Diego Martin and some were new, built by pan tuner Lawrence "Egar" Mayers.
During the week before Carnival the band prepared for the performance in Carnival. They gave a show at The Cove beachside playing non-stop for two hours. Hot Pans were also scheduled to play outside Smokey and Bunty's bar in St.James, but the police didn't allow that. The police thought the crowd would be too big and block the traffic in Western Main Road! But Smokey still sponsored T-shirts for Hot Pans.
Hot Pans is one of few non-Trinidadian member bands in Pan Trinbago. Some of the players in Hot Pans have played more than once in Panorama with Trinidadian bands. The network Hot Pans already had in Trinidad was of course a prerequisite for success in the project to play on the road in Carnival. Hot Pans also got superb assistance from Ian "Dougla" Goodrich, a seasoned pan man who really knows how to get through in the Trinidadian hustle and bustle. A deal had been made with Merrytones to borrow their rhythm rack to serve as a float for playing on the road. A wrecker with driver was hired to pull the rack. Another deal was made with Invaders steelband. Hot Pans was to play for Invaders’ jouvé and Monday afternoon mas' bands. So Hot Pans' members were quite busy, but they also took time to enjoy Panorama Finals and other pre-Carnival events.
On Carnival Sunday (Dimanche Gras) the rack and the instruments were transported to Invaders' panyard. At midnight all members of Hot Pans and their fans went to the panyard to load the instruments on the rack and get ready for jouvé take off at 4 o'clock a.m. As soon as Hot Pans started to play quite a crowd gathered to hear the band. The Trinis were curious. Can a Swedish steelband really play pan? Any doubts seemed to vanish quickly as Hot Pans performed tunes such as kaiso classic Bee's Melody, the chutney hit of the year Radica, their bomb tune arrangement by Rudy "Twoleft" Smith of Dave Brubeck’s jazz standard Take five and others. Carnival revellers along the road liked what they heard and jumped up to the music of Hot Pans.
At 8:30 a.m. a wheel fell off the rack, unfortunately just before the bomb tune judging point at Victoria Square. Of course, the players in Hot Pans were disappointed not being able to pass the judges. But they also needed a rest having played for hours almost without stopping. Big steelbands such as Invaders have many players who can take turns when the band plays on the road, but the 15 players of Hot Pans had to play all through.
While the members of Hot Pans rested and had some food in the yard of a friend's house in French Street, the driver of the wrecker managed to get hold of welding equipment and fix the wheel. This was quite a feat Carnival Monday morning! At one o'clock Hot Pans were on the road again playing for Invaders' mas band Trini Greeks Gone Wild and also for some traditional sailor mas'. The band played all afternoon until they passed the judging point at the Savannah around 8 o'clock in the night. By then all members of the band were completely exhausted but very happy.
A decision was made not to go on the road on Carnival Tuesday. Instead Hot Pans' members and their friends roamed the streets taking in Port of Spain Carnival in all its aspects. Afterwards everybody in the band agreed that taking part as a Swedish steelband in the Port of Spain Carnival had been a great and unforgettable experience. They were also extremely grateful to their many Trinidadian friends without whom this experience never would have been possible.