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Author Topic: Sunday 3rd August to Sunday 1st September is Steelband Month in T&T!  (Read 1399 times)

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Offline Socapro

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In celebration you are invited to post events and information from the Steelband Movement all over the world to this thread during August aka Steelband Month.

We start it off appropriately with some steelband history taken from the PanTrinbago website.

The Steelpan - A Short History

For over 50 years the world has enjoyed the scintillating, pulsating music of the steelband. Audiences from London to New York and beyond have been left spellbound, amazed that such rich tonal quality could come from discarded oil drums. The refined sound we now hear is the result of decades of hard work, research and innovations by master tuners such as Ellie Mannette, Neville Jules, Bertie Marshall, Anthony Williams, Rudolph Charles and Lincoln Noel to name a few. But how and where did it all start?

There are varying accounts as to the exact date and location in Trinidad the first steelpan was tuned since no official records were kept by either the pioneers or the British colonial government of the day. This, however, is one popular version. Necessity, it is said, is the mother of all inventions, and the steelpan is sound proof of that maxim. It was born out of deprivation, a desperate need by a people to fill the void that was left when something central to their existence was taken away.

Since the 1800s, the inhabitants of Trinidad had been participating in a street carnival brought to the Caribbean island by the French. When the freed slaves (slavery was abolished in the West Indies in 1834) joined in the festivities, they could not afford the conventional instruments, so they used African drums, the instruments of their ancestors, then created percussion bands made up of bamboo joints cut from the bamboo plant. The "Tamboo Bamboo" bands (tamboo is a corruption of the French word tambour which means drum) bands were rhythmic ensembles that provided the accompaniment for the masqueraders in the annual parade.

Throughout the 1920s and 30s these bands flourished, but by 1940 something dreadful was about to plunge the world into perhaps its darkest and most notorious period in the twentieth century. Unwittingly, the events of that dark era would provide the beam that lit the way to the discovery of a new musical instrument.

When Adolf Hitler drew Europe into World War Two, the British colonial government summarily banned the Tamboo Bamboo bands, forcing the people to look for other ways to make merry. Readily available were steel drums discarded by the oil refineries on the island.

As they banged against the flat surface of the drum, the fun seekers accidentally stumbled upon a sound that would lead to further experimentations, and consequently, the birth of steelpan, the only musical invention of the twentieth century.

While death and destruction consumed Europe in the early forties, the lives of the underprivileged, unemployed young men in Trinidad were filled with hope and excitement. They realized that the constant pounding against the flat end of the drum left an indentation, and the sound changed as well. Word would soon spread about the discovery, and the possibility of making music with the drums. Further experiments would follow. To achieve further indentation, they would heat the drums in bonfires. What they discovered too was that by varying the size and depth on the indentation, it was possible to get more notes with different tones. As the creativity of these youths took over, one note led to two, three, then four on a single drum.

When the war ended in 1945, Trinidadians, like most people around the world, took to the streets in celebration, carrying of course, their new instruments. While they made music, there were still limitations. They needed an instrument on which an eight-note scale could be played. Who would be the first to tune such an instrument?

It is said that a young man from a depressed area of east Port of Spain, the capital city, was the first to do so. Legend has it that Winston Spree Simon, tirelessly working to improve on the initial discovery was able, sometime in the early to mid-forties, to tune the ping pong; on which he could play a complete eight-note scale. With rubber wrapped around one end of a piece of stick, Spree played a simple melody to the excitement of those who surrounded him at what would later come to be known as the panyard. News of Spree's achievement spread like wildfire around Port of Spain and from there on, experimentation with the drums went on apace across the country.

Much like the rapid changes in modern technology, the development of different instruments with their own distinct tone came in quick succession. At the dawn of the fifties names such as Ellie Mannette and Neville Jules emerged as top class tuners. Simultaneously, steelbands were being formed across the land, some of them adopting names from American movies such as Destination Tokyo, Casablanca, Rising Sun, Invaders, Tripoli, Bar 20, Red Army, Desperadoes.

These bands were made up of instruments such as the ping pong (which by that time had been improved and expanded by the likes of Mannette and renamed the tenor pan), double seconds, guitars, cellos and bass. To further illustrate the rapid development of the instrument, by 1951 Trinidad was invited to send a steelband to the Festival of Britain at the South Bank Exhibition. This led to the formation of the Trinidad All Steel Percussion Orchestra (TASPO) with members drawn from steelbands such as Casablanca, Invaders, Free French, Crossfire, Tokyo, Southern Symphony, North Stars, Rising Sun, Sun Valley and City Syncopators. Among the chosen few were Mannette, Spree and a man who would soon earn his place among the legendary innovators/tuners, Anthony Williams.

By the time the sixties rolled around, the steelband was still a work in progress. The panyards became laboratories, and men like Williams would take the experiments one step further. His contribution was perhaps the most innovative piece of work of that era. He designed a tenor pan known as the "fourths and fifths," meaning that next to the tonic note were the fourth and fifth notes of that scale. This design is still the standard used in most steelbands to this day. And Bertie Marshall of the Highlanders would soon follow with his creation of the double tenor, a must in every steelband. The seventies belonged to Rudolph Charles, leader of the Desperadoes who took innovations beyond the tuning aspect of the instruments. He introduced the nine and twelve bass, which effectively extended the range and depth of the bass drums by increasing the number of drums from the traditional six to nine and then to twelve.

Charles followed up with the quadrophonic, and improvements on the pitch of the tenor pan to what is now known as the high tenor; He also changed the appearance of the steelband with the silver chroming of instruments replacing the oil paints of the fifties and sixties. For better movement of bands through the streets, and to protect the instruments from the sun during the carnival parades, he put the stands on wheels and covered them with canopies.

These developments were not confined to Trinidad and indeed Tobago, the other half of the twin-island nation. Across the seas on the smaller islands of the eastern Caribbean, in the late fifties and sixties, bands were being formed as well, at first with instruments bought in Trinidad, but later with home-made brands by men who had, over time, learned the art of tuning. For instance in the early fifties, Antigua, to the north, boasted of such bands as Brute Force and Hell's Gate. In the decades that followed, the steelband would move beyond the shores of the Caribbean to North America, England, other parts of Europe such as Holland, Switzerland, Sweden and as far east as China, Japan. Today in Trinidad alone, there are more than 100 steelbands. Across the world, hundreds more.

Back in Trinidad in the late fifties/sixties, the developments in the steelband world were not simply a contribution to the family of musical instruments. The bands, comprised mainly of unemployed young black men, often found themselves in violent confrontation, something akin to the gang warfare that gripped certain cities in North America. As a result, these young men who should have been regarded as pioneers, were reviled by a large portion of the society, regarded as social outcasts, particularly by the middle and upper classes.

After the island became independent from Britain in 1962, the new government moved to change the image of the panmen as they were being called. Official involvement was evident with the hiring of bands to perform at social and state functions. Corporate sponsorship was also encouraged to provide the bands with funds to purchase drums, pay for arrangers, tuners and uniforms. Hence such marriages as Amoco Renegades, Coca Cola Desperadoes, (now West Indian Tobacco Company (WITCO) Desperadoes, Pan Am North Stars (since disbanded), Shell Invaders (now BWIA Invaders), Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) Starlift (now Petrotrin Starlift). The involvement of corporate citizens in the affairs of these motley groups slowly helped to erase the stigma and bring about social acceptance by the wider community. Panmen are now regarded as the cultural ambassadors of the land and the steelpan has been officially recognized as the national instrument of Trinidad & Tobago. In addition, both sponsor and band have grown to respect each other's role in their mutual existence.

With this new image, the war on the streets soon gave way to another kind of warfare -a musical war on the stage. In 1963, the Carnival Development Committee which was formed to put a sense of organization into the street festival, started the panorama competition with each band vying for recognition as the superior band in the land. In this competition, every band is required to play a 10-minute rendition of a calypso of choice. The winners and other participants are rewarded financially and there are other perks, such as trips overseas and engagements at home.

Over the past three decades, several bands have shot into the national consciousness as they repeatedly claimed the coveted title as panorama champions. Bands such as Desperadoes and Renegades (9 wins each), All Stars (4), Phase Two Pan Groove (2), Exodus (1) are now household names with international followings.

Indeed, over the past four decades, the steelpan has come a long way, moving from the panyards of the most depressed areas of a society to some of the most prestigious concert halls around the world. The Desperadoes, for instance, have performed at the Royal Albert Hall in London, Carnegie Hall, the Apollo and Lincoln Theaters in New York, the United Nations building, and the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Other bands like Renegades, All Stars, Phase Two, Exodus have wooed audiences from London to Paris to Japan, mesmerizing them with their renditions of some of the most complex works of the classic composers such as Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Sibelius, Rossini, Borodin.

As the world gets ready to enter the new millennium, the students of Spree, Mannette, Williams, Marshall, Charles who with their genius and creativity gave this century perhaps its sweetest gift, are preparing to take pan to higher heights. No one knows what the final product will be, but we know for sure that it will continue to make a joyful noise unto the world of music.

Article written & published in 1999
« Last Edit: August 08, 2014, 10:14:34 PM by Socapro »
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Offline Socapro

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Re: Sunday 3rd August to Sunday 1st September Is Steelband Month in T&T!
« Reply #1 on: August 08, 2014, 07:46:58 PM »
Live Steelband Benefit Concert for Jit Samaroo from QPS featuring Arima Angel Harps, Tornadoes, Samaroo Jets, etc being broadcast right now on WACK FM, check it out, quite enjoyable selections and arrangements!

Trinidad & Tobago Radio | We Are Culture Krazy | - Wack Radio 90.1 fm
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Offline Deeks

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Re: Sunday 3rd August to Sunday 1st September Is Steelband Month in T&T!
« Reply #2 on: August 08, 2014, 08:24:59 PM »
Loud and clear! Nice!! Nice!!

Offline Socapro

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Re: Sunday 3rd August to Sunday 1st September Is Steelband Month in T&T!
« Reply #3 on: August 08, 2014, 09:34:24 PM »
Steelbands that have played so far at the Jit Samaroo Tribute  & Benefit concert:-

Arima Angel Harps
Tornadoes
Samaroo Jets
Sande Grande Cordettes
Supa Novas
BP Renegades

Live link: Trinidad & Tobago Radio | We Are Culture Krazy | - Wack Radio 90.1 fm
« Last Edit: August 08, 2014, 10:07:46 PM by Socapro »
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Offline Socapro

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Re: Sunday 3rd August to Sunday 1st September is Steelband Month in T&T!
« Reply #4 on: August 10, 2014, 03:20:48 AM »
Pan Trinbago Celebrates Steelband Month in August
Published on Friday, 25 July 2014 13:45
By Angela Fox (National Carnival Commission of Trinidad & Tobago)


Pan Trinbago's Steelband Month will be celebrated in August with a host of events.

The schedule of events dates from Saturday August 02 to Sunday September 01, 2014 inclusive. Some of those listed are organized by the steelband parent body and its regions while others like the Laventille Steelband Festival, Arima Fest and Pan on The Avenue are supported by the Association.

This year sees the advent of several new activities such as
Pan by the Seaside, Clifton Hill, Point Fortin (August 02), "The Jit Samaroo Benefit Concert" (August 08), "Pan Trinbago Youth Boat Ride" (August 13), "Pan Exhibition" (August 25 -29, " South/Central Pan Chutney Competition" (August 30), culminating with an "Independence Fiesta" (September 01).

As has been the norm, the Interfaith Service on Sunday August 03 at the Massy Trinidad All Stars Pan Theatre, Duke Street, Port of Spain, is the official start of the month-long program. High point of the service is the blessing of the Flags of the Steelbands.

Over the following days, activities include "Visit to the Foundation Stone" at the Multi-Purpose Complex, St. Paul Street, East Dry River (August 07), a seminar themed "Pan, Progress & Patent" at NALIS Abercromby Street, Port of Spain (August 5), "Bad John Day, Defenders of the Pan" at the bp Renegades Pan Theatre, Charlotte Street, Port of Spain, (August 14) and the "Pan Trinbago Awards Function" (August 12).

The latter is a gala function which for the first time since its inception will be held in the South, at the National Academy of the Performing Arts, South Campus, (SAPA). A number of contributors to the steelband movement will be honored by their peers.

"Pan In De Countryside" has been added to the program. This edition will take place on Saturday August 16 at Gilbert Park, Couva. Selected bands are Couva Joylanders, PSC Nitrogen Silver Stars, Skiffle, T&TEC Tropical Angel Harps, Longdenville Claytones and Humming Bird Pan Groove.

Independence Day brunches at various panyards/theatres also make up the August itinerary. Carded for Independence Day, August 31, these include Carib Woodbrook Playboyz, White Oak Starlift and CAL Invaders.

STEELBAND MONTH: SUNDAY 3RD AUGUST TO SUNDAY 1ST SEPTEMBER 2014

DATE TIME EVENT VENUE
Sunday August 3rd    10.00 a.m.    Interfaith Service    Massy Trinidad All Stars, Duke Street, Port of Spain
Sunday August 3rd    4.00 p.m.    Laventille Steelband Festival    Eastern Main Road, Laventille
Tuesday August 5th    1.00 p.m.    Seminar – Pan, Progress & Patent    NALIS, Abercrombry Street, Port of Spain
Thursday August 7th    2.00 p.m.    Visit to Foundation Stone    Multi-Purpose Complex, St. Paul Street, East Dry River
Friday August 08th    8.00 p.m.    Jit Samaroo Benefit Concert    Queen’s Park Savannah
Saturday August 9th    7.00 p.m.    Arima Fest    
Tuesday August  12th    7.00 p.m.    Pan Trinbago Awards Ceremony    SAPA, San Fernando
Wednesday August 13th    10.00 a.m.    Pan Trinbago Youth Boat Ride    Treasure Queen, Chagaramas
Thursday August 14th    7.00 p.m.    Bad John Day – “Defenders of the Pan”    Bp Renegades Pan Theatre, Charlotte Street, P.O.S
Friday August 15th    6.00 p.m.    Northern Region -  “Pan Lime”    Harvard Sports Club, St. James
Saturday August 16th    5.00 p.m.    “Pan  In The Countryside”    Gilbert Park – Couva
Saturday August 23rd    8.00 a.m.    “Pan On The Avenue”    
Monday August 25th – 29th    8.00 p.m.    Pan Exhibition    Central Bank Auditorium, Independence Square, P.O.S.
Saturday August 30th    8.00 p.m.    South/Central – Chutney Competition    Petrotrin  Sports Club, Point – a – Pierre
Sunday August 31st    7.00 a.m.    Brunch    CARIB Woodbrook Playboyz Pan Theatre, White Oak Starlift Pan Theatre and CAL Invaders Pan Theatre
Monday September 1st    4.00 p.m.    Independence Fiesta    Tragarete Road, Port of Spain
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Offline Socapro

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Pan on D’Avenue
« Reply #5 on: August 23, 2014, 10:37:25 PM »
Pan on D’Avenue
By Joan Rampersad Friday, August 22 2014 (T&T Newsday)

In celebration of 100 years of the City of Port-of-Spain, the Anniversary of the country’s Independence and in recognition of the National Instrument, the steelpan, Pan on D’Avenue III street parade takes place tomorrow from 6.30 pm, on Ariapita Avenue, Woodbrook, hosted by the Woodbrook/St James Community Association (WCA).


This year the parade starts at De Verteuil Street with bands lining up from Taylor Street.

Some 35 bands on decorated trailers are listed to appear in the parade. Among them are Petrotrin Phase II Pan Groove, Massy Trinidad All Stars, bp Renegades, CAL Invaders, Witco Desperadoes, PCS Nitrogen Silver Stars, White Oak Starlift, Republic Bank Exodus, Junior Sammy Skiffle Steel, Carib Dixieland, NLCB Fonclaire, Carib Woodbrook Playboyz, NGC Couva Joylanders, Super Novas, Courts Sound Specialists of Laventille, St James Tripolians, Brimblers, Harvard Harps, San Juan East Side Symphony and Pan Elders.

The Trinidad and Tobago Police Service, City Police, Fire Service, REACT, ODPM, Ministry of Health personnel, marshalls and co-ordinators will be on hand to ensure the safety of the patrons and the smooth flow of the parade.

There will be no sidewalk vending or amplified music. The association is encouraging residents to bring their chairs and create a picnic like atmosphere.

Prior to the start of the parade, there will be a cultural presentation at Adam Smith Square, and simultaneously at De Verteuil Street. The parade will begin with a trailer carrying some of the top arrangers, 12 of who will be awarded on the day. Those who would be presented with awards are Dr Jit Samaroo, Robert Greenidge, Ray Holman, Leon “Smooth” Edwards, Len ‘Boogsie’ Sharpe, Pelham Goddard, Ken “Professor” Philmore, Terrance “BJ” Marcelle, Duvonne Stewart, Bobby Mohammed, Earl Brooks and Earl Rodney.Special awards will be presented to Steve Achaiba, Desmond Waithe and Michelle Huggins-Watts (first female arranger to win Panorama), and Edwin Pouchet (posthumously).The parade would also feature traditional characters on foot. Another trailer carrying a Zumba group and a small steel band followed by the other steelbands on trailers, would make up the parade.

Other aerobics/zumba groups will be stationed at designated points along the route and during their routine patrons will be invited to join in, emphasising the fitness aspect of this parade.

Those points are Petra, Alberto and Luis Streets, Adam Smith Square and Cornelio Street.

When the parade reaches Adam-Smith Square the arrangers shall descend the trailer and they shall be presented with their Awards, after which they will view the Parade from the Square as bands make a stop to play their tune of choice before moving along. The bands will also stop between Cornelio and French streets to play one song for the patrons on that side before returning to their respective pan yards.

All the side streets on the southern side of Ariapita Avenue leading to Wrightson Road shall be opened to residents and the public.

Lynn Patrice Ochoa, Promotions and Communications Specialist at Carib Brewery Limited stated, “Carib is proud to once again support this mammoth initiative. The steelband typifies the energy, creativity and talent of Trinidad and Tobago. We remain committed to culture, to communities and to the nation and we encourage the public to come out and witness the talent at what promises to be a spectacular evening.”
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Offline Sando prince

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Re: Sunday 3rd August to Sunday 1st September is Steelband Month in T&T!
« Reply #6 on: September 01, 2014, 09:36:29 PM »

A lot happened in the last 30 days. Give credit to the organizers

Offline Socapro

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The Eddie Quarless Legacy: Decades of Music in Trinidad and New York
« Reply #7 on: September 09, 2014, 10:46:59 AM »
The Eddie Quarless Legacy:
Decades of Music in Trinidad and New York

Published: Monday, September 8, 2014
By Ray Funk and Ray Allen (T&T Guardian)


Eddie Quarless, the legendary musician, arranger and producer, passed away on September 1 in New York.

He made his living playing, recording and arranging music for almost half a century, leaving an indelible imprint on the worlds of calypso, soca and steel pan in Trinidad and New York. Last summer, the authors were fortunate to catch up with Quarless in Brooklyn Metro panyard where he reminisced about his life and music.

Born in 1952 in Santa Flora, Quarless grew up in the St Michael’s Home in Tacarigua where his mother worked and he received his first exposure to music and training. “I wanted to play trombone but they thought it was too big. So they put me on clarinet, and they taught me to read music at the tender age of 11—hymns, marches, John Phillip Sousa, and light classics, everything!”

Quarless showed great musical promise and at the age of 11 was invited to join the police band where he doubled on clarinet and saxophone, dabbled in flute, and began to learn the art of arranging. He got his first big music break: “I was 17 years old. They discovered me and carried me into Kitchener’s tent.”

Over the ensuing years he played tenor sax behind calypso legends Kitchener, Melody, Stalin and learning from the charts of renowned arrangers Art DeCoteau, Ron Berridge, Clive Bradley, and Frankie Francis. He was first exposed to jazz played by a trio with Kitchener himself on acoustic bass.

In 1976, after seven years honing his playing chops and arranging skills in the calypso tents, Quarless toured to New York as the musical director for Lord Shorty who had a huge hit with the early soca song, Sweet Music.

But the allure of American music, especially jazz, proved too strong for Quarless and he abandoned the tour: “I wanted to come to America all the time….So I did all those tours and came to New York and I hopped off. I stayed here for 17 years (before returning to Trinidad). Just going around and meeting jazz players and all that stuff, playing my sax.” He gigged whenever he could, playing with various jazz, calypso, and Latin bands.”

Quarless played with Brass Express and other Trinidadian groups in New York, and was in demand as a session musician, appearing on such legendary hits as Arrow’s Hot, Hot, Hot, and Kitchener’s Pan in A Minor.

Record producer Rawlston Charles recognised his musical skills and gave him his first break as an arranger in New York. During the 1980s and early 1990s he worked with nearly every major calypsonian including Sparrow, Kitchener, Melody, David Rudder, Shadow, Swallow, Brother Mudada, Superblue, Explainer, and Merchant. He was at the forefront of the transition to soca music.

But his distinctive work as a saxophonist and calypso/soca arranger is only part of the Quarless legacy.

He started learning pan when he was in the police band. Back then, still a youth, he and Robbie Greenidge would arrange for Gay Flamingos, the band that later became Exodus. He remembered doing two classical pieces for Flamingos from the police band repertoire.

After relocating in New York he started playing pan with Lord Observer, regularly doing gigs in the Long Island posh Hamptons area.

He recalled going from table to table at high society parties, playing pan around the neck while Observer played guitar and sang.

A call from “Jimo” James led Quarless to a whole new role as arranger for Panorama, starting with Trinidad All Stars. In 1993, he first won acclaim when they tied for third in the finals with Pelham Goddard and David Rudder’s Dust in Your Face. “The standing ovation I received was one of the memorable moments of my life,” he recalled.

The next year he brought All Stars to second place with his arrangement of Kitch’s Earthquake. He continued to arrange Kitch tunes for All Stars for Panorama working for them through 1998.

With these successes, he entered a new phase as steelband arranger, for many Trinidad bands including Desperadoes, Harmonites, Tokyo, Birdsong, Harlem Syncopaters, Defense Force and Tokyo. In 2006 Quarless arranged Mark Loquan’s Colours Again for Carib Dixieland. Following Clive Bradley’s death, Desperadoes chose Quarless to arrange De Fosto’s Tribute to Bradley the next year.

In 2008, he worked with birdsong doing Sharing Licks and was back the next year with Thunder Coming. In addition, he was an inspiration for students at Parry’s Pan School, being the music director for many years and arranged for their panorama and music festival bands.

Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, Quarless commuted each every year between New York and Trinidad. While in Brooklyn he arranged for various steelbands including D’Radoes, Pantonics, Despers USA, Harmony, Umoja, New York All Stars, and Metro. In 1999, he co-founded and served as musical director of JahPan, a popular New York small pan gigging ensemble area that recorded two cds.

After arranging Gold for Tokyo in 2013, Quarless returned to Brooklyn last summer to work with Jah Pan and arrange for Metro before becoming ill. Eddie Quarless will forever be remembered as a master performer, arranger, and teacher who moved seamlessly across the worlds of calypso, soca and pan.

A “musical sendoff” is planned for September 12 at Metro’s Panyard, 183 Empire Boulevard between Bedford and Rogers Avenue from 8 pm to 1pm.

Session and studio musicians who want to participate should contact Frankie MacIntosh at 718-778-1504, small pan sides should contact Tony Joseph at 718-576-5500, and for other information contact Susan Montvel-Cohen at 718-496-4845 or Rawlston Charles at 917-539-3831.

• Ray Funk is a retired Alaskan judge who is passionately devoted to calypso, pan and mas. He is the co-producer of The Calypso Craze, a book/CD compilation just released on Bear Family Records. Ray Allen is Professor of Music at Brooklyn College, CUNY. He is editor of Island Sounds in the Global City: Caribbean Popular Music in New York, and is currently working on a book on the history of Carnival music in Brooklyn.
De higher a monkey climbs is de less his ass is on de line, if he works for FIFA that is! ;-)