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April 24, 2004 – It was an hour late and seven acts short but the crowds at the 2004 Carnival Steel Pan Jamboree seemed to enjoy an evening of performance that never lost its spark.
The crowd was larger than last year, numbering in the hundreds but not the thousands that were once seen on the day of what used to be called the Pan-O-Rama. People came out to support students from the public and private schools and towards the end of the night, they came to jump and wave to the sounds of two adult bands, the St. Thomas All Stars and the Phoenix Sounds Steel Orchestra.
This year's jamboree saw a number of changes. Moved from its traditional Sunday evening perch on the schedule of events, the once-popular fete was free, as the V.I. Carnival Committee decided to drop the idea of selling tickets. There were two new acts, one which took the place of the perennial favorites, the Rising Stars Youth Steel Orchestra on the double-decker trolley rolling across the grounds of the Lionel Roberts Stadium.
Although the show was originally set to start at 7 p.m. to give the children an early night, organizers decided to begin at 8 p.m. Bands that were ready for the earlier start treated the gathering crowds to the sounds of their final rehearsals. The Montessori Meteors scrambled to their places once the opening ceremonies began, followed by the Steel Owls of E. Benjamin Oliver Elementary School and Sts. Peter and Paul Angels of Steel.
Selections performed on stage ranged from the melodious to the symphonic. Some bands jammed the cacophonies heard around the panyards in traditional Trinidad. Others tried their own combinations. Sts. Peter and Paul band played a medley of Johnny Cash's "I Walk the Line" with calypso rhythms. The St. Thomas All Stars paid tribute to Frank Sinatra with a rendition of "My Way."
Other bands struck more familiar notes with V.I. compositions by Jam Band and Whadablee. The Montessori Meteors played a classical piece. The Blazers added a gospel tune.
Steel Pan Jamboree 2004 replaced the international calypso showcase, Calypso Review Part I on the Carnival schedule; but some of the performers who came from abroad to play the calypso show on Saturday night instead came out to the stadium to check out the pan. Trinidad's Timothy Watson, better known as the calypso crooner, the Baron, smiled as he tapped out some rhythms from an iron wheel hub, backing up the Phoenix Sounds. Former TNT Calypso Queen Singing Sandra also came and danced around the field with the Baron.
The Rock City Music Stars made their debut Friday night at the stadium, as did the Family Life Center, sponsored by the University of the Virgin Islands. The Bertha C. Boschulte Burning Blazers Band, Love City Pan Dragons and the Devil Rays of the Ivanna Eudora Kean High School rounded out the school groups playing pan for this year's event.
The new chairman of the Steel Pan Jamboree Committee took a break from supervising the loading of instruments on and off the stage to measure the success of the night. Last year's event drew 18 bands, but many dropped out this year, faced with the logistics of moving players and instruments to the stadium on Friday, chairman Eduardo Corneiro said. Those who did show up gave timed performances, so as not to keep youngsters out too late; but, he said, holding the show on Friday night meant skipping the worry of sending kids to school the following day.
He also said he was pleased to see the crowds coming back. So was Caswil Callender, Carnival Committee executive director. "Once the other bands recognize the change has been made, we think they will prepare, get ready in a timely fashion. It's just a matter of two days, from Sunday to Friday," he said. "In terms of school the kids can stay out a little late because it's a Friday night."
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