Steel Bands

Steel Bands Who Participate in Antigua's Carnival

EastVibes Steel Orchestra

EastVibes Steel Orchestra

Ebonites Steel Orchestra

Ebonites Steel Orchestra

Biography The Ebonites Steel Ochestra was formed in the lower Ottos area in the year 1974. For a couple of months, the band went without a real name. The first was Triolions, but a few of the members were not happy with it. First captain, Mr. Melvin Parks, came up with a solution one night, suggesting that the band be named for ‘Ebony’ magazine. Since then, it’s been known as Ebonites. During the 70’s, the band was one of the most preferred on the road. Hundreds would flock to the pan yard, waiting for the jam to begin. The band, like everything else, has had its ups and downs. Ebonites toured the Virgin Islands, namely St Croix, from late 1976 to early 1980. They caused quite a stir, and, because of their influence, helped form a steel band in St. Croix named Ebonites as well. Ebonites, in 1977, was the first Antiguan steel band to use an original tune to win Panorama; since then the band has placed first runner-up on a couple of occasions, but has never won again. The band also worked on an album in 1979, but due to unforeseen circumstances, the album never materialized. A demo was done, but it is not known what became of it. Following its last tour of St. Croix, in early 1980, the band broke up, and it was not until late 1988 to early 1989, that three of the old members got together and re-formed the band. From since its inception a lot of notable pan men both here and abroad have passed through Ebonites, which has taught hundreds. Arrangers have included Marlow Dyer, Dayne Gomes, Kemoye Thomas and Aubrey ‘Lacu’ Samuel. Source: In Tune With Pan magazine, publication of the Cultural Development Division - Ministry of Education, Human Development & Culture, Antigua & Barbuda, W.I. 2008

Gemonites Steel Orchestra

Gemonites Steel Orchestra

Biography

The story of Gemonites Steel Orchestra lends credence to the concept that a combination of “perspiration and aspirations is the formula for success”.

Strong ties - forged at Princess Margaret School (PMS) - solidified, in 1978, when the school’s PMS Serenaders, became the Gemonites, a band made up of graduates and others. The group would, from these humble beginnings, go on to become a well- respected cultural institution.

Gemonites first entered the Panorama in 1978 placing fourth, and followed this with a respectable third-place tie in 1979. When the competition resumed in 1981, after a one-year absence, Gemonites won the coveted title of national Panorama champions with an infectious Paul Campbell-arrangement of Swallow’s ‘Twenty-five Years of Mas’. By this time, Gemonites had become a household name, entertaining tourists in the various hotels, as well as locals.

In 1982, Gemonites made its first tour to Antigua’s sister island, Barbuda, and shortly thereafter, was selected to represent Antigua at the 1982 world’s fair in Knoxville, Tennessee. A follow-up tour of 1998. Tennessee materialized in 1984.

Panorama was revived in 1985, and Gemonites continued to participate, though perennially coming in third. In 1988, Panorama was abandoned, and, in 1989, there was a boycott.

Over the period 1990 to 1995, Gemonites again competed in Panorama  and often found itself just short of the prestigious title, with several second and third positions.

When panorama was discontinued in 1996, Gemonites beat all competitors to capture the first ever National Bomb Competition title and followed this up with consecutive second places, in 1997 and 1998.

Panorama returned in 2001 and Gemonites declared its intent by claiming third place, improving to second in 2002, and finally, in its Silver Anniversary year, capturing the elusive championship in 2003, twenty-two years after their first victory.

The two most important projects into which Gemonites has invested time and financial resources are its School of Pan and annual Moods of Pan. The Gemonites School of Pan was launched in 1998, and has provided free musical theory and practice to aspiring panists, of all ages. The membership and popularity of the band has doubled as a result of this ambitious project.

Meanwhile, when Gemonites’ ‘Moods of Pan’ was introduced, in 1999, as a solitary concert, it made an astonishing impact on Antiguan pan-lovers, starved for top quality steel band entertainment. In 2000, ‘Moods’ was transformed into a three-day festival, and in 2002 a fourth day was added. Under the ‘Moods’ tent, some of the region’s best entertainers have consistently brought much pleasure to Antigua audiences - including Len ‘Boogsie’ Sharpe, Ken ‘Professor’ Philmore, Andy Narell, Liam Teague, Robert Greenidge, Arturo Tappin, Samaroo Jets, Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force Steel Orchestra, Lord Relator, De  Original Defosto, Sprangalang and Errol Fabian.

‘Moods of Pan’ is poised to blossom into a national pan & musical festival and is expected to attract a sizeable following of pan lovers, regionally and internationally. Among those responsible for the development of this wonderful product are a number of enthusiastic, dedicated and committed corporate citizens, who have provided major sponsorship. These include: Observer Radio, Jolly Beach Resort, AT&T Wireless, BWIA, ABIB, LIAT, The Antigua and Barbuda Teachers Cooperative Credit Union, Original Printery, Virgin Atlantic and more.

Look out for ‘Moods of Pan’. It’s going to be Bigger and Better! 

Gemonites’ contact information: 

P.O. Box 3064, Dickenson Bay Street, 

St John’s Antigua, W.I. 

Source:  In Tune With Pan magazine, publication of the Cultural Development Division - Ministry of Education, Human Development & Culture, Antigua & Barbuda, W.I.  2008

Halcyon Steel Orchestra

Halcyon Steel Orchestra

Biography

The Halcyon Steel Orchestra which has left its navel string somewhere between the Greenbay and Gray’s Farm communities is the offspring of Red Army and Starlift Steel bands which hail from the area. Certain names are linked with its early days, in particular, Selvyn A. Walter, the Kirby brothers Sam and Perod, Melvin Simon and Y De Lima (Antigua) Ltd.

When in late 1970, early 1971 it was decided to form a new Orchestra, Selvyn Walter approached Melvin Simon and the Kirby Brothers for assistance which was readily given. They immediately set about starting with 12 persons, (9 of whom had never played pan before) and new pans financed by Y De Lima.

In Carnival 1972 they entered the steel band competition with the strong support of the communities of Gray’s Farm and Greenbay. Playing Sparrow’s ‘Winer Gal’, they placed 5th.

By 1973 the band was entering and impressing in Hotels and Nightclubs, and it had improved in both quality and quantity to such an extent that it placed 4th in the Panorama Competition that year.

1974 saw a radical transformation as the band failed to qualify for the finals. The renditions of Sparrow’s ‘Priest’ and Short Shirt’s ‘Lucinda’ ended too abruptly said the judge.

Halcyon Arrangers

2016 - Devon Bachelor

2015 - Victor “Babu” Samuel

2014 - Victor “Babu” Samuel

1995 - Victor “Babu” Samuel

1994 - Victor “Babu” Samuel

1993 - Victor “Babu” Samuel

1992 - Victor “Babu” Samuel

1991 - Victor “Babu” Samuel

1990 - Victor “Babu” Samuel

1987 - Victor “Babu” Samuel

1986 - Victor “Babu” Samuel

1985 - Victor “Babu” Samuel

1979 - Len “Boogsie” Sharpe

1978 - Len “Boogsie” Sharpe

 

1975 - Gerald (Belly) Charles

 

Harmonites

Harmonites

Biography

 

Harmonites International Steel Orchestra, known as Antigua & Barbuda’s musical ambassadors began as Jr. Hell’s Gate. It’s first captain was Rupert ‘Teela’ Parker. It is an unusual band with a wide repertoire, and has a reputation for being a pacesetter, because it is always doing something outside the norm. Its members keep seeking new ways to develop their craft, realizing that, “culture cannot remain stagnant,” in the words of one of its bandleaders, Simon Toulon.

Harmonites first entered Antigua & Barbuda’s Panorama competition in 1968, winning its first year out and going on to claim this top pan accolade seven more times - ‘69, ‘71, ‘72, ‘74, ‘85, ‘01, ‘04.

If the band’s achievements were confined to Panorama, this alone would quite impressive, but Harmonites is always on the hunt for new worlds to conquer. It is, therefore, the only steel band, to date, to win the prestigious ‘Band of the Year’ title - awarded each year to the top Carnival troupe. This remark able feat was accomplished in 1974 with its presentation of ‘Interplanetary Sailors’.

Another first for Harmonites was winning the first ‘Bomb Contest’ held as part of Antigua’s Carnival. This contest, held in 1968, required the steel bands to play a non-calypso in calypso rhythm. Harmonites was also the first steel band to play in a church service in September 1971, although Hells Gate had [previously] done church performances. It was nostalgic for Antigua when Harmonites shocked the pan world when in 1979 they were selected to perform at the Super Bowl half-time show at the Miami Orange Bowl.

Harmonites were again selected in 1986 from among other internationally famous steel bands, to participate in the ‘World Drum Festival,’ held as part of Expo ‘86’ in Vancouver, Canada under the captaincy of the renowned Fitzroy ‘Champ’ Other tours included Rochester, Carifesta in Barbados 1981, Korea, Brazil, Bahrain in the Middle East, Expo 2000 in Hanover, Germany, St. Thomas, Puerto Rico and the first Caribbean Steelband Festival sponsored by Caripan in Grenada 2001.

In addition, the band has traveled quite extensively over the years, solidifying its ‘International’ moniker, while remaining true to its roots, winning the ‘Sweetest Steel Band on the Road’ title more than twelve times.

Looking ahead, Harmonites has set itself a number of goals. It had already fused voices with pan. The band has recorded 4 albums which include the famous ‘Men In Harmonites’.

The band house is situated at Lower North Street and the current captain is Simon ‘Kamau’ Toulon.

Harmonites School of Pan

Harmonites School of Pan started in 1988 mainly to replenish the Harmonites steel band. After this objective was achieved the school was closed after about eighteen months in existence.

The school was reopened on January 4, 2000 after the steel band association decided to revive panorama. The objective of the school is to teach anyone (color, class or creed) interested in the basic art of steel pan playing; at the end of this course you would be given a pair of sticks and a certificate saying you have successfully completed the course ‘introduction to pan playing’. After all this, it did not matter if you wanted to stay with the band, play in a next band, or stop because all you wanted to do was to learn to play pan.

The school was giving a donation of $10,000.00 by an American donor group to purchase instruments for the school, and the school now has at its disposal eight treble pans, four double tenors, four double seconds, four double guitars, three quad cellos, two tenor basses and two six- or low-basses. While this is not a good balance it’s a good start.

September 2003 class B was taught theory and two students who have recently graduated from the school, have been sent to the Department of Culture to be groomed into panists by Mr. Aubrey “Lacu” Samuel, a past member of the band, now a tutor at the Department of Culture, The tutors at the school are Mr. Leroy Gordon, one of the original members of Harmonites, Mr. Simon Toulon - the present captain, Mr. Martley Christian, and Marlon Fredrick - a past member of the school.

Source:  In Tune With Pan magazine, publication of the Cultural Development Division - Ministry of Education, Human Development & Culture, Antigua & Barbuda, W.I.  2008

 

 Hells Gate Steel Orchestra

Hells Gate Steel Orchestra

Biography

The Hells Gate Steel Orchestra, The ‘World’s Oldest Steel Orchestra’, Was Established In 1945. The Band Began As An Organized “Iron Band” [Referred To As The ‘Cling Cling Band’] Which Emerged From ‘The Point’, In The Parish Of St. John, Antigua, West Indies. 

The Band Was Given Its Name By The Residents Of The Point Community Because Of The Noise Produced From The Instruments Used Such As Discarded Auto Wheel Brake Drums, Clutch Housings, Hollowed Metal Pipes And Biscuit Cans. 

 

The Players Referred To Themselves As‘The Monkey Band’. Subsequently The Members Brainstormed For A Name For The Band and After A Number Of Names Which Were Synonymous To Antigua Were Suggested, The Members Unanimously Agreed On The Name “Hells Gate”, Which Was Submitted By Eustace “Manning” Henry.

 

 

 

Original Steel Orchestra

Original Steel Orchestra

Panache Steel Orchestra

Panache Steel Orchestra

Biography
The Panache Steel Orchestra was founded on Sunday 4th March 2007 on the beautiful island of Antigua. The name Panache was chosen for this Steel Orchestra because it is synonymous with flair, style, confidence, flamboyance, and elegance.Our members are committed to a single mission - boldly and consistently positioning Panache at the highest level of pan performances in Antigua and Barbuda.A number of our members have in excess of 20 years experience in Steelband performances and administration while others bring the boundless energy and enthusiasm of youth. We fully expect this to result in a winning combination for Panache and for any person or organization with whom we are associated.

Director: Robin MargetsonArranger: Robin Margetson

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Root Steel Band

Root Steel Band

Biography

The Roots Steel Band was formed in January 1996,by Leon ( Kuma ) Rodney.

Their performances began in the many hotels on their home island of Antigua & Barbuda.

By June the band was performing at most of the major concerts and shows being held.These included Sweet Cry Freedom and Calypso Spectacular,two of the biggest annual shows ever to hit Antigua.By July/August the band was appearing on major Carnival shows,establishing the band real fast.Calls were coming from most of the hotels and promoters on the island.

In December,one of their calls was very special - they performed on a yacht for actor

Denzil Washington.In late December 1996 early January 1997 they released their first album entitled The First Time,and the success started.Roots became established,performing from street corners to great concerts and the biggest shows.

 

West Side Symphony

West Side Symphony

Biography

Out of a need to develop a steel band in Greenbay - the most densely, youth-populated village on the island - WEST SIDE SYMPHONY STEEL ORCHESTRA was born. This memorable occasion took place, April 14th, 1995, on an ABS TV programme hosted by Dr. Jacqui Quinn-Leandro. Former members and associates of AMP Halcyon were instrumental in bringing this band into being.

Some of the original leaders were Eugene Davis, Gerry Richards, Curtis ‘CC’ Cochrane, Eustace ‘Gatouks’ Velvet James.

Financing of the band was made possible by contributions from the public and private sectors, fundraising efforts and a loan from the Antigua and Barbuda Development Bank. In 1997, with the assistance of former Prime Minister Lester Bird and Bernard Walker, sponsorship was attained via the Free Trade and Processing Zone. In this regard, the band acknowledges the support given by Ms. Ivy Hurst.

After two years of further fund raising, the band was able to purchase its own instruments and construct a pan yard for the rehearsals and training of youths between the ages of 8 years to 20 years.

The band has been competitive from 1997, and is managed by Eugene Davis its arranger being ‘CC’ Cochrane.

Source:  In Tune With Pan magazine, publication of the Cultural Development Division - Ministry of Education, Human Development & Culture, Antigua & Barbuda, W.I.  2008

 

 

 

 

 

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