More Early History Of Pan In Arima

Earl Walters as posted on Facebook

How many folks are aware of the first blind panman to play the steel instrument in a National panorama competition was an Arimian?

He also played in a few more panorama competitions.

The Blind Panman

Amigo. He also played with Tropical Harmony and then Cross Stars, sometimes he used sell fish from a moving van and beef with Pato Oliver. You should know him as Popo, later on, as he was nicknamed.

Damascus “Amigo” Allene was a very skillful player on the double/tipple guitar played with Nutones.

Lawrence Damascus Alleyne alias “popo..amigo” from Columbus St. was indeed the first blind panman to play in a National Panorama competition. This Arimian also played pan for “Casbah” in the 50’s. He was a “crack shot” on the guitar pan. He practiced playing with 6 pan sticks…3 in each hand.

The Spiderweb Pan

How many are aware that the “spiderweb” steel instrument was originally invented by an Arimian? He did the sketch including placement of notes and handed over to another well- known Arimian to produce the product.

My focus is Arima.

Some of Casbah members left and formed an alliance with Chai “Fatboy.” The other foundation members together with Mr Faria and other new members formed Tropical Harmony Steel Orchestra. The late great Sylvester Dominic Garcia “Scorpion” was the band tuner and arranger. He also sinked the pans. This was a man whose skills and talent were not fully acknowledged, but that is another story.

Tropical Harmony entered a national steel band competition in the late 50’s. Scorpion did a fantastic arrangement with the song “the Bull ” implementing a strong cha-cha-cha rhythm. Having played in the preliminary rounds staged at the Windsor Cinema, they qualified for the Semis at the Naparima Bowl and created a great impact by their rendition of the “Bull” a Kitchener song. They played their pans while sitting. The adjudicator was Major Dennison from England. He gave them high marks and they placed 2nd. Whatever reasons they changed the tune for the finals at POS and placed low down.

The spider-web pan! Two individuals from Arima collaborated to create this instrument in the 50’s!

The doubters will always debate the history of the spider-web pan that’s their belief.
The first “scratcher” may also have been an Arimian. Food for thought!

Wasn’t Anthony Williams credited with the invention of the Spider Web. While that story was refuted, this one has been in the public domain from the time it happened, during our boyhood days and no one has ever contested it. Don’t know from where this ghost story came, tossed into the Sahara wind with nothing to back it up, but dust in ‘we face’!

Casbah was the first pan side in Arima to play on the Greens back in the 50’s. They were also the first to play in a church in the 50’s’ which was unheard of in other parts of the country. Due to “Casbah” being from the country area of Arima at the time, another steel band[name not provided] bigger in size from the West who played at the cathedral later on got the credit as the first steelband to play in a church.

Kenneth Alexander (DJ Ken Sausage)’s father-in-law, a distinguished gentleman known as Faria from Pinto road with nicknames “Fatman” and “Dehfy” was chairman of the Tunapuna Corporation. He consulted with the Arima corporation which then gave the permission for Casbah to perform on the Greens. He also consulted with ex Principal Johnny Brooks to have Casbah perform at Santa Rosa Church.

Faria was also influential in organizing the first Blocko steel band lime on the Greens which included other bands from Tunapuna and Arima.

Faria was also responsible for forming the Blackpool football Club which included familiar names like Vernon James “froggy” and Chandar “Tank” and others in the 5o’s.

Tropical Harmony originated from “Casbah.” They never had a permanent place to practice. They use to practice on Raglan St. @ “Scorpion’s” residence on Coryat lane and Calcutta St. Tropical Harmony was formed by deceased Mr. Faria.

Let me bring closure to the Spider-web pan conversation.

A goodly gentleman by the name of Nollis Tenia of Calcutta St. and who eventually relocated to Mausica Rd. had a vision to create a new pan. He visualized, then transferred his thoughts to a sketch.

He drew the design of the pan he had imagined on a sheet of paper and it contained 15 notes. He approached his good friend, Sylvester “Scorpion” Garcia showed him the plan, but Sylvester was baffled by the design. He thought it was challenging to create a pan with that type of design. Eventually these two gentlemen began working on the project together.

Sylvester pounded and sink the pan. Nollis marked out the 15 notes and Sylvester completed the rest. The  web pan was created .That was in 1950/51!

Anthony Williams and others from the West use to frequent the pan yard located on Raglan St. Sylvester would say to his buddies “dem fellas only coming from Town to macco what we doing.”

Scorpion always had a copy book filled with all kind of pan designs, including the spiderweb pan in his back pocket. 

Vernon Tenia the older brother of Nollis..made his own “scratcher” which he used in the rhythm section for Casbah during the carnival period back in the early 50’s. Vernon is the man who came up with the name “Marsicans.”back in the 60’s. The name of the Steel Orchestra from Mausica Rd. 

The gentleman who provided me with all this information is presently still alive. He was around the Vigilante and Casbah era. He was also the Secretary of Casbah until the band became defunct. He was a youngster in the badjohn era and he eventually became a “Tess”, a man not to mess with.

There were some other notorious “badjohns” not mentioned who were exceptional dressers: buff shoes, felt hats, band lon Jerseys and Mohair pants. Dr. John Assing and his brother in law Medina, Herbert Emanuel from Mt Pleasant, Frankie Charles from Calcutta St., Leno Martin and Rudolph Sorzano, all brothers from Coryat lane.

Let me end by saying the first pan/mas band to portray two different mas designs on carnival Monday & Tuesday in Arima was “Casbah”.