EVEN as steelbands continue to struggle for sponsorship for this year’s Panorama, Caribbean Airlines (CAL) has pledged to support San Fernando-based Skiffle steel orchestra for a second year.
CAL’s CEO Garvin Medera said they also intend to surpass the excellent results of 2018 when the formidable team of CAL and Skiffle placed second in the finals. This was the highest placing in Skiffle’s history. At an exhibition night at the Coffee Street pan yard on Friday, ahead of the preliminary judging today, co-captain Joshua Regrello put 2018 winner bp Renegades on notice. “This year we are bringing it down south. I tell you proudly, no band would stand in our way.”
The band has again teamed up with arrangers Odie Gonzales, Kendall Williams and Marc Brooks who took them to second place with Hello, in 2018. The co-captains Brandon Babb and Regrello are hoping the arrangers can work their magic and move them one notch higher to first place with their 2019 selection, So Long by Nadia Batson.
“We are honoured to have Skiffle as part of the illustrious CAL family and our Caribbean Identity,” Medera said at the pan lime, attended by Cabinet ministers, Clarence Rambharat, Paula Gopee-Scoon and Kazim Hosein, San Fernando Mayor Junia Regrello, CAL chairman Ronanie Mohammed and several members of CAL’s board.
Medera said CAL as a key contributor to the culture of the country and the Caribbean has not only lent its support to Skiffle, but has partnered with the National Carnival Commission (NCC), Pan Trinbago, the Red Cross Kiddies Carnival and as the presenting sponsor for Machel Monday and Machel’s Greatest of All Time, Carnival Tour 2019.
Last week, CAL launched the Caribbean Identity in both TT and Guyana which Medera said is the airline’s most powerful corporate campaign.
“Both events were a fantastic success. What we are doing as an airline is fulfilling the intention of what our leaders envisage an airline to be, a uniting force connecting the region.”
Regrello, who is also the CEO of CAL Skiffle, said the airline came at a critical time to the band’s rescue.
He said they are still working out some details on what the requirements are, on either side, including transportation. He said the dynamics for bands from the south is different from those in the north in terms of getting to the competition venue. Transportation for a large conventional band from south for the semi-finals and finals at Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain can exceed $100,000. He said sponsors are working on understanding the challenges south bands face in getting to the venue and what the overall cost would be.
“The understanding is better now. It has improved from last year and I expect it could only get better,” he said.
Regrello commended CAL for its interest in meeting the players. “Although we have been around for a quite a while, we never really had a sponsor to take that particular interest in the band." The long standing relationship with Trinidad Cement Ltd (TCL) was different, he said, because at that time they were a pan-around-the-neck band.
“When you become conventional that status requires a lot more. It requires you to dig deep into the community to understand what the band is about and to look beyond value for money because that is not really sustainable. It has to be seen as a contribution towards development and not necessarily what’s in it for us.”
He said the “what’s in it for us" is how the pan has shaped and harnessed young people over the years in a safe and healthy environment and one that is good for their mindset
"I wish more sponsors would come out and show this kind of support. What was done last (Friday) night was a demonstration of an appreciation for the pan and the players by people in the highest levels of the company and the government as well. Players felt appreciated when they saw the company representatives and Cabinet minister applauding their efforts.”