Austin "Superblue" Lyons became the toast of the evening on Monday during the preliminary round of the National Panorama for large bands in the east.
Republic Bank Exodus is playing his song Rag Storm, and Superblue and his management team were in St Augustine for the execution and judging. When Exodus was finished with the judges they played the song again (as usual), only this time Superblue went down to the front line and asked Kurt Edwards to show him the notes. In a flash Superblue was behind the tenor playing with the band.
Fans, social and mainstream media went wild taking pictures and recording the event. In his early days, Superblue came out of steelband to sing, so he was very comfortable on the tenor pan.
The media attention went on for some time before Superblue gave up the sticks and walked along the row of tenors congratulating the players, in a fitting end to the evening.
The evening’s judging started at First Citizen Supernovas in Surrey Village, Lopinot, an hour later than the advertised time, and without any apology from the organisers to the hundreds of pan music lovers.
Supernovas played Farmer Nappy’s Hookin' Meh, arranged by Amrit Samaroo, with the most energetic conductor, Donnell Thomas, in front of the band. The players were well fired up and executed the arrangement to Samaroo’s expectation.
On St Vincent Street in Tunapuna, world-renowned arranger/pannist Robbie Greenidge had his charges at Birdsong drilling before the judges arrived. Greenidge is new to Birdsong, but seemed happy with his players. He was proud to show off the musical director and the captain, Derrianne Dyett and Carlene Seale.
Greenidge’s words to the players were, “You all know what you have to do – just do it good.” They played his arrangement of Farmer Nappy’s Hookin' Meh. Somewhere in the arrangement, you heard Hookin' Meh and its twin song Long Time interwoven. Greenidge and the management were satisfied with the players' effort.
Just down the road in St Augustine, hundreds of pan music lovers and Exodus supporters were eagerly awaiting the judges' arrival. Exodus is playing a song composed by their arranger Pelham Goddard for Superblue some time ago, so it's like he is arranging his “own tune.”
Every player in Exodus was in sync for the execution of Rag Storm. According to Goddard it was good: “Rag Storm has all the elements of Carnival. The players sang and danced and you heard a little of most of Superblue’s road march songs.”
The atmosphere at Exodus was one of excitement and members said they had not won a Panorama since 2004 and were hungry to win this year.
To do so they have recruited jazz musician/pannist/arranger and producer Leon Foster Thomas, a Trinidadian living in Florida who has been touring the world and has just returned from Russia.
Foster is the drillmaster and drummer and is running a very tight Exodus ship. He has been working with them for the last two weeks and he said he was very comfortable with his work. The players all seem to like him and they are all on the same page.