NGC Steel Xplosion is riding a high. The medium steelband, which placed third in last Friday’s Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Pan Champs, is seeking to build on its success with an outright victory in Saturday’s Panorama final at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain.
“When you are in a competition, you are always hoping to win, “ said manager Iran “Duce” Anthony, adding, “Nobody goes into a competition to lose. The most important thing is to make it to the finals.”
Speaking to Newsday on Monday, Anthony said the band’s members were hyped and ready to give a sterling rendition of Irwin Reyes “Scrunter” Johnson’s Sing In She Party. The tune has been arranged by the young and energetic Akiba Joseph.
“Our performance on Friday (Pan Champs) was an upliftment for the band, players and sponsors and it will also motivate them to support the band next year.”
Anthony said although winning Panorama is a goal, the band is not centred around the annual competition.
“Once a band is organised, they should take part in Panorama. But once a band is disorganised, it cannot take part. Bands must sustain themselves through engagements throughout the year.”
One of Tobago’s leading steelbands, NGC Steel Xplosion is no stranger to winner’s row.
Formed in 2002, the band won the medium band category at the 2010 Panorama with Kenneth Salick’s Radica and has been a consistent finalist in the competition for much of this decade.
After entering its first Panorama competition in 2007, Steel Xplosion won the THA Pan Champs in 2008 and placed second overall in the Panorama competition that same year.
“In 2009, we only made it to the semifinals. But after that time, we have been in the finals up to today. We came second twice, third twice and won three THA Panoramas.”
But the success and recognition the band currently enjoys did not come easy.
Anthony said Steel Xplosion, which emerged from another top Tobago band, NLCB Buccooneers, has weathered many storms over the years.
Apart from pan competitions, the band continues to perform at weddings and many of the island’s top hotels and recreational establishments to boost its profile.
Anthony said, though, Steel Xplosion’s future depended largely on the efforts of both players and management to keep the band alive.
He told Newsday Tobago: “In pan, people come and go. Some players move on to university and some drop out for no reason. Sometimes, the slightest thing will drive people away.”
Anthony said the steelband managers must assess the personalities of their players to get the best out of them.
“You have to use psychology on them to keep them. As a leader, you have to embrace everybody. You cannot take sides because people look at everything in steelband now.”
He said apart from a band’s finances being up to mark, players must be told about their remuneration before gigs.
“But when players do not know how much they playing for and people hiding things, players will pull away. So, you have to know what to do to hold a band together.”
On Saturday, Steel Xplosion will play in position nine. Anthony said, “That is a very good position because you are going into the large band and more people will be around and they will be more attentive. They will be listening to your music more and the place will be a little cooler. “During the day, there is usually problems with the heat; in the night, the wind is more still and it will hold the music around the band. But during the day and early afternoons, the wind takes your music and blows it through the savannah.”