Year: 97 – 99
Place: St. Thomas, USVI
The stories I could tell about the afternoons spent in the panyard at Addelita Cancryn Junior High School would be enough to fill a book. But, I promise this isn’t a tell all because some of my friends would hunt me down and tie my hands from ever writing again if I did.
So, here’s the sanctioned rundown of my afterschool days with the awesome Iguana PanJammers………
I don’t know at what point during Junior High that I had decided to join the steelpan with my friends, but that is one day I would never regret. Those were some of the best days of my young life.
Almost everyday after school we would get to our duties of rolling the steelpans from the storage unit down to the hall where we practiced. From the bass drums to the tenor pans were hauled down the schoolyard to their positions; tenor bass to the far left, bass drums to the far right, cellos and guitars in the back, and in the middle of it all the tenors, double seconds, double tenors, and drums.
My steelpan of choice was the one that played the lyrics, which might have been destined for me anyway as I always loved to write music, the tenor. Give me two sticks and a beat and I could make lovely music with my tenor.
Once we had all gotten into the rhythm of things and learned how to play our chosen instruments, sometimes we would start playing in the hallway even before our instructor came to direct us. My favorites were ‘In The Mood’, ‘The Classic’, and one that name escapes me, but it had the wickedest bass line. Dum dada dum dada dum dada dum. Don don don, don don don, don don don doooon. (I will have to check in with one of my friends for the name and update this post.)
But when that song came on, all hands were always on deck to play, even if it was just for fun and not for any practice. Don’t talk about when we were in the parade. If you weren’t behind a pan, you were trying to get someone off of their pan so that you could play that song.
Best Pan Instructor Ever
Our band leader, Mr. Samuel Lawrence was the best and the funniest instructor ever. My band mates can chime in on our many peltings and raggas we used to get.
We could sound beautiful to everyone one else around us, but he never failed to remind us when we played ‘a pack of s@#$’.
And don’t talk about when he is mad at someone, especially one of the tenor players or bass players. He would throw a stick so hard after those boys whenever they egged him on or mocked him.
When Sam threw a stick everybody ran, then everybody laughed. It was all in love and fun.
Those were the days.
My favorite memories from Pan days:
- our Christmas Concert at High School
- playing for Carnival during the parade
- Panorama St. John
- Christmas at Sam’s place in Kirwan Terrace (fun times)
- our beach parties on Brewer’s and Vessup
OMG. Between learning how to play steelpan (wish I had a tenor pan all now), to spending time with some awesome people afterschool, those were some of the best days of my life. What I would give to relive those moments once again.
Oh well, guess that’s why I have this blog after all. Dum dada dum dada dum dada dum.
Did you play an instrument in school? What was it and do you miss it today? Let me know in the comments. And somebody please tell me what the name of that song is that is stuck in my head now…..