From Belle Garden to Toco: BYisrael lauds T&TEC New East Side after topping Panorama semis

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Our Boys play a rendition of Say Say at Panorama semis on Saturday. – ROGER JACOB

T&TEC New East Side Dimension Steel Orchestra serenaded their way to a tight first place finish in the Panorama small conventional bands semifinals in Port of Spain on Saturday night.

Playing an arrangement by Kersh Ramsey, East Side of Windward Road, Belle Garden, topped the 29-band chart with its rendition of Lord Kitchener’s Toco Band in one of the last performances of the night. East Side amassed 277 points, according to unofficial results released on Saturday night.

They finished just three ahead of runner-up La Horquetta Pan Groove, with their selection of Spring Garden on Fire.

Three other Tobago orchestras also qualified for the finals, including reigning small-conventional champions Uptown Fascinators, First Citizens Pan-Thers and Our Boys. Uptown Fascinators placed fifth behind La Horquetta Pan Groove, Fusion Steel and Tokyo. Fifteen bands will feature in the finals on January 12.

The event was witnessed by hundreds at Victoria Square, including Tobago House of Assembly deputy chief secretary Dr Faith BYisrael.

La Horquetta Pan Groove Steel Orchestra tenor players perform on Saturday at Victoria Avenue in Port of Spain. – ROGER JACOB

Describing herself as “probably (East Side’s) biggest fan”, BYisrael, a former player, said East Side and the other Tobago bands made a statement on behalf of the island.

“I’m ecstatic. This is showing that the band (despite a lull), we’ve been able to pick up. And I’m even more proud of the fact that we chose, even before many others, to use one of our local Tobago arrangers. And he has grown with us,” she said, referring to Ramsey, whose first took up his first job as an arranger with East Side about five years ago.

“As a Tobagonian, as somebody from Belle Garden, as somebody who (still) considers herself a member, East Side, I am elated at this point. Of course, we still have to go to the final but I’m excited about that.”

The band’s senior cast includes captain Holford Richards, manager Elvon Beckles, and tuner Desmond “Mappo” Richardson, completing an all-Tobago cast.

A player from Our Boys hits a note on the bass drum during their performance at the Panorama small conventional bands semis at Victoria Avenue, Port of Spain on Saturday. – ROGER JACOB

“That says the island pan fraternity is developing,” BYisrael said, noting the rising number of new arrangers and captains from Tobago.

“We’re producing a world-class product, and I’m really proud.”

The band was created in 1966 and has been sponsored by T&TEC for 57 years, qualifying for multiple national small-conventional semifinals and finals. They are three-time reigning THA small band champions.

The others qualifying bands include, Golden Hands, TT Defence Force Steel Orchestra (joint sixth, 271 points); Arima Golden Symphony, St Margaret’s Super Stars (joint eighth, 269 points), Panosonic Connection, Fascinators Pan Symphony, Harvard Harps Steel Orchestra and Road Block Steel Orchestra (joint 11th, 266 points).