Memories…a brief story of my times in the South Trinidad steelpan scene .

me-back in the day (2014_12_08 05_25_25 UTC)
Yours truly (in St. Croix)

I remember in the mid sixties , three south steelbands came on the scene around the same time.

They were Scarlet Symphony of Marabella led by Michael Alleyne , Fonclaire, led by the Austin brothers ,Rudin and Milton Wire Austin, and Silvertones of San Fernando, captained by David “Peasey” Balboza , who I knew , since he worked at the Texaco Oil Refinery at Pointe a Pierre.
When some of the members broke off from Southern Marines and , led by Michael Alleyne , formed Scarlet Symphony, I joined them.
Though the dominant band back then was Guinness Cavaliers ,something about those other two young San Fernando steelbands appealed to me , though of course my loyalty was to my Marabella band , Scarlet Symphony.
The members of the Marabella band was also some of the guys in my “lime”. ( Trinis know what I mean ).
I remember at the time that both San Fernando bands were assisted by south businessman and pan enthusiast John Hoyte, who was to also have a band carry his name. (Hoytonians)
In 1967 , Silvertones gave an impressive appearance in the steelband festival , placing second in the unsponsored category.
Their appearance was highlighted by a memorable version of “The Barber of Seville” , arranged by San Fernando’s outstanding musician and teacher , Mrs. Marjorie Wooding , one of the first women to achieve success arranging for a steelband , and whose son Michael I also knew , working at the Texaco Oil Refinery at Point -a-Pierre .
So, when my band Scarlet Symphony dissolved in late 1967, I made a choice between the two Sando bands that impressed me , and I chose Silvertones, which was then practicing on Legendre Street , a block away from Fonclaire, who were headquartered on Claire Street.

 

silvertones
Silvertones

At that time , Peasey Balbosa had gotten ill , and Silvertones was captained by Maylin Zephrine , who was a competent leader , and a good guy.
If I remember correctly , we made it to panorama semifinals in sixty-eight , with “Kicker George’s arrangement of Kitch’s “Miss Tourist”.
I stayed with Silvertones playing tenor bass on the stage side until I left Trinidad late in 1968 , but returned on vacation in 1971, the year I joined the US Army, to play for Panorama and on the road.
That year I played cellos, and as I remember, we played Lord Kitchener’s “Wait Teacher” arranged by Mrs. Marjorie Wooding . which should establish her as one of , if not the first , female panorama arrangers.

That was also the year that calypsonian Maestro brought down a side from Princes Town to join Silvertones for panorama , which was also helped by the fact that the band had gotten a sponsorship to become WASA Silvertones.
Ironically , Fonclaire turned out to be my most durable connection to the steelbands of South Trinidad, since several former bandmates from Silvertones ( like Calvin Bakhorie , for instance) were still playing with Fonclaire into the eighties.

 

southern marines (2014_12_08 05_25_25 UTC)
Southern Marines

PS

BTW , for the record , I’ve always assumed that Scarlet Symphony was formed because of a money dispute between Milton Lyons and the members of Southern Marines , as was the case with many steelbands back then.
However , a few years ago I heard from a very credible source that was not the case. I was told that the real reason for the breakup was because the Alleyne brothers were upset that Squeezer had sent Burch Kelman to the National Steelband instead of Michael , who was assuming a leadership role with the band and had taken over most of the arranging from Squeezer.
So they instigated the breakup , and the result wea a new Marabella steelband , and both Burch Kellman and Michael Alleyne on the National Steelband. You can see them both in the band’s picture from 1967.
Like I said , that’s the story I heard , and I tend to believe it.

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