Whenever I think of the Steelband Panorama competition of 1966, hear Lord Kitchener’s “My Brother, your Sister“ or Sparrow’s “Obeah Wedding“, I also remember the preliminaries, rain , sweet pan, Guinness Cavaliers – and Desperadoes!
It was a rainy day , and people were sliding and playing in the mud , a little preview of young Americans antics three years later at Woodstock.
Guinness Cavaliers had created a sensation by winning the 1965 competition, and in 1966 the band came bigger and more powerful than the previous year, so a sizable crowd had gathered, impatiently waiting as the band prepared to head down the “drag” and across the stage.
Finally , Bobby Mohammed , the band’s captain and arranger , struck his bell , and the band started.
The crowd roared as the tune’s introduction ended and the chorus started , highlighted by the swinging bassline that was Cavalier’s trademark.
And a large joyous crowd , yours truly among them, followed the band as they went down the racetrack.
At that moment , the “vibes” were so sweet, I was certain that they would win again.
That day, we thought that Cavaliers would prove to be an unstoppable force.
On Panorama final’s night , however , Beverley Griffith and Desperadoes proved to be the proverbial immovable object!
By any measure , Beverley has to be considered one of Trinidad’s most influential and accomplished musical arrangers of the twentieth century.
In my opinion , Clive Bradley , Earl Rodney and Beverly Grifith deserve special recognition as more that just steelband arrangers , but as influential contributors to the development of Trinidad and Tobago’s music in the last century, be it calypso, dance or steelband.
In 65 , Cavaliers won with a new , different sound.
In 1966 , Desperadoes also came with a different sound, an arrangement of Sparrow’s “Obeah Wedding” by Beverley Griffith that was fresh and exciting , and which for the first time introduced a strong jazz flavor and element to panorama music.
This arrangement created another jolt in panorama music, and in the end Desperadoes secured a much deserved victory.