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Steelbands must beat clock too

It's been a long time since I've gone to the Savannah for Panorama. I took a long hiatus since I was generally disappointed.

The show was always way too long as a result of being too disorganised, with bands taking their sweet time about setting up and exiting the stage. This year I decided to make the trek to support my two favourite south bands, Junior Sammy Skiffle and NLCB Fonclaire.

I was pleasantly surprised at the experience. There was a concerted effort by the organisers to get the bands moving, though a few bands did their best to thwart the effort. The washrooms (I can speak only of the male ones) and the Grand Stand (it was cheaper) were kept clean with regular visits by cleaning crews. Kudos to Pan Trinbago.

At the semi-finals, the average time for a band to set up, perform and exit was about 24 minutes. I believe that with a little discipline (and until we introduce some sort of sliding or revolving stage), this can be reduced to about 20 minutes.

That this is possible was well exemplified by Petrotrin Phase II Pan Groove, the eventual winner. Phase II set up in under ten minutes, stopped the playing clock at 7:56 and exited in a total time of slightly less than 20 minutes.

For this "performance" alone, I would have made them the winner. That they also played the best on the night was icing on the cake. RBC Redemption Sound Setters from Tobago also took just under 20 minutes and, for this, I was happy that they made it to the finals.

My first suggestion is that a set-up clock be introduced and bands be given ten minutes to set up. The clock starts to run as soon as the band is called on stage. They should be ready to play within ten minutes.

While I would not advocate any penalty for this year's finals, the mere presence of the clock should force bands to show some urgency, as well as add a little interest to the proceedings. From next year, there should be a penalty for going beyond the time limit (one point for each minute over, say).

Twenty bands (10 medium, 10 large) are carded to play at the finals. Given the ideal case of 20 minutes per band, the show will run for about seven hours. Given a scheduled starting time of 7 p.m., the earliest this show can finish is 2 a.m., with 3 a.m. being the most realistic time.

My suggestion is that, unless there is some legal impediment, Pan Trinbago should reset the starting time to 5 p.m. I don't think anyone will really mind that the show finishes some time before 1 a.m. I pity the bands who have to play at 2 or 3 a.m. before tired and sleepy judges. Of course, this might work to their advantage but you never know. It's best that the show take place when everyone is awake and alert.

If these suggestions are implemented, I believe it will be a finals to remember.

Noel Kalicharan

via email

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