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How Pan Nation came to the Lord Mayor’s Show

6 November 2011 Tom Hunter

Pan Nation is the newest steel band to erupt from North London, a gigging band who play a diverse repertoire of calypso, reggae, classical, folk and even Christmas carols

Pan Nation is a new steel band formed as a place for beginners and experienced players to express themselves through music. London Calling caught up with the group during preparations for their biggest gig to date - performing as part of the Lord Mayor's Show.

London Calling: How did Pan Nation come to be invited to be part of the Lord Mayor’s show?

Pan Nation: One of our committee members was looking on the Internet for gigs and fund raising activities suitable for Pan Nation to participate in. She spotted an advert announcing the Lord Mayor’s Show. It looked exciting and it would give us exposure. Having made enquiries we realised that it would be too expensive to fund as we were just starting out.  However the Lord Mayor’s Show team were so impressed with our application that a representative invited the group to apply to the special grants. Lord Mayor’s Show committee only give out a few of these grants.  We were successful and that’s how we came to be invited to be a part of the Lord Mayor’s Show.
 
LC: How long has the group been going and how did you get started?


PN: The group was formed about 2 years ago. But pressure of work on manager/arranger (Chris Storey) meant he needed support. He turned to a few parents who had supported him in the past to form a committee to help him realise his dream of running a steel orchestra. 

The band practices regularly and takes part in as many performances as they can, for example: charity events including a charity run for diabetes in Greenwich Park and the Bobby Moore Fund’s bike ride for Bowel Cancer. They have also played at the Camden Green fair, Tottenham Carnival and have played at the Bernie Grant Arts Centre in Tottenham a number of times including having the privilege to perform as a guest band at the 11th annual Pan Explosion, Stapleton Carnival, and The Festival of Steel - part of the celebrations for the 60th anniversary of the Festival of Britain at the Royal Festival Hall London’s South Bank . The band has also played at numerous weddings and parties.
 
As we were starting up people have generously given their time and expertise for free, especially our web designer Will Gregg. He got us started and now we have www.pan-nation.co.uk. And most importantly, Haringey Young Musicians have provided instruments for us to use.
 
LC: Can you tell us more about the particular instruments you use and the styles of music you play.  Are you doing any extra preparation for the procession?

PN: The instruments we use are called steel pans which originate from Trinidad and Tobago. We have 8 different types of steel pans in our band. Tenor pans, double tenors, double seconds, double guitars, triple cellos, quadrophonics, tenor bass and bass. Each pan has its own individual parts which are all learnt by traditional aural methods. Each song has to be practiced over and over again so the pannists can retain their parts. Another important part of the steel band is the percussion section which is also known as the "Engine Room". This section helps keep the band in time and provides different beats for the varied styles of music we play. This usually consists of a drum kit, congos, scratchers, cow bell and iron. The band plays a wide range of music, from traditional soca and calypso to jazz, pop, R&B and even classical. We have been rehearsing extra hard for the Lord Mayor’s Show so we can be tight and on top of our game.
 
LC: Tottenham has obviously been in the press a fair bit recently. How have recent events affected the group?

PN: The riots didn’t really affect us. We did cancel a couple of our classes as we were unable to get into the hall to practice as the roads were blocked.  However this made our young people more motivated and more excited to perform to prove that good comes out of Tottenham. We are back practicing, working hard and we continue to be dedicated to supporting our community here in Tottenham.
 
LC: Once the show is over are you back to business as usual, or do you have any more grand plans afoot?

PN: We will be even more inspired to grow and hopefully the exposure will help us with funding in order for us to take part in Steel Panorama and Notting Hill Carnival next year.  Our dream is to go to the home of Pan, Trinidad to perform.  This is such an exciting time for us we have been given such a great honour, we still can’t believe it. This is just the beginning for Pan Nation.

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