Skiffle Bunch's star tenor pannist on a
The Three Tenors
Skiffle Bunch's four cello pannist
The Diaspora Music Village, a biannual series of (mostly free to attend) cultural events spanning approximately a fortnight, organised by Cultural Co-operation, this year included a series of evening concerts of extended performances by visiting international artists.
The 30th June early evening concert, presented in association with the National Theatre's summer festival "Watch This Space" at the Theatre Court at the NT, featured an 11-piece ensemble of the cream of one of Trinidad's premier large conventional steel bands, Skiffle Bunch Steel Orchestra from San Fernando with Tassa Drummers, also from South Trinidad. For a little more about Skiffle Bunch, please see the review of the same morning's performance at the October Gallery.
The NT's Theatre Court was still bathed in summer sunshine, though a light shower was threatening (and eventually materialised, briefly), started filling up slowly as the thunderous, booming sound of the Tassa Drummers started the evening's performance, while Skiffle members looked on. A typical group of four, the tassa drummers comprised two tassa drums, respectively known as the cutter and the fulley, the jhanj (cymbals), and bass drum. This kind of tassa ensemble is well capable of an ear-splitting volume (but can only give a small foretaste of the massed tassa drummers during the Hosay festival in Trinidad), and the glorious noise certainly had no problem getting the attention of the crowd. The four South Trinidadian Tassa Drummers gave a polished and accomplished performance that would have brought back fond, nostalgic memories of Hosay, a Shia Muslim festival with a distinctly Trinidadian flavour, to anybody familiar with it..
Skiffle Bunch - from L-R, the 'bassman' (on the uncommon 7-bass), three tenors, double tenor, triple
guitars, congas, and four cello
(For more photos please see the slide show below.)
Skiffle Bunch followed with their set and got things really swinging, with a big sound for such a small ensemble. The eleven piece ensemble consisted of three tenors, a double seconds, a double guitars, a triple guitars, a four cello, the uncommon seven-bass, and an "Engine Room" consisting of congas, trap set, and other percussion such as the iron, scraper, etc. played by Captain Junia Regrello. The "big sound" referred to was no doubt greatly aided by the fact that one of the tenors was a bore pan, which has considerably enhanced carrying power over a normal tenor pan and can make the section sound considerably larger than it really is.
Skiffle Bunch put their hearts and souls into presenting a small selection from their wide repertoire with gusto and a totally infectious enthusiasm. Their performance was utterly breathtaking, exuberant and exhilarating. The soloing by the high tenor and bore pan pannists were especially sensational and oozed star quality. The irresistibility of Skiffle Bunch's performance certainly also won over the audience fast and even had a few people "grooving in the aisles".
The exuberance and enthusiasm and the sheer enjoyment of the players of Skiffle Bunch were pure joy, and for the duration of their performance one almost felt transported back to Trinidad. This 'bunch' certainly displayed star quality all over, and one really would hope to see and hear the full-sized band in Britain one of these days. Skiffle Bunch were pure magic - "de pan sweet fuh so!", as it would be put in Trinidad.
As this wonderful event resulted in a fairly sizeable number of excellent photographs that it would not really be feasible to use in a short review such as this, a selection is presented below in a slide show.
Skiffle Bunch also featured at the Diaspora Music Village 2004 Festival Weekends and are also covered in a forthcoming review of the Saturday, 3rd July event at Kew Gardens.