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Norman Darway Speaks on the History of Steelpan in Trinidad and Tobago

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Alexander Rag Time Band Staff Article
Interview Recorded: February 23, 2005
Posted: March 01, 2005

In 1939, they decide they would go to town with only pans, so they gathered up pans as the months rolled by an' they could have gotten the pans much easier, but the port was in its developmental stages, which started developing from 1934/35 coming down. They use to discard these pans outside Wrightson road side, (where the Fire Brigade Station is), as a dumping ground and these guys from Corbeau Town, (The Crown Plaza area now), would take these pans and carry it to de big yard at Woodford and Tragarete road and pack it up there. If ya dus'bin outside in the road, they would take it up too. Whatever they feel that they could make music with, they would stock it up in the yard for the coming 1939 carnival season.

Around 24th November 1938, they were showing a picture by the name of "Alexander Rag Time Band". This picture was shown at the Empire cinema and also Deluxe cinema and they decide for the carnival, they would name themselves instead of "The Calvary Tamboo Bamboo Band" to "Alexander Rag Time Band" and put little things like score sheets stick onto the pan and go to town. So they remain practicing there in de yard to get this rhythm going and for the carnival of 1939, they hit town with dis new styling of music. Town went wild, people start throwing money on their pans an ting, then they turned down into Charlotte street, where Hell Yard was on Charlotte street, not where Hell Yard is now, and the guys from Hell Yard was amazed to see what taking place, because at ah time, they say that some guys come and tell them, look some boys coming beating pan coming up Park Street an' some of de fellas didn't believe until they see it and they ask the guys from "Alexander Rag Time Band" now, how they come about dat, because it was a place where some of the fellas would do their gambling, stick fighting, they transfer from each to the other. Eventually they say that they would come jus de same way because they were a Tamboo Bamboo Band too. You had Tamboo Bamboo Bands in Belmont, St. James, Gonzales, Arima, Tobago and South. So they decide that they would be in this pan business. Also, down in St. James, you had de boys from St. James who name dey'self "Grow More Food". They also wanted to be part of that.


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