The High Commissioner, Garvin Nicholas, then delivered a very informative, impressive and captivating speech about the steelpan instrument, its history, achievements and future in global music and Trinidad and Tobago’s continued efforts in promoting their national instrument to the rest of the world.
2014 marks the 7th Anniversary of the creation of the UK Pan Tuners Guild. Steelpan craftsmen in the UK who wish to support the development of their craft and industry formed the Guild on The 4th November 2007. This not for profit organisation was created by Guild members who wished to work together as a benevolent society supporting themselves and their families through the practice of their craft.
Dudley Dickson, Steelpan Innovator, Scores Again
Trinidad, W.I. - Make me another “Voom Box.” Such were the words of Len “Boogsie” Sharpe when he realized the effect and potential of the new invention from UK-based inventor, Dudley Dickson, when the instrument which houses the Sonic Bass, was tested with National Panorama Champions, Phase II Pan Groove at C2K8 (Carnival 2008).
The acoustic Voom Box is made of plywood and is somewhat like a speaker box since it amplifies the sound of the pan, in this case the seven-bass. An excited Boogsie believes that another voom box would strike a better balance to the sound of the band.
Continuing the trail which he started in C2K8, the diminutive pan innovator to date has already invented – the Collapsible Folding Stand which is now the flagship of Phase II and many bands around the world. Then there is the Sonia Sonic Bass, in addition to making modifications to the Diagonal Tuning Tenor Pan.
Dickson (at right in white cap) was answering questions from Pan Diaspora’s Visionary, Hollis Clifton and host DJ Heshimu on WACK Radio 90.1 FM recently – the monthly interactive feature which traces the development of Trinidad and Tobago’s gift to the universe – the steelpan, the only musical acoustic, percussion instrument invented in the 20th century.
Little did Dickson know that when he migrated to the UK as a teenager from his native Grenada that the steelpan would have enabled him “to eat a food,” thanks to Trinidadian Roy Jacobs who invited him to join the Birmingham All Stars. He was full of gratitude, since previous attempts to play pan in Grenada were treated with disdain. One thing then led to another which saw Dudley moving from Tropicans Harmony Steelband led by Victor Phillips. His next move was to Melody Makers under the stewardship of Biggs Yearwood. His big transition, however, materialized when he became a facilitator at the Coventry training workshop where he was involved in pan fabricating – sinking, grooving, cutting and burning - with Victor Phillips as head supervisor.
The former limbo dancer then grasped the opportunity to move to the city of London in 1982 to train youngsters at the carnival industrial project. One year later he had completed the prototype for the “collapsible folding stand” which he had initially conceptualized while in Coventry.
For the 2K8 carnival season Dudley tuned two “diamond shaped tenors” which he presented to Phase II Pan Groove. This format was first given to Kalomo Kings of San Fernando, south Trinidad, in the 1990’s.
The creator’s penchant to prevent a recurrence of an incident which occurred in 2000 at the World Steelband Music Festival at the Jean Pierre Complex in Trinidad, with the visiting UK based-Ebony Steel Orchestra, resulted in Dickson’s creating a “collapsible stage.” According to the ace inventor, this latest masterpiece has been sent to China for mass production for cost effectiveness. The stage is so strong that it could accommodate a motor vehicle for display. It has indeed been tested by, among others, Billy Ocean, a member of Ebony, according to Dickson.
As a tuner, Dudley’s workmanship has been felt in quite a few bands around the world inclusive of London All Stars, Mangrove, CSI (Caribbean Steel International) and Panch (Switzerland). The other bands include Ebony, Phase II and Halcyon (Antigua), all of whom went on to become Steelband panorama champions in 2008 in their respective countries.
Panatics and pan aficionados from around the world phoned in to congratulate Dudley on his stewardship in the business of pan. These included Shervan from London, Junior English - former member of Ebony and Mangrove, and Anne, among a couple of callers from New York.
Dudley reiterated his willingness to continue teaching youngsters to service steelpans