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Correspondence: “The dream of the Katzenjammers Steel Orchestra”
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Correspondence: “The dream of the Katzenjammers Steel Orchestra”

One band from the Caribbean island of Tobago has proved that through persistence, hard work, and constant practicing, dreams can become a reality. Josanne Brassey, a 24-year-old from the island of Tobago reports.

In 1951, in a fishing village called Black Rock in Tobago, a band of just twelve youths was formed. Named the Katzenjammers Steel Orchestra, it was first captained by Mr Ethelbert Williams.

This band, which started playing the sweet music of pan under a mango tree, is today the oldest steel band on the island.

It was the vice captain, Mr Jerome Williams, who made it possible for those talented panists to have a place they could go to every day and spend hours in the night practicing.

After its establishment the band acquired a first class arranger, Mr Rupert McCardy, who worked with veterans Dwaine Archer, Roland Williams, Handel Alfred, Claude Ramsey and Alan Duke, who produced hypnotic rhythms to make everyone shake a leg, even if they weren’t pan lovers.

The band got its name from a popular restaurant and bar in London which served German cuisine. And in 1955 it had the opportunity to play for Queen Elizabeth II.

In 1967 it was the only steel band in the island to win the national Tune of Choice accolade. Katzenjammers went on to receive international recognition through touring Montreal, Canada, in 1975.

The band is not just known for its powerful and energetic performances that warms the hearts of musical lovers wherever it goes. It is also known as the pride and joy that exists within the community of black rock. The knowledge and experiences gained from the founders and veterans are like food on a plate served to their players.

Recent achievements include second place in the National Youth Pan Fiesta 2004 competition and coming first place in the 2008 Pan in the 21st Century competition. They were also a part of a European Road Show tour sponsored by the Tobago House of Assembly.

To date their greatest achievement ever was obtaining first place in the National Panorama 2011 Semi-Finals and winning the National 2011 Panorama Finals. It was the first time they had ever won a National Panorama.

In the old days it was very hard for any band from Tobago to accomplish such a huge success, but they proved that through persistence, hard work, and constant practicing that dreams can become a reality.


Note: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. All articles are published in a spirit of improving dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?

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