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Triangle Community Steelbands

The First 5 Years


ABOUT THIS BOOK Following the Black Saturday bushfires of February 2009 in Victoria, the Triangle Community Steelbands were formed in late 2009 as a way to assist in the recovery process. This book documents the First 5 Years of Triangle Community Steelbands, from its genesis in mid-2009 till the end of the 2013-14 concert season, including the formation of four individuals steelbands, Pans on Fire, Hot Pans, Jammin’ and the Buxton Primary Steelband.


THE TRIANGLE COMMUNITY STEELBANDS In the wake of the February 2009 bushfires in Victoria, the Triangle District located in the east of the Murrindindi Shire comprising the townships of Marysville, Narbethong, Granton, Buxton and Taggerty saw a number of arts and culture projects emerge to help the bushfire affected population to cope with the recovery process. Whilst the majority were visual arts projects, the Triangle Community Steelbands project is one of the few initiatives involving participants in making music in a group setting on a regular basis. The project started in mid-2009 when Taggerty resident Rita Seethaler visited her homeland of Switzerland to see her sick mother. While she was there, she talked with friends with whom she had played steel pans for many years before coming to Australia. She told them about the fires (which everyone had seen on television) and the social upheaval they had caused. At the same time, Regional Arts Victoria had just offered quick response grants to encourage artists to work on arts recovery programs in their communities. This seeded the idea for Rita to apply for a grant to start a steel band in Marysville and the Triangle District as a way of helping with the recovery process. Some of her Swiss friends immediately offered donations of steel pans they were no longer using. So, Rita returned to Australia with a germ of an idea and was successful in securing a modest grant from Regional Arts Victoria. Rita then succeeded in getting Werner Egger, a Swiss pan maker and tuner, to come to Australia to volunteer his services to make the pans required. Werner got in touch with an old friend, Trinidadian Lennox Jordan, who was now living on the Sunshine Coast. Together they made and tuned a set of pans, while Brad Harkin (a backpacker and musician who had stayed at Rita’s place after the fires) built the stands on which to hang the pans. In late-2009, a gathering at Rita’s house unveiled the pans, and listened to Lennox Jordan show the type of music that could be created. Over the following 12 months, a group of people from the Triangle District with virtually no prior knowledge of steel pans, and relatively little musical training, came together to form Pans on Fire (the first of the Triangle Community Steelbands) to learn, practice, perform and have fun in each other’s company. Led by Rita, the group gained ability and confidence, and realised the importance of music in the recovery process and in their daily lives. The result was a bunch of enthusiastic pan players, who – after twelve months of learning and rehearsal – were able to deliver several uplifting public performances in Marysville and surrounds, playing various music styles and rhythms, and bringing pride, happiness and joy into their communities. Since then, three more bands have formed in the Triangle District - Hot Pans, Jammin’ and Buxton Primary Steelband - while Pans on Fire has gone from strength to strength. Together they have established Marysville and the Triangle District as the steelband capital of Australia. This book describes their development over the First 5 Years, and is a tribute to their unbreakable spirit and resilience.


2009


7th February 2009 The fateful event that precipitated the creation of Triangle Community Steelbands was the bushfires that ravaged Victoria, and especially Marysville and the Triangle District, on Black Saturday, 7th February 2009. The physical and social chaos resulting from the fires necessitated a total change in life trajectory for many people. But out of this tragedy, many people found new strengths and talents of which they were previously totally unaware - playing in a community steelband was one of these discoveries. As bushfire survivor and band member Sharen says “I often think that out of such a bugger we have been given something so wonderful as music, and it wasn't even on my bucket list�.


In The Beginning The steelband journey started at the VIP Packaging factory in Laverton where we picked up 30 steel drums, that had been specially made and donated by VIP to the project. We then went straight to Melbourne Airport to pick up Werner Egger, newly arrived from Switzerland. When he saw the drums, he knew he had work to do. What he didn’t realise was that his first bit of work was changing a flat tyre on the trailer carrying the drums!


Making The Pans Swiss panmaker Werner Egger volunteered to come to Australia and make the pans. He laid out the circles, then with a wooden hammer he beat the drums until they were sunk, then he formed the notes in the sunken pan. Careful tuning and testing with the Strobe Tuner led to the creation of the final pan.


The Early Players Those most involved with the creation of the pans were Rita Seethaler (who started the whole show), Werner Egger (who made the pans), Brad Harkin (who made all the pan stands), and Lennox Jordan (who helped tune the pans and taught us many early tunes). They were also the ones who first showed Taggerty what pans could sound like.


Community Day Towards the middle of the instrument building period, a public community day was held on 14 November 2009 at the Taggerty Panyard, to showcase the project, show the technical steps of building a steelpan and to give a steelband performance (Lennox on double tenor, Werner on baritone, Rita on double second, Bradley on bass).


2010


Bye Werner; Now Down to Work All too soon, Werner’s time at Taggerty came to an end in early-2010. So after another party (one of many over the first 12 months), it was down to work. Many weeks were spent learning basic rythyms, in clapping circles and with spoons in the kitchen!


Practice, and more Practice! Finally, the band was let loose on the pans, and the next few months (while the weather was warm) saw weekly practice sessions inside and outside at the Taggerty Panyard. Everyone helped each other and all sorts appeared at practice; women, men, kids and dogs! But we were never too busy to have a sit-down and have a good chat, with some nibbles and drinks.


Lennox’s Weekend A highlight of the early months was the weekend workshop with Lennox Jordan who came down from the Sunshine Coast to teach us Calypso and a few other things. The weekend saw time for some solitary practice, some group practice and performance, some chatting, nibbling and drinking (of course!). The highlight, though, was learning from Lennox in his unique Trinidadian style. At right, he takes us through “the Drop” in Sugar Bum. Lennox also sat down one night and composed “The Recovery” as a tribute to Marysville; a song we learned in two days and have performed with passion ever since!


The First Gig On Sunday 28 March 2010, just three months after starting to learn, the newlynamed “Pans on Fire” gave their first public performance (with new band teeshirts) at the Marysville Sustainability Expo. After a pep talk from Coach Rita (below) and with a few butterflies in the stomach, the group took to the stage (the tent!). And young and old performed like veterans; after this day, they started referring to themselves as “musicians”!


Illuminated by Fire May 29 saw Pans on Fire going to Flowerdale, another bushfire-affected community, to play at the launch of their Illuminated by Fire project. The fires in the steel drums were apt symbolism for the band. Uncle Roy (Taungurong elder from Taggerty) joined in on the clap sticks and everyone enjoyed the experience of playing for an audience, including Victorian Governor David de Kretser, who previously knew little about the band.


Flying Solo - the RAC Opening Another important date in the life of the band was Saturday 14 August, when Pans on Fire played at the opening of the Rebuilding Advisory Centre (RAC) in Marysville. Since Rita was away on family duties in Switzerland, this was the first public performance where the band was playing without her. And boy did they pull it off well - the general public reaction was “fabulous�! By now, everyone was becoming more confident with their playing, and rarely needed to refer to music sheets during performances - but when they did, they were very inventive in how they kept their sheet music on display!


Open Garden Day As the weather warmed towards the end of the year, the number of gigs kept increasing. Some were “public” performances, and some were more “private”. On Saturday 9th October, the band played at a National Open Garden exhibition, held at (band member) Lynne Walter’s home in Taggerty. Unfortunately, most of the visitors arrived after we had stopped playing, but Tilly (Lynne’s dog) certainly enjoyed her private performance.


Melbourne Cup Day Melbourne Cup Day on 2nd November saw the band playing at the Marysville Sparkling Wine Festival in Powerpoint Park in Marysville. All of the band members got into the “Fashion on the Field” theme of the day. Early showers gave way to sunshine and a firm track, and saw the band give a repeat performance by popular demand. For the first time, the band also conducted a “beginner’s workshop” for anyone and everyone wanting to “have a go”. Young and old joined in and, with help from band members, they were playing their first tune within 20 minutes!


Flowerdale Enlightened Spirits November 20 had the band returning to Flowerdale to help with the launch of their Enlightened Spirits project. November 2010 also saw the return of Werner Egger to build more pans for the next set of bands, who will start the learning process over the summer. We also enjoyed the arrival of another Swiss colleague, Gere de Roodt, who joined in with the performances (playing the brake drum and other percussion instruments), as well as building the next sets of pan stands and doing invaluable work on the Pans on Fire band bus!


2011


Australia Day 2011 January 26 saw Pans on Fire up on the back of “Dicko’s Truck” on a float as they took part in the Australia Day Parade in Marysville, with the theme of the Teddy Bear's Picnic. This venture posed some new challenges as we tried to play the pans and stay upright as the truck made its way down Murchison Street. For their efforts, Pans on Fire was awarded First Prize for a Group Entry by the organising committee.


Emergence The second anniversary of the 2009 Bushfires saw the biggest gig yet undertaken by Pans on Fire, when they performed in the Emergence Festival Concert at the BMW Edge Theatre at Federation Square in Melbourne. Before the performance, there was a mixture of emotions in the band members. But once they got on stage, they performed like troopers. A great day all round, with many compliments. For a video of highlights of the Concert, check out this YouTube video.


Benalla by the Lake On a warm, balmy evening in February 2011, Pans on Fire travelled to Benalla to play as part of the Benalla Music by the Lake Series. Thanks to Madeleine for arranging the concert and the food and drinks afterwards.


The New TCS Bands 2011 saw the creation of two new Triangle Community Steelbands. Hot Pans was an adult band, consisting of many people who had seen Pans on Fire playing and wanted to join in. Jammin’ was a “mums & kids” band led by Werner Egger, consisting of kids from the local schools and their mums. Both bands quickly picked up the essentials and were getting ready to perform publicly over the winter of 2011.


The Pan Bus After a year of carrying six basses around in trailers (and hoping it didn’t rain), we decided to bite the bullet and get a vehicle that could be used to carry the pans with a bit more security. After looking at several options, we bought a second-hand school bus from local bus operator Fallons. The seats were stripped out and our Swiss visitor Gere built custom racks to carry the pans. He also found that we had to raise the roof of our carport to fit the bus underneath! Getting the right number plates was the next task, and later the bus got a bit of very special painting from Rita.


Calypso Night The first big gig of the 2011 Spring season was the Calypso Night at the Crossways Inn in Marysville, where all three Triangle Community Steelbands played individually and as a massed band. This was followed by the Badjohns playing late into the night. The Calypso Night also celebrated Rita's 50th birthday, and she was presented with a special artwork commissioned from local leadlight artist Susan Pickworth, who was also an inaugural Pans on Fire player. This artwork was a leadlight depiction of a soprano pan, with the circle of the fifth represented in the colours of the spectrum.


The Recovery Video The Pans on Fire story has been documented all the way by our good friend Barry Thomas from VideoVision, with audio help from Joe Talea. One of the earliest videos was Recovery, featuring the song written specially for Pans on Fire by Lennox Jordan, and featuring various images of the ongoing recovery of Marysville. Here are some shots of the making of the Recovery video, and some stills from the video, which can be seen in full in this YouTube video.


Making the CD Inspired by the success of the Recovery video, we decided to go one step further and make a Recovery CD. With enough songs in the repertoire to fill a CD, we spent time in the Newmarket Recording Studio and in Joe Talea’s Studio in Taggerty and laid down 10 tracks over a couple of months. We discovered that making a CD involves a lot of patience and many, many re-takes. But after the sound engineers had done their magic, we sat amazed in the rehearsal room as we listened on the night the CDs were delivered.


Launching the CD After all the hard work involved in making the CD, it was time to party! Marysville came alive just after Christmas 2011 as we launched the CD in the main street of Marysville. Bouyed by a live interview with Lindy Burns and after playing a few numbers live on ABC Radio 774 in the previous week, a good crowd turned out for the launch. After two years of sales, we have now sold about 1000 copies and the CD is regularly featured on local radio station UGFM. With an ever-growing repertoire, it’s nearly time to make a follow-up CD.


Assorted 2011 Gigs In addition to the events described earlier, the various Triangle Community Steelbands, especially Pans on Fire, played at a wide variety of other gigs during 2011, including the Winter Wonderland Beach Party at the Narbethong Black Spur Inn, the Open Garden Day at the Walters, the CaribVic Family Day, the Marysville Marathon, the Cartwheels Festival, the Marysville Tourism Board Meeting and the Buxton Community Christmas Party.


2012


Whoroully Pub The gig at Whorouly Pub on 28 January 2012 turned out to be more exciting than we expected. Having set up and practiced in the late afternoon, a thunderstorm rolled in and forced us to put up the tent and break out the tarps. All hands on deck to put up the tent and then hang on for dear life. While some were holding down the tents, others started playing Watermelon Man under the tarps, leading to others dancing in the rain outside. But the show must go on and so with only 15 minutes delay and with rain still falling, we started the concert at 8.45pm for the 200 people who had turned up. Overall, a great night that will be remembered for a long time.


Apollo Bay Music Festival The Apollo Bay Music Festival in April 2012 was a great weekend - a real eye-opener to be part of a proper music festival, and probably for the first time many of us felt like real musicians. We held our own, performance-wise, in front of about 1000 people on Saturday evening in the main tent, and a packed house of 200 in the Mechanics Institute on Sunday morning. The newly painted pan bus got a good workout on the trip, while the new "stickmen" t-shirts looked great. On the Saturday evening, Pans on Fire played on the Almost Nearly Main Stage in the main tent. While everyone was a little nervous, the show went well, with Lennox Jordan casting an approving gaze from back of stage. On Sunday morning, after many of the band had stayed late to watch the Melbourne Ska Orchestra, we fronted up as first act at the Mechanics Institute to a standing room only crowd.


Regional Living Expo Pans on Fire played on Saturday and Sunday (April 28-29) at the Regional Victoria Living Expo at Je's Shed in Melbourne. Bit of a hard house to play to, given that it was so big and open, and since most people were there to learn about Regional Living and not to listen to music. But we made it through a short set on both days. Some happy campers pictured at right at the end of Saturday's set. After our Sunday set at the Regional Living Expo, Rita was invited by Nicky Bomba to play with Bustamento (Lennox Jordan has played with them before, but he was a long way away on the Sunshine Coast). So, with very little notice, and only knowing the key, Rita was able to play with them and even break out with a pan solo.


Dalrymples B&B Opening One of the final performances for Pans on Fire in the 2011-12 season was a very special one, as we played at the re-opening of Dalrymples Guest Cottages in Marysville (operated by baritone player Sharen Donovan and her husband Terry). This event was a great example of Recovery, which is what the band has been all about from the outset. Over 100 guests attended on a beautiful autumn day, with special guests John Bertrand (America's Cup fame) and Gary Pert (Collingwood FC CEO) adding their thoughts and words about the occasion and what it means to them.


Melton Art Day Out Our first performance for the 2012-13 season was at the Melton Art Day Out, organised by the Melton Shire Council at The Willows Historical Park in Melton. Seventeen players made the trek to Melton and had a great time. The crowd was not huge, but appreciative, with lots of dancing to some of the faster numbers. It was a good chance to blow the cobwebs away and play some of the old numbers, after a long wet winter learning Bohemian Rhapsody.


Buxton Primary Steelband The second of the kids bands was started within Triangle Community Steelbands, when the Buxton Primary Steelband commenced with weekly after-school steelband workshops. Later, steelband tutoring moved into the curriculum in the first term of 2013 for grade 5 and 6 students. Since first term 2014, there are now classes for all primary school students in three separate age groups.


Benalla Festival 2012 Our second year at Benalla was a 2-day affair. On Saturday afternoon, Pans on Parade, the street combo from Pans on Fire, took part in the Benalla Festival street parade. Despite walking a bit slower than all the vehicles in the parade, the crowd along the street (and the players) loved it. On the Sunday evening, Pans on Fire played on the main stage at the Benalla Festival as one of two warm-up acts for the Shannon Noll concert. A great venue on a perfect spring day.


LollyShop Re-Opening This was another very special day in the life of Pans on Fire, and Marysville, as we played at the re-opening of The New Marysville Lolly Shop, run by band member Julie Harris. As well as being in the spotlight of the re-opening, Julie also made the time to play with the band on a very special set of pans for the day.


SeaFarers Festival A long road trip to Lakes Entrance saw Pans on Fire taking place in three performances on Saturday 1st December. The day started with several of the band taking part in the Street Parade that kicked off the Festival on Saturday morning. In the afternoon, the full band then set up near the Footbridge Stage to play our main performance. A good crowd was in attendance, with many coming up to talk with band members during a short break between sets. After the afternoon performance, we packed the bus and moved up the road a couple of hundred metres for an evening performance at the Sports and Community Club. One very nice part of the weekend were the dinners shared between band members at some nice local restaurants, with brilliant sunsets on the first and last evenings.


Eildon Lions Christmas One of the first gigs for Hot Pans saw them playing in nearby Eildon at the Eildon Lions Christmas Dinner for Seniors. A crowd of over 100 enjoyed the music, as well as the sumptuous Christmas Dinner provided by the Lions (the band also appreciated the dinner provided by the Lions). While the first set was greeted somewhat quietly, the second and third sets were very well received as the night became more relaxed, with many of the audience coming up to the band to have a look at just how all that music was coming out of steel drums. Many were tempted to kick up their heels when Can Can was played, but wiser, older heads prevailed!


Assorted 2012 Gigs In addition to the events described earlier, the various Triangle Community Steelbands played at a wide variety of other gigs during 2012, including the Marysville Australia Day Parade, the Alexandra Races, Steavensons Falls Lantern Festival, workshops with St Joseph’s College Geelong and Tintern College, the Victorian Open Gardens Scheme, the Marysville Marathon and the Mobile Library Conference.


2013


Yea Rotary Arts Show The start of the 2013 season was a day for dressing up, in line with the Carnivale theme of the 2013 Yea Rotary Arts Show. Many from Pans on Fire and Hot Pans put their imaginations to good use as they dreamt up their own Carnivale attire. Special praise goes to the Love family, who really excelled themselves. Though band members may come from different generations and different parts of the world, they are united in their love of pan music and a good drink, as Miyu and Doug demonstrated on the night.


Australia Day Parade 2013 As for the previous two years, Pans on Fire were again "up on Dicko's truck" for the Australia Day Parade in Marysville. After the Parade, Pans on Fire joined with Hot Pans at the official ceremony, where they played the National Anthem for the raising of the flag, and then played a selection of tunes at the completion of the speechmaking. This year the theme was Marysville's 150th Anniversary, so everyone dressed up again, but this time in vintage clothing. The visual impact was quite effective (thanks to Barry Thomas for the group photo).


Sustainable Living Festival The weekend of 16-17 February was a busy one for Pans on Fire as they performed on both days on the Main Stage at Federation Square as part of the Sustainable Living Festival in Melbourne. Despite the very hot temperatures, they played five sets and conducted two workshops over the two days, with many members of CaribVic joining in the workshops. New drummer Matty James took the opportunity to learn much of the repertoire as we repeated many of the songs over the various sets. A highlight for the band was the first really public performance of Bohemian Rhapsody - still a bit patchy, but showing real signs of coming together before the middle of April. Monday's edition of the Herald-Sun saw a story about the band and the upcoming Australian Steelband Festival.


Nagambie Water Festival The Nagambie on Water Festival on Saturday 2 March saw Hot Pans playing two sets, plus offering a short workshop for interested members of the audience. Their performance was compered by AFL Hall of Fame footy legend Doug Hawkins, who really got into the mood and loved their rendition of Stand by Me. As always, the band took every opportunity to promote the upcoming Australian Steelband Festival in Marysville, looking resplendent in their festival t-shirts and giving away lots of flyers. From the group photo, they certainly seemed to be enjoying themselves. While they played, the long-distance swimmers were hitting the water in Nagambie Lake.


Myrtleford/Whoroully Weekend The weekend of 9-10 March saw Pans on Fire on a road trip to north-eastern Victoria. On Saturday afternoon, they played at the Myrtleford Festival to a very warm audience (both temperature-wise and in their reaction to our playing). Sunday morning saw the band down the road a bit at the 2 Cooks Cafe in Whoroully (run by band members Kay and Nora). A packed house of brunch diners, and others in the garden area, listened to the tones of Pans on Fire over several sets spread over a couple of hours. The temperature gradually rose with the rising sun, and the last set was performed after several band members had participated in a wet t-shirt contest! The band and the audience had a fabulous morning.


Yackandandah Folk Festival Another busy weekend at the Yackandandah Folk Festival on March 23-24 saw good weather, good crowds and good music. We started with a twilight performance in the Rotunda in Memorial Park, where many patrons were taking a break for an evening meal. After the twilight performance, we formed a conga line and shifted all the instruments (and the banners) across the road to the Green Room, in preparation for Sunday morning's show. Most people then went down to the Main Marquee in the Park, for Nicky Bomba's show. This featured a cast of "Random Strangers" that Nicky had recruited at the Festival, including Rita from Pans on Fire. A great performance by all. Next morning, all were up bright and early for the Sunday morning performance at the Yackandandah School Ampitheatre, in the midst of a bustling morning market.Â


1st Australian Steelband Festival After 18 months of preparation, the 1st Australian Steelband Festival in Marysville seemed to come and go in an instant. But what an instant! A fabulous weekend was had by one and all, and Pans on Fire had the honour of taking out the Emerging Talent award in the Panorama Playoffs. There were so many visual highlights that it is hard to capture them all in a single page, so this page shows some overall highlights, followed by pages for each of the Triangle Community Steelbands.


1st Australian Steelband Festival - Pans on Fire


1st Australian Steelband Festival - Hot Pans


1st Australian Steelband Festival - Jammin’


Royal Childrens Hospital The first public performance for the Buxton Primary Steelband was in October at the Royal Childrens Hospital in Melbourne. On that day, World Mental Health Day, students from across the state alongside the RCH Mental Health service celebrated 15 years of “The Festival for Healthy Living�. What began as a small project in two schools established by the RCH Mental Health service to celebrate Mental Health Week 1998 has transformed into a comprehensive community development program that has involved more than 12,000 students, 8,000 parents and carers and 1,000 staff from over 140 schools in 29 Victorian communities, inlcuding Buxton Primary and several others in the Triangle District.


Australian Open Gardens The first gig for HotPans for the 2013-14 season was at an Australian Open Garden function at the home of band member Geoff Olive in Buxton. The spring weather was warm, if a bit windy, and their garden was in beautiful condition. We set up the tents in their garden and played an opening bracket at 11am. We then enjoyed a great luncheon provided by the Olives, and were about to commence our second bracket at 1pm, when disaster struck. Despite having the tent weighted down with sandbags, a sudden gust of wind raised the tents from above the band and landed them on the roof of Geoff Olive's house! There was a lot of scurrying around trying to stop the tents from going any further, while others tried to cover the pans to protect them from the strong sun. Eventually, the material was detached from the frames, and the frames of the two tents were moved off the roof and the gardens to a more safe location. Unfortunately, both tents were write-offs, and the frames had to be cut to pieces to be able to get them into a state where they could be later taken to the tip.


Benalla Festival For the third year running, Pans on Fire played at the Benalla Festival. This year, they were part of a multicultural theme of "We are One", and played as a warm-up act for the main performer in Nicky Bomba & Bustamento, along with groups from Africa, South America and the South Pacific. Threatening weather meant a last-minute switch to the main stage in the park, and this had the advantage that we were miked-up instead of playing acoustic. It was great for the band to be able to hear what everyone else was playing, through the fallback speakers Since Lennox Jordan, the regular pan player for Bustamento, was still away in Oman teaching the Sultan's Steelband a few numbers, Rita Seethaler got a call-up on the night to play with Bustamento. Despite not having played (or even heard) many of the numbers beforehand, she did a great job when called upon to play a couple of impromptu solos.


Blacksmiths Tree Launch Pans on Fire (and some members of Hot Pans) had the privilege of playing at the launch of the Blacksmiths' Tree Project at Whittlesea Showgrounds on 30 November. The Tree Project was a community effort to build a large metal gum tree, using leaves created by blacksmiths from around the world. The Tree Project was created in memory of those who lost the lives, their friends and their belongings in the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires. Given that many of the players in the steel bands had gone though the same experience, it was entirely fitting that they were invited, along with other musical groups, to play at the launch event.

The day turned out to be a magnificent event, with about 600 people in attendance, and a very appreciative audience for the two sets played by the band. The mood of the day was eloquently summered by one of the audience who sent us the following email: "I have just returned to suburbia after a most uplifting day at the Blacksmiths Tree Project, and had to let you all know how much I enjoyed your contribution to the day. Wow! I listened to my new CD all the way home and couldn't wipe the smile from my face. It was so lovely to hear acoustic music being performed with such evident enjoyment by a group as diverse as yours.  I'll keep an eye on your Gig Guide for future performances. Keep up the good work. Thank goodness some good things have come out of that terrible day”.


“Wish you were here” Pans on Fire (and some members of Hot Pans) ventured into the city again to play at the launch of the Marysville promotional video "Wish You Were Here" on Thursday 5 December at Federation Square. They played on the main stage while the video and other promotional pictures were displayed on the overhead screen, as the assembled dignitaries and media launched the campaign in the square. The promotional video, produced by Barry Thomas from VideoVision, features some iconic Marysville vision, backed by the sounds of the Bendigo Bank Communities Super Steelband from the Australian Steelband Festival held in Marysville in April 2013. After the launch, and while the weather changed from overcast to torrential rain, many of the band adjourned to the nearby Chocolate Buddha restaurant for a bite to eat and a chat. Then after the weather cleared, we decide to join in the Christmas spirit in Federation Square.


Assorted 2013 Gigs In addition to the events described earlier, the various Triangle Community Steelbands played at a wide variety of other gigs during 2013, including the Alexandra Easter Fair, a workshop with St Joseph’s College Geelong, Spirit of the Spine Book Launch, Marysville Leadership Conference, Wandinong Reserve Centenary, Marysville Sculpture Garden Day, Marysville Marathon, Disaster Resilience Conference, Taggerty Community Christmas Party and New Year’s Eve Beach Party at the Molesworth Pub.


2014


Tidal Rhythms at the Bowl Pans on Fire had the privilege of playing with the Melbourne Ska Orchestra at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl for the Tidal Rhythms at the Bowl Concert organised by Multicultural Arts Victoria on Australia Day. Before a crowd of 5000 people, Pans on Fire were welcomed to the stage by the arrival of the Roulettes precision flying team, and then played a 30-minute set to start the show. They returned to the stage later to join the Melbourne Ska Orchestra, led by Nicky Bomba, with whom they played Coconut Woman and Paradiso. The two bass players snuck back on stage later to join MSO in a rendition of Perfidia. The concert demonstrated just how far Pans on Fire have come since forming in late-2009. For a group of people with virtually no prior musical experience, this journey has shown what hard work, enthusiasm and resilience can produce.


Brunswick Festival Street Party Hot Pans on Fire (the combined band from Pans on Fire and Hot Pans) played in front of the Brunswick Town Hall in the Sydney Road Street Party, held as part of the Annual Brunswick Music Festival. On a beautiful sunny autumn day in front of a big crowd, the band played a 30 minute first set, then came back later in the day to play a couple more numbers then hold a hands-on Workshop for a large number of enthusiastic members of the audience. As always, within 25 minutes the newcomers were playing a recognisable version of Lennox's Little Reggae.


Moomba Parade Pans on Fire played in front of their biggest audience of an estimated 50,000, plus half a million on live TV, when they played in the 60th Annual Moomba Parade in Melbourne on the Labour Day holiday on 10th March 2014. On the back of "Dicko's Truck" a team of dedicated workers designed and built a float that rivalled the professional floats built in the Moomba Float Factory. To the Caribbean sounds of Netty Netty, Sugar Bum, Raga Poom Poom, Jump in the Line and Sly Mongoose, Pans on Fire played without a break in the hot sun on the 50 minute trip down St Kilda Road, accompanied by nearly 100 Caribbean dancers from CaribVic (the Caribbean Association of Victoria). Their joint display had the crowds bopping along, with a plethora of cameras and video recorders saving the event for posterity in many homes around Victoria. 


French Tour While the Sidney Myer Music Bowl Concert and the Moomba Parade were highlights of the first half of 2014, the undoubted highlight for the year was the Pans on Fire French Tour. In August and September, almost the entire band toured Southern France and played concerts in the towns of Moissac, Les Cabannes, Lauzerte, Damazan, St Nicolas de la Grave and Toulouse. They were a key attraction at a 3-day Boat Rally in the town of Moissac, nestled on the River Tarn and the Canal de Garonne. Many new songs and routines were learned for the tour, which was a true test of the band’s ability to perform “on the road”.


Chateau de Gudanes After a week of hard practice in Moissac, the French Tour kicked off with a filming session and community concert at Chateau de Gudanes, a centuries-old building being brought back to life by an Australian couple, near the town of Les Cabannes in the foothills of the PyrĂŠnĂŠes Mountains. After a picnic lunch and some practicing on the lawns of the Chateau, we moved into the foyer of the Chateau. There was just enough room to set up all the pans in the Foyer at the foot of the grand staircase. And then we started playing; and boy what a sound!! The acoustics in the foyer were amazing, and when we played Bohemian Rhapsody, the sound just seemed to fill the building. It then spilled down the front steps and attracted interested listeners into the building. It was enough to make the hair stand up on the back of your neck. We then moved the pans out to the front steps of the Chateau where we played a hour-long concert for the local community. A great day for the band and the Chateau, whose first concert was appropriately from an Australian band.


Damazan Night Market Our first formal concert of the tour was at Damazan Night Market. The weather was threatening, but we were hoping for the best for later that night. When we arrived at the Market Square in Damazan, we were blown away by the Australian flags hung around the town. We were expected! After setting up and testing the sound, we were treated to a banquet by the local organising committee, with many band members eager to try some classic French food, such as snails. Despite our best efforts at prayer, the rain arrived and stayed for most of the evening. As a result, the crowd was about half the size of the normal crowd (limited to those who could fit under the Mairie building), but they were definitely enthusiastic. They clapped along with the French tunes, listened in silence to Bohemian Rhapsody and danced along to Netty Netty and other faster numbers. They also bought lots of our Recovery CDs, so our sound lives on in Damazan.


Lauzerte Night Market The next concert was at the Night Market in the hilltop town of Lauzerte, just north of Moissac. After we had set up near the old church clock tower and done a quick sound-check, it was time again to be treated to a feast by the local organisers. Around 1900h, the crowd started pouring in for the Night Market, and by 1930h when we started playing, we estimated the crowd to be around 800 people. While this was a good crowd, it also presented a problem we had not anticipated; we were not loud enough! Because everyone was eating, drinking and chatting, the background noise was quite high. People down the back kept coming up to Rita to say that they could not hear most of the band. But we kept on playing into the night, with those wanting to hear coming to the front and those wanting to talk drifting to the back - a win/win situation. After packing the vans after the gig, we returned to the square and the bar in the corner to have a well earned drink with the rest of the stayers. We are getting used to the musicians life of drinks at midnight to relax after a gig.


St Nicolas de la Grave Friday night saw us performing in St Nicolas de la Grave in The Kiosk, which turned out to be a great location. The organisors provided power for the sound system, which we were trying out in preparation for the Moissac Abbey concert on Saturday, plus extra spotlights which added a bit more pazzazz to the presentation and changed the colour of the basses from blue to turquoise. The organisors again provided another feast for the band; all home-made and delicious. The bass players decided on a new strategy for getting paid for playing when they get back to Australia. After the now-obligatory group photo, we got ready for the concert, which drew around 120 people. Unlike the Night Markets, they were there to listen to the music. They were relatively subdued during the songs, but showed their appreciation at the end of each song. After the concert, the organisors (Les Artistes du Kiosque) took around the hat and raised a few hundred euros to help defray some of our costs.


Moissac Abbey Square Having taken part in the opening of the Moissac Fetes de Plaisanciers in the afternoon, the band then headed up to the Abbey to set up for the evening’s concert. By 1900h, all the technicians (Joe, Issac and two very helpful people from the Mairie) had worked their magic and the mikes, speakers, mixer and lights were all in place. The view of the Abbey from the stage was awesome. So we all then headed off to Confit de Canard dinner at L’abbaye Restaurant (provided for the band by the Moissac Mairie), and then, at 2100h, it was time to sing for our supper! The Concert at Moissac Abbey was, in everyone’s opinion, the best of the Tour. The atmosphere was great, the sound was good, we played well and the audience reaction was fantastic. It's not often that expectations are exceeded by reality, but this was one of those occasions. After we finished our sets at 2245h, the encore calls from the audience were gratifying, and after everything was packed away at the end of a very long day, there was some time for more midnight drinks.


Fetes Farewell Dinner After a weekend in which the band got involved in barn dancing, barge cruising and karaoke singing, the time had come for the closing dinner of the Fetes de Plaisanciers, at which the band was to perform another concert, on the banks of the River Tarn. Unfortunately, Tom Hollows new barge did not make it to Moissac, having been struck down with a fuel leakage problem in Montauban, so the band would not be playing on deck as planned, but would be playing in the Uvarium Park next to the river. There were about 150 people in the audience; 100 from the Fetes de Plaisancers and 50 from the local community. Once again, Lisa and Rita did a great job filling in between sets with singing and solo pan. Then all too soon the Fetes de Plaisanciers came to a close with the final event; a demonstration of Argentinian Tango dancing at the Uvarium Cafe.


St Aubin Market, Toulouse We rose early at 0500h to drive to Toulouse for our final gig, playing at the St Aubin Market. We had to arrive there before 0700h, so that we could set up the instruments before all the stall holders blocked the way with their stalls. During our breaks, we enjoyed touring the market and savouring the local atmosphere. We ended up playing two long sets with the "Long Live the Brass� brass band playing for about an hour in between. In the first set, we tried to play fairly softly because there was a Mass being held in the church. However, after the brass band let rip, we decided to turn up the volume for the second set. The audience at the market was interesting to say the least. Apart from the Market patrons who came and went during the day, we had a group of dealers on our right who did a good trade throughout the morning, and a bunch of punks on our left (complete with Bay City Rollers tartan pants) who liked to dance along to the music with their bottles of Scotch, and fall into the band during our playing of Bohemian Rhapsody! Quite an experience to round off the French Tour! But all good things must end, as we realised when packing the van for the very last time.


Acknowledgements The Triangle Community Steelbands journey would not have been possible without the inspiration of Rita Seethaler and the help from Werner Egger and Lennox Jordan. Along the way, many people have played in at least one gig with one or more of the three main steelbands (Pans on Fire, Hot Pans and Jammin’). These include: Sopranos: Rita, Werner, Lisa, Madeleine, Annabelle, John, Julian, Susan P, Thelma, Kay, Jacob, Tom, Mike, Carolyn, Judy W, Jane, Judy F, Jenny, Robyn, Rose, Ann B, Lynne S, Leslie, Anne K, Cassie, Kate, James F, Olivia Double Seconds: Julia, Susan A, Glenys, Barbara Mu, Barb Ma, Grace, Diana, Helen, Vonnie, Marylyn, James W, Georgina, Monica Baritones: Lynne W, Doug, Lachlan, Nora, Chris, Sharen, Geoff, Anne Kan, Ruth, Marg, Sheanne, Bass: Tony, Isaac, Wendy, Anne C, Jackson, Katherine, Nick Percussion: Uncle Roy, Gere, Peter, Miyu, Nico, Loys, Judy Drums: Dylan, Josh, David, Matty, Nigel, Joe


Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life - Berthold Auerbach

Profile for Tony Richardson

The First 5 Years  

The story of the creation of the Triangle Community Steelbands after the devastating Victorian bushfires of February 2009 that virtually wip...

The First 5 Years  

The story of the creation of the Triangle Community Steelbands after the devastating Victorian bushfires of February 2009 that virtually wip...

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