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Siah musician of the first class

Siah musician of the first class

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Talk about Errol ‘Siah’ Isaacs and what comes to mind is culture. For some, his image encompasses the embodiment of Vincentian folklore.

He is also the son of famed pannist Walton’ Tanny’ Peters, who passed away eight years ago. {{more}}

Siah is home from his base in New Orleans where he works as a musician, both solo or with a number of groups. He has performed at the Louisiana Cultural Fest, which highlights a number of jazz acts.

Siah emerged through the steel band industry and now has as one of his tasks to retain the Panorama title for his band Cable & Wireless Starlift.

He arranged Starlift’s 2005 number ‘Who is the band?’ which was composed and sung by another Starlift pannist Kingsley ‘Hero’ Roberts.

Perhaps no one knows Starlift better than Siah. He first played for that steeband at Panorama when he was only seven-years old. His dexterity then was astounding. Patrons recall him having to be perched on a box to reach the pan.

Siah has climbed the musical ladder, as far as his passion for the art takes him. And that seems an inexorably distant journey for there is no limit to Siah’s dreamswhich he is intent on fulfilling.

Siah has been arranging since 1978 and is a pillar in Starlift’s winning record over its 38 years of existence.

But he is not pleased with the decline of pan , is keen on doing something about it. Siah wants to help youngsters improve their arrangement skills.

He thinks there are too many of the “simple two chords, and less than being an orchestra.”

He wants to see arrangers “more versatile, with a wider repertoire.” He thinks that arrangers should cater for “reaching persons of different age groups.”

“When we accomplish that, pan will rise again,” Siah pointed out.

Siah expressed an opinion of abandonment by Masmen and Calypsonians in an effort to enhance the festival package. And as a result, Pan has suffered.

He lamented the demise of the Solo competition, which marked part of the carnival celebrations. He points to the Solo as important to the bringing skills of the pan player.

“Solo is very important. It lets you know the individual’s ability,” Siah said.

He was not speaking by guess. He added: It helped me a lot in the arranging field.”

Siah reflected on his last Solo Championship, a title he shared with Ken Isles in 1968.

A proud Starlift member, Siah boasted, Starlift never lost a Solo Competition. He outlined that Solo contests, enhanced pannists. He noted that pan has grown internationally, and the demand for players has intensified.

“It is marketable for us in the Caribbean. We are the better players,” he pointed out.

Though Siah is a full-fledged “culture man”he is not satisfied with the direction Mas is taking.

“Mas is less historical and educational. It is more fancy. It doesn’t tell any story any more,” Siah pointed out.

He also some observation about the calypso artform.

Rhyming patterns are not so fine. The melodies are fine. They need to go back to that rhyming pattern. The need to read poems,” Siah pointed out.

Another critical perception Siah mentioned was the emphasis on beauty pageants.

He cited that there was a drift away from the culture and he recommended inclusion of aspects such as the Quadrille.

He is not one to give up hope though and still has high optimism for the future. He is therefore happy with the Cable & Wireless junior panorama and the strength of that festival.

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