Machel comes to Blue Diamonds’ rescue

So­ca star Machel Mon­tano has come to the res­cue of an un­spon­sored steel­band which had been strug­gling to pre­pare for the Panora­ma com­pe­ti­tion.

Af­ter read­ing the Sun­day Guardian’s ar­ti­cle Di­a­monds in the rough high­light­ing the plight of George Street-based Blue Di­a­monds Steel Or­ches­tra, Mon­tano de­cid­ed to help.

Yes­ter­day Machel’s moth­er, Eliz­a­beth “La­dy” Mon­tano, met with the band’s cap­tain Wayne St Clair Babb and sec­re­tary Ju­dith Cham­bers to de­ter­mine ex­act­ly how the Machel Mon­tano Foun­da­tion for Great­ness will as­sist.

Blue Di­a­monds will be im­me­di­ate­ly gift­ed with four new steel pans, in­clud­ing two tenor and two sec­onds, a new trap set, jer­seys, and a ban­ner. Oth­er as­pects of spon­sor­ship will al­so be worked out.

Blue Di­a­monds will face the judges in their pa­n­yard on Feb­ru­ary 10 in the pre­lim­i­nar­ies of the Panora­ma Small Band com­pe­ti­tion.

The meet­ing be­tween Mon­tano, St Clair Babb and Cham­bers took place at the of­fice of Xtatik Lim­it­ed lo­cat­ed at 39 Gor­don Street in Port-of-Spain.

While Machel is com­mit­ted to help­ing the band, it was at the meet­ing Mon­tano re­alised the band ac­tu­al­ly had some his­to­ry with her son. Machel used the band’s pan stands as part of his 2017 mu­sic video for the song Buss Head with Ian “Bun­ji Gar­lin” Al­varez. A por­tion of the mu­sic video was filmed on Cock­er­ton Street which is near the Blue Di­a­mond pa­n­yard.

Then they re­alised the con­nec­tion was even deep­er.

“While talk­ing to them then I re­alised my first cousin was ac­tu­al­ly an ear­ly mem­ber of Blue Di­a­monds,” Mon­tano said.

St Clair Babb said Mon­tano’s cousin brought ca­lyp­so com­pos­er Wins­ford “Jok­er” Devine to the pan side.

“Machel would be hap­py to know that there is a con­nec­tion,” Mon­tano said.

St Clair Babb said af­ter his tele­phone con­ver­sa­tion with Mon­tano on Wednes­day he spoke to the pan play­ers about it.

“Re­mem­ber I told you I was a God fear­ing per­son. I told you I be­lieve in my God, I pray plen­ty and be­fore Mon­tano called I told Cham­bers when I read the ar­ti­cle that some­one would call,” he said.

“When I told the chil­dren about the call if you see them and hear the com­mo­tion, every­body was clap­ping,” he said.

Blue Di­a­monds is play­ing Machel’s 2008 song, Blaz­ing D Trail. Arranger Tris­ton Mar­cano said the song was se­lect­ed be­fore Mon­tano was be­stowed with an hon­orary doc­tor­ate from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Trinidad and To­ba­go (UTT) last year. He said he feels it is a trib­ute to the so­ca artist and his con­tri­bu­tion to the art form.

Mon­tano said out her son’s ex­ten­sive song list, Blaz­ing D Trail is ac­tu­al­ly her favourite.

- by Joel Julien. Photo by Shirley Bahadur.