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Could Happiness do the trick for Phase II?
If one were to peruse the Panorama archives, it would show that bp Renegades is the only steelband which has accomplished the feat of scoring a hat-trick of wins since the inaugural competition in 1963, winning the coveted prize in 1995, 1996 and 1997.
As a matter of fact, a number of bands, besides placing first on multiple occasions, at some point in their Panorama exploits found themselves on hat-tricks as follows. This prestigious group of achievers include Pan Am North Stars (1963 and 1964); Solo Harmonites (1971 and 1972); Witco Desperadoes (1976 and 1977); Massy Trinidad All Stars (1980 and 1981); the said BP Renegades (1984 and 1985, and 1989 and 1990); and more recently, PCS Nitrogen Silver Stars (2009 and 2010).
A “three-peat” for Petrotrin Phase II Pan Groove seems to be an elusive dream, nonetheless this steelband’s fearless, out-of-box arranger Len “Boogsie” Sharpe, certainly believes otherwise.
After Phase II’s first taste of the top three in the finals of 1978—placing third—almost ten years later they achieved their first winning double in 1987 and 1988, and from there onwards, the Renegades bogeyman began to haunt them. The records would show that Phase II placed in the proverbial bridesmaid position to both Exodus and Renegades over an arduous 15-year period.
Winners never quit, and for the second time they were back on a hat-trick after winning in 2005 and 2006. But their luck did not change even though the venue for the finals did. All Stars snatched the hat-trick victory from them in 2007 at Skinner Park, San Fernando. Pan folks should remember the two years of stress and horrors when the Grand Stand at the Queen’s Park Savannah was being refurbished with the intention of transforming it into a massive ultra-modern cultural horrors when the Grand Stand facility was being reconstructed.
With the highly favoured return to the Big Yard in 2009, Phase II went right back to bridesmaid status, this time holding the capes of Silver Stars and All Stars. By this time, stick-to-itiveness became the only way to describe Boogsie as an arranger, after just four victories and a myriad of second places throughout a 27-year period. Nevertheless, they are back at the top of the charts again after resounding victories in 2013 and 2014, and are, for the third time, faced with the nightmare of that elusive hat-trick.
It would be extremely amazing to experience what Jit Samaroo did, thought and felt on that final night in 1997, when BP Renegades was in a similar third time around situation. One sure guess is if he did have the “jitters” it certainly worked. A million dollar question to pan aficionados—would you like to be in the shoes of the arranger for the reigning National Panorama champion, and, could Happiness do the trick?
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