Junior Sammy Skiffle has joined forces with renowned steelpan arranger Ray Holman for Panorama 2013. Skiffle CEO Junia Regrello announced the partnership during the bands recent Independence concert at the Naparima Bowl. Holman, who attended the show, was introduced to the audience and given a rousing, San Fernando welcome. At the concert, held in collaboration with the Ministry of Planning as an Independence gift to the nation, Skiffle also honoured visionary businessman Robert Montano for the critical role he has played in shaping their band. The audience learnt that had it not been for Montano, now 91, the visionary behind the Point Lisas Industrial Estate and the Naparima Bowl, Skiffle and its previous incarnations might have been stillborn.
Regrello, the major player behind the genesis of the Point Lisas Industrial Estate, said: “Mr Montano really discovered the band. “He provided guidance for the band in its infant stage. He set standards for us. He was really our guru.” Regrello recalled one night back in 1976, Montano, who lived at Vistabella at the time, left his home and followed the sound of the steelband coming from nearby Jarvis Street, where Regrello and a group of young men and women were making music under a mango tree. He said Montano sat and listened and when they were through playing, he invited Regrello, the leader of the band, to meet him the next day, at his Imperial Plaza office, to discuss their future. Coming out of that meeting was a two-year sponsorship for what was to become the Imperial Skiffle Bunch. Montano, then chairman of Trinidad Cement Ltd, was also able to influence TCL to sponsor the band. TCL sponsorship of Skiffle Bunch ended in January this year owing to financial problems.
Queenmaker Jacqui Koon How, who also doubled as MC at the concert, held in collaboration with the Ministry of Planning as an Independence gift to the nation, revealed how Montano helped to shape her career as well. She said Montano, her first employer, encouraged her to get involved in the fashion and modelling industry. In addition to Skiffle, the concert featured guest performers Nadia Madoo, Raymond Edwards, Turon Roberts and Black Stalin. Regrello also used the opportunity to introduce the band’s full brass section, which accompanied guest artiste Black Stalin in his full repertoire, not missing a beat. Stalin’s expression, body rocked back, eyes opened wide and smile even broader than normal, conveyed his obvious surprise and pleasure at the professionalism of the young musicians. This prompted Regrello to issue a warning to renowned musician Roy Cape, who normally accompanies the calypsonian, to watch out for this brass section. He boasted that all the musicians who make up the two-month-old brass band can read music.