Performers who fail to complete their two songs in the local Calypso Monarch final could face disqualification from that particular competition.
The Organization of Calypso Performing Artists (OCPA) has put together a committee to review its rules and regulations after Panman Pat’s decision to abruptly pull the plug on his performance midway through his second presentation in last month’s annual competition.
To the consternation of fans, the two-time Calypso Monarch and Juno award winner handed the microphone to Ossie Gurley & the Truth band bass player, Estaban Carvalho, before nonchalantly leaving the stage. He later told Share that a technical problem with the drum machine resulting in an audible feedback was too distracting for him to continue.
To add to the confusion, Panman Pat finished fourth, much to the dismay of the audience many of whom felt he should have been disqualified.
OCPA president Colin Benjamin agrees.
“We are going to come up with new rules and regulations that will have some bite,” he said. “I don’t think they were firm enough.”
Retired librarian and storyteller, Rita Cox, heads the rules review committee that includes Hamilton Alexander and Roger Gibbs.
“They have already met and I expect that they will come up with something very shortly that we could put in place to avoid a repeat of what took place in the last finals,” said Benjamin.
The OCPA president expressed extreme disappointment with Panman Pat’s decision to leave the stage in the middle of his song.
“Walking off the stage in the middle of your performance was irresponsible, disrespectful and embarrassing to the organization, the event producer, the musicians, the band members, the stage manager and crew; unfair to your fellow performers and above all to our audience who paid to see the show,” Benjamin said in an e-mail dispatched to the calypsonian last Monday.
“Current competition rules and regulations oblige us to honour the judges’ decision regarding your placement in the competition. However, in addition to walking off the stage, you violated the competition guidelines which required all competitors to be present on stage in costume at the end of the show.”
Panman Pat will receive his fourth-place $1,000 prize. However, OCPA is withholding his performance honorarium. Each finalist receives $300.
For his part, Panman Pat – who published Hands on Steelpan: Teachers Guide and Student Companion to the Art of Playing Steelpan and was the only pan player at the inaugural 1967 Caribbean Carnival – wants to know why he wasn’t given the opportunity to meet with OCPA.
“As an OCPA member, I am a bit disappointed that no one from the organization contacted me from the time of the finals to when I received this letter to ask what happened and why I did what I did,” he said. “I don’t think a proper investigation was done and I feel like if I am in a kangaroo kind of court.”
Panman Pat, who holds a Diploma in Education from Queen’s University and is a member of the Ontario College of Teachers, promised he will be back in next year’s competition.
“I already have some songs and I am ready to go,” said the cultural artist and educator, who introduced steelband as a formal high school music credit course in the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) nearly three decades ago.
“I am not bitter.”