St. Kitts and Nevis national and graduate student at the University of the Sunshine Coast, Thensia Grey is a member of winning steelband from Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia who performed on both days of the Festival. Pantastic won the panorama held on the first day of the festival from among a group of 9 competing bands and gave an encore performance on the second day.
Each band was required to perform 3 songs each. The quality of the music was very high and the judging panel featured steelband luminaries and international recording artists.
The winning songs were ‘Pan is D Remedy’, ‘Autumn Leaves’ and ‘Pan in Danger’. Thensia Grey, who was first exposed to pan at the Basseterre Junior High School, played 6 Bass. The other members of the band are Matt Davies (Director), Lennox Jordan and Kenny Griffith from Trinidad and Tobago; Shaz Brown, Christine Clegg, Sarah Cranfield and Jesse Brown from Australia; Dieter Kurten from Germany; Kristi Kief from the USA; and Millie Stovring from Denmark. Australian Mattea Davies designed the costumes.
Also placing were the Cains Pan Stars from Cains, Queensland (2nd); the River City Steel Band from Brisbane, Queensland (3rd); and Pans On Fire from Marysville, Victoria, Australia (4th). Pans on Fire also received the prize for emerging young talents.
Other competing bands were the Caribbeanz Southern Stars Steelband from Auckland, New Zealand; Hot Pans Steelband from Marysville and the Triangle District, Victoria; Jammin’ Steelband from Taggerty, Victoria; St. Andrews Steelband from Peregian, Queensland and the Royal Guard of Oman Steelband. The Royal Guard of Oman gave additional cultural performances in song and dance and added a Middle Eastern flavour to what was predominantly a Caribbean style event.
The Festival also included a Calypso Party on the first night, which featured performances by established artists: Wind of Steel, The Trinidad Connection and Bustamento. There was also a parade of ‘Carnival Masqueraders’ by CaribVic (the Caribbean Community in Victoria), and a costume competition. Thensia Grey wore the St. Kitts and Nevis national dress and won best female costume, earning her the title of Queen of the 1st Australian Steelband Festival.
The event featured a Caribbean Festival Market on both days which included stalls of both Caribbean and Australian arts and craft, steel pan instrument making, a Tobago-style goat race, a parade of local primary school students wearing carnival costumes, camel rides, food, drink and other market favourites.
Even though it was the first of its kind, the Festival was heavily supported by the Marysville community, Arts Victoria, the private sector, the CaribVic association, the Caribbean diaspora in Australia and further afield, and just pan lovers in general.
Highlights of the festival can be seen at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7i_f8m1Mt_o