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Emily, the female Ellie Mannette

Published: 
Saturday, February 12, 2011
Pan tuner Emily Lemmerman

Meet Emily Lemmerman. She is not just a panwoman, she is a tuner, and builder of steelpans in Austin, Texas. She owns the Barracuda Steel Drums Company and, together with Darren Duke and Billy Sheeder, they have been charting a beautiful course for pan. Now get this, Lemmerman eats, sleeps, breathe and even sits on the pan. It’s her life. She is not fly-by-night pan tuner. Her skills have been honed under one of the best in the business—Elliot “Ellie” Mannette. She served her apprenticeship for years (1998-2004), and in tribute to the man Mannette, she chose the name Barracuda for her company.
Now, legend has it that the famous Barracuda pan designed and tuned by Mannette, was lost in a steelband riot. Mannette of Invaders had to drop the pan and run for his life. Those were the days of the white-handle razor, iron bolts, big stone and bottle.

The Barracuda pan ended up behind the East Dry River, and was hung under a tree. Ellie was told “come and get it.” He didn’t. Lemmerman’s work has taken her all over the world. She even makes the annual pilgrimage to the mecca of pan, T&T, every year and was a participant in the PCS Silver Stars victory of 2009. Lemmerman is moving this year towards her third Panorama with Caribbean Airlines Invaders. About Barracuda Steel Drums, this company was established in 2008, and is dedicated to preserving and promoting the vision of steel drum. Innovator Dr Ellie Mannette, also called “Dr Pan,” has been an outstanding pan scientist and icon. He left our shores in 1967 for the USA, where he lives and practises his craft. He was a member of the great Trinidad All Steel Percussion Orchestra (TASPO) that toured England. Ellie has been credited with a lot of pan firsts.

He started the tuning of the 55-gallon drums and putting rubber on pan sticks. The double second and cello are two of his inventions. The year 2000 was milestone for Mannette. He was given an honorary doctorate from the University of the West Indies, St Augustine Campus. He was also given the Chaconia Medal (Silver) for his contribution to culture. His work at the University of West Virginia has been outstanding. As a professor of pan music, Mannette’s pan skills and acumen have gained worldwide notoriety. He was recognised with a US Endowment for the Arts Award for his work in the development of Indigenous culture. As far as I know, T&T is yet to produce a female pan tuner. Maybe we could adopt Lemmerman as our first because she is “Trini to the bone”... sorry, marrow.
 

Hoping for a miracle
You know Pan Buzz trusts his spies, but there are some things he has to see for himself. So he made a site visit to the Queen’s Park Savannah in Port-of-Spain and is worried that with nine days to go before the National Panorama semi-finals, the Grand Stand is far from ready. The North Stand, though, seems  ready for the grand “Savannah Party.” Lighting is still to be done. What about toilet facilities? Will there be portable toilets? With all the assurance, I am not sure the National Carnival Commission (NCC) got this one right. However, I wait for a miracle, being the optimist I am.

Medium, small bands on show
The prelims continue for Panorama 2011; small, medium and conventional bands taking the spotlight.
Now, there will be no judging in the large band category, as all 16 bands go on to the semifinals at the Queen’s Park Savannah in Port-of-Spain on February 20. Remember, all the big bands will unveil their Panorama selections on Tuesday at their panyards at 7 pm.

UTT loves Bertie
No praise is too much for Gayelle the Channel and the Lloyd Best Institute of the West Indies for celebrating the 75th birthday for pan scientist and icon Bertie Marshall. I’m proud to say I’m a friend of Bertie, and sworn to secrecy about which panman he loves the best, so don’t ask me. I was happy as a posey, my heart filled with joy to see all Bertie friends and well-wishers celebrate this great scientist birthday on Gayelle last Sunday. It was excellent! However, I’ll never stop paying tribute to the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) for recognising the native genius of Bertie First. Congratulations to all.

Doh be on that
I’ve already said I am not losing any sleep over the single pan category of Panorama that has evolved into a “Retorama” of sorts. I don’t know why my spies keep telling me that Fire Service and Defence Force bands played with more than 35 players at the north prelims last Saturday. Perhaps Keith “Bald Head” Diaz may care to investigate. You’ll expect that institutions that follow the rules of law will not be on that, but these are the times we live in. Talking about Doh Be On That, I must compliment Arddin Herbert, Rembunction and Ricardo Jones on a brilliant song for CAL Invaders in this year’s Panorama competition. Guys, I like the song like cooked food.

Too much to bear
Not a week goes by without Pan Buzz having to send out condolences. It’s really too much to bear.
The killing of Henry Cyrus of Uni Stars and the wounding of Avis Bruce, Yvonne Batson and Shennelle Abraham have left me perplexed. Then, in the wake (no pun intended) on the untimely and tragic passing of calypsonian Conqueror, came the news of the deaths of Striker (Percival Oblington), the Calypso King of 1958 and 59, and newspaper guru and fellow pan jumbie Keith Smith. Really, all I can do is extend condolences and get well wishes. bless. Until next week, keep loving up the pan.

Schedule

National Panorama dates
Tonight

Tobago bands prelims, Botanic Gardens car park, Scarborough, Tobago 8 pm.

Saturday

North bands, Victoria Square, Port-of-Spain, 1 pm. (Admission: $50)

Sunday
South/Central bands, Skinner Park, San Fernando, 1 pm. (Admission: $50)

Monday
East bands at Larry Gomes, Stadium Car Park, 7 pm. (Admission: $50)