Archives for category: All Things Considered
01-1988 GP B&W photo file

Photo courtesy of Gaye Paterson

The folks at Radio Diaries make hands down some of the best radio out there, and it was a real joy to get to work with them on this documentary about the 1988 popular uprisings in Burma. I started learning about these uprisings four years ago while I was working on the first story I ever did about that country. And 1988 came up in nearly every story I did on Burma after that–so much that’s happened in the 25 years since then has roots in those months.

Players gather at Despers USA’s pan yard on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn.

I wish I could take credit for it, but it was someone over at NPR who chose the title “Bang on a Pan” for my story about the 45th annual Steel Band Panorama competition. It’s a genius title though, right?

One basic thing I think I didn’t convey in here is just what a majestic spectacle it is when a huge steel orchestra is all synced-in and playing at the top of their game. If you’re in Brooklyn next August, do yourself a favor and go to a band launch party.

The website When Steel Talks is a clearinghouse for information on steel orchestras, including the ones in Brooklyn. Another good resource is the book The Steelband Movement. It’s an academic but readable account of steel drumming’s origins, history, and political character in Trinidad.