Steel-ing the show! Pan bands battle for $20K prize in borough-wide contest

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Young pannists: Andrea James, left, and Malaki Joseph from the Crossfire Steel Band pause for a picture before performing.
Flag pride: Young drummers of the Casym Steel band represented the flags of Haiti and Trinidad.
Arms in action: The steel pan players compete for best band.
The big-time: Bands prepare all year for this competition.
Dressed for success: The bands attend the annual competition in their best gear.

These drummers showed nerves of steel!

Ten steel pan bands from all over Brooklyn competed for the title of best in the borough at the New York Steelband Panorama competition at the Brooklyn Museum on Sept. 3.

The musicians sacrifice countless hours to rehearse for the big event — part of the West Indian American Day Carnival — but it was all worth it once they got to show off all their hard work on stage, according to the mother of one contender.

“The kids were excited when we got on stage,” said East Flatbush resident Carlene James, whose daughter Andrea is a member of the Crossfire Steel band. “We had to skip a lot of vacations because she is very dedicated to the steel pan.”

The show was extra special for Crossfire, as Trinidadian soca star GBM Nutron joined the group on stage to perform his hit song “Scene,” James said.

“He was actually in front of them performing while they played,” said James. “Simply being on the stage with the energy and the excitement was so awesome.”

Crossfire ultimately won third place for its efforts, but it was the 100-memeber D’Radoes Steel Orchestra that took the top prize of $20,000 thanks to a well rehearsed performance of carnival song “Different Me,” according to the band’s manager.

“The tune was played as well as they could play it,” said Tom Montvel–Cohen, D’Radoes’ manager. “They got up there and played with intensity, positivity, and unity — the vibe in that yard was so high because the music was so good and we have very good players.”

Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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