PAN ALIVE Twelve steel bands - mostly local - go head to head in a competition hosted by the Toronto Caribbean Carnival. Friday (August 4), 7 pm-midnight. Lamport Stadium, 1155 King W. www.wejumpinghigher. com Rating: NNNNN
What are the pans made of?
"In Trinidad in the early days, they were oil drums, and later the 45-gallon containers used to transport liquids like soap. Now I buy the containers as a raw material, mark the note's positions and use a hammer with a modified nail punch to put in the patterns."
How many do you think you've made?
"It would have to be a few thousand at this point."
How were pans used traditionally?
"There was always the belief that in order to legitimize the instrument, Trinidadians had to play classical music. Being a British colony we were educated, or rather bombarded, with European traditions. So at about 12, I could identify the Marriage Of Figaro from the first bars, though I'd never seen a concert hall."
What about now?
"People have become more nationalistic and self-conscious. It's like, 'our stuff is going to go here; leave this other guy's stuff over there. '"
Doesn't it drive the neighbours crazy when a steel band's rehearsing?
"Most are located in areas where there aren't many residents. In the old days, the band was a focal point of the community, so the fathers and mothers who knew their sons were playing would endure the noise."
What's going to happen at the contest?
"Bands will each play two selections. One is calypso, calypso tempo, and the other non-calypso - but in calypso style. One band I know is playing Georgia On My Mind."
What do you look forward to in the Caribana Parade?
"Compared to carnival in Trinidad, this is like minor league hockey - it's not the Stanley Cup. The costumes in Trinidad are large and beautiful. On the road here, all you see is skin and more skin - the basic two-piece outfit with sequins over the thong, and after a while it looks all the same. Still, everybody jumps and enjoys the music."
Where's your favourite jerk joint?
"I enjoy jerk chicken most when friends have a barbecue and give you the real jerk, not the made-for-McDonald's-consumption kind."