News day / FOREIGN-BASED TT pannist Emile Borde recently rolled out his newest pan innovation to lessen the burden of having to manually tote pans to and from performances. It is called the pan pal, and he previously shared it with the Freiburg ZMF music festival’s top sponsors last summer.

He told Newsday: “I think it might be a race to market with this version, the comfort, ease, style wheels that lock and are always ready to roll.”

He said the pan pals are being built in both in the United States and in TT, and predicted that it’s just going to be a matter of time before the device is seen popping up at events.

He boasted: “End of lifting these heavy instruments for long stretches – the pan pal is the future!”

The Pan Pal setup for a stage performance.

The son of renowned pannist Hugh Borde, the younger Borde said he never understood why his dad abandoned family, work and other commitments in Michigan, where they lived and performed as The Trinidad Tripoli Steelband, to go back home to TT for Carnival every year from 1970-2015.

“But it clicked in 2001, when I visited TT with NPR’s Davia Nelson to capture footage of dad in Trinidad, for the Liberace and Trinidad Tripoli Steel Band story, which aired in 2003. My father just enjoyed and recognised the wealth of technology and experience which he brought back home every year.”

Borde added that after his father’s retirement in 2015 at 82, as a dedicated student of the pan culture, the journey has only just begun for him.

The Pan Pal on display at the Freiburg ZMF music festival in Germany.

“Since the 80s I have designed my own pan stands and cases, which led to my current case stand and carrier, all built in to one unit. My neighbour Rodney Boudreaux, who was chief engineer at Rocketdyne for the US space programmes, was very generous with his expertise in causing the evolution of this game-changer for pan players. I am very excited to see the continued development and marketing of this gift to the pan world.”

Bertel Gittens of Alice Yard has partnered with builder Arthur Antoine and Borde, to build and sell the pan pal from TT.

Alice Yard which is a space to play and network, was once owned by Bertel’s relative Alice Matilda Gittens, also the great-grandmother of local architect Sean Leonard, who now runs the yard as an art space together with artist Chris Cozier and writer and editor Nicholas Laughlin.

Borde closed by saying: “Giving back is the strongest motivation for me returning home annually, as a father of five, I appreciate the importance of investing in our children’s future as well as establishing our leading position in the pan movement.

“I am also a board member of the Panicle group formed by sons of the legendary George ‘Sonny’ Goddard, initiated by David ‘Ghost,’ the eldest of four, ably supported by Gerard ‘Shabazz.’ Panicle is transferring technology aimed at improving the conditions and opportunities for the local pan players both at home and in their travels abroad.”


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