DENIS PHILLIP has been involved in the local steelband movement long before the majority of today’s pannists – schoolboys and girls – was born. At 81, Phillip is the oldest active steelband member in Grenada.
“I feel very satisfied,’’ Phillip said Monday, at a news conference or­ganized by FLOW Commancheros Steel Orchestra.
Phillip is the founder of the St Paul’s-based band, which is 50 years this year. To commemorate the occasion, Commancheros has organized a series of ac­tivities including a street pa­rade for February 26, a sports day, a steelband concert and a Rhum Rhunner cruise.
The activities run until October, said Cecil Noel, deputy chair of organizing committee for the celebra­tions.
Noel said Commancheros, defending champions of the National Senior and Junior Panorama competitions, has grown in stature, penmanship, repertoire, and quality and quantity of instruments since it as founded in 1967.
“Commancheros continues to be one of the leading steel orchestra in Gre­nada,’’ Noel aid. “One of the main contributing factors for the success and development of the band is that it was started as, and still is, a very strong community-oriented group.’’
Phillip has been a part of all the changes and the evolution at Comman­cheros, playing second pan and rhythm with the band.
He was with the band when they won Panorama and Festival compe­titions; when they recorded albums in Trinidad and Barbados; and has toured with them to places such as Trinidad, Venezuela, Honduras, Cuba, Mexico, Guatemala, Brazil, Mexico, Italy, Senegal and Morocco.
“Although he has no biological children, Dennis nurtured many of the young players and as a result is nicknamed ‘Youth’ by his peers because of his youthful behaviour and association with the younger players,’’ Noel said. “He is affectionately called or referred to as ‘Uncle Dennis’ by the younger generation.’’