Michael ‘Nat-C’ Contant the Pan Man
Michael was born on the 23rd October 1934 in Port of Spain, Trinidad. His apprenticeship with pans started in his youth with Greeneyes Steel Band (19 Gallas Street, Woodbrook, Port of Spain), whose members included Gerald Forsythe, Herman ‘Cobojack’ Riley and ‘Bambi’, Mike’s older brother. From then Michael became one of the 1st commercial tuners, tuning mainly for college bands. Michael was influenced by Ellie Manette, Ellie’s cousin Gomez, and the Invaders. He tuned for Crosswinds and then formed a band with Eugene Peters called Starlift around 1955. He was the tuner for Dixieland, who won the Music Festival in Trinidad.
In 1958 Michael came to England with Dixieland as their tuner. He later formed a band with the Delpino brothers. In 1962 he married Carol (Licentiate of the Royal Academy of Music for violin, viola and piano). In 1964 he formed the Golden Tones Steel Band in Newcastle which travelled throughout Europe and the Canary Islands.
As a pan maker and pan designer, many of Michael’s own ideas have become standard in pan making. Also in the early sixties, he innovated rubber feet on basses, wheels on basses, chroming of a whole set of pans except the basses, pan cases, expandable double stands that swing open, painting the pan faces in black gloss and striping the notes in silver paint, as well as designing his own ingenious pan styles and pan layouts.
For over 40 years Michael made and tuned pans and gigged throughout the UK, Europe and beyond. In 1984 he came 1st in a national steel band competition held at the Royal Festival Hall, London, winning the steel pan soloist award with a standing ovation.
In the early seventies, he and his wife Carol formed the Rainbow Steel Band, with their 3 children, Dominique, Marcos and Jeanette, and family friend and neighbour Stella Tunbridge and her daughter, Estelle. The Rainbow Steel Band played extensively throughout England and further-a-field. Venues included the Royal Festival Hall, Glyndebourne Opera House, Mayors New Years Ball in Dover Town Hall (several years running) and BBC Television. The band also won a national steel band competition.
This special edition pan cd is to celebrate his legacy.