Monday, December 05, 2005

Steel Jam at the Zoo

STEEL JAM (steel drum band) performs Sat., Dec. 17, 11-1 PM, at the San Francisco Zoo's "Reindeer Romp!"

Reindeer have arrived at the SF Zoo (1 Zoo Rd.) for a special holiday visit! See four adult reindeer--Holly, Velvet, Peppermint, and Belle--at the zoo's Reindeer Romp Village. The temporary visit is a first for the Zoo and promises to be a memorable experience for youngsters and adults alike!

In addition to reindeer viewing, the San Francisco Firefighters Toy Program will bring their historic fire truck AND Santa Claus!

For admission fees and other zoo info, contact the SF Zoo at (415) 753-7080 or visit their website at

Ralph Gibbs heads south for the winter

Ralph Gibbs founder and leader of Tropical Vibrations left last week on his annual winter trek to Trinidad & Tobago. It's my dream to one day to afford to do this: Spend winter and Carnival season in the Caribbean, and come back to the Bay Area in the spring for the pan gigging season. 'Nuf respect'.

David Reid set to release new CD

David Reid, multi talented Bay Area pan player (formerly of Our Boys) is making a mark on the international soca scene. Reid recently released a couple of tunes that got rave reviews in T&T. He is getting ready to release his first CD, just in time for the T&T Carnival season.

Here's an excerpt from his bio:

Dave Reid was born on May 15,1973, on the lovely and vibrant twin Island state of Trinidad & Tobago.

Dave has always had a voracious passion for music; in fact, as a young boy, he pursued, honed, and mastered the art of the steel drum. In 1994 Dave toured the United States with Our Boys Steel Orchestra.

At the end of the tour, he remained in California performing as a Solo Artist. He then joined a band called Insomnia where he came into his passion for singing and composing. After a short success, the members of Insomnia parted to pursue other interests, this is when Dave became the Musical Director and Lead Singer for Tambrin, the band he later created.

Today you can find Dave Reid performing throughout California at night clubs, various concert events, restaurants, and private functions. The artiste is currently recording his first album which will be released in March 2006.

The charismatic Dave Reid will not only Rock you with his Soca/Reggae tracks like “On the Stage” but will draw you in with his sweet and sexy vocals, gracing hot tracks like “Tuff to Top”, "Be afrAIDS", "Waves" and “50/50 Love”.

He filmed his first video in his home land of T&T , based on the sound track of the retrospective and poignant “Memories”.

So Look and listen up for this up and coming talent: Dave Reid!

Kevin Grant Coconuts Band in Mendocino

Kevin Grant of Mendocino is currently the only pan-builder/tuner in Northern California.

Kevin also has a group, the Coconuts, a steelband that plays a lively mix of calypso, soca, latin and original tunes. He says his greatest musical inspiration comes from the Caribbean Islands of Trinidad and Cuba.

The band is comprised of Kevin, arranger on lead pan and double seconds; Annie Lee on the three cello pans; Dalen Anderson on the four bass pans; Dan Albrecht on drum set; Steve Paul on trumpet and percussion; and Paul Schulman on congas.

This core group of six can be expanded with the addition of a three piece horn section and special guests.

Char Lusk retires from Davidson school

Char Lusk, who created and run one of the oldest school pan programs in the Bay Area has retired from Davidson Middle School in San Rafael. However, she is still active on the local pan scene. Reports are she is teaching pan privately, to adults.

Derek Smith releases 'Pan Muntuno' CD

Bay Area panman Derek Smith released a new CD this year entitled 'Pan Muntuno'.
The CD features: Derek Smith tenor, double second and triple cello steel pans,drums (5, 6, 10), congas, percussion* Kevin Di Noto, double second steel pans (1, 2), congas (3)* Mario Flores, congas (1, 7)* Murray Low, piano (6, 7, 10)* Russell Ives, mandolin (9)* Ron Work, guitar (2, 4)* Mike Abraham (8, 11)* Mike Shannon, drums* Aaron Germain, bass

Derek Smith began playing percussion as a teen in Modesto, California, continuing his education in Arcata, California. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in music, with an emphasis on percussion including steel pan and vibraphone.

He studied and performed with Eugene Novotney and the Humboldt Calypso Band before moving to Santa Cruz, California in 1996.Upon arrival in Santa Cruz, Smith founded the band Pankind.

Quickly, the band's presence in the area brought about a popular following. Smith accumulated more rhythmic knowledge by traveling to Trinidad, Cuba and Puerto Rico. During his time in Trinidad, he performed in the national "Panorama" competition with the 100-member steelband "Starlift", under the direction of the famed steel pan arranger Ray Holman.

Now residing in Berkeley, California, Smith finds himself driving throughout the state performing for audiences and venues of all types including clubs, festivals, weddings, and parties. Smith's recording experience includes appearances on various recordings that also include Pete Escovedo, Joe Craven, Norton Buffalo, and Helcio Milito.

He has also shared the stage with Andy Narell, Mario Flores, Danjuma Adamu, and other well-known San Francisco Bay Area musicians.

Smith's latest CD release, "Pan Montuno" is now available online and at concerts. His band will follow up the recording with a series of performances in several states this year. You can find more information about CD purchases, performance schedule or booking by visiting:

Newborn panman

Congratulations to PanWoman Sharon Baird of the Soca Sisters who gave birth last fall to a healthy new panman, baby boy Zion. Sharon, as well as hubby Hill are both originally from Trinidad and Tobago. Sharon is a former member of Our Boys (USA).

Walnut Creek pan classes resume in January

Pan classes taught by Harry Best will resume Wednesdays 7:30-8:30pm at the Civic Arts Shadelands campus come January. For more information contact Harry at 510 222 1123, or call the campus.

New Pan class begins in Orinda this winter

Beginning in January, a new pan class will be launched at the Community Center in Orinda. The eight-week class will be taught Tuesdays 7-8pm by Harry Best. It is open to beginners age 14 and up. Learn the basics of sticking and melody-making. All instruments will be provided. Just come to jam and have fun!

Panman takes a bride

Olison Baptist, former lead player with Our Boys (USA) got married last week in Santa Cruz.
Present at the ceremony were several former Our Boys players and pan players from other groups in the Bay Area, including Peter Best and Paul Snagg of the Harmonics, Sharon Baird of the Soca Sisters, Holly Elder of Tropical Vibrations and Anthony 'Cannon' Hernandez of Caribbean Rhythms.
Holly and Cannon played pan during the ceremony. A good time was had by all.

Harry Best and Shabang release Xmas CD

Harry Best and Shabang released a new Christmas CD for the holiday season. Entitled 'Steel Drums Island Christmas', the CD has 10 traditional christmas carols, 7 instrumentals and 3 with vocals. The CD can be purchased at, or by calling the artists at 510 222 1123. The groups other releases include 'Sittin' in da sun' (1999), 'Gonna Make it' (2002), Compilation (2005).

Greenidge 'Pan' Volcano Erupts in Bay Area

By Harry Best

The shear brilliance and shimmering charisma of the steelpan often overshadows the talent of the one playing it. But when the player’s undeniable musicianship bursts through to grab your attention, you’re delightfully awakened to the realization that something truly magical is taking place.

It was like that Saturday night at Cue Productions in Concord California when the affable Robbie Greenidge joined Jim Munzenrider’s Chabot Panhandlers for two outstanding performances. In short, the show more than lived up to its billing with tonal lyrics erupting and spewing from Greenidge’s double seconds like a “musical volcano”.

The Panhandlers had already served up the audience three impressive apertifs before Greenidge got onstage. Their third tune, Passage of Souls, was an enchanting number composed by Chris Tanner of Miami University of Ohio’s music department, with an interesting melange of soca and beguine rhythms adroitly delivered by Munzenrider on traps.

Flanked by blonde starlets Anna Talamo and Stephanie Jones, Greenidge launched into his first number, From the Heart, the title tune on his latest CD. With evident affection and familiarity he led the audience to the emotional source of this original composition. The Panhandlers have to be commended here for matching his energy with flawless accompaniment.

After a couple of tunes, including a version of One Note Samba that defied the title, the band recessed but remained in place with fixed attention on the pan Master as he knitted and weaved a colorful solo that left mouths open in awe. The band joined him again for Paradise Garden, another tune from his CD, which I personally felt, sounds better arranged for pans than for the conventional instrumentation on his CD.

The show climaxed with Musical Volcano, written almost 12 years ago but dedicated Saturday night to his late great mentor Clive Bradley whose funeral Greenidge attended in Trinidad and Tobago just two days earlier. From here the show reclined into another solo of the Beatles’ Long and Winding Road and ended in a crescendo of Lord Kitchener’s Fever. Yeah!

Enough cannot be said about Munzenrider’s dedication to pan and its musical culture. Over the years he has treated Bay Area audiences, and his band members, to nothing but the top purveyors of the art form, including Len ‘Boogsie’ Sharpe, Andy Narell, Ray Holman, David Rudder, Liam Teague and now, Robert Greenidge.

On top of that, the area can now boast of having a top notch steelband on par with any international act of its kind.