Monday, September 29, 2008

Nor Cal Welcomes Joe Perea

Joe Perea former Director of Instrumental Music at Richland College, where he directed the steel band ensembles, the Symphonic Wind Ensemble, and the Jazz Ensemble has reportedly moved to Santa Rosa Junior College in Northern California.
Joe was the founder of The Richland College Steel Band, the premier community college steel band program in the DFW metroplex. All their steel pan instruments were built and tuned in-house Joe with assistance by members of the group.
Together with the Richland Music Club, they host the annual Carnival of Steel music festival every April on the Richland College campus. With over 1000 attendees, the Carnival of Steel brings together elementary, high school, college, and professional steel bands from all over Texas and beyond for a daylong event of performances, cultural activities, and educational presentations.
He holds degrees from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and the University of North Texas. As a steel pannist, he has performed with Phase II Pan Groove, as well as with many of the top steel pan artists including Ken "Professor" Philmore, Len "Boogsie" Sharpe, Tom Miller, Ray Holman, Andy Narell, and Robert Greenidge.
He has developed his skills in the craft of pan building and tuning through the guidance of people including Ellie Mannette, Alan Coyle, Tony Slater, Wallace Austin, Darren Dyke, Phil Solomon, and many others.
He served as Program Coordinator for the Over-the-Rhine Steel Drum Band in Cincinnati, OH and later toured with the University of North Texas Steel Band. He started the steel band program at North Garland High School in Garland, TX and has consulted with numerous school and community-based steel band programs around the US on grant writing and curriculum development.

Steel Band Expereince Group Class Resumes

Hi All…many of you responded to my “Sat., Sept. 6 Group Steel Drum Class” posting that a weeknight class would fit better with your schedules. Thank you for all of your input. (A BIG thank-you, again, to everyone who participated in the Sat., Sept. 6 class. It was a pleasure to work with all of you!)

I’m happy to report that Steel Jam’s next “Steel Band Experience” group class offering is:
--Tues., Oct. 21, 6:30-8:00 PM (Steel drums are provided.) --$75 fee. (Advance payment required to secure your reservation.)

Go from rank beginner to member of a steel drum band in a fun, 90-minute session!
This class is designed especially for those who don’t have time to invest in a multi-week course or for those who simply want to try a single, introductory session.No previous musical or steel drum experience (or even talent!) is required.

Class location: the Sunset neighborhood in San Francisco. (Easy access to parking and within a 2-3 block walking distance from public transportation.) Class instructor is Mary Spalding, founder and band leader of STEEL JAM. ********Space is Limited******** Call now (415-731-3550) or email to find out how to secure your reservation for your FUN “Steel Band Experience!”

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Steel Jam at SF Zoo

STEEL JAM performs for:
the San Francisco Zoo’s “Members Night Tours”
--this Fri. and Sat., (Sept. 26 & 27), 6-8:30 PM

(Fri. for Members whose last names begin with the letters A - K; Sat. for Members whose last names being with L - Z.)

FREE to SF Zoo Members only. For more information, or, to join or renew your Zoo Membership to enjoy FREE admission to the Night Tours (plus enjoy a bonanza of other benefits for a full year), go to or call (415) 753-7172.

Hope you can join STEEL JAM for an evening of fun for the whole family!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Phil Hawkins at Anna's Jazz Island

Phil Hawkins, Ray Obiedo, Bob Crawford, Marc van Wageningen, Paul van Wageningen, Michael Spiro get together for an exciting evening of Caribbean Jazz as as they perform songs from Phil's "H2O" and some NEW MUSIC from the upcoming cd!: Sun. Oct. 5, 8pm, Anna's Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way, Berkeley. $10. Reservations Recommended: 510-841-5299

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Santa Clara Stirs it up for Harry Best and Shabang

By Tricia Chambers

Musician, composer and Caribbean-born Harry Best, is no stranger to performing solo. But when he played his steel drum calypso music at Central Park last Sunday, he brought along his five-piece band. And from the hoots and howls sent up by the audience, I’d say they were quite appreciative.

“It’s about 50 degrees in San Francisco where we just came from, so it’s a little hot here” said Best who then proceeded to heat up with the pavilion even more with his island jams.

Best performed a few of his original compositions as well as what he called his Harry Belafonte and Bob Marley revue, on 55-gallon finely-tuned steel drums known as pans.

Before long, Best was receiving requests to play songs that included Bob Marley’s “I Shot the Sheriff.” He also inspired the audience to sing along to “Kingston Town.”

Couples-dancing returned to the Pavilion in a big way, led by 18-month-old, flower thermas-sipping Tea Ballew, a tot whose foray into the dance world is keeping her Mother hopping.

“I used to dance,” said Santa Clara native, Sally Culbertson as she leaned against the cool metal railing and clapped to the bouncy island music. Daughter Martha, visiting from Seattle stood by her side.

“We were in my back yard and I thought I heard music,” said Culbertson. “So I told Martha that we had to go. I forgot today was Sunday.”

Barbara D’Angelo, a Santa Clara resident formerly from Aruba, didn’t brave the dance floor but had fun just the same.

“I come to these concerts a lot,” she said. “This music is very popular in my country.”

Shabang is rounded out by steel drum player Dexter Bruce, formerly of Our Boys Steel Orchestra. According to Best, it’s bass player Ed (Mac) Mc Carver who is the pillar of the band. Tyrone Gray, a drummer who can’t play without a broad smile is another Boys Town veteran.

After the 90-minute show, Shabang packed their instruments to head up north to the colder weather. Day light come today and found me sad to say that Shabang will not be back for many a day. But I do have it on good authority from a very reliable and colorful toucan that Shabang might just return next summer.

Yes, Santa Clara sure knows how to show visitors a good time!

If you would like to learn more about Harry Best and Shabang, visit

New Steel Drum Class in Marin

Mark Rosenthal is starting an Adult steel pan class in Marin Tues. nights 6:30-8:30pm (see attached).
Please pass it on if you know anybody interested. It's at Davidson Middle School where they have a room fully set-up with lot's of pans including 2 sets of 6 bass. Starting next week Sept. 23rd.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

“Steel Band Experience” group class

Hi All…Only a few spaces remain for the Sat., Sept. 6 “Steel Band Experience” group class. Please call or email to reserve your space. (Steel drums provided; no past musical experience [or talent] required.)

· “Steel Band Experience” group class
· Sat., Sept. 6, 1:30-3:00 PM in San Francisco.

During this single, 90-minute “Steel Band Experience,” participants will HAVE FUN, and will also:
· be introduced to steel drums
· learn about the origin and history of this unique art form; and, within 90-minutes,
· transform themselves from rank beginners to bona fide members of a steel drum band!
¨ $75 fee. (Advanced payment required in order to secure your reservation.)

Call Mary now (415-731-3550) or email
to reserve your space.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Enjoy the Steel Drum Experience - Workshop!

Want to play steel drum in a steel drum band…in one, fun, easy, 90-minute session??
(Steel drums will be provided.)

Here’s how!

Mary Spalding (founder and leader of Steel Jam--a Caribbean steel drum band that, since 1994, has performed for hundreds of corporate functions and private parties throughout Northern CA) is offering:

--a “Steel Band Experience” group class
--Sat., Sept. 6, 1:30-3:00 PM in San Francisco.

During this single, 90-minute “Steel Band Experience,” participants will, first and foremost, HAVE FUN, and will also:
· be introduced to steel drums
· learn about the origin and history of this unique art form; and, within 90-minutes,
· transform themselves from rank beginners to bona fide members of a steel drum band!
¨ No previous musical or steel drum experience (or even talent!) is necessary.
¨ Steel drums will be provided.
¨ $75 fee. (Advanced payment required in order to secure your reservation.)

********************************SPACE IS LIMITED TO 15 PARTICIPANTS***********************************

Have a fun “Steel Drum Experience” on Sat., Sept. 6!

Call Mary now (415-731-3550) or to reserve your space for
your “Steel Band Experience.”

(Location information--2260 Cecilia Avenue,in the Sunset area of San Francisco. Easy neighborhood parking. Within 2-3 block walking distance from public transportation.)

Mary Spalding
Steel Jam
(415) 731-3550
Fax: (415) 731-9735

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Jeff Narell in Concord SunValley Mall

Friday, June 13, Jeff Narell & Callaloo - Steel Drums
Sunvalley Mall in Concord is kicking off the summer with a concert series!
Every Friday night, beginning June 6 through August 29, (except July 4), we will host a live musical group in Grand Court from 7 - 8 pm. Admission is FREE!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Flash back on Pan Dulce

Pan Dulce Steel Orchestra
Caribbean islands art form is pursued with great delight in Arcata
by Marilyn Lang

Members of the Pan Dulce Steel Orchestra play as their people-powered rack is pulled through Arcata on its way to last year's All Species Parade during the North Country Fair. In the center is Kate Lang, one of the three co-founders. Behind her right shoulder is Denise Rynearson and behind her left is Denise Jones. In the forground is an Arcata volunteer pulling the rack and on the right is Jennifer Rynearson. Photo by Gary Rynearson

It began in a bright blue building in Arcata three years ago when Kate Lang, John Salazar and Mike Skweir co-founded Pan Action Network and made the excitement of playing steeldrums accessible to North Coast residents. Inspired by the camaraderie they had experienced in panyards of Trinidad/Tobago, they dreamed of recreating that spirit locally. Their vision, to build community through music, has become reality in the Pan Dulce Steel Orchestra, our community band.

In Pan Dulce, we blend our backgrounds and ages, (spanning six decades) in our joy of playing steelpan music together. Though most of us had no previous musical training, we learn a mix of Calypso and other music by ear in the traditional mode of the Caribbean islands. Even those of us initially unable to tap a foot on beat, learn to play experientially as we gain an understanding of the rhythm and "feel" of this infectious music. From our six "oldtimers" who began three years ago to our player whose father played in the early pan bands of Trinidad to our newest members which include a father, his teenage daughter and l2 year-old son, we are a devoted bunch-many plan vacations around the panyard schedule.

Including our three teachers, we are a group of 34. With John as drummer and arranger, our band consists of tenor and double tenor pans playing lead melody and harmony at the higher end of the musical range, while the mid and lower-range double seconds, cello and bass pans provide our harmonic and rhythmic foundation. Steeldrums, or pans, are unique instruments created in Trinidad during the WWII years. Skillfully hammered and tuned, 55 gallon oil drums are transformed into instruments producing a full chromatic range of notes. Their sweet tone lends itself to all kinds of music from classical to calypso.

Pan Dulce - literally a Mexican sweetbread - is the perfect name for our band. It reflects the sweet sounds of the steelpan, the nourishment for the spirit this music offers and the sweet pan-experience of playing music together. We guarantee it is impossible to hear this music of Carnival, celebration and community without at least tapping a foot!

Humboldt State U Steelband 1995

Humboldt State U Steelband doing Ray Holman's Panic. HSU is the almer mater of a few Bay Area pannists such Mark Rosenthal, Ross McGinnis and Derek Smith.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

June is Caribbean-American Heritage Month

Celebrate Caribbean Heritage Month with the Caribbean American Association of Northern California. The first CHM event will be Islands in the Park featuring Third Word on Sunday June 15, 2008 and the second event will be the CHM Legacy Awards, a red carpet event, featuring various local and international Caribbean Leaders and Artists on Saturday, June 28th.

Val Serrant at Berkeley World Music Festival

Val Serrant presents 'From Drum To Steeldrum'..Traditional Drumming, Chants, Kaiso[Calypso], Assorted Percussion and Steelpan Music, playing 3-4:30 pm outside of Anna Purna, 2416 Telegraph Ave. during the free 5th Annual Berkeley World Music Fest. The celebration rocks with continuous music throughout the Telegraph Avenue district: Saturday, June 7th, Noon – 9 P.M., mainly in cafés & People’s Park.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Disappointing Pan in 'Panman'

Don’t quite know what to say about the film “The Panman, Rhythm of the Palms”. Caught a sneak preview on over the weekend, thanks to a tip from
For one thing, Pan is only incidental to the main focus of the film; a man living through the psycho-sociological challenges of a Caribbean culture that seems dated in the 60s and 70s.

A noble effort by the producers, but the attempt to weave too many different strands from the complexity of that fabric of the Caribbean psyche might have sacrificed clarity and focus.
On another note, pan lovers would hope to at least hear some pan virtuosity in the music scores, even if the actor was pretending to play. But the music was weak and had no semblance to anything authentically pan.

It is evident that the creator of the story was vaguely familiar with pan culture. It might be a little hash in saying that the creators of this and another similar “Panman” movie released about 10 years ago seem to be merely ‘pimping pan’.

The story could have been much more relevant and contemporary if focused around the economic challenges that confronts a developing panman in today’s Caribbean.
Having said this, what is positive about the movie? Some indirect or, shall we say, subtle statements that point to the schizophrenia of the Caribbean psyche. Not a bad thing, just a ‘hello’ from the mirror.

The acting was passable. There was also a latent but positive glimpse of what Caribbean culture could, and will, contribute to the world given the evolution of certain economic and social issues.
If you want to support and encourage the fledgling Caribbean movie industry, then you should go see “Panman” at Yoshi’s June 15.

Monday, May 19, 2008

'PanMan' Movie To Show June 15 at Yoshi's

The film “Panman: Rhythm of the Palms” will be shown at the 10th Annual San Francisco Black Film Festival (SFBFF) June 15, 2pm at Yoshi's.

THE PANMAN RHYTHM OF THE PALMS tells the story of the rise and fall of the steel drum pan player Harry Daniel. Harry is an icon of the Caribbean whose personal life suffers when he places his music above his family. He is desperate to pass the pan culture to a younger generation.

During this crusade to keep the music alive on his beloved island of St Martin he meets the exceptionally talented Jacko who becomes his star apprentice and hope for the future. Harry treats him like the son he never had. However when Harry's fame begins to diminish, Jacko turns against him and embraces instead the world of rock music. But when Harry dies unexpectedly Jacko returns to his island culture to become pan music's brilliant new icon.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

WST: A Moment with Andy Narell

Andy Narell talks with When Steel Talks about pan, calypso, music education and his upcoming concert in New York. See entire article here, or by clicking on the headline:

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Conscious Pannist - 1 (An Adaptation)


You and I are creatures of habit. We get into the habit of accepting as final the evidence of our senses. I want to be outstanding pan player and my senses tell me that I am not, and I through habit am about to accept this lack as final.

When I remember that my consciousness is the one and only reality, therefore if I deny the evidence of my senses and assume the consciousness of being an outstanding pan player, I have in a sense rebuked the consciousness which suggested lack; and by assuming the consciousness of being an outstanding player, we become that player in a way we do not know.

In this case I say to myself, “What have I to do with thee?” What have I to do with the evidence of my senses? I will proceed as though I am already the pan player I desire to be. In other words, I assume that I am all that I desire. Then my dimensionally greater Self inspires in all, the thoughts and the actions which aid the embodiment of my assumption.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Steel Jam performs this weekend

· Fri., May 16, 10-1 PM, in Hillsborough for the Community Service League’s “Kitchen Tour”

· Sat., May 17, 1:30-4:30 PM, an Open House at 404 Bayswater Ave. in Burlingame

· Sun., May 18, 1:30-4:30 PM, an Open House at 404 Bayswater Ave. in Burlingame

Event Details:

On Fri., May 16, 10-1 PM, the Community Service League’s

28th Annual “Kitchen Tour of Homes”

(at 315 Pinehill Road in Hillsborough.)

Tickets are $35 in advance; $40 the day of the event. Tour five unique homes in Hillsborough and San Mateo Park. Proceeds will benefit The Mental Health Association of San Mateo County and the YFES Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention Center of San Mateo County.

Call 650-483-6485 for tickets or, for more info, visit the CSL website at

Come on out to have a listen…and all for a great cause!

On Sat., May 17 & Sun., May 18, 1:30-4:30 PM:

an Open House at 404 Bayswater Ave. in Burlingame

--Mary Spalding featured on Sat., May 17

--Christin Hablewitz featured on Sun., May 18

Los Gatos Parents Call for return of Pan Teacher McGinnis

By Emilie Doolittle
Los Gatos Weekly-Times
Article Launched: 05/12/2008 07:21:18 PM PDT

For the third time, the Los Gatos High School Band Boosters and several high school students showed up at the Los Gatos-Saratoga Union High School District board meeting on May 6 to ask that the school's band teacher, Ross McGinnis, be rehired.

The band teacher, who was hired at the beginning of the school year, resigned for reasons he cannot disclose. McGinnis did not attend the last three board meetings with the band boosters. However, he said that if the school offers to rehire him, he would accept.

Los Gatos High School principal Doug Ramezane could not comment on the reasons for McGinnis' resignation because personnel issues are confidential.

(Click on headline for full story)

Friday, May 09, 2008

Andy Narell's Beaten path to greatness

We hated to see Andy Narell leave the Bay Area for France. But let's face it. It wasn't happening for him on this side of the globe. The popularity that Andy had amassed in the 1980s when he first shot onto the jazz scene with his pan, had withered down to an occasional concert here and there. The novelty had worn off.

So Andy followed the path of many great American Jazz artists before him who felt less than appreciated in the home of Jazz. He crossed the Atlantic to France where Jazz and music innovation is perhaps more appreciated than anywhere else on the globe.
Well that move certainly revived his career. After a spell with Calypsociation, Andy's popularity seems to have exploded. Check Youtube, the man is all over the planet playing pan...T&T, Eastern Europe, Spain, Cuba, and just about every University with a pan program in the USA.

Which begs the question: Andy, is time to come home?

Phil flyin' below the radar

Am I the only Phil Hawkins music fan in the Bay Area? I’m surprised that not many Bay Area bands are playing his music. There’s a certain calculated quality to Phil’s music that brings the pan(s) alive. I notice the jump in energy in his tunes compared to anything played before.

Phil is getting ready to release a new CD with most of the tunes from his Pan Combo compilation. He also has a number of great band arrangements of these tunes available on his website

Check out The Big Idea and Suk-kyo’s Samba, two of my favorites.

Jammin’ at the Beach

Don’t try to reach any of the Bay Area’s Pan notables this weekend. They have all gone to the beach…Virginia Beach. It’s the 6th Annual PANorama Caribbean Music Fest.

Saturday features the competition, where bands ranging from elementary to college to community groups from all around the country compete for ratings and awards. Between 15 and 20 bands are expected to compete. On Sunday the top bands from the previous day’s competition perform on the 24th Street Stage.

Gone to the beach: Andy and Jeff Narell, Tom Miller, Phil Hawkins, Jim Munzenrider...

Liam’s Lightening Licks

Liam Teague was in the Bay Area last weekend and spread his stardust around leaving a lot of people with tingles from his performance. He showed how he earned the title “the Paganini of Pan”. The man is a masterful pannist, truly a leader among the next generation of pan practitioners.

Personally, I found some of his classical pieces a bit esoteric…I get a similar feeling listening to Othello Molineaux’s avant-garde jazz. But, his skill on the pan was so captivating, it didn’t matter what he played. Or, with whom he played.

Liam was backed by Jim Munzenrider’s very capable CSM Panhandlers. The group did an adequate job but not up to the standard of their past performances. Notably absent were iconic players like Anna Talamo who is nursing tendonitis in both hands. The band, and Liam, lost it temporarily when they teamed with the La Nueva school band, but it was all taken in stride.

Although there was no formal announcement, it is rumored that Saturday’s concert was the group’s last as it is presently constituted. Talk is, Munzenrider is thinking of ending the 20-year-old project and starting over with new members.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Pan Eternal Band featured at Carnaval Show


Sistas-Wit -Style Caribbean Folk Performing Co. presents a fundraiser Caribbean Carnaval Show and Party featuring Live and Direct from Trinidad & Tobago, Pan Eternal Band with Miss Rita Jones.

Caribbean food, music by Bay Area’s #1 DJ Miller and Linden B. with special guest DJ’s Fusion from Canada.

The Carnival Ball kicks off at Caribbean Gardens on Saturday May 24th 2008 at 1306 Bayshore Highway Burlingame Ca 94010 begins at 8:00pm.

Advance Tickets $15.00 and $20.00 @ door.

Play Mas on de road for San Francisco Carnaval with Sistas-Wit-Style on Sunday 25th May 2007

This event is supported by Sistas-Wit-Style and Associates proceeds goes towards our children and youth dance program. We are empowering youths

Come and enjoy the spirit of the Caribbean!

(510) 952 –6287/ (415) 601-7513

Carnival Fundraiser for 'We Ah We'

Hi friends:
Don't miss having a fun time with us this Saturday
May 10, 2008, at the Caribbean Gardens. Check out Vincy Night, a Fundraiser for our Carnival Contingent, Caribbean Roots and Culture for Carnaval San Francisco's 08 “We Ah We”.
DJ Miller and DJ Linden B.
Party starts at 9:00 pm.
Kojo’s Kitchen will be open, serving food from the Caribbean-Curry Chicken and Goat, Curry Tofu, Roti, rice and peas, salad and plantains.
PS. kindly forward this info to all your friends.

Monday, May 05, 2008

'Panman' in Bay Area Film Festival

The film “Panman: Rhythm of the Palms” will be shown in San Francisco for the 2008 San Francisco Black Film Festival (SFBFF) in June.The film will in addition be shown at the Hollywood Black Film Festival. Since its December 2007 red-carpet premiere, the film has been getting very good comments locally and abroad. The film is also on the line-up for film festivals in Curaçao, Europe, North America and South Africa.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Manning: G-pan will revolutionise Panorama

BY SEAN NERO /Trinidad Guardian
Prime Minister Patrick Manning has put the steelband fraternity on alert that the emergence of the Genesis pan (G-pan) will have serious implications on future Panorama competitions.
He said he anticipated that orchestras competing in the Carnival event would no longer be required to retain their present sizes since instruments in the G-pan family offered greater musical volume.
Pan Trinbago is responsible for producing Panorama, which is funded by the State. A large conventional orchestra taking part in the competition has a ceiling of 120 pannists, 90 for medium, and 60 for small bands.
In Manning’s view, the need for a large complement of pannists would soon be a thing of the past.
Speaking at Saturday’s launch of the National Steel Symphony Orchestra (NSSO) at Queen’s Hall, Port-of-Spain, the Prime Minister predicted smaller orchestras would soon occupy the Panorama stage.
It’s the second time in less than a year that Manning addressed the future of the Panorama competition while outlining the Government’s achievement in discovering the G-pan.
He first tackled the issue during the launch of the G-pan at the JFK Quadrangle at University of the West Indies, St Augustine, on July 14, when he said Panorama orchestras would have less need for an assortment of bass pans since the new G-bass pan covered all musical ranges.
“One of the advantages of the new pan is that of the top three pans—the tenor, double seconds and the guitar—the volume you get from these pans is 50 per cent more than what you get from traditional pans; and the volume you get from the new bass, which is the real innovation, is about 75 per cent more.
“What this means is an orchestra that comprises only G-pans would be configured very differently from an orchestra with the traditional type.
“In the case of the NSSO, the overall orchestra of 36 players and percussionist would take it to a maximum of about 40.
“Initially, we anticipated a NSSO of about 60 to 70 players. We now have a NSSO with a maximum of 40 players. Innovation has brought that about.”
Manning said he believed the G-pan would change the face of Panorama despite its unresolved production obstacles.
“We unveiled the G-pan on July 14, 2007. The research took longer than expected and, more than that, the production facilities of necessity that must go with it took us and continues to take us a little longer than we expected.
“They present a challenge that was over and above what we had anticipated, but is not an insurmountable challenge.”
Manning told the Queen’s Hall gathering, which included President George Maxwell Richards and Mrs Ramjohn-Richards, that his Government’s decision to scrap the T&T National Steel Orchestra was necessary because the system under which it operated was flawed and “simply not sustainable.”
He said the musical outfit, which was constituted under the Basdeo Panday administration, was viewed with suspicion by the steelband fraternity.
“We began an approach that would have stood a better chance of survival. We began an approach, for one, that was more sustainable, and came to the conclusion that perhaps a symphony orchestra, different from all other orchestras in T&T, might be the way to go,” he recalled.
Manning said the Government spent $9.9 million to continue research that was ongoing for some time at the pan research lab at UWI, St Augustine, headed by Brian Copeland.
According to Manning, the main criteria for the Genesis project was the creation of a soprano pan with a wider musical range that did not suffer from the disabilities experienced by the present soprano pan.
“It did not take us long to realise we were onto something. In fact, that research began to progress at such a pace that we took the decision to delay the formation of the NSSO, allowing the research to produce new instruments and to take the pan one major step forward,” Manning said.
“If we were able to develop these instruments, it would be the first orchestra in the country and in the world to be equipped completely with whatever pans we developed.”

Friday, April 18, 2008

A Holiday for Kitch

Celebrate the Grand Master Lord Kitchener's birthday in cyberspace. See a list of activities at this link:

mas makers parties

Save the dates and spread the word:

Mas Makers gears up for Carnaval with two smoking events; Saturday April 26, Caribbean Breakfast/BrunchOpen House at the Mas Camp. Taste delicious island specialties, sign up for your costume or just party to the latest soca music.
Sunday May 11 Mother's Day Glo. You Must Wear White. Backyard Garden Party-Steelpan Music, Popular DJ, Island Food, Complimentary Cocktail and more...

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Lil' Mo' Love Steel n' Brass

Lil' Mo' Love Steel n' Brass plays their rockin' Soca Samba Rocksteady Sounds!!!!
Whole Foods Berkeley - Ashby & Telegraph (in the patio, by the front entrance)
3-4pm only! but Come Early! it's an Earth Day Festival! - lots of kool food & stuff!

Free Admission -Buy Raffle Tickets or Register to become a MEMBER OF MO' LOVE to Support the Kids' w/ Mo' Love May 25 -SF Carnaval PARTY Crew...all youth costumes, food, transportation etc is sponsored...

do your bit to give some love to youth at risk and have fun! maybe win a TRIP TO THE CARIBBEAN! + FEEL GOOD! HEAR GREAT MUSIC! maybe TAKE A JUMP! DANCE! or jus' Swing ya' Hips... at least, we'll have u tappin' ya foot!

See you there! remember to come early! shoot for 2pm if you travelin' trini time....Mo' Love,

Sistas-wit-style bandlaunching

WHEN: April 26th, 2008
WHERE: 9105 Golf Links Oakland, Ca
Info: (510) 952-6287387-7771

Exit 98th Avenue, right Golf Links straight

You don’t want to miss the excitement!!!
Curtis Hinds


Sunday, April 06, 2008

"wild suburbanites" playing steel drums in Moraga!

The Lamorinda Weekly recently featured the new steel drum class at the Bernhardt residence in Moraga taught by Harry Best. Click on headlines for link to full story. The class is in its third session this spring.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Stanford Cardinal Calypso Band plays 'Under the Sea'

Harry Best and Shabang! at Tiki tom's

Harry Best and Shabang! return to Tiki Tom's this week, Friday April 4, 6-9pm, for a nother frolicking spring splash. Come out and enjoy the tropical food and drinks and dance a little.
Tiki tom's is at 1535 Olympic Blvd Walnut Creek, CA 94596 (925) 932-9202 .

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Liam Teague returns to the Bay joins CSM Panhandlers

Hello pan enthusiast!

Continuing in our lucky streak of "How did a band like this land
a guest artist like THAT??", the CSM Panhandlers are proud to
present Liam Teague, known as the Paganini of Steel Pan.
We are working on a camera/projector setup for the concert so everyone
can see that yes, he *is* really playing all those notes! It
will be a great show, for more information on Liam please visit

Also joining us will be latin percussionist, recording artist,
and educator Michael Spiro, along with Remi Spiro and the Nueva
School Steel Drum Bands.

When: Saturday May 3, 8pm (ticket booth open 7pm, doors 7:30pm)
Where: College of San Mateo Theater (Bldg 3)
1700 West Hillsdale Blvd., San Mateo
How Much: $20 General Admission
$18 Seniors / Students / Children under 14

Tickets may be purchased in advance via check or Visa/Mastercard,
please call our ticket line at (650)568-6879 for ordering info.

Hope to see you there!
CSM Panhandlers

Monday, March 31, 2008

Narell Brothers, 3 Steelbands Honor Ellie Mannette

On Thursday, April 10, 2008, three collegiate steel bands will combine forces with two of America’s premiere pan talents to present a tribute concert for pan pioneer and legend Ellie Mannette in Morgantown, West Virginia.

The three bands (Miami U, Eastern Kentucky U, and West Virginia U) will perform the entire concert together, in “mass band” fashion. MU Steel Band director Chris Tanner estimates there will be more than 70 pan players on stage, a major milestone for university steelbands in the U.S.A.

Repertoire for the event includes original music from both Andy and Jeff Narell, as well as offerings from Chris Tanner and Jason Koontz, directors of the MU and EKU groups, respectively. The bands will perform about two hours worth of material in total.

“It has been a tremendous challenge for our students to prepare this much music in one year,” said Tanner, “but the reward will be worth the effort.”

Click on headlines for full story.

'In Steel' solo pan CD release

"In Steel', a solo pan act featuring Ferguson Glasgow from the Bay Area's Harmonics Steelband, recently released a new CD. The album has seven tracks showcasing Glasgow's talent as a lead pan player supported by bass player and guitarist 'Charlo' Jules.

The seven cuts include: Hot Hot Hot, Crisis, Calzouk, Marcela, Tenement Yard, Waterfalls and Bob Marley's Natural Mystic. The CD was released to coincide with the traditional spring launching of the Bay Area's pan-gigging season.

The CD can be purchased by calling 'In Steel' at 510 215 5938.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Steel Jam at Open House

Steel Jam performs this Sun., March 30:

1- 4 PM Open House at 114 Paradise Dr., Pacifica, CA
Steel Jam entertains potential home buyers as they view this beautiful property.
Come on out, groove to Steel Jam’s tunes, and have a look for yourself!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Calypso Dreams Released on DVD this Summer

Finally, Calypso Dreams, the award-winning documentary is scheduled for release on DVD this summer. The politics that delayed the release for almost 4 years has finally been cleared and the long-awaited video will be availabe in stores soon. For an extensive interview on the background of the film, check out this link:

Calypso Dreams was Winner of the Best Caribbean Documentary at the Jamerican Film Festival, Audience Favorite at the DC Film fest, Pan- African film festival, Mill Valley Film Fest and embraced by an entire nation in Trinidad, Calypso Dreams chronicles the rich and complex cultural roots of calypso music in Trinidad and Tobago.

Produced and directed by Geoffrey Dunn and Michael Horne with co-producers Mark Schwartz, Eric Thierman, associate producers Alvin Daniel, Sandra Derrell and Andrew Marcano (Lord Superior), Calypso Dreams is an intimate portrait of some of the true Calypsonians in Trinidad and Tobago, in performance and in conversation. Shot over 3 years in Port of Spain, Trinidad, the documentary includes such legendary calypsonians as Lord Pretender, Lord Kitchener, The Mighty Bomber, Relator, Lord Superior, Brigo, Mystic Prowler, Calypso Rose, The Mighty Sparrow, Terror, Valentino, Blakie, David Rudder, Regeneration Now, The Mighty Duke, Conqueror and many others.

Check this blog regularly for breaking news on Calypso Dreams.

Ray Obiedo & Mambo Caribe w Jeff Narell & Phil Hawkins

Appearing Friday night in Sausalito and Saturday night In Berkeley !
Ray Obiedo + Mambo Caribe, withJeff Narell - Steel Pans
Rose Anne Dimalanta - Keyboards
Michael Spiro - Percussion
David Belove - Bass
Phil Hawkins -Drums

Friday March 28, 2008, Studio 333333, Caledonia St., Sausalito
Doors at 8:00 Music at 8:30
To buy tickets Via Phone with Visa or MC 415.389.5072 or
Studio 333 Box Office
More info:

Also appearing Saturday March 29, 2008 at Anna's Jazz Island
2 sets starting at 8 pm
2120 Allston Way Berkeley, Ca 94704
(510) 841-JAZZ(just east of Shattuck Ave & Downtown Berkeley BART)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Stanford's Cardinal Calypso Steelband

Cardinal Calypso is Stanford University's new campus steel pan ensemble. We are a student group founded in 2005 through a Pierce Award grant from the Stanford Alumni Association (2004 Pierce Award, "The 'Pan' American Project."). Our goal is to educate the university community on Carribean music and culture through workshops and performances.
Interested in Joining?

Contact Liezel

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Lamorinda Group Kicks off spring Session

The Lamorinda Steel Drum Group kicks off the Spring session March 30. The session will run for 6 weeks ending on May 4. For info on other eastbay classes see the 2/28/08 post.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Spring Clearance on Steel Drum Stands

Look good and sound good. Only a handful available at spring clearance prices.
If you're looking for a sturdy professional model pan stand the PRO ADJUSTABLE, collapsible single pan stand is the one for you.
Get the security and value that you want in a stand at an unbeatable price. Bottom tripod is double-braced chromed. Top carrier is painted steel-grey.

Available at

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

ECO-SHEEN the best protection for your pan

ECO-SHEEN is a new, revolutionary and environmentally safe way to clean, seal, polish, and protect your pan. Eco-Sheen can also be used on cars, trucks, R.V’s, boats, motorcycles, airplanes, mirrors; windows, fiberglass, chrome, plastic, or any glossy painted surface.

Use ECO-SHEEN in any weather - hot, cold, or humid. Your pan will shine!
It’s as Easy as 1, 2, 3...
1. Apply ECO-SHEEN™ directly to your pan.
2. Spray it on evenly, right over the dirt, grime, or marks.
3. Polish with a soft dry cloth.

Product Features:
• Cleans, seals, polishes, and protects in one easy step without water.
• Works on any hard surface.
• Safe on all types of paint, including clear-coat.
• Cleans dirt, grime, marks, road haze, and road tar.
• Safely and effectively removes oxidation.
• Removes paint overspray.
• Great around the house for counters, kitchens or bathrooms.
• Use on glossy painted surfaces, metal, glass, mirrors, plastic, fiberglass, and chrome.
Our exclusive formula, Electrotek-PCM™ is saturated with positively charged ions, that chemically (ionically) adhere to the negative surfaces of the vehicle. ECO-SHEEN™ is enhanced with liquid carnauba wax which protects the vehicle’s delicate surface. After the final step with the polishing cloth, a hard waxed sheen remains giving a long lasting protective finish.
Available at

Trinidad and Tobago Police Marching Band

The Harmonizer A Must for Every Pan Player!

The Harmonizer is the most incredibly comprehensive reference music tool we have come across. It is a music course in itself. But it also allows you to get the most from your pan lessons or self-study courses. You will progress on your pan much faster when you add it to your learning program.

If you’re new to steel drums/pan, it is important to understand that music is a language, and the sound of your steel drum is your voice. The notes on your pan are equivalent to the alphabets in this language. But if you are to communicate intelligently, you need to know and understand the grammar and vocabulary of the language. That is found in music theory. And there is no more comprehensive tool or device on the market for that purpose than the Harmonizer.

The thing that the Harmonizer is best at is making music fun. It is fun when you can play what you want and play along with others. It is fun when you can compose and improvise with ease. It is fun when you delight others who listen to you.

Here are some other features and benefits you'll enjoy:
• It gives you mastery of chord names and usage.
• Shows how to use scales and modes for improvising and soloing.
• Shows you chord substitutions to give your playing more originality.
• Shows new and versitile chord progressions.
• Lets you transpose from key to key easily.
• Shows you how to modulate from one key to another smoothly.
• Shows you modes and chords derived from the diatonic (major) scale.
• Shows you modes and chords derived from the melodic minor (jazz) scale.
• Shows you modes and chords derived from the harmonic minor scale.
• Shows you intervals, chord extentions, and more.
• Helps improve your ear by showing you likely tonal possibilities.
• Gives you a vocabulary you can use to communicate to other musicians.
• Fuels your creativity by giving you more musical ideas to work with.
• Makes playing fun by making it easier to play along with others.
• Gives you confidence from a better understanding of music.

With this knowledge of music you will feel more confident playing your pan and enjoy jamming with others. It's amazing!
Comes in two color styles, Techno and Classic. Each has the same musical information and comes with a 40-page guide to understanding music theory.

It’s the best investment you’ll ever make in your music education. You already have the voice, why not learn the language that makes it sing!
Now available at!

Phil Hawkins Sneak Preview (Steel Drum) Concert

If you're looking for a great evening of music and food, please check out our next gig at Senzala Brasilian Restaurant on Sat. April 12, 7:30pm

Senzala is located at 250 E. Java in Sunnyvale, Ca. 408-734-1656

I'll be playing steeldrums and percussion along with:Murray Low - keysMarc van Wageningen - bassRay Obiedo - guitarPaul van Wageningen - drums

$5 Cover WONDERFUL Brasilian food available!

Come and hear a sneak preview of the new material from my next recording. We'll be heading into the studio the very next day to work with all the above as well as vocalistsMichelle Hawkins, Jessica Vatour, percussionists Michael Spiroand Pete Escovedo and trumpet master Randy Brecker.Hope to see a bunch of you there.


Phil Hawkins

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Liam Teague joins CSM Panhandlers in Concert

When: 5/3/2008 [ 8:00pm ]

What: The CSM Panhandlers Steel Drum Band presents LIAM TEAGUE . . . "The Paganini of Steelpan". With special guests: Michael Spiro, Remi Spiro, The Nueva School Steel Bands.


Ticket Info: TICKET PRICES ARE: $ 20.00 GENERAL ADMISSION $ 18.00 FOR SENIORS / STUDENTS AND CHILDREN (under 14). More info coming soon!

Below is a video of CSM P at last spring's concert:

Monday, March 17, 2008

Shabang! steel drum band schedule for March'08

Check this link to see where Shabang! will be performing in March:

Below: Shabang! at Caribbean Night Pool Party last summer

Sunday, March 16, 2008

A Message from (Boogsie sharpe) a Master

‘Boogsie’ – playing 'My Way" solo on Double seconds

By NASSER KHAN Sunday, March 16 2008
Affectionately known as “Pip” to his close friends (as in “Pip and the Convict” he says), Lennox “Boogsie” Sharpe, 54, is one of TT’s most gifted — “God-given” he acknowledges — talents in the steelpan arena. He is generally acknowledged as one of the greatest steelpan players, if not the greatest ever.

The five-time Panorama arranger winner (winner of three of the past four Panorama finals), plans to catch up with his good friend Jit Samaroo’s nine wins and has a burning desire to three-peat — a goal that has eluded him on two occasions. He is motivated by this goal so we can look forward to his presence in the coming years, he insists.

Lamenting on the on-going sad state of facilities for the national instrument and the treatment meted out to pannists in general, Boogsie hopes that the powers-that-be will come together to truly brand the national instrument and protect all the rights that go with its invention and innovation (proprietary, intellectual, etc).

He hopes they can develop and maintain ways to show the nation’s appreciation for this country’s gift to the world, as he calls it. Boogsie has established his genius over the past forty-plus years with his arrangements for many calypsonians, vocalists and steelbands in TT and the Caribbean, North America, and Europe and has been composer/arranger-in-residence at Phase II Pan Groove (currently Petrotrin sponsored) since 1974.

Sharpe does not read or write music yet he conceives elaborate compositions and arrangements and teaches them to the players note by note, phrase by phrase. Described as ‘the Mozart of pan’ by Wynton Marsalis, he remains a humble, generous man whose St James home is a repository of his treasured memories many of which he emotionally described during this interview and are captured in the following 20 questions:

1. Where /how did you earn the nickname “Boogsie”? My mom, the late Grace Isabella Sharpe, says that when I was born an angel called out “Boogsie” to her. No one knows what it means.

2. When and where did you play your first steelpan? As a youngster, at this very location, which in addition to being our home was also the panyard for the Symphonettes led and arranged for by my cousin Rupert ‘Shadow’ Nathaniel.

3. Of all your recordings available, which four arrangements would you most like people to hear? “In the Rain Forest” the winning composition/arrangement at the World Steelband Music Festival in October 2000; ‘Woman is Boss’ Panorama winner 1988; ‘Trini Gone Wild’ Panorama winner 2005; ‘Musical Vengeance’ Panorama winner 2008.

4. Favourite calypso/soca song(s) of all time and by whom? ‘Pan Night and Day’ by the late great Kitch ‘School Days’ by Sparrow

5. Where were you born and where did you grow up? Born at Benares Street, St James, and grew up right here.

6. The one place you would like to visit and why? Toronto, Canada to visit my three grandsons especially to see the last one who is now four years old….that is my greatest wish at the moment. I hear that Scotiabank announced the sponsorship of Caribana so I am hoping they will consider sending a contingent of this year’s Panorama champions.…yuh could write dat in de papers?....ah hope de boss man at Scotia read de Newsday (laughs heartily as he proudly shows of a picture of his three grandsons. His fourth grandson, Hashim, of whom he is very proud and who lives with him, has taken a liking to the steelpan).

7. Your favourite meal or dish/food? A good chicken pelau with some callaloo and a cold diet Sprite to wash it down.

8. Who were the people or person who influenced you the most to become the acknowledged great pannist/arranger you are today? Definitely my father who used to take me to various panyards and to play in competitions as a youngster once he realised that I had the talent… and of course my mom, who I dearly loved… cherish your mother, you hear.

9. What is your greatest accomplishment? Winning the World Steelband Music Festival in 2000 with my composition and arrangement of ‘In the Rainforest’…I hope you have the CD. Also, being honoured by UTT recently (proudly displays photo and certificate).

10. Even though you won your 5th Panorama title this year what was the feeling like when you heard that you had won? It is hard to explain the joyous feeling especially after the pain we all felt at last year’s tough loss when the entire pan fraternity thought that we should have won.

11. What is your most prized possession? All these photographs on the walls you see of all my family including my grandparents, my parents, my children and grandchildren. I truly appreciate the mothers of my children too.

12. What do most people NOT know about you? That Barrington Levy, the Jamaican reggae star, is my first cousin (pointing to one of the many pictures on the wall). Also, that I am a good piano player.

13. What ,when, where was your first paying job? As a pan player with the steelband Crossfire on Nepaul Street back in about 1965….50 cents, plenty money back then for a young boy.

14. Do you support the changing of the dates for Carnival and why? I’d rather not touch that one.

15. If you could dine with anyone in history, who would that be? Nelson Mandela...that is a great man.

16. If you could hire any singer or band (other than Phase II) to perform in your living room, who would you pick? Stevie Wonder doing ‘Ebony and Ivory’, my favourite non-calypso, pan song.

17. What advice would you give to young people? Love your own people and culture…we tend not to appreciate ours.

18. Who was your hero or idol growing up? In pan, Mr Anthony Williams and in music otherwise, Stevie Wonder.

19. What would you say is your greatest virtue? Helping people, a virtue I learned from my mom whom I cherish and love so dearly.

20. What daily motto do you live by? Take one day at a time.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Steel Jam Headlines “KQED Women’s History Month” fete

Steel Jam has just been invited to perform:
“KQED Celebrates Women’s History Month”
(sponsored by KQED, Wells Fargo and Subaru)

--Wed., March 19, 6:30-8:30 PM (Awards ceremony followed by reception, with Steel Jam)
--At KQED (2601 Mariposa Street (at Bryant) in San Francisco
--RSVP your reservation by Monday, March 17 via email ( or phone: (415) 553-2382
--Space is limited · Complimentary valet parking

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Putting the sting in your sticks

Experienced pan players know your sticks feel sweet only after you've beaten down the edges from playing for a while. Why? Because you get more surface contact between the note and your stick.

That's why some pros grind down the edges of their new mallets to get that well used feel. With PanWest Stealthsticks, you don't have to wait for that happy day. We grind down the edge for you, just enough so 'they feel like yours' from day one.
As you can see, we don't just put latex on some pretty-colored tubing and call it a mallet. We think of every possible way to make you sound good and feel good. If you can relate to this, these sticks are for you. Get yours now at!

Friday, February 29, 2008

Sacred Geometry in Steelpans

We are excited to introduce the new Double Second-SS, a layout we feel resolves the differences between all the variant patterns that have emerged and solves the challenge of standardizing this particular set of pans.

With the evolution of Tony Williams’ Spider Web Pan, the Circle of Fifths has become the standard for the lead/tenor pan, eclipsing the previously preferred Invader pattern. However attempts to standardize the Double Seconds have only lead to a proliferation of adjustments and re-alignments of the layout first established by Dr. Ellie Mannette.

The fact that dissatisfied builders are still experimenting with the layout is proof that until now no one had arrived at that perfect symmetry that is the unanimous and undeniable standard for the doubles. We can now demonstrate that the newly aligned Double Second –SS has accomplished this feat. We make no claim of ownership here, for this is simply the integration and evolution of the work pioneered by Mr. Williams and Dr. Mannette.

In arriving at the SS layout we used a geometric standard already evident in the Circle of Fifths and applied it to the double seconds. The reason why the lead/tenor is easily accepted as a standard is because it makes geometric sense and is supported by the principles of mathematics and physics.

"Plato said God geometrizes continually." - Plutarch

"We do not listen with the best regard to the verses of a man who is only a poet, nor to his problems if he is only an algebraist; but if a man is at once acquainted with the geometric foundation of things and with their festal splendor, his poetry is exact and his arithmetic musical." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Can we apply the same geometric logic to the Double Seconds? Absolutely.
The secret is in using the same geometric pattern abstracted from the lead/tenor as a standard and applying it to the two whole tone scales (which are how the seconds are divided) correspondingly as it is applied to the chromatic scale in the lead/tenor.

The pattern tool is the hexagram, a six-pointed geometric star figure; the compound of two equilateral triangles. Otherwise known as Sacred Geometry. Below, is the Circle of fifths showing hexagrams formed by the two whole tone scales:

Of course, we cannot simply abstract the hexagrams in the way it is laid out in the circle of fifths. Dr. Mannette was quite aware of all this when he came up with his pattern for the double seconds. But he stopped short of synchronizing or creating symmetry between the two sides.
Only Dr. Mannette can explain why he chose to create two asymmetric sides.

Note that each triangle is an augmented chord. Now, using the same hexagram, we can arrange the two sides of the double seconds to be a reflection of each other. Below is Dr. Mannette’s traditional pattern, followed by the proposed SS pattern.

As it stands right now, the right side of Dr. Mannette’s double seconds is perfect, and fits the proposed standard. It is the left side that has to be adjusted to reflect the geometric standard already established on the right side.

Observe in the proposed standard, the formation of the hexagram on the left side, not found on the corresponding side of Dr. Mannette’s model:

Double Seconds SS

Observe also, that the two sides in the new standard are an exact mirror image of each other. Try playing the chromatic scale and see how your right hand perfectly mirrors the movement of the left.

Here’s an interesting aside: the movement of the hands in playing the chromatic scale on the SS, forms a unicursal hexagram. “This is a six pointed star that can be traced or drawn unicursally, in one continuous line rather than two overlaid triangles.

This is significant as the triangles are often used to represent opposites such as fire and water or male and female. The unifying of the symbol into one represents the synthesis of opposites.
The ability to draw it in one continuous movement, is significant in ritual magick.”

To learn more on Sacred Geometry go to these links:

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Spring Steel Drum Classes

PanWest Steel Drum Newsletter

Happy Spring to all!

Spring steel drum classes at Walnut Creek Civic Arts Shadelands Campus begin April 2, 2008. We must have a minimum number of registrations two weeks prior, or the classes will be cancelled. Please go to this link for more information: .

Classes at the Orinda Community Center run April 7 to May. 19 (7 weeks). This is a mixed class of beginners and continuing students. Please complete registration by March 15. For more information, here is the link to the Center: .

Classes at the Alameda School of Music will start April 8. For registration, please email Harry or call 510 222 1123. Here is the info for the Alameda School of Music: .

The Advanced Class in session right now in Moraga. This class meets on Sundays and is ongoing. This class is by invitation only. Students must be able to at least decipher music notation.

Live Performances

Here is a link to my band’s public performances this Spring. Come have some fun with us when you can: