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.