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.