Originally published in The Weekly Packet, May 7, 2015
Steel pan bands rock Blue Hill in weekend-long festival
Former drummer for the Atlantic Clarion Steel Band Osi Braithwaite gave a master class for set players interested in accompanying steel bands.
by Tevlin Schuetz
As smoke from charcoal fires beneath succulent chicken drifted off in the direction of Blue Hill Mountain on the afternoon of May 2, steel pan drummers worked diligently on their parts, enjoying an afternoon under the sun while preparing for the musical pieces they would perform later in the day. The notes they played blended with those of another group practicing under a huge tent in the Blue Hill Consolidated School parking lot, creating a cheerful cacophony.
This was the first day of a weekend-long steel band celebration, the Pan New England 2015 Steelband Festival, and it was chock-full of activities, all of which were well attended by people from the area as well as from out-of-town. There were workshops for learning how to make steel pan mallets as well as the drums themselves, and for those interested in festivity and not instrument-making, there were tables dedicated to creating decorations for the party.
The former drum set player for Atlantic Clarion Steel Band, Osi Braithwaite, gave a master class on playing the set alongside a steel band, and the featured guest artist, a Trinidad native called CRAZY, charmed a large audience with his lyrics and a talk about his musical career in Calypso.
A dinner and dance party ensued at night, with Flash! in the Pans providing the lion’s share of entertainment, and the following day featured performances by other local groups, such as Planet Pan and the Rhythm Rockets, as well as by steel bands from around the Northeast.
Carl Chase, who founded the Blue Hill steel pan groups, was delighted. “Everything worked out perfectly,” he said.
“Having CRAZY here from Trinidad was the crown for me,” Chase wrote in an email. “He is the real thing in terms of representing the roots of pan and calypso, and he was truly impressed and amazed by what he saw and heard here. That meant a lot.”
The event was organized by Nigel Chase and hosted by Peninsula Pan, Inc., the nonprofit that supports all things steel pan in the area.