News Feature

Blue Hill
Originally published in The Weekly Packet, May 7, 2015
“Pantastic!”
Steel pan bands rock Blue Hill in weekend-long festival

Drum set master class offered

Former drummer for the Atlantic Clarion Steel Band Osi Braithwaite gave a master class for set players interested in accompanying steel bands.

Photo by Tevlin Schuetz Order prints of selected PBP photos.

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.

Decorations add to festivities

Susan Chase, left, makes decorations for the evening celebration.

Photo by Tevlin Schuetz
Tent is filled with musical instruments

Steel pan drums filled the large tent at BHCS.

Photo by Tevlin Schuetz
A sunny day for music

Steel pan players bask in the sun while working on their music.

Photo by Tevlin Schuetz
Drum set master class offered

Former drummer for the Atlantic Clarion Steel Band Osi Braithwaite gave a master class for set players interested in accompanying steel bands.

Photo by Tevlin Schuetz
Workshop held for making mallets

Festival participants made their own mallets for steel pans.

Photo by Tevlin Schuetz
Pan players practice

Pan players practiced the festival tune for a later performance.

Photo by Tevlin Schuetz
Guest musician speaks

CRAZY, a musician from Trinidad, explains the history of Calypso.

Photo by Tevlin Schuetz