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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


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    For most audiences, the mention of steel drums calls to mind calypso, the Caribbean, coconut-flavored cocktails and lazy days on the sand. Watching a steel band perform, however, is not a particularly relaxing experience.

    “”Ideally everyone should be out of their seats and dancing,”” said Chris Hanning, director of percussion studies at West Chester University. 

    Hanning has been hailed as an icon in the art of drumming alongside a steel pan band. He is an enthusiastic expert, and is drawn to the energy and synergy involved in the steel band sound.

    “”If you go to Trinidad and watch the bands play, everybody’s up dancing and moving around. It’s an exciting, fun thing to listen to,”” Hanning said.

    He will be coming to the UA this weekend for a clinic and performance with the UA’s two steel bands, Blue Steel and UA Steel.

    The two bands represent a wide range of ages, experience levels and fields of study. Blue Steel is known as the “”apprentice band,”” because it is open to first-time steel drum learners and enthusiasts.

    “”For some of these folks, this will have been their first semester actually playing the steel pan,”” said Eric Hines, director of Blue Steel. “”We only have one percussion major in the entire group.””

    The second steel band, called UA Steel, is for more experienced musicians and has a slightly different focus.

    “”(UA Steel members) have to be able to come in, play strong and read music straight out,”” said Stephen Tipping, UA Steel director. UA Steel members have to be performance ready because the band puts on shows at a variety of outside venues and events. “”We actually played at a basketball game last year, which was interesting,”” Tipping said.

    The concert will feature guest artists Hanning and Kelland Thomas, saxophonist and UA associate music professor. The musical styles will range from the traditional and familiar soca and calypso to jazz fusion, cha cha, funk and jazz.

    So why should UA students think about checking out the taste-of-the-Caribbean concert happening on campus this weekend?

    “”We just have a lot of fun!”” Tipping said. “”This is such a unique-sounding instrument that no other ensemble can really emulate the experience.””

    — Marisa D. Fisher

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