Read this post dedicated to the unique joys of the steel drum, also known as steel pan. Its delicious, distinctive sound carries you away to a tropical island anytime you hear it.
Get into the good grooves of Trinidad & Tobago, and listen to how the steel drum vibe gets included in all kinds of new music, not just the traditional tunes of Trinidad. Hear how eclectic world music bands, and thrilling Funk bands, like Bacao Rhythm & Steel Band, have adopted the intoxicating steel pan sound to genre-bending modern music that blows you away…
Watch & learn what makes the steel drum the ingenious instrument it is…
Enjoy the sounds of Sublime Steel Drums…
Listen to & follow this Spotify playlist.
Feel The Sublime Steel Drum Vibe…
Steel pan tone has a broader sound than most other instruments — full yet shimmering with an edginess that excites and a sustain that soothes. This very satisfying sound has a unique set of attack, decay, and sustain characteristics that make it surprisingly versatile.
The steel drum’s rich buoyancy of tone makes for a brilliant addition, giving any song a tropical music vibe. Its feeling immediately carries you away to a Caribbean island (particularly Trinidad & Tobago where it originated).
This Spotify playlist only has a couple 100% traditional Trinidadian steel band tunes.
The rest of the tunes in the first Spotify playlist are an eclectic bunch of songs featuring a steel drum sound in there somewhere to give it a little something special. From Reggae to a couple of Ethiopian Jazz flavored songs, these tracks show how cool the steel drum makes any composition.
For example, Quantic’s amazing, eclectic Jazz album — A New Constellation — one of the best albums of 2015, gives us “Mirzan” — a stand out groove with enough steel pan under the mellow funky Jazz vibe to brighten the darkest day.
Todd Simon & The Angel City All Star Band do a killer cover of the Brazilian classic, “Mas Que Nada.” Simon’s gorgeous trumpet playing sails over a deeply percussive Samba groove, while the steel drum dances to the Batucada beats, and far-out effects give it a little Dub flavor. There was a limited edition 12″ of their version of “Mas Que Nada” which you can get here. It makes an exotic addition to any DJ’s set!
And, Todd Simon’s Ethio Cali Ensemble is responsible for one of the excellent, Ethiopian style grooves, “Fresh Kitfo,” which comes courtesy of tremendous taste-makers — Paris DJs Soundsystem — and masterfully mixes the Trinidadian tropical steel pan vibe & the Ethiopian groove.
And then, prepare yourself for another brilliant blend of Caribbean & Ethiopian! “Enjera” by Family Atlantica is a funky Ethiopian Jazz groove with a splendid steel drum dancing on top of the syncopated beat, accompanied by a funky flute, and horny horns. It comes from Cosmic Unity, their powerful 2016 album on Soundway Records. Every song is superb. Get the vinyl version here.
Most songs in this playlist come from Bacao Rhythm & Steel Band, a German Steel-Funk band that update the Steel Drum sound in the best way. Dope drum breaks, funky effects, and scratchy guitars compliment the steel pan groove.
They cover a couple of funky Meter’s classics, and even a 50 Cent track (which also has dope steel drum samples).
Their first full length album, the phenomenal 55, came out in 2016 on Big Crown Records. Keeping in the tradition of Steel Drum records, 55 is a journey through re-interpolations and cover songs with an updated approach, pushing Steel Pan music to uncharted territory. Flawlessly bringing previously untouched genres into the steel pan cannon ranging from underground Hip-Hop tunes to staple Funk tracks and some that falls in between. It’s awesome — get it on vinyl here.
Listen to “8th Wonder” by Bacao Rhythm & Steel Band…
Listen to some more Bacao Rhythm & Steel Band — all the songs on 55 that aren’t on the first playlist…
Take A Trip To Trinidad — A Caribbean Musical Adventure
I went to Trinidad once. I loved it!
One night I went out for dinner, and asked the waitress what was fun to do in the neighborhood. She told me to go down the block to the pan yard for the Friday night practice session.
It was cool! Anyone can go. The big band practices while guys from the area play dominoes & drink Guinness.
I hung out for awhile enjoying the vibe and my stout. A real cool place to be a fly on the wall.
The next night, there was a competition at the main fairgrounds where they have the famous Carnival and steel pan contests.
Two enormous steel drum orchestras went head to head, and the crowd voted with their cheers. It turned out, the band I’d seen practicing the night before won it.
I highly recommend Trinidad over other more touristy Caribbean getaways. And, if you can go for Carnival — even better!
Ease back & enjoy…
How does the Steel Drum groove make you feel?
Let us know in the comments below…
Check out the Trinidad Carnival vibe from this
community band in Port of Spain…
Buy A Steel Drum Set & Get In The Tropical Groove
Isn’t it time you got yourself a steel drum set, and started having fun making your own beautiful tropical music for your friends & family?
Click to buy a steel drum set at Musicians Friend…