Friday, May 29, 2015

Just Swaiting for You

Well, we're two to three weeks away from Pan People Music Festival. As a member of the festival planning committee, I see all of us dealing with a mix of emotions. On one hand, we are very excited about the event and the talent we've assembled. On the other, we are a little freaked because we just don't know what to expect the day of the event. I guess that is to be expected when planning an event. You just never how it will turn out. We'll be ready either way though.

We do have a few things going for us. As I mentioned, the talent is top-notch. Auraria campus in the heart of downtown Denver is perfect. It is in June which usually means decent weather (cross your fingers). We are showing an excellent film (Pan! Our Music Odyssey) and the dinner being catered by Relish Catering sounds scrumptious.

It feels very much like it does when we step out onto the stage for steel pan performance. We rehearse, practice, and plan. The performances is when it all comes together. Whatever happens prior to the event gets forgotten and we put on the best show we can. I guess that is the best way to approach when it comes to the Pan People Music Festival.

So the swaiting (sweating and waiting) continues.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Steel "Panning" for Gold

Panning for gold! Anyone who lives out West knows the terms. Pioneers used it as one of the ways to strike it rich during the gold rush. It took some patience and perseverance to be sitting in streams and rivers hoping to find that one nugget that made their efforts worthwhile. (I wonder if they had just turned it over and tried to tune it, would they have made a better living or more fun?)

So why bring up the ancient history? Well as we continue to work on the Pan People Music Festival, it seems we too are panning for gold.  Every once in awhile, we strike it rich. We catch a lucky break and things fall into place. Sometimes it actually involves money! Yeah! It is the life of steel pan players. We try our best to share some of our riches with the pan community too.

Here are our gold nuggets for this week.

The Pan Ramajay Summer Steel Drum Festival announced its dates - it is one of the premier summer camps for steel pan players of all ages and abilities. It is headed by Tom Miller and Tom always pulls together an all-star faculty. Many attendees make it an annual event. You should too.

Pan People Music Festival - We launched our fundraising campaign for the festival and our logo. Our goal is $2000. We are welcoming any contributions starting at $5 on up. At the festival, we will be running drawings between band performances. We are already getting donations from such places as Trader Joe's and Core Power Yoga. Who knows? We also may have a steel pan to raffle off. We finalized our caterer for the Pan People dinner. It is Relish Catering and their menu looks scrumptious. Can't wait there.

Pan Magazine - It is one of the few publications on pan out there and it is entirely free. We let our members know about it too.

Be sure to register for the Pan People Music Festival soon if you are attending the film and dinner. Remember if you are a performer, volunteer, or SPC member - register under those categories and save some $$. Also make a contribution to our fundraiser. The monies go directly to the festival and our logo.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Passion and Pan

                                                                                     Image courtesy of Zazzle

Fridays are great for reflecting on what happened earlier in the week. As you know, the SPC board and our volunteers are working hard on the Pan People Music Festival in Denver. Each day we make significant progress and every once in a while there is an obstacle that surprises us. But we persevere. Looking back on it all, it is entirely worth it.

This week's Friday reflection is the connection between pan and passion. The pan community is a passionate group. It shows in our love for the instrument. We live, eat and sleep pan. Why else would a bunch of volunteers work so hard to put on a festival in a country not exactly overflowing with Trinidadians? Because we love pan, that's why. It is that love of pans that's gets us talking passionately about the instrument to anyone who will listen. It doesn't matter if they are festival vendor or our neighbor. Pan is new, fresh, and cool.

Come on, admit it. We play a very fun instrument. We aren't mainstream - at least not yet. Maybe that's the appeal. We are doing something special that not a lot of people are doing. Yes, we still have  some educating in terms of our audiences. But that's ok. It just makes it easier to fall and stay in love with the instrument.

As Dr. Kim Johnson said in his TedTalk, this community is very much like family. There is a connection and bonding that just doesn't happen if you are playing piano, or a saxophone, or even in a symphony. We have an awful lot of fun and it shows. We struggle together. We achieve together. There is nothing like the sound of a band who has nailed a musical piece.

Ok - clearly I could go on. But you get it. So this weekend if someone comes up to you and talks to you about steel pan or steel drum, go ahead and tell them. Let you passion show. Just know - you aren't alone. Somewhere out there, another pannist is doing the same thing.