Thursday, May 31, 2012

Steel drum bands, loco for pan

If upstate New York is good for one thing, it's suns disappearing among rolling hills.
Isn't that the only reason people come to Geneseo? That damn sunset is on the cover of every admissions brochure. But so are students laughing in the sunlight and carrying backpacks over one shoulder, so I really don't know what's accurate these days.
I see this view every day when I drive home from work.
Yes, I stopped the car to take a picture.
I made sure absolutely no one was coming and right when I stepped out of the car, another fucking car came.
I was pissed and embarrassed.

On another note, I may or may not have joined a steel drum band this week.

 They go by this name - Panloco - that they paid extra money to have as their license plate number. Imagine getting a public overhead announcement that your van lights were still on while at T.G.I. Friday's? 
The word "Panloco" I've heard, literally means "crazy bread." Now, I'm not sure if that's the name of a mythological trickster in an ancient Trinidadian (steel drums originate in Trinidad, also the birthplace of Nicki Minaj) legend who steals all the bread or food or something but then gets his ass kicked by the fable hero or if these people just thought the word "Panloco" sounded great and somewhat cultural.  Either way, I'm a beginning/training member now along with friends Nicole Rahn and Herb Susmann.
For those who are wondering, steel drums look like that guy over there. But it's their distinct sound that makes you want to light up some doobies, hit up the bong and smoke your way into a reefer madness on a sandy white beach with no one in sight. That is, unless you want people in sight, but personally, I pictured my hazy paradise to be solo. But that's not why I'm joining Panloco. I'm taking up steel drums because I want to immerse myself in a musical culture in my community in which I can engage myself with others in an environment that fosters creativity and musicality.
Still don't know what sounds these glorious instruments produce? Here's a YouTube clip. Note the sandy white beach background.

Tell me that's not awesome. I think I'm bringing in pina colada mix and tequila for the whole gang next week. Virgin, of course. I am under 21 and the rehearsals take place in a church basement. Maybe wine would be better.

So the first rehearsal we played "Imagine" by John Lennon ("You know it, right?" is what they said) and Ted (Tim? Nicole, help me out here) threw us right onto the parts and made sure to linger over our shoulders when we were playing. That's a great strategy for making someone feel confident and sure of themselves. AKA I felt like I always do when I try something for the first time: incompetent and out of place. 

The sticks fumbled in my hands as Tim (Ted?) repeated notes over and over again. Then he had to clap the rhythm for me. Then he had to take my sticks and play the notes for me as I stood behind him like a troll trying to work a sewing machine. Of course, everyone there watched with sympathetic eyes. God. Takes me back to my attempts at crafts in Girl Scouts. My ornaments still hang pathetically on our tree: broken popsicle sticks, sloppily-glued googily eyes, crumbling styrofoam snowmen, you name it, I clumsily made it.

I've played piano for a big chunk of my life - 14 or so years - so notes and rhythms are nothing new. But when people linger like he did, I just forget everything I know, including my name. Thank god he didn't ask for that information at the time.

In spite of that, I got the hang of these musical garbage pans after a while.  I'm not a master but I can say that Tim-Ted gave all of us a round of enthusiastic compliments. Not sure if that's because he wants our $25 dues or if he actually sees a twinkle of steel drum potential in our eyes. Probably the former, but we're all human, right?

Steel drum bands also sport some flashy garb, like these shirts and hats:

Now I'm not saying I'm only in this for the clothing.

But I am.

1 comment:

  1. You know what I am excited to hear and hire a wedding steel band for my special day.