Solid Steel - Why hire a steel band?

A steel trio

We're in high demand as an acoustic (unplugged!) steel band and particularly as a trio. Why so popular?

Well one reason is that the format itself is so very natural, organic and beautifully undated. It has a timeless quality only other acoustic groups like string quartets can aspire to.

With sensitive musicianship, the best musicians playing the highest quality of steel band instruments made by the best tuners are capable of making an amazingly beautiful sound.

Steel Band Instruments

The instruments we play are Caribbean ‘steel pans’ or ‘steel drums’, the national modern folk instrument of Trinidad & Tobago and arguably the most dynamic new instruments in world music.

Many players and administrators within ‘The Steelband Movement’ are striving to achieve a level of recognition for the instrument that would place it on a par status-wise with instruments that were developed many centuries ago.

 

Pan players

I applaud their efforts and support their goals, but whilst I wouldn’t want pan players (and yes, the term is preferable to ‘steel drum players’ and the awful ‘pannists’ in my opinion) to remain as eternally marginalised as bagpipe players, we have to be realistic and understand that the ‘steel drum’ or ‘steel pan’ is still a folk novelty for many people and that it will take some time yet before this is likely to change.

Excellence in the playing and the sound of the steel bands can only help to move things forward in this respect.

Beautifully tuned steel drums

Solid Steel’s steel drums would be instruments played in any steel band, but sadly, we as a band are only one of a few who can be relied upon to play only the finest and most beautifully tuned steel drums worthy of professional steel band entertainment.

We’re often asked if we make and tune our own drums. The answer is ‘no’. We give that job to the experts who specilalise in doing it. Most pan players aren’t great tuners and vice versa. There are still too many steel bands playing with old, out-of-tune pans. We would never find this acceptable.

As a 3-piece steel band we are committed to exclusively using steel drums in our band, but if hired as a larger steel band we augment them with some other non-steel band instruments as and when required.

Is the size of the band important? Well, only a minimum trio size offers all the elements of melody (provided by the tenor pan, mainly), harmony (provided by the second pan, mainly), bass and percussion (provided by the bass pan player who also plays maracas, tambourine and assorted hand percussion, entirely!) required for a full sound. Clients should be aware that booking any steel pan soloist or even a steel duo is a little like booking a one-armed pianist. Ours would be a very talented one-armed pianist, but he’d still only have one arm!

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