Local steel bands strut their stuff with holiday spirit
As any Miami Broward One carnival reveler knows, a showdown between competing steel bands can be one intense affair of dueling rhythms. But, in the spirit of the holidays, it was all friendly fire on Saturday at the first ever Pan Parang Festival, hosted by the Florida International Steelpan Association. Eight of the best steel bands in South Florida converged at the Central Broward Regional Park in Lauderhill, putting aside musical allegiances to celebrate the continued growth of the still close-knit steel pan community.
Inspired by the Trinidadian Christmas tradition of Parang, when “Parranderos” roam from home to home serenading with popular Spanish-inflected folk tunes, the night’s music tapped into nostalgic goodness with rousing renditions of Christmas carols and classic calypso, from Calypso Rose’s infectious “I feel like dancing” to Lord Kitchener’s “Ironman.” And “I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus” never sounded so toe-stomping, Carnival-ready than Uprising’s rendition of the tune, their Santa Claus hats bobbing to the beat.
“It’s all about finding the extra flavor of a song, giving breath to the vibe that’s just under there,” said Uprising’s composer Osiris Martin, who has been playing in the band with his best friends since the third grade.
The night also boasted the cultural and artistic dexterity of the steel pan, like South Florida Pride’s party-ready version of “Hava Nagila,” and Tamboo Bamboo’s refined adaptation of the jazz classic “Perfidia.” The Alleyne Family-led Sticks and Tones band also showed off the future steel pan with their use of an electronic drum or “e-pan,” effortlessly blending electro beats with traditional steel.
In all, it was a night to celebrate how far steel pan musicianship in South Florida has come, and nothing more poignantly embodied this than the moment of silence held to honor former director of Silver Stars USA, Errol Christian – who had for decades passionately introduced the art of steel drums to the youth of South Florida, and had sadly and suddenly passed away the morning of the musical community’s biggest day, the 2015 Miami Broward Carnival Panorama. For a while, all the steel pans, drums, the maracas and the cowbells fell quite in the chilly night air, as heads bowed to remember how good the music was, and how much greater it will become thanks to the legacy of such tireless advocates.
The Florida International Steelpan Association is always gearing up events for pan fans, to keep competition fresh for Carnival. Be sure to check out their latest events on their Facebook.