Saturday, July 29, 2006

Man with a Pan


Find your earplugs ... I bought a steel pan in Trinidad. Yeah, that's steel pan as in musical instrument made from a 55-gallon oil drum and used to play calypso.

The steel pan originated in Trinidad and it seems like everyone down here knows how to play one. So what the hell, I figure I can learn how to play one, too.

That's Derrick, the official tuner at Gill's Steel Pan Shop in Tunapuna (my favorite Trini town name), polishing the pan I'll be lugging home with me. It's a tenor pan. I have no idea what that means, except that Merlin Gill, who owns the shop, told me I could I could master it in no time. Then he took my $500. That included $100 for a nifty naugahyde carrying case.

So here's my plan: I'm gonna learn how to play this thing, and when the BERMUDA SCHWARTZ tour comes along in February, I'm gonna take my steel pan on the road with me. In addition to making conch fritters or rum drinks at my book signings, I'll also play some island music. I'm not promising it will be music that anyone will actually wanna listen to. But I do promise it won't be Yellow Bird.

31 comments:

Jim Rodriguez said...

Looks like you got a good deal on the Pan. I saw C Tenor Pans on the net going for $989. w/case. Wonder what the original oil drum cost? Also saw an item that reported that Steel pan music is all the rage in Finland....Lude Fisk and Steel Drumm music...quite a combo!

Bob said...

Thanks for the price comparison, Jim. I will point this out to my luvverly wife, who thinks the guys at Gill's Pan Shop took me for a ride ...

Anonymous said...

Good for you Bob; good example for all of us. But will your playing keep away the evil spirits?
Coincidently I just signed an exclusive with all the book stores up to sell my patented ear plugs. The package consists of two handfulls of play dough: enough for a couple. My products are especially handy during certain "special events".

Kristy said...

Just what the hell is naugahyde, anyway?

Julia Buckley said...

Until today, I didn't know any writers who had 500 dollars. :)

Bob said...

Kristy -- Despite efforts of groups like "Save the Baby Naugas," fine craftsmen have continued to make exceptional faux-leather material out of refined petroleum and other carcinogenic products.

Julia -- You forget, I'm a writer/smuggler. Upon arrival in Trinidad I sold off all the adjectives I sneaked in...

Jimmy G said...

Were you successful in smuggling those Mangoes Bob?

Bob said...

Jimmy -- Nope, didn't smuggle the mangoes. I fully intended to, but I had a three-hour delay at the airport in Port-of-Spain and they were my lunch.

PJ Parrish said...

Seeing your pix, I'm jealous of your trip. Research, huh? I get to go to beautiful downtown Fort Myers for my books.

I really need to get moving on that new series that's set in Paris...

Bob said...

That would be the series by PJ Paris, right?

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Diana said...

Steelpan (also known as steeldrums or pans, and sometimes collectively with the musicians as a steelband) is a musical instrument and a form of music originating in Trinidad and Tobago. Steelpan musicians are called pannists.
The pan is a pitched percussion instrument, sportsbook, tuned chromatically (although some toy or novelty steelpans are tuned diatonically), made from a 55 gallon drum of the type that stores oil. In fact, drum refers to the steel drum containers from which the pans are made; the steel drum is correctly called a steelpan or pan as it falls into the Idiophone family of instruments, and is not technically regarded as a drum or Membranophone.
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hear steel drums play said...

Hello,

I particularly enjoyed reading your article because I too am a steel drum musician. I'm glad that you got a chance to visit my home country.

Kepp Well,
Minsky Delmonte
www.hearsteeldrumsplay.com

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