Monday, May 25, 2009

 

Steel Pan – Both a Musical Style and an Instrument

If you stop to think about it, it may be a bit extraordinary that a musical term would have two distinct meanings. Rather than suggesting a double entendre here, i.e., some second, implied or hidden meaning, what is being referred to is that of both a noun and an adjective. Steel Pan, perhaps somewhat uniquely, refers to both the Steel Drum instrument itself and the musical style in which the instrument is typically featured.

Steel Pan may have, as of late, become the more common term for the Steel Drum. Certainly, anyone familiar with the instrument would be well aware that it was initially fashioned out of a 55-gallon oil drum and became known, hence, as the "Steel Drum". Yet, when one refers to the “Steel Pan”, it is generally acknowledged that the musical instrument itself is being referenced.

On the other hand, if one suggests going to 'listen to' some Steel Pan music, it generally seems to imply a genre of music. The term denotes a decidedly Caribbean musical style, in which the Steel Drum is, of course, predominantly featured. Additional instrumentation, however, may also be commonly included as part of this “sound” or musical style, while the melodic or lead instrument would be notably that of the Steel Drum.

The band IRIE TIME features the Steel Drum sound as an integral part of their music. The bridge between the instrument and the musical style associated with the instrument is reflected in their every performance. It may additionally be stated that Soca-Calypso and Pan Steel have oftentimes become synonymous. The “(Are you feeling) Hot Hot Hot” Soca beat is the perfect rhythmic accompaniment for the instrument. Further, while we hear the Steel Drum played in a soothing style over slower beats, such as that of Reggae, the Soca-Calypso rhythm invokes the most direct connection to the Caribbean and, thus, the type of music typically being referenced.

Another variation in the terminology used in describing this music is to refer to the "Steel Band". This connotation suggests, perhaps, a number of Pan players being assembled and, in this context, the lead melody would be carried by the soprano or tenor Pan, or as a duet with a double second. However, what is more often the case in referencing the Steel Band is, in fact, again referring to a certain style of music, i.e. Caribbean music.

It is natural that the casual observer would refer to Caribbean music as Steel Pan, since the instrument was developed in, and is unique to, the Caribbean. Moreover, the Steel Drum flavors practically every variety of music coming out of the region, from its origins in Trinidad and across the Caribbean to Jimmy Buffett in Florida, as well as others. The Steel Drum invokes images of pure white sand on a palm tree lined beach with clear blue waters, and that is an experience many listeners of the genre seek. They're looking for a Caribbean music experience, and their term for that experience is Steel Pan.


The IRIE TIME band performs Caribbean Reggae and Soca music, and continues to release original music CDs with worldwide distribution. More information can be obtained at www.IRIETIME.com or by contacting them directly at 713-398-3798.

IRIE TIME is based out of Houston, Texas and commutes to locations throughout the United States by means of the city's two international airports, enabling the band to provide entertainment services to all 50 states, including the Texas cities of Abilene, Austin, Beaumont - Port Arthur, Bryan - College Station, Conroe, Corpus Christi, Dallas, Ft. Worth, Lubbock, Nacogdoches, San Marcos, and San Antonio, TX, as well as Louisana locations of Alexandria, Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Lake Charles, New Orleans and Shreveport, LA.

IRIE TIME also performs events internationally and has agency representatives in Europe, Japan, Canada, Mexico, Central America, and South America.

IRIE!

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Sunday, May 3, 2009

 

An Inimitable Caribbean Invention – The Steel Drum

Who would have thought that a musical instrument fashioned out of an empty 55-gallon oil barrel could turn out to be the source of such pleasant entertainment? The steel drum (or steel pan) has become practically synonymous with the Caribbean these days and, often, people even refer to Caribbean music, in general, simply as 'steel drum' music.

While percussive in nature, and occasionally featured as a stand-alone instrument, most frequently it is accompanied by additional instrumentation, which provides a rhythmic backdrop for the pan steel melodies. Caribbean beats, such as Soca-Calypso and Reggae, are the most commonly associated rhythms and, indeed, these rhythms themselves ideally compliment the tropical music experience that the steel pan conveys.

The steel drum instrument can be played in a single-note melody but, because the twin mallet sticks can be struck simultaneously, a musical chord can also be played. Additionally, because of the 'bouncing' percussive attack the mallets provide, multiple notes can be repeated in quick succession, which can have the effect of hearing a continuous, melodic tone. These sustained notes can resemble the elongated sound that is an attribute of organ music, and the effect can be especially soothing to the listener.

The Houston, Texas-based musical group IRIE TIME features the steel drum sound predominantly throughout their performances. While the band also integrates a range of lead and harmony vocals in their repertoire, the group consistently features extended instrumental solos that rely, thematically, on the steel pan sound as intrinsic to the Caribbean ambiance they provide. The band is comprised of skilled musicians that maintain creative and varying instrumental passages throughout the scope of their performances.

IRIE TIME also features a host of additional tropical sounds that infuse variation into the melodic soundscape of the music. Vibes, marimbas, flutes, and brass can all lend themselves to a festive, tropical musical texture, and provide stimulating variety in the course of a sequence of songs that comprise the typical set of music. Yet, the sound of the steel drum returns again and again as the intrinsic basis and theme for the Caribbean music the band is noted for.

As stated previously, Calypso music (now known as Soca) is possibly the most common rhythmic accompaniment to the steel pan. This may be, in part, due to the fact that both Soca music and the steel pan instrument itself were invented on the Caribbean island of Trinidad! The percussive nature of the pan, along with the up-tempo, percussion-laden Soca are a perfect mixture. The spirit of the Caribbean shines forth in this pairing, and puts every listener in the mood for dancing and celebration. “It's in the air – celebration time; Music's sweet – captivates your mind” are the lyrics to the world-famous song “(Are Your Feeling) Hot Hot Hot.” Anyone who has visited the Caribbean is immediately drawn back to recollections of their tropical 'fun in the sun' when they hear this music. The steel drum sound is an instant connection to the beach, clear blue waters, palm trees and peaceful breezes blowing on an island paradise. One instrument that can transport the imagination of the listener to so specific a locale could not be more unique in all the world.

The band IRIE TIME has been performing Caribbean Reggae and Soca music for over a decade, and has released numerous all-original CDs, which are distributed worldwide. More information can be obtained at their website or by contacting IRIE TIME directly at 713-398-3798.


IRIE TIME is based out of Houston, Texas and commutes to locations throughout the United States by means of the city's two international airports, enabling the band to provide entertainment services to all 50 states including Washington DC, Nashville-Davidson, Tennessee, Las Vegas, Nevada. Portland, Oregon, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Tucson, Arizona, Long Beach, California, Atlanta, Georgia, Fresno, California, Sacramento, Ca.

IRIE TIME also performs events internationally and has agency representatives in Europe, Japan, Canada, Mexico, Central America, and South America.

IRIE!

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Friday, March 20, 2009

 

Calypso - A Caribbean Original

When people think of the word “Caribbean,” a number of images come to mind: tropical scenes with palm trees and calm, blue waters being perhaps the most notable. But when it comes to the evening time with dinner and dancing however, nothing invokes images of the Caribbean more than Calypso music. Certainly, the name Calypso could hardly be associated more with any location in the world than with the Caribbean.

The name for Calypso music has been updated and has changed in recent years. Now termed Soca, it is said that the new name came about when a dose of 'So' from Soul was infused with the 'Ca' in Calypso to become Soca! While the original label continues to be used to describe the early recordings of Harry Belefonte and others of the period, Caribbean communities worldwide currently refer to the music now only as Soca.

Soca music is dance music! It is also music that anyone can enjoy dancing to, regardless of their previous dance experience. Standing in one spot and moving to the rhythm is all that it takes... just swaying in whatever way the beat moves you.

Moving to the beat is, indeed, perhaps the most natural response to hearing this music. The rhythm and beat seem as basic as one's heartbeat and finds literally everyone in the room 'tapping their toes'.

What is frequently seen, as well, is a Conga Line taking off when people hear the sweet, Soca / Calypso rhythms. “It's in the air – Celebration time; Music's sweet – Captivate your mind,” are lyrics to the song Hot Hot Hot. The Conga Line is yet another invention attributed to the Caribbean, created, essentially, as a compliment to this music's beat and is, again, so basic that anyone can follow. Just grabbing on to the waist of the person in front of you and, either just walking along to the rhythm or joining in on the alternating 'kick and step', can create a dance line that includes virtually everyone in attendance.

The band IRIE TIME performs Caribbean Soca and Reggae music, and has discovered that, once audiences hear the infectious Calypso / Soca beat, it is hard to quit! The band has recorded and released several original CDs, and has been performing live concerts and private events for over a decade. The proficiency of the group's musicians, too, is so vast, as to allow the band the capability of augmenting their sound to fit just about any event. Often times, for instance with private events, the occasion itself will consist of a number of stages in the duration of the engagement, and the professionals in IRIE TIME are well able and experienced in adjusting the types of songs, volume levels, etc., of the music to optimize and entertain every step of the way.

Visit www.IRIETIME.com to find out how some “IrieSoca music can help bring your event to life. The band can be reached at the Contact tab on their website or directly at 713-398-3798.


IRIE TIME is based out of Houston, Texas and commutes to locations throughout the United States by means of the city's two international airports, enabling the band to provide entertainment services to all 50 states including Ft. Lauderdale, FL (FLL), Orlando, Florida (MCO), Santa Monica, CA, (LAX) Columbus, Ohio (CMH), (LGA) New York, NY, (JKF), St. Louis, MO (STL), Detroit, Michigan (DTW), Madison, WI (MSN), San Francisco, California (SFO), and Omaha, Nebraska (OMA).

IRIE TIME also performs events internationally and has agency representatives in Europe, Japan, Canada, Mexico, Central America, and South America.

Irie!

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Sunday, March 15, 2009

 

Soca Music - Distinctly Caribbean!

While Caribbean Reggae music has spread throughout the world, and is now being performed and recorded in countries across the globe, Soca music has its origins, and continues to be produced predominately, in the Caribbean. Indeed, there is perhaps no other music that more uniquely invokes connotations of the Caribbean than does Soca.

At its inception, the music was called Calypso and, while the early recordings of Harry Belafonte and others of the period continue to carry the Calypso label in the minds of the general public, the music and its beat has carried the current name for the past 30 years among the Caribbean communities. It is said that the name came from the combining the 'CA' of Calypso with a dose of Soul ('SO') to become SOCA!

Probably the genre's most famous song of all time, and one that instantly conveys the style of music to which the name refers, is the song “(Are You Feeling) Hot Hot Hot”. Written and made famous throughout the Caribbean by Antiguan singer Arrow, the song was brought to America and the world stage by Buster Poindexter 'and His Banshees of Blue' in 1987. The magnitude of the song permanently placed the musical style, and its association with the Caribbean, on the map. Certainly, the songs Day-O and Hot Hot Hot would be considered the two foremost titles that people think of as Caribbean music.

Additionally, the musical instrument that tends to also be uniquely connected with the Caribbean and, indeed, with this music is the Steel Drum. The melody emanating from the drum is termed both Pan Steel or Steel Pan music. Indeed, it can be said that the Steel Drum is heard more often times with a Soca beat than with any other style of music. The percussive nature of the instrument and the percussion-intensive Soca beat are a perfect match, and the qualities of both contribute to a decidedly Caribbean sound.

The Caribbean band IRIE TIME combines both of these musical elements in practically every performance. The group has been performing Reggae and Soca music for over a decade and has discovered that, once this music starts filling the dance floor, it's hard to stop! As the lyrics to Hot Hot Hot go: “Oh what to do – On a night like this; Music's sweet – You can't resist.” We see young and old alike up on their feet dancing to the music's infectious rhythm.

Another Caribbean invention, the Conga Line, also ideally compliments the music. Its alternating 'kick and step', as one holds onto the person in front of them, finds its best possible accompaniment here.

Contact IRIE TIME through their website at www.IRIETIME.com or call today for a personalized booking quote at 713-398-3798. Find out how the band can make your event come to life! Because the musicianship of the group members approaches that of virtuoso levels, the band is able to augment the tone and variations of their music to fit just about any client's musical needs.


IRIE TIME is based out of Houston, Texas and commutes to locations throughout the United States by means of the city's two international airports, enabling the band to provide entertainment services to all 50 states including Scottsdale, Arizona, Seattle, Washington (SEA), Los Angeles, CA (LAX) Boston, Massachusetts (BOS), Princeton, NJ (EWR), Philadelphia, PA (PHL), Dallas, Texas (DWF), Chicago, IL (ORD), Baltimore, MD (BWI), and Minneapolis, MN (MSP).

IRIE TIME also performs events internationally and has agency representatives in Europe, Canada, Mexico, Central America, and South America.

IRIE!!

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Saturday, February 28, 2009

 

A Caribbean-themed Wedding

The Caribbean, with its reggae and calypso music, may be one of the most pleasant and universally-enjoyed wedding themes. It could also be suggested that a majority of couples getting married schedule a trip to a tropical destination for their honeymoon. Thus, it makes perfect sense to start the fun stateside with one's entourage and guests joining in the fun!

Certainly, most people would agree that marriage is one of the most significant events in a person's life; and the wedding often entails months... even a year or more of planning. Establishing a theme from the onset can make preparations much easier. Tropical decorations and Caribbean cuisine are readily available, and can transform just about any reception location into the ballroom of a Caribbean-bound cruise ship.

One key element in the 'tone' of a wedding (literally) is, of course, the music, and nothing puts guests and the couple themselves more “in the spirit” of the tropics than some “Irie” Reggae and Calypso music! It is in this regard that the band IRIE TIME excels as the “ultimate” in classic Caribbean vibes. The band has been performing private events, such as pool parties, receptions, dinners and, indeed, countless weddings in the Tropical theme for over a decade.

Their music immediately draws many adults and elderly in attendance back to their recollections of Caribbean cruises they may have been on, or their vacations in the islands. Younger attendees, too, appreciate the “cool” vibes associated with reggae music... indeed, Bob Marley's 'hero' persona and the laid-back musical grooves.

The “hot hot hot” Soca (Calypso) rhythms also connect with practically all ages, and the scene of a Conga Line winding its way through attendees' seating in the reception hall is an exhilarating sight! While a Limbo contest for the party-goers may seem a natural follow-through to the Conga Line, the infectious pulse of Calypso is certain to have everyone in attendance “tapping their toes”!

Often times, IRIE TIME sets the stage from the start of the event by providing instrumental Steel Pan music as background ambiance for guests arriving from the wedding ceremony, getting their drinks, and socializing as they await the arrival of the newly married couple. Once hors d'oeuvres or dinner is served, seated attendees can enjoy more Reggae rhythms that gently complement their visiting (rather than command their attention), and provide a warm backdrop to the cuisine and conversation they are enjoying.

As the night continues, IRIE TIME's music can accelerate to provide up-tempo dance music that will have everyone... young and old alike... filling the dance floor. Prior instruction in dance moves is unnecessary for this music, since standing in one place and “walking 'pon the spot” is all that's needed! Certainly, the Conga Line's alternating 'step and kick' as one hangs onto the person in front of them is simple enough to just “learn as you go”; but simply walking along with the line is something that virtually everyone in attendance can enjoy participating in.

Book IRIE TIME now by calling (713) 398-3798 or visit their website, www.IRIETIME.com. They have the experience and professionalism to make your wedding an unforgettable, fun-filled experience for all.

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