The 7th Annual Humboldt Steel Pan and Percussion Festival is just around the corner! The festival begins on Saturday the 25th, through Sunday the 26th. It will be held in the Sapphire Palace at Blue Lake Casino and is free for everyone.
And it’s not just a festival–its a fundraiser–supporting and spreading the love of youth steel pan music within the community!
Eugene Novotney, a music professor at Cal Poly and founder of the Humboldt Calypso Band, explained to us what the festival is all about.
“The festival is, more than anything, a chance for all the local steel bands in the schools and in the community to come together,” Novotney said.
The festival would not be possible without the dedication and efforts of local music teacher and Humboldt Calypso band member, Jesse Jonathan.
“I really have to give credit to Jesse Jonathan, who is still spearheading and leading this festival,” Novotney said. “He teaches steel pan in the local community here, and he wanted to organize something to bring everybody together–it started just with a dream and idea of his.”
Schools from all over Humboldt County will participate–from Arcata High, Trinidad, Fieldbrook and Blue Lake; to the CPH Calypso Band as well as a notorious bay area band called “Pandemonium”
Most of them will play Caribbean based music, with a few performing other styles of music like: Taiko and West African drums.
“Maybe even in the future it could include other forms like Afro-Brazilian music and Samba, but for this year it’s mostly going to be steel pan music out of a Caribbean tradition of Trinidad and Tobago.”
And as the pan festival celebrates its 7th year; the Humboldt Calypso Band is now in its 37th year!
“The Humboldt Calypso Band has been in existence since the spring of 1986 […] I’m still standing there right now leading the group,” Novotney said. “When I arrived here all those years ago, I just thought this area was ripe for it and would be very receptive to it […] You know, there’s not many musical styles or forms in my lifetime that have grabbed me like so completely as the steel pan form did, so because of that belief in it myself. I think I also had a belief that the community would really not only accept it, but, you know, embrace it.”
Don’t forget to celebrate with the band during a special spring-semester concert which will be held on Saturday April 29th at the Van-Duzer Theater!
For more information about the festival visit: steelpanfest.com
For more information about the Humboldt Calypso Band visit: music.humboldt.edu/calypso