Dear Brooklyn hipsters,
I know the idea of starting a steel pan band that covers Fela tunes is very tempting, but please let it go. It’s been done—by an actual 32 piece Trini steel pan symphony over 40 years ago called The East Side Symphony.
For this podcast we decided to try something we have never done before — set out to do a show without any records from our collection. Instead we went to a local record swap meet with a set budget of $50 each to create our playlist for the day.
North Oakland record swap meet—time to start digging
Arjuna (DJ Smokestack) is in his happy place
May-Li (DJ China Tu Madre) previewing a possible winner
Jacob (Dj Pozole) scrutinizing each track
Federico (DJ Papicultor) sampling West African treasures
After a full afternoon of digging through many boxes of records from all over the world we headed straight back to La Sala to see if we spent our money wisely. We think we did pretty well, but have a listen and let us know what you think.
Fela Ransome-Kuti and Africa ’70 with Ginger Baker – Let’s Start
20th Century Steel Band – Heaven and Hell is on Earth
Monarco – Silenciar A Mangueira
Avohou Pierre Et L’Orchestre Black Santiago – Makoba Houi Dé O
As promised a few posts down—we’ll convert you to the power of the steel pan. This video is of the legendary Trinidad All Stars Steel Orchestra competing in the 1987 Panoroma, the steel pan competition that takes place the Saturday night before Carnival Monday in T&T every year. This is serious people—complex arrangements which require months of rehearsal of upwards of 100 people (notice no one is using sheet music). This performance, Curry Tabanca, is truly amazing and somehow it only finished 4th that year. What makes it extra special is that it actually incorporates Indian Tassa drums! Your day of baptism has arrived. Enjoy!
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A couple weeks ago I was down in L.A. and so I popped into the Amoeba Records (the largest independent record store in the world). It was a real treat as DJ Spinderella (formerly of Salt-N-Peppa) was mixing all soul/funk cuts (a lot of the samples of classic Hip-Hop), and I was having good luck digging through their calypso/soca section. After she had finished I was still digging and to my surprise when I looked up she was looking at records right next to me. Luckily I beat her to this great album by Carl McKnight.
The liner notes suggest this Trini steal pan band leader by way of Los Angeles had his music rejected by numerous record labels so he just decided to self publish his calypso-funk manifesto with revenge in mind. Thumbs down (as in the days of the gladiators) to those we have dealt with in the past, may we write your epigraphs, while you dig your own graves, for such dwellings are appropriate to your cause. He isn’t playing – The Devil’s Out Tonight. Enjoy.
The Devil’s Out Tonight by Carl Mcknight
The Devil’s Out Tonight
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There are many good things about living in the San Francisco Bay Area, one of which is that we have a decent sized multi-cultural carnaval celebration on the last Sunday of May of every year. It would be nice if we could be celebrating during the same week as the rest of the Caribbean and Latin America (it might make lent a little more popular), but better late than never.
It should come as no surprise that La Pelanga heavily embraces Carnaval, in fact a few of us even perform in it. For me, all types of carnaval music holds a special place in my heart/record collection. It’s one of the great communal celebrations that truly belongs to the people. The months of band and dance rehearsals, costume and float construction all for 1 huge explosion that floods the streets with some of the loudest sounds, dancing and colors. This week La Pelanga will be doing the same in our own little way by posting many of our favorite carnaval music and videos that we’ve been saving up all year long. Hopefully for those local we can help you get even more excited about this Sunday, (May 30).
To kick off the week, we’ll start with some classic calypso from one of the all time legends of Trinidad’s Carnaval – Calypso Rose. Pan Rhapsody is of course referring to the national instrument of Trindidad & Tobago – steel pan.