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5 Reasons to Book a Steel Drum Band this Summer

Party planning

Party planning

Steel drum bands bring a fun, carnival atmosphere to garden parties and outdoor events – they're also weather-proof and electricity-free! Here are 5 reasons to book one, plus our top Caribbean song ideas.

5 Reasons to Book a Steel Drum Band this Summer

The steel drum (also called the steel pan) is one of the most exotic instruments around. A band for all seasons, steel crowd-pulling magnet with a fascinating history.

It arrived in the UK when Trinidadian musicians came to take part in the Festival of Britain in 1951, and it’s the only non-electronic musical instrument to have been invented in the last 100 years.

The sound conjures up sunshine, happiness and dancing – it’s the best brand of "happy music" that you can get! Here are five reasons to book a steel band for your event.

1. A pan for every pocket

Steel bands can come in any size to suit your location and budget. The classic steel pan line-up has three musicians: one lead soprano, one alto, and a bass percussionist. For tighter budgets or venues with restricted space, this can be reduced to a duo or even a soloist – see Tropical Sounds. All three line-up options are a great way to bring the atmosphere of the Caribbean to your event at a reasonable cost.

If you want a bigger sound, or for a band to get your audience dancing, ask your band leader to add drums, guitars or even vocals to the line-up. The Steel Panthers from London offer a variety of line up options; from a duo to a 7-piece band.


2. Going to the chapel

Steel bands are flexible. They can perform as static bands at any event, but since they have a long history as marching bands at festivals and carnivals as well as leading wedding processions, they can easily be moved around ‘pan-around-neck’ style.

Such bands play at everything from local and regional carnivals, May Day events, and often lead newlyweds from the church to the reception hall. A marching steel band gives a bohemian atmosphere to any event.

The Real Steel Band from Manchester have a seriously varied repertoire to suit every bride and groom on their big day, with classic reggae tunes and popular modern songs as well.


3. That Caribbean style…

Typically a steel band will turn out in colourful, Caribbean shirts and performing the art form in the way it is intended. The history of the pan tradition is very important to steel band musicians, who usually have a lot of knowledge of the art form and of the tradition.

Steel band musicians, buskers and street performers can usually give you an on the spot history and demonstration of the instrument. The Merry-Makers Steel Band even offer workshops to teach you and your guests more about this musical style and its history.

4. The steel pan jukebox

Steel bands have a repertoire for all occasions: weddings, corporate events, religious events, funerals, nursing homes, festivals and carnivals but they will also take requests. Most steel pan musicians have around 300 tunes stored in their memory!

Pan musicians will also go to the trouble of learning tunes chosen by the client, if they are not in the usual repertoire. West Midlands band Steel Pan Power have an impressive repertoire built up over 25 years of playing all over the world. You can be sure they will always give a lively charismatic performance!


5. An unbeatable party atmosphere!

Whether you’re after traditional Caribbean melodies as reception background music, or more upbeat covers by the likes of UB40 and Bob Marley for dancing, booking a steel band guarantees a great sound from a totally unique instrument!

The Merry Makers can even offer limbo dancers and fire eaters as well to make your party extra special. If you want to get it right, support your event by booking a lively steel band and let that good time take care of the night. You won’t regret it.

Caribbean and steel band song ideas for parties and weddings

In The Summertime – Shaggy

Feeling Hot Hot Hot – The Merrymen

The Lion Sleeps Tonight – Tight Fit

Three Little Birds – Bob Marley & The Wailers

Jammin – Bob Marley & The Wailers

Egyptian Reggae – Jonathan Richman & the Modern Lovers

I Got You Babe – UB40 ft. Chrissie Hynde

Don't Break My Heart – UB40

Light My Fire – UB40

Red Red Wine – UB40

Kingston Town – UB40

(I Can't Help) Falling In Love With You – UB40

Island In The Sun – Weezer

Kiss The Girl – The Little Mermaid

Under The Sea – The Little Mermaid

One Love – Bob Marley

Rivers Of Babylon – Boney M.

No Woman No Cry – Bob Marley

Brown Girl In The Ring – Boney M.

You Can Get It If You Really Want – Jimmy Cliff

La Bamba – Los Lobos

I Just Called To Say I Love You – Stevie Wonder

Is This Love? – Bob Marley

Listen to our Caribbean and steel band song ideas on Spotify

Thanks to The Steel Panthers for contributions. The band perform regularly at weddings, small parties, family gatherings and prestigious events including the London Olympics Opening Ceremony, the Notting Hill Carnival and the Lord Mayor’s Parade.

Book a Steel Drum Band from Function Central


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