History of the University of Akron Steel Drum Band

Dr. Larry Snider founded the University of Akron Steel Drum Band in 1980. At the time, it was one of only three colleges in the U.S. to have a steel drum ensemble. It is one of the nation's oldest collegiate panorama style steel bands.

All of the band's steel drums are exclusively built and maintained by Cliff Alexis, a master tuner, arranger and composer.

This ensemble of more than 20 percussion majors is dedicated to performing the musical art form of Trinidad and to educating people about the history of pan.

Enthusiastic audiences have grown from about 50 in 1980 to over 2000 per performance in 2003, making this ensemble a major force in the cultural and entertainment community of Akron and Cleveland.

 

In 1983, the band’s first milestone was achieved by recording the album “Puttin the Shoes On!”  In January of 1987, the University of Akron Steel Drum Band became the only ensemble of its kind from the United States to travel to Trinidad and study performance, rehearsal techniques, and style from the masters of the instrument.

Through the years the Steel Drum Band has had the privilege to perform with such artists as Boogsie Sharpe, Dave Samuels, Andy Narell, David Rudder, Ray Holman, Earl Rodney, Liam Teague, Michael Spiro, Pan Ramajay, Liam Teague, Robbie Greenidge and many other top performers.

The steel band has also performed for President Bill Clinton at his "Akron Town Meeting,"  at the inauguration of Ohio Governor Bob Taft, as well as for many state music conferences, school performances, and three Percussive Arts Society International Conventions.

 

In 1999 the "live at E.J. Thomas Hall" CD marked our first live recording. We brought together a "Dream Team" of steel band performers from the U.S. and Trinidad.  Never before has such a stellar "Who's Who" come together for such an event - and they may never again!  Because of this concert and CD, The Stanley and Eloise Morgan scholarship fund was established to help further the education of percussion students at the University. 

In 2001, thanks to Stanley and Eloise Morgan, our next recording milestone was achieved, the studio recording of our first Christmas CD “A Kiss for Christmas”

Today the Steel Drum Band continues to move forward and break new ground.  We want to thank all of you who have continued to support this ensemble and steel drum music. We are looking forward to seeing you at our next event!

 

In 2001, thanks to Stanley and Eloise Morgan, our next recording milestone was achieved, the studio recording of our first Christmas CD “A Kiss for Christmas”

“By Request,” contains updated versions of island music made popular on pan including classic songs like “Yellowbird” and new hits, like Jonah Koslen’s “Flip-Flop Song.”

The DVD/CD project which has aired all over the country, “Hammer on Steel,” contains both concert footage from Akron’s EJ Thomas Hall as well as a documentary about the Steel Drum Band.  It even earned eight Emmy Award nominations!

Today the Steel Drum Band continues to move forward and break new ground.  We want to thank all of you who have continued to support this ensemble and steel drum music. We are looking forward to seeing you at our next event