Montréal, Quebec, Canada
When one thinks of the state of Maine in the USA one thinks of shipbuilding,
fishing and the sea. The steelpan instrument or a major steelband is not
what one would normally associate with the USA’s northernmost state.
And yet inexplicably this is exactly what we have in the Atlantic Clarion Steel
Band. During the recent
International Steelpan Music Festival, When Steel Talks got to see and hear
Atlantic Clarion Steel Band in action as part of the Pan Coalition performing
side, of which Atlantic Clarion is a significant portion. The additional
members hail from a couple smaller bands also located in Maine.
The Atlantic Clarion Steel Band is indeed a serious music outfit. No ‘straw-hatted
men in banana shirts playing “Yellowbird” and “Matilda” on the cruise ship dock’
as their website give fair warning. No “accommodating” steelband here...
At the Montreal International Steelpan Music Festival, Pan Coalition
showcased their ability to perform a wide variety of music genres. The
group has its own unique voice and style. There is no shortage of
enthusiasm in the group’s performance. They simply enjoy performing.
Nigel Chase gets the best
out of Pan Coalition, featuring Atlantic Clarion steelband
players, at the 2009 Montreal International Steelpan
The group was founded by Carl Chase in the village of
Brooksville, Maine in 1974. In addition to being the manager of
Atlantic Clarion, Chase is a steelpan manufacturer and tuner. Brooksville is located just outside
Blue Hill, Maine and borders
Carl grew up playing flute, guitar and double bass, and majored in music at
Harvard. He started making steel drums and then went on to found the Atlantic Clarion Steel
Band. He has made most of the band’s instruments, and arranged much of the
music in the band’s repertoire. Since 1988 he has developed and taught high school pan
programs in New England, and founded Flash in the Pans Community Steelband in
Blue Hill, Maine.
Carl’s introduction to steelpan is indeed an interesting one. According to Nigel
Chase, Atlantic Clarion’s captain and Carl’s son, his dad bought a Brute Force Steelband album
when he was in high school in the 1940’s and fell in love with the sound of the
steelband. He went sailing to Trinidad when Nigel was very young and
discovered the steelbands for himself. “He wanted to figure out how to make them - and
came back to Maine, tried it in his backyard, and it worked and he started to
make pans” says Nigel. The first pan his dad made was a “ping pong.”
He researched how to make a pan. Armed with a copy of ‘Steel drums, how to
play them and make them’ produced by Pete Seeger and based on ‘The steel drums of
Kim Loy Wong’ - which gave very precise details on how to produce a steelpan
instrument - Nigel’s father produced his very own ‘ping pong’ and ‘double second.’
According to Nigel, his dad refined his skillset with the help of tuners like
Trinidadian Roland Harrigin.
Nigel credits his own trip to Trinidad at an early for allowing him to understand
that “that was where it is at” as it relates to the steelband.
At the recently concluded Montréal International Steelpan Festival, Pan
Coalition, featuring mainly Atlantic Clarion musicians - definitely
connected with the audience and was a crowd favorite.
Contact the Atlantic Clarion Steel Band:
Phone: 1 (207) 326-4025
International Panorama 2009 - Montréal Style
Steelpan Soloists Light Up
Salah Wilson: a Man with a Vision, a Plan and
a Point of Execution
Maine’s Atlantic Clarion
Steel Band - Pan Coalition