Christina Guerrero

Edu-tainment! An Awesome Assembly

Edu-tainment! An Awesome Assembly

IMG_1284Last week, THE Potts & Pans Trio drove up to Kenosha, WI to present at Mahone Middle School. We frequently do these in school performances through our new company, Culture, Arts & Music, and are always excited for a new opportunity to teach. This time around, we were at the start of the day, bright and early. One of my old professors used to say “It’s unnatural for musicians to be up this early!” but we made it work nonetheless. Mostly, this was thanks to the huge amount of help we received from the Mahone students!

IMG_1289It was really a treat for us to see how well this school operates, and how student driven all the activities were. When we first arrived, we had a sixth grader waiting for us at the door. He was very professional, introduced himself, and showed us where we needed to go. A few minutes and a couple introductions later, we were on the stage, bus pulled up to the loading dock, and setting up for the show. The stage was gorgeous, with a nice house that competes with most high school auditoriums. As we were getting our instruments on stage, a full crew of students began working with us to provide and sound check microphones, adjust lighting needs, pull curtains as needed, and finalize any stage set up. These guys were all very well trained, very easy to work with, and are definitely on the right track to working in the biz!

IMG_1293Our performance at Mahone was full on Edu-tainment, our special combination of education and entertainment! We had the full set of sixth graders, and we were giving them a taste of how music came from Africa and influenced Latin America. We were able to have students come join us on stage as we performed the various forms of music on the islands of Trinidad and Tobago. We began with the traditional African Percussion, moved to Tamboo-Bamboo after the banning of skin headed drums, then to the metal scraps, and closed with the modern steelpan. We also demonstrated how in other countries like Brazil (where there was no ban on skin headed drums) the progression ended differently with the current bateria from the samba school.

IMG_1299 Of course, we also continued with a bit more into the development of the steelpan. We showed the inside of the bowl, explained tuning, and discussed the different voices. We performed classical music and talked about TASPO’s trip to London. Throughout every part of the assembly, the kids were interested and engaged. When we needed volunteers, they were all eager to participate and did a really great job with the instruments and rhythms we were teaching them. They were all very attentive, and very thankful afterwards. I can safely say this was one of the smoothest and most enjoyable assemblies we’ve had the pleasure of putting on.
And we would love to do more! See here how a Potts & Pans assembly, provided by Culture, Arts & Music can fit into your school’s curriculum. If you are a teacher or administator, send us an email and let us know what type of assembly you are looking for. Parent? Student? Contact us as well if you want us at your school, and we’ll call your administration directly! Looking forward to our next assembly. Final Note – the pictures you see of our show in Mahone, also taken by the students! These kids really run the school :)


AJH, out.


Using Pan To Help Fundraise

Using Pan To Help Fundraise

This past weekend, The Potts & Pans Trio headed out to The Onion Pub to help out a local school. The school was SS Peter and Paul Catholic School, which all of our loyal followers might recognize that we did an assembly at this school towards the end of the last school year! Matt Potts DJThe school has an annual Gala in order to help raise funds for the year and Potts & Pans was thrilled to be involved! When Lisa first contacted us and explained the time frame of the night (6-11PM) we immediately started discussing the different options we can provide to keep the costs down. We ultimately decided on having a solo steelpan performer start the night off, having a trio play some mellow calypso and jazz during dinner, then having the trio switch over to higher energy soca and pop after the live auction lead by Woodstock Mayor Brian Sager before finishing off the night with a DJ. This style of performance allowed us to provide entertainment all night and still stay under budget.

Matt Potts Solo Steelpan With Up Lights At Onion PubAll and all, this was a great night! The event color theme was turquoise and both Anthony and myself were able to don turquoise shirts and pocket squares and matched their color perfectly! We always enjoy going this extra step for our clients, and Lisa and Anne Marie certainly appreciated it. The Great Hall at The Onion Pub was a beautiful setting and with our new up-lights, we were really able to put together a great looking set up to keep everything looking great for the night. We had a ton of fun preparing some great pop tunes like John Legend’s “All of Me,” Meghan Trainor’s “All About The Bass,” Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off,” Pharrell’s “Happy” and more! (Watch for videos of some of these pop tunes to be coming soon!) The Gala turned out to be a huge success and people loved our music. This was a really fun night, and thanks again to Lisa for getting us involved! It was an honor to be a part of helping raise funds for this great school and we hope you exceeded your goals for the night.


Back to the Gardens

The scenery behind the average Potts & Pans gig is the inside of a building. Often we get nice and well prepared decorations IMG_6476to showcase a tropical theme, and sometimes we play outside near a waterfront, or among some large trees. Altogether, the beautiful scenery provided by the Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens is a very well received break from the norm. Potts & Pans has played here many times before. This was actually the site of my first Vibes & Pan duo performance with Matt many years ago. Since then we’ve gone back for more duets and plenty of solo performances as well. Around New Years, I got a call from Joy, and she told me about an awesome event they were planning, the “Winter Warm Up.” So, we tossed ideas around for a few days, and eventually decided that a mix between a few of our options throughout the event would be best. So, on February 22nd, Potts & Pans loaded up and headed off to Rockford.

The large attraction for this performance was the Potts & Pans Community Band, giving their first performance of the semester. You may remember this group last semester at their Toys for Tots Benefit Concert, but whether you’ve seen them or not, you don’t want to miss their next performance at the Great Lakes Steelpan Festival. Tickets for this are are already available! With most of our community band shows, we load up The Lady and take everybody to the performance. This time, we ran into a unique hurdle, which Potts & Pans was ready to conquer, when our group had grown so large we could not fit the entire band and all of the instruments in the bus! Fortunately, Lolita (have you seen our van? She went to Florida with us!) was waiting in the wings and filled up with the remaining equipment and personnel that didn’t fit into The Lady.

Once we arrived, those visiting the gardens for the first time were thrilled with its beauty. Those of us who had been there before were still impressed, and pleased to be reunited with some old friends. The band set up in the opening foyer, and was joined with crafts, smoothies, and hula dancers. The crowds began to flow in, and our music began to ring out. IMG_6479All the guests were trilled with the sound, which resonated throughout the room. It was awesome to see the smiles creep onto everyone’s faces as we started another tune. The community band rocked the house with their numbers, leaving myself and the other directors tickled pink with their performance.

Giving the community band members a few breaks, THE Potts & Pans Trio (Matt Potts, Christina Guerrero, and myself) filled in a few sets with our normal repertoire. We had no vibes for this one, which, to my disappointment was probably for the best. At the gig before my pedal assembly broke, which I fixed, but then a few bars went out of tune! Turns out they were cracked and are getting replaced now :( This, I understand, was the problem with the thin bar Jencos, but makes me even more excited for the Vanderplas I have on the way! Regardless of instrumentation, the three of us were rockin’.trio Trio plus commI was thrilled to have the chance to play some seconds without disruption, as the night before brought about quite the adventure, and even played some tenor bass for my favorite, Sugar Bum Bum. Best of all, we welcomed up a few of the Community Band members who had been playing for awhile to fill in on a few tunes. Although #CammieFreaksOut, she still had a great time filling in bass lines on the 6 bass, and began to freak out with excitement after getting a glimpse at what our careers are like. “You guys just play music and make people smile, this is the best job ever!” — Cammie



Then, giving us a few breaks, we welcomed up audience members to learn and play Soca Evelyn. The audience was a little anxious the first time we opened the floor to them, but by the end of the day, everyone was looking for an open pan to play. People flocked to every voice of the ensemble, even the engine room, and got to play along with the community group on this Kitchener tune. Us directors were able to take a bit of a step back as the community band members jumped right in on the teaching.  The audience and the Conservatory loved us so much they had us stay for an extra hour!

All in all, this was an excellent way to close our Illinois time for February (The rest of the month was Florida to Wisconsin!). The show was full of excitement, and although the community band members were pretty tired by the end of it, they all had a great time. We hope to see you at the next one, the Great Lakes Steelpan Festival on April 11th in Crystal Lake, where our group will be joined by other bands from the Midwest for a full day of steelpan!

AJH, Out

Anthony Jay Houston