Nicholas Conservatory

August with Anthony

August with Anthony

Summers with Potts & Pans are fantastic! We have so many things going on, that often Matt, Christina and Myself have to split up responsibilities and spread out to cover multiple shows at once! During the month of August, I was able to take lead or do solo performances for a number of really cool gigs. Some of these were private events, but if you missed any of the public ones, you should probably LIKE us of facebook to make sure that doesn’t happen anymore :)

 

WEDDINGS!

Capture2Potts & Pans does a lot of weddings. We offer cocktail hours, reception music, ceremony music, DJ services, or anything else you need to make your wedding the perfect day! We’ll also match your colors, as we have shirts in almost every shade. For me, I had two weddings in August that were both AWESOME! Capture3First up, I went up to the Abbey Resort in Fontanta on Lake Geneva. After our many trips up here to play at Gordy’s Boat House, it was fun to see a bit more of the town. I was happy to work with the Bride, Ashley, to prepare everything for their cocktail hour. This was an outdoors performance playing solo steelpan. I brought my double seconds, and of course, used my 4 PP8b8CF blues from the Steelpan Store (definitely my favorite mallet for seconds!) The big surprise was Ashley wanted me to learn a few Mumford & Sons tunes to play. We are always happy to learn new music for our clients, so when she asked if I could play any Mumford, I looked some up, and put together this quick sample using my iPhone and she loved it. So I got a list of 6 Mumford tunes, mixed it in with some of our Caribbean favorites, and the cocktail hour was a success. To add to the fun, when I got out of my car I noticed I was parked next to a Felix & Fingers car! Mike and Emily were also at the Abbey playing for the reception of another couples wedding. That’s right, we’re taking over!

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The following weekend, I was back in Wisconsin, but this time went all the way up to Kohler. I took our Van, Lolita, who is guarded by Clifford. Look out for the #CliffordGoes hashtag to see where he’s off to next! IMG_7577I had worked with the bride, Cindy, for a long time putting together her wedding. Potts & Pans was there for the entire event. First, I played some solo double seconds for the ceremony down by the lake. The weather was beautiful, and the service was barefoot and flawless. The main attraction was the trio, in which I was joined by P&P members Emily and Aras for a Steelpan/Vibes/Drum group, and we played for a cocktail double hour before dinner. During dinner my guys were able to catch some delicious sandwiches (mine was patiently waiting for me to eat it later), while I went inside for some more solo seconds during the dinner time. With all the moving from place to place to play, the whole night went super smoothly and I was thrilled at the reactions I was hearing from all the guests. One even referred to me as “Joe Locke!” Flattering, undeserved, but still super awesome to hear ūüėÄ After dinner, I rejoined the team and we did another hour of trio work for the final portion of the reception. We were able to grab a nice photo with the couple and our instruments, and talk with some guests afterwards. The couple has always loved the Caribbean and having the steelpan at their wedding was the “perfect addition to the day.” Add on the facts that all of their IMG_7578guests were super polite, receptive to the music, the venue was gorgeous and the weather was ideal, this was a truly¬†enjoyable performance.IMG_7590
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ANNUAL SHOW!

Capture4Another particularly exciting show for me last month was my return to the Anvil Club. Last year I performed for their Luau Pig Roast, and everyone loved it, so they had me come back this year! The food, as anticipated, was expertly prepared, and the event was another success. They had door prizes of wine and gift cards, and the guests got to enjoy the beautiful decorations, delicious food, and the great sounds of double seconds throughout the night. Although we had a rainy end to the day, it held off until right at the end of the event, so all the guests had a great time, I just got a little wet while loading my car!

NICHOLAS CONSERVATORY & GARDENS!

This place is awesome! This was the site of my first duo gig with Potts & Pans. This has been the site of a number of great solo, duo, and community band performances. The venue is awesome! If you live anywhere near northern Illinois and you haven’t seen their Green House you need to go immediately! Furthermore, they host a weekly event over the summer called “Tunes on the Terrace” and this year I had two different shows during August. Being able to split roles, I did a full night of Steelpan,Capture5 IMG_7564showcasing its versatility as a solo instrument, it’s ability to perform a wide variety of musical styles, and discuss a bit of its rich, and very very recent history.¬†Later in the month, I returned for a full night of solo vibraphone. This time I focused on Jazz tunes, playing standards in the standard style, mixing in a few newer elements, and even performing a few originals. Both shows were attened by a large and appreciative audience. For the vibraphone show, I was thrilled to hear a lot of “you should’ve seen this guy last time — he plays steelpan!” while I was setting up. I also got to meet a fellow vibes player and world war II vet, Dick, at the vibraphone performance and share stories of moving these things around and playing combo gigs. This was definitely a great way to close out the month for me, and I can’t wait to head back to the gardens next season.

 

That’s all for now folks,

 

AJH

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.

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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

 

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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!

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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