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.


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 :)



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!


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 😀 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








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!


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,