Sounds of the Caribbean unite band

Central Leader - - NEWS - By RACHEL STURGES

The sweet sound of Caribbean ca­lypso mu­sic waft­ing through the streets is not some­thing you usu­ally ex­pect to hear in Auck­land.

But the mu­sic of the Caribbeanz South­ern Stars steel pan band is made by a di­verse bunch of Auck­lan­ders who love the melodies and rhythms they can drum out of the ver­sa­tile per­cus­sion in­stru­ments.

Steel pans orig­i­nate from Trinidad and Tobago and have their roots in the drum­ming tra­di­tions of the African slaves brought over to work in the su­gar plan­ta­tions on the is­lands.

The Caribbeanz South­ern Stars band was founded in Auck­land in 2005 by a small group of Caribbean Is­lan­ders liv­ing in Auck­land.

Al­though some of the orig­i­nal mem­bers re­main, the rest of the 10-per­son band now re­flects the diver­sity of Auck­land’s pop­u­la­tion.

Sulu Fua­matu plays the bass steel pans and the One­hunga lo­cal says he was first at­tracted to the in­stru­ment mu­sic when he heard it in Bar­ba­dos last year.

‘‘I thought, wow, that will be in­ter­est­ing to says.

‘‘So I came back here and went to the night mar­kets and saw the steel pan band play there. I ac­tu­ally saw the bass drums and thought, ‘I want to play those’.’’

Par­nell res­i­dent Karen Stevens says she had been ‘‘pluck­ing on a gui­tar for years’’ be­fore hear­ing the band play on the ra­dio.

‘‘I’m get­ting near re­tire­ment age and I was think­ing about what I could do out­side of work be­cause work was be­com­ing my life,’’ she says.

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Mu­sic grad­u­ate Ros­alind Macken­zie says she ‘‘pretty much fell in love’’ with the steel pans at a workshop four years ago.

‘‘It’s a nice thing to do that fits in with a hec­tic life­style,’’ the Three Kings res­i­dent says.

Mu­si­cal di­rec­tor Tish de Klerk says the group is al­ways look­ing for more mem­bers.

‘‘We have a good time when we play and we feed off the crowd and usu­ally we get them up and go­ing. The mu­sic is unique.’’

Caribbean style: Caribbeanz South­ern Stars band mem­bers, from left: Ros­alind Macken­zie, Karen Stevens and Sulu Fua­matu.

Go to cen­tral­leader.co.nz and click Lat­est Edi­tion to see the group in ac­tion.

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