Posts Tagged calypso nuts

Why should the Trop Rock Community thank Christopher Columbus?

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Why should the Trop Rock Community thank Christopher Columbus?

On July 31, 1498, Christopher Columbus discovered the Island of Trinidad. Why is this important, you ask? Without this discovery, you might not know who Lynley Tolls, Frankendread, John Patti, and many more are. The Steel Pans originated in Trinidad.

Below is a history of the Steel Pan:

For over 50 years the world has enjoyed the scintillating, pulsating music of the steelband. Audiences from London to New York and beyond have been left spellbound, amazed that such rich tonal quality could come from discarded oil drums. The refined sound we now hear is the result of decades of hard work, research and innovations by master tuners such as Ellie Mannette, Neville Jules, Bertie Marshall, Anthony Williams, Rudolph Charles and Lincoln Noel to name a few. But how and where did it all start?

There are varying accounts as to the exact date and location in Trinidad the first steelpan was tuned since no official records were kept by either the pioneers or the British colonial government of the day. This, however, is one popular version. Necessity, it is said, is the mother of all inventions, and the steelpan is sound proof of that maxim. It was born out of deprivation, a desperate need by a people to fill the void that was left when something central to their existence was taken away.

SteelPanSince the 1800s, the inhabitants of Trinidad had been participating in a street carnival brought to the Caribbean island by the French. When the freed slaves (slavery was abolished in the West Indies in 1834) joined in the festivities, they could not afford the conventional instruments, so they used African drums, the instruments of their ancestors, then created percussion bands made up of bamboo joints cut from the bamboo plant. The “Tamboo Bamboo” bands (tamboo is a corruption of the French word tambour which means drum) bands were rhythmic ensembles that provided the accompaniment for the masqueraders in the annual parade.

Throughout the 1920s and 30s these bands flourished, but by 1940 something dreadful was about to plunge the world into perhaps its darkest and most notorious period in the twentieth century. Unwittingly, the events of that dark era would provide the beam that lit the way to the discovery of a new musical instrument.

When Adolf Hitler drew Europe into World War Two, the British colonial government summarily banned the Tamboo Bamboo bands, forcing the people to look for other ways to make merry. Readily available were steel drums discarded by the oil refineries on the island.

As they banged against the flat surface of the drum, the fun seekers accidentally stumbled upon a sound that would lead to further experimentations, and consequently, the birth of steelpan, the only musical invention of the twentieth century.

While death and destruction consumed Europe in the early forties, the lives of the underprivileged, unemployed young men in Trinidad were filled with hope and excitement. They realized that the constant pounding against the flat end of the drum left an indentation, and the sound changed as well. Word would soon spread about the discovery, and the possibility of making music with the drums. Further experiments would follow. To achieve further indentation, they would heat the drums in bonfires. What they discovered too was that by varying the size and depth on the indentation, it was possible to get more notes with different tones. As the creativity of these youths took over, one note led to two, three, then four on a single drum.

When the war ended in 1945, Trinidadians, like most people around the world, took to the streets in celebration, carrying of course, their new instruments. While they made music, there were still limitations. They needed an instrument on which an eight-note scale could be played. Who would be the first to tune such an instrument?

It is said that a young man from a depressed area of east Port of Spain, the capital city, was the first to do so. Legend has it that Winston Spree Simon, tirelessly working to improve on the initial discovery was able, sometime in the early to mid-forties, to tune the ping pong; on which he could play a complete eight-note scale. With rubber wrapped around one end of a piece of stick, Spree played a simple melody to the excitement of those who surrounded him at what would later come to be known as the panyard. News of Spree’s achievement spread like wildfire around Port of Spain and from there on, experimentation with the drums went on apace across the country.

Much like the rapid changes in modern technology, the development of different instruments with their own distinct tone came in quick succession. At the dawn of the fifties names such as Ellie Mannette and Neville Jules emerged as top class tuners. Simultaneously, bands were being formed across the land, some of them adopting names from American movies such as Destination Tokyo, Casablanca, Rising Sun, Invaders, Tripoli, Bar 20, Red Army, Desperadoes.

IMG_2519These bands were made up of instruments such as the ping pong (which by that time had been improved and expanded by the likes of Mannette and renamed the tenor pan), double seconds, guitars, cellos and bass. To further illustrate the rapid development of the instrument, by 1951 Trinidad was invited to send a steelband to the Festival of Britain at the South Bank Exhibition. This led to the formation of the Trinidad All Steel Percussion Orchestra (TASPO) with members drawn from steelbands such as Casablanca, Invaders, Free French, Crossfire, Tokyo, Southern Symphony, North Stars, Rising Sun, Sun Valley and City Syncopators. Among the chosen few were Mannette, Spree and a man who would soon earn his place among the legendary innovators/tuners, Anthony Williams.

By the time the sixties rolled around, the steelband was still a work in progress. The panyards became laboratories, and men like Williams would take the experiments one step further. His contribution was perhaps the most innovative piece of work of that era. He designed a tenor pan known as the “fourths and fifths,” meaning that next to the tonic note were the fourth and fifth notes of that scale. This design is still the standard used in most steelbands to this day. And Bertie Marshall of the Highlanders would soon follow with his creation of the double tenor, a must in every steelband. The seventies belonged to Rudolph Charles, leader of the Desperadoes who took innovations beyond the tuning aspect of the instruments. He introduced the nine and twelve bass, which effectively extended the range and depth of the bass drums by increasing the number of drums from the traditional six to nine and then to twelve.

Charles followed up with the quadrophonic, and improvements on the pitch of the tenor pan to what is now known as the high tenor; He also changed the appearance of the steelband with the silver chroming of instruments replacing the oil paints of the fifties and sixties. For better movement of bands through the streets, and to protect the instruments from the sun during the carnival parades, he put the stands on wheels and covered them with canopies.

These developments were not confined to Trinidad and indeed Tobago, the other half of the twin-island nation. Across the seas on the smaller islands of the eastern Caribbean, in the late fifties and sixties, bands were being formed as well, at first with instruments bought in Trinidad, but later with home-made brands by men who had, over time, learned the art of tuning. For instance in the early fifties, Antigua, to the north, boasted of such bands as Brute Force and Hell’s Gate. In the decades that followed, the steelband would move beyond the shores the Caribbean to North America, England, other parts of Europe such as Holland, Switzerland, Sweden and as far east as China, Japan. Today in Trinidad alone, there are more than 100 steelbands. Across the world, hundreds more.

Back in Trinidad in the late fifties/sixties, the developments in the steelband world were not simply a contribution to the family of musical instruments. The bands, comprised mainly of unemployed young black men, often found themselves in violent confrontation, something akin to the gang warfare that gripped certain cities in North America. As a result, these young men who should have been regarded as pioneers,were reviled by a large portion of the society, regarded as social outcasts, particularly by the middle and upper classes.

After the island became independent from Britain in 1962, the new government moved to change the image of the panmen as they were being called. Official involvement was evident with the hiring of bands to perform at social and state functions. Corporate sponsorship was also encouraged to provide the bands with funds to purchase drums, pay for arrangers, tuners and uniforms. Hence such marriages as Amoco Renegades, Coca Cola Desperadoes, (now West Indian Tobacco Company (WITCO) Desperadoes, Pan Am North Stars (since disbanded), Shell Invaders (now BWIA Invaders), Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) Starlift (now Petrotrin Starlift). The involvement of corporate citizens in the affairs of these motley groups slowly helped to erase the stigma and bring about social acceptance by the wider community. Panmen are now regarded as the cultural ambassadors of the land and the steelpan has been officially recognized as the national instrument. In addition, both sponsor and band have grown to respect each other’s role in their mutual existence.

With this new image, the war on the streets soon gave way to another kind of warfare -a musical war on the stage. In 1963, the Carnival Development Committee which was formed to put a sense of organization into the street festival, started the panorama competition with each band vying for recognition as the superior band in the land. In this competition, every band is required to play a 10-minute rendition of a calypso of choice. The winners and other participants are rewarded financially and there are other perks, such as trips overseas and engagements at home.

Over the past three decades, several bands have shot into the national consciousness as they repeatedly claimed the coveted title as panorama champions. Bands such as Desperadoes and Renegades (9 wins each), All Stars (4), Phase Two Pan Groove (2), Exodus (1) are now household names with international followings.

Indeed, over the past four decades, the steelpan has come a long way, moving from the panyards of the most depressed areas of a society to some of the most prestigious concert halls around the world. The Desperadoes, for instance, have performed at the Royal Albert Hall in London, Carnegie Hall, the Apollo and Lincoln Theaters in New York, the United Nations building, and the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Other bands like Renegades, All Stars, Phase Two, Exodus have wooed audiences from London to Paris to Japan, mesmerizing them with their renditions of some of the most complex works of the classic composers such as Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Sibelius, Rossini, Borodin.

As the world gets ready to enter the new millennium, the students of Spree, Mannette, Williams, Marshall, Charles who with their genius and creativity gave this century perhaps its sweetest gift, are preparing to take pan to higher heights. No one knows what the final product will be, but we know for sure that it will continue to make a joyful noise unto the world of music.

History can be found HERE.

The Calypso Nuts Tour Update

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When everyone else heads South, where do we go?  Manassas and Virginia Beach VA, Snowshoe WV, Berea, Parma, and Akron OH, Binghamton and Walton NY, and Pittsburgh PA!  Since we’ve already forgotten what snow looks like- it’s time to head North and come play with friends and family on the other side of that Mason-Dixon Line.

Details and specifics are below…  contact us with any questions.  We’ll have copies of our new release Unplugged with us

at all shows, and also online:  on our website – and also available through iTunes, CDBaby, and the Beachfront Radio Music Hut.


Can’t wait to see you.

Lynley & Robbie




The Oar House Pensacola, FL Thu Jan 19 12 06:00 PM
Private Event Naples, FL Sat Jan 21 12 07:00 PM
Best Western Battlefield Manassas, VA Fri Jan 27 12 04:00 PM Tickets
Best Western – Battlefield Inn Manassas, VA Fri Jan 27 12 04:00 PM Tickets
The Blue Turtle (Formerly GF Keegan’s) Virginia Beach, VA Wed Feb 01 12 07:00 PM Tickets
Wyndham 57th St. Virginia Beach, VA Fri Feb 03 12 08:00 PM Tickets
Wyndham 57th St. Virginia Beach, VA Sat Feb 04 12 06:00 PM
Busky’s Chill and Grill Chesapeake, VA Wed Feb 08 12 07:00 PM
South Mountain Grille Snowshoe, WV Fri Feb 10 12 08:00 PM
South Mountain Grille Snowshoe, WV Fri Feb 10 12 08:00 PM
South Mountain Grille Snowshoe, WV Sat Feb 11 12 08:00 PM
South Mountain Grille Snowshoe, WV Sun Feb 12 12 11:00 AM
Island Time Radio Show Berea, OH Mon Feb 13 12 10:00 PM
Craft Brew Garden Cleveland, OH Wed Feb 15 12 07:00 PM
Mad Moose House of BBQ Binghamton, NY Fri Feb 17 12 07:00 PM

Pard-Gras 2012 15th Annual “There Was a Pirate”

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Pardi-Gras 2012 – 15th Annual
“There Was a Pirate”

( “+” denotes events that require credentials )





Event / Entertainers Location / Venue

 WED Jan. 11  Time
JB’s Margaritaville Cafe
   RYTHYM & RAIN Tropical Isle #2 (Orleans)

Jan. 12 3:00p – 6:00p    RADIO MARGARITAVILLE
   Happy Hour Recording
JB’s Margaritaville Cafe
    6:15p – 9:00p + Registration

Bourbon Orleans Hotel  – St. Joseph Room
GENE MITCHELL Bourbon Orleans Hotel  –Bourbon “O” Bar
    7:30p –8:55p JOHN RENO Bourbon Orleans Hotel –
Bourbon “O” Bar
    9:00p – 11:00p CALYPSO NUTS Tropical Isle #2
    11:00p – 1:00a    LATE AS USUAL Tropical Isle #1

Jan. 13

12:00p – 3:00p + Registration

Bourbon Orleans Hotel – St. Joseph room


Bourbon Orleans Hotel – Bourbon “O” Bar



Bourbon Orleans Hotel – Bourbon “O” Bar




Bourbon Orleans Hotel – Bourbon “O” Bar

    1:30p – 3:00p +  JIMMY MARAVENTANO Bourbon Orleans Hotel –
Bourbon “O” Bar
    3:00p – 4:30p +  ERIC STONE Tropical Isle #1
    4:30p – 6:00p +  JIM HOEHN Tropical Isle #1
    4:00p –6:00p + BOURBON STREET PUB CRAWL

various Bourbon Street locations
    6:00p – 7:30p JIMMY PARRISH TRIO Tropical Isle #2
    7:45p + Crowning of Pardi-Gras     King & Queen

Tropical Isle #2
    8:00p -9:00p + Pardi-Gras Parade!

Bourbon Street
    9:00p – 11:30p +  WES LOPER BAND   JB’s Margaritaville– Main Stage
    11:30p – 2:00a       VINCE VANCE & THE     VALIANTS Tropical Isle Original – 600 Bourbon
    12:00a    MONTE TOLAR’S
Pirate Toast

Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shoppe

Jan. 14

12:00p–2:00p +  Registration
700 block of Bourbon  St.
    12:00p – 2:00p PAUL ROUSH Tropical Isle #2
    12:00p – 5:30p + Bourbon Street Pardi !

700 block of Bourbon  St.
    2:15p–3:30p +  JERRY DIAZ & HANNA’S       REEF  700 block of Bourbon Street
    3:30p-4:00p +  ANNOUNCEMENTS,

700 block of Bourbon Street
    4:00p–5:30p +  JERRY DIAZ & HANNA’S        REEF     700 block of Bourbon Street
    6:00p-8:00p +  BRENT BURNS The Gazebo Cafe
    8:30p – 11:00p STILL CRUISIN’ JB’s Margaritaville- Main Stage
    11:00p – 1:00p    LATE AS USUAL Tropical Isle #1

Jan. 15

9:00a – 11:00am +  Sunday Brunch

JB’s Margaritaville
    9:00a –11:00am JIM MORRIS JIMMY B’s Margaritaville –
Main Stage
    11:30a – 1:00p DENNIS DAVIS The Gazebo Cafe
    1:30p –

Tropical Isle #2


Tropical Isle #2




Tropical Isle #2


Calypso Nuts, Tall Paul, Kristie Bobal – Atlanta Parrothead Cruise to Panama

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The CalypsoNuts, Tall Paul, Kristie Bobal
The CalypsoNuts
Panama City, PA
 Stop the Presses…  We have an announcement!


The CalypsoNuts are WAAAAYYYYY more than thrilled to be a part of


Parrothead Cruise 2012


March 10, 2012….  We’re going to PANAMA!


Registration is open now at the link above.  Space is limited, so we’d tell you to hop on board right now.


On board, you say?  YES!  Get on the PLANE!!!  You see, this year, it’s a STATIONARY cruise… organized by the legendary Atlanta Cruisers.    The resort is fabulous, the location is fabulous…  and did I forget to mention the resort features a TOP-SHELF OPEN BAR for the entire time we’re there!?


AS IF that weren’t enough.  We are thrilled to be part of any entertainment lineup that includes TALL PAUL Kristie Bobal.

At this time, we are unable to comment on, or confirm the availability of – -THE LOLAS- –  but we’ve heard rumors.


Please join us in Panama City for the adventure of a lifetime…  Lynley & Robbie

Party with a Purpose:  Parrothead Cruise 2012 Supports the Atlanta Parrot Head Club’s Fight Against Breast Cancer.


Original Logo Tee
You Can Call Me Al
Sat Dec 10 11 Gulfport, AL Bear Point Community Club House
Sun Dec 11 11 Navarre, FL Elks Lodge No. 2787
Tue Dec 13 11 Destin, FL Cracker Barrel
“Robbie & Lynley, A SUPER Thank You for helping to make our ’09 party a HUGE success!”  — Grace Swinford, Private Function
“First of all- WOW- how wonderful an event we had yesterday! The Calpyso Nuts were absolutely incredible and I could have listened to them all night long. They were fabulous!!!! … Again, what a great group! They were fun, attentive to requests, professional and just a great joy to have here! ”  — Brenda F. Perkins, ADC for Chambrel of Williamsburg, Agent Referral
“They created Magic for us daily with their music and song!”  —


Key West 2011 MOTM Summary from Tall Paul

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Key West 2011 MOTM Summary


this year’s event started out great, stayed that way throughout the week and even ended large!

the night before we left home we went to margaritaville in nashville to see don middlebrook play… several music city phins were in attendance and don was “on”

once on the road, our first stop was orlando and margaritaville there… our friend JD was broadcasting radio margaritaville live that day so we got to see him do his radio thing… he pulled me in to the booth and he let me do a quick run down on this year’s upcoming MOTM and then introduce “last train to kitty hawk” which he played next… my first time on radio margaritaville!

after a few drinks with JD, we went to see charlie d’s band play… charlie has a bunch of cool young cats in his band (including his nephew joey who rocks the electric guitar)… the band should be called charlie d’s school of rock since he is single handedly teaching these guys songs that are older than they are and, in doing so, keeping the songs alive

on to naples

we played a halloween party for the amazing grace swinford on saturday… the calypso nuts joined crawdaddy, kristie & me plus john patti, jimi papas & john friday did a few tunes… a huge turn out and loads  fun

on to key west

we had a 1-5pm show monday at hogs breath so sunday was a relaxing “calm before the storm” kind of day culminating with the drive thru the keys

monday at the hog started out wild and rocked the entire day… only a few songs in, a huge crew from a cruise ship invaded us… they had been drinking since breakfast and the energy level skyrocketed instantly… as we were adjusting i look up and see a couple really good friends from knoxville in that crowd grinning at me! what an awesome surprise… they stayed with us a couple hours, kristie did a few songs from her brand new CD and the crowd was “in it”!!

after the show we checked in to our ‘house for the week’ with the “nuts” and settled in for a long fun week

tuesday was another hogs breath show… this day, however, was more a listening crowd which allowed us to tell a few more stories, pull out some obscure originals and  grab some covers from the secret song vault!! the big crowd hanging on every note, crawdaddy & kristie on fire and a picture perfect day made for quite a show

we joined jd, mr frinzi, freebo, patti cakes and several of their friends for dinner at el siboney… a “must do” on my list each visit to kw

wednesday was my “welcome to key west” songwriters event sponsored by beachfront radio… this year was the 2nd annual event using this name

there were about 17 songwriters playing on the beach at the southernmost cafe in perfect weather…. highlights of the day for me were tropical soul, freebo, the goombas, dennis davis and sunny jim sporting a 12 string!

once we got packed up, we got dinner (again at el siboney) with the sunny jim family then headed down duval… we caught up with several friends and saw others performing… i do believe drinks were also consumed.. heather from tropical soul, lynley from the calypso nuts and kristie debuted a new act at the hog’s breath that evening called “girls rule”… their harmonies and energy really got the crowd going… everyone was cheering!!  we stopped in to key west kate’s surprise party and caught the peter mayer and friends show at smokin’ tuna before ending up at the casa marina pool bar with brad brewer, saxophone jedi from virginia beach, catching up on things and plotting and scheming the next few days’ antics

thursday was a BIG day

our official MOTM show at the casa marina started the day off at 1… we bolted from there and snuck in to kelly mcguire’s light house songwriters show to do a few songs, rushed over to the bottle cap to set up for and perform kristie’s CD release party, grab some pizza at bobalus, then set up and play at the green parrot… kristie may have been a touch nervous before her release party, but a few notes in, she took control of the stage and made all those songs totally hers…brad brewer was phenomenal at adding color and emotion to several songs…  the crowd response was fabulous and the room was absolutely full!

i have always wanted to play the green parrot and this was finally my day… i had invited a few folks to join in and everything fell in to place in a wondrous manner… crawdaddy & I got there first and set up… the band for the fist set was: freebo on bass, brad brewer on sax, chris baer on percussion, tom johnson on keys and “country” dave edmiston on electric lead guitar… all i can say is that it was a magical night… all the players were on their game and the music simply flowed… after our first long set, the band morphed throughout the rest of the night… tod sheley joined in on percussion and there were appearances by both jimmy maraventanos, several members of homemade wine and “big daddy” danny hall… it was a difficult cloud to come down from later that evening!

friday began with a duo show at dante’s highlighted by a newlywed couple requesting and dancing to “walking in memphis” then mr. buffett himself took the stage at the street fest and played for about 45 minutes for the thousands that were packed onto duval st… then we had a show for the virtual club at the bottle cap… brad and lynley joined crawdaddy, kristie & I for a real fun set while robbie experimented with crawdaddy’s new camera! we had a very good dinner at camile’s before heading to the hogs breath for another “girls rule” set and then pretty much collapsing (after an interesting incident with a tow truck)

saturday was supposed to be fairly laid back… right

we had our rum barrel show from noon till 4-ish… kristie, crawdaddy & I, calypso nuts & john friday were the musical performers and the rum daddy, paul artrip, provided deals on libations and introduced me to a very interesting rum… ron barcelo imperial

we went over to our friends’ boat for a visit with jeff & michelle, brent & tammy and kelly & brian in preparation for joining jimmy and the parrots on the main stage at the casa marina… this show is always extremely high energy and FUN… this year was no exception… the coral reefers went on next to close the day and enchanted us all… we got to spend a few minutes backstage catching up and telling stories before going back down to the halo for nightcaps and more stories

sunday kristie & I each had a time slot at sunny jim’s blue heaven songwriters event… we went up together and swapped songs with the sunny one accompanying us both.. there was ANOTHER “girls rule” set ant hogs breath (this thing is catching on!) then we cruised ducal saying hi to homemade wine & country dave along the way… we ended up at margaritaville for the boat drunks show with freebo sitting in… they did a cool beatles mini set highlighted by “the night before” with spot on harmonies! THEN rich sambora takes the stage and tears up the encores… it only seemed fitting to wander down to our favourite late night watering hole for drinks and tales… we closed the place!

monday was check out day and driving back to the mainland… john patti was gracious in allowing us a place to crash while we did our last couple shows together… drinks and storytelling was the order of business

tuesday we went to the linger lodge in bradenton for lunch… if i said the alligator chowder was amazing, it would be an understatement… the calypso nuts headed towards navarre and john kristie & I went to port charlotte for the parrothead club monthly meeting… we exected a potentially laid back show since MOTM was only days earlier, but over 200 parrotheads came out and parties with us, singing, dancing and drinking the night away… more poolside stories fueled by bobaritas and damaritas brought tuesday to a close

wednesday… BACK to the linger lodge for alligator chowder (seriously!) then a stop at the tervis store before driving to n. ft. myers and a gig at al’s tiki bar… i’ve known al & grit for several years and was excited to be playing at their brand new place… and a cool place it is! good vibe, nice tiki decor and great food.. there were probably equal part locals and parrotheads and everyone told us how much they enjoyed it…. that is a great feeling at a new place

we said our good byes and headed north after the gig

I drove to somewhere between valdosta and atlana before i couldn’t go any more… kristie took over and got us home by lunchtime!!!!!!!!!