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Island sounds are draw of spring steel drum concert

May 4th, 2018

steel drum band

The Bethel College Steel Drum Band will play its second annual spring concert at 7 p.m., May 10, in Memorial Hall. The performance will also feature the community band, Steel Paradise.

The concert is free and open to the public, with a freewill offering taken.

Bethel’s athletic band director, Brad Shores, leads the two groups. The Steel Drum Band is made up of Bethel students, while Steel Paradise is Bethel staff and local community members who get together once a week to play.

Both groups will perform a variety of songs, including traditional steel drum numbers, hymn arrangements, and some of Shores’s original pieces.

When picking set lists for the bands, Shores said, “It is kind of like calling football plays to me. You wouldn’t call a sweep every play. So I try to do songs that are in different keys or have different styles.”

There will also be some guest musicians. “Some of our songs at this particular concert will feature a [woodwind] section,” with a saxophone, trumpet and trombone, Shores said.

As the Steel Drum Band finishes its second year, their skill levels prove their hard work, with several “high degree of difficulty” numbers.

Laura Tran, freshman from Newton, plays the double guitar. “I am excited for our upcoming concert as we take on more difficult songs,” she said.

Tran believes the May 10 concert will be a good kick-off to the band’s  first tour. She continued, “We have a tour coming up around the area, which should be fun.”

This concert is a good opportunity to see one of only two steel drum bands in the state of Kansas, and to learn more about the instruments along with enjoying the music.

Shores said, “I think people learn about steel drums [at our concerts] because I always talk about how they are made, how they are tuned, and how we got started. I give a good background about the history of the steel drums.”

He noted that anyone is welcome to join Steel Paradise, the community band, with no previous experience necessary and with the instruments provided.

Current Steel Paradise Members are Denise Woelk, Cindy Combs, Autumn Nance, Kaylyn Rhodes and Suzanne Burch, leads; Erica Nance, Jennifer Horn and Patsy Dirksen, double seconds; Donalyn Manion, Michelle Sheriff and Caleb Tello, double guitars; Shirley Dietzel, bass; and Shores on drum set. 

Members of the Bethel College Steel Drum Band are: Brendan Ostlund, Mount Hope, Elizabeth Tran, North Newton, Briley Young, Wichita, Mareike van Bergeijk, Hesston, Alayna Wallace, McPherson, and Krista Loomis, Walton, leads; Lauren Nehrbass, Parsons, Kendrick Weaver, Hesston, and Anna Lubbers, Peabody, double seconds; Laura Tran, Samantha Koch, Conway Springs, and MacKenzi Eisenbraun, Shawnee, double guitars; Callie Ross, Overland Park, and Abby Phillips, Maple Hill, basses; and Shores on drum set.

Guest woodwind artists are Neil Smucker, North Newton, on saxophone, Evan Koch on trumpet and Andrew Thiesen on trombone.

Steel Paradise will play from the following set list: original pieces by Shores, “Island Hopping,” “Dinner Time Cha Cha,” “Montigo Moon” and “Synco Samba”; “Jamaica Farewell” and “Everybody Loves a Saturday Night,” both traditional; and “Never on Sunday” by Hadjidakis.

The Bethel College Steel Drum Band’s program is “Jump in the Line” and “Pan in A Minor” by Kitchener, “Steel Band Paradise” and “Oshkosh Jump” by Holman, arrangements of the hymns “To God be the glory” (Doane) and “It is well with my soul” (Bliss), “Sunset” by Sharpe, and a Shores original composition, “Jumpin’ J.”

Bethel College ranks at No. 1 in College Consensus’ ranking of Kansas colleges and universities, and is the only Kansas private college listed in the analysis of top colleges and universities, the Washington Monthly National Universities-Liberal Arts section and the National Liberal Arts College category of U.S. News & World Report, all for 2017-18. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see

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by Sam Bertholf

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