If steel drums ring your bell, you are in luck. The Tahlequah High School Orange Express Concert Band has added new magic to its repertoire and it promises to bring a dynamic and exciting boost to the band’s image. Thanks to a donation from Randy Gibson, the tropical percussion staple will give kids a chance to experience something novel and unique. The sound of two lead pans, a set of “double seconds,” and a full set of six bass pans are compliments the former band member from the University of Oklahoma.
His personal relationship with the steel drums prompted him to supply the instruments to Tahlequah. While some larger schools boast of a wider inventory, their smaller counterparts have yet to add them. Gibson has taken the Orange Express concert band in a new direction with his gift.
Gibson’s wife Melody actually taught steel drums at OU, solidifying his connection. His commitment to Tahlequah High was strengthened after his wife’s recent death. He was particularly concerned to give his alma mater an edge in the percussion department so students could go off to college with steel drum experience under their belts. His promise to band director Josh Allen came to fruition when he supplied much of the funding for his legacy. He professed that the situation was touching for him: the band was named Steel Melody in his wife’s honor.
Tryouts for the new group yielded some talented members for the three steel drum bands in the works and a total of 21 student participants. Everyone is hopeful the passion for percussion will grow in the future with the help of the local community. It was heartening to see the variety of volunteers who applied, some unexpected—and playing is always on the students’ own time. Allen said that the opportunity will promote undiscovered talent that will be showcased to the public. Christmas time is the target date for their introduction. A special holiday concert will mark the steel drum bands’ debut as an adjunct to the existing concert band contributions. The director adds that the deep jazz roots will add flavor to the mix and serve as a perfect foil for the festivities.