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Event Details


Time: May 20, 2012 from 6pm to 11pm
Location: Tropical Paradise Ballroom
Street: 1367 Utica Avenue, (between Foster Avenue & Farragut Road)
City/Town: Brooklyn, New York, USA
Phone: 718-252-6161.
Event Type: tribute, to, new, york, steel, band, pioneers
Organized By: Folk Arts Institute
Latest Activity: May 17, 2012

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Event Description

Two surviving members from a three-piece steel band which appeared in the 1954 Broadway musical House of Flowers will be among the special lineup of individuals being honored at a Tribute to New York Steel Band Pioneers organized by the Trinidad & Tobago Folk Arts Institute, Sunday evening May 20. The gala event will be held at Tropical Paradise Ballroom, Brooklyn from 6:00 to 11:00 PM.

Michael Alexander and Alfonso Marshall (whose name, after he subsequently became an actor, was changed to Austin Stoker) are the two surviving steelpan players from the 1954 production, which starred Pearl Bailey and was written by Truman Capote. The members of the history-making steel band unit were recruited from Trinidad by the noted Trinidad-born choreographer-director Geoffrey Holder, who was also in the House of Flowers cast.

The other honorees are Caldera Caraballo, Milton Gabriel, Edward George, Lennox Leverock, Roy Sangster and Kim Wong. Two well-known names associated with steel band activity in its early days here, Rudolph King and Conrad Mauge, will be honored posthumously. Among them, the steel band stalwarts selected for this recognition aggregated countless hours as leaders and players in the formative period of New York’s steel band culture, as they endeavored to introduce the new musical sound to American audiences. Their experiences ran the gamut from Caldera Caraballo’s touring with Harry Belafonte to Kim Wong’s collaborative projects with folk music icon Pete Seeger to Rudolph King’s sharing nightclub billing with calypso singer Mighty Charmer, prior to the latter becoming a household name in a different sphere as Louis Farrakan.

The idea for the tribute grew out of a panel discussion arranged by the Folk Arts Institute at Medgar Evers College which focused on the origins and early growth of the steel band culture in New York. Honorees Leverock and Sangster were participants in that exercise.

The Folk Arts Institute will also use the opportunity offered by the upcoming event to present a special award to the operators of the popular When Steel Talks web site for their dedication to the steelpan music idiom and its global reach.

Included in entertainment for the evening will be guest performances by acclaimed panist Garvin Blake and his band. Deejay music will be provided by Scobie.

Tropical Paradise Ballroom is located at 1367 Utica Avenue, Brooklyn (between Foster Avenue & Farragut Road). Tickets and further information for the Gala Tribute to New York Steel Band Pioneers are available from the Folk Arts Institute at 718-252-6161.

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Comment by Don Prorak on April 28, 2012 at 4:25pm

In the mid-80s I was playing percussion for a production of "House of Flowers" at the Denver Center Theater Company. Mickey "Musa" Mills was brought in to play pan, and when the show closed I bought my first pan from him, an Invader tenor. The very next morning I got a call from an agent asking if I played steel drum. Like a fool I said yes, and spent the next 2 weeks practicing my ass off learning enough tunes to play a 3 hour gig, just me & a guitarist! That was the start of my pan career.

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