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Sounds of Trinidad fill amphitheater tonight

Cassie Pence

Pan is a finely tuned steel drum from Trinidad. Jumbie is a Caribbean word for a mischievous spirit. Collide those two words at the Ford Amphitheater in the form of a seven-member calypso-style band, and you have the energy and excitement of a Trinidad carnival.Colorado-based Pan Jumbies play for the free Hot Summer Nights concert at 6:30 p.m. today at the Ford Amphitheater. Members fuse Caribbean, world beat music with steep pan and Calypso with the soca funk of bass and percussion to invent a new kind of Caribbean sound. The group is even known to cover Led Zeppelin. Along with trailers full of instruments, the group totes with them many years of musical experience.

Arranger for the Pan Jumbies Don Prorak has a bit of an obsession with steel. He owns enough instruments for a full steel orchestra, including two sets of bass pans. He teaches pan at Colorado State University, and he started the first high school steel band at the Brighton Heritage Academy. His obsession stems from his experience in Trinidad working with bands Carib Tokyo, Hummingbirds Pan Groove and Phase II Pan Grove.Lead vocalist and double guitar pan player Wende Harston brings her jazz and blues roots to the Calypso sound of the Pan Jumbies. In her spare time, she plays with the Queen City Jazz Band and acts on stage, movies and in TV commercials.Mike Nevin plays tenor pan, double guitar pan and percussion. When Nevin is not playing with the Pan Jumbies, he teaches percussion at Colorado State University and arranges percussive music for schools across the state and country.

Colorado-native Ron Bland slaps down on the electric bass. He and Prorak have worked together for about 20 years, and there is no style of bass Bland hasn’t played. Acoustic or electric, Bland has played in every setting from concert hall to theater to recording studio.Rich Rychel, also known as Night Rider, plays the drums like he careens his bike down mountain trails – technical and fast. Rychel owns and teaches at the Denver Music Institute and is a frequent writer for Modern Drummer magazine.



A percussionist with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, Terry Smith isn’t what you’d expect from a classical musician. When playing for the Pan Jumbies, Smith replaces his tuxedo with colorful flower print shirts.Jim Theobald lives the lyric by Bob Marley “when music hits, you feel no pain.” The veteran percussionist and marimba player that has toured over 70 countries and six continents with Julio Iglesias owns almost every instrument that can be hit.The steel energy begins at 6:30 p.m. today at the Ford Amphitheater.


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