The PanJammers went to Harrisonburg for James Madison University's March Mallet Madness. Multiple bands from around Virginia were present, including Panamania of Roanoke, JMU's steel band, and Mosaic from the Tidewater area.
Perhaps the most memorable part of the trip was sitting and listening to Ellie Mannette. He is a living legend, and it was simply amazing to be in his presence and to witness something so historic! He shared stories of how he developed the steel pan from, in his words, "a trash can." He told us how he stole steel drums to make the pans and how he changed them from convex to concave, improving their tone and revolutionizing the craft. He explained how much work he put into crafting different pans for different tones, and he shared how determined he was to create the sound of the cello that he heard in classical music, the only music he listened to at the time. And most important of all, he expressed his wish for all of us to carry on his legacy, continue to play the pans, and share our music with the rest of the world.
Not only did he share his stories, he also played a few songs on the guitar pan in the only way Dr. Mannette does... chords and melody.
Thanks, Dr. Mannette! You are an inspiration!
Link to photo album.