Panchromatic Steel is a steeldrum band homegrown in Madison, Wisconsin that plays authentic island calypso, jazz, classical and familiar pop/rock. Its music brightens any day, transports listeners to their happiest moments in the sun, and threads the needle by being creative and artful while still being fun, danceable and accessible to virtually everyone.
The steeldrum, or “steel pan,” is the national instrument of Trinidad and Tobago: a small but culturally rich island nation in the south Caribbean off the coast of Venezuela. The instrument is literally a sawed-off 55-gallon oil drum with the top stretched into a bowl shape and painstakingly hand-hammered to create tone-producing centers, which are struck by rubber-tipped mallets. Originating in the 1940's, the steel pan owes its existence in part to the wide availability of discarded oil drums in Trinidad as a result of the presence of U.S./British naval bases and the country's oil and petrochemical industry; but more than that, the steel pan and its vast musical influence are testaments to the creativity, ingenuity and craftsmanship of the people of Trinidad and Tobago.