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My Weekend with Andy & Jo

My Weekend with Andy & Jo

This past weekend I had the pleasure to play with two of my good friends, Andrew D. Huber and Jo Marie Sison for a great pair of shows. For those who haven’t caught a glimpse of Mercury Gets a Moon, it’s Andy’s latest album and you can hear Jo and I on most of the tracks. I’ve been playing shows with Andy for about 4 years now since I moved back to Illinois, and I am always thrilled to work on new projects.IMG_7928

Friday night, the three of us found ourselves at “4th Fridays” at the Starline Gallery out in Harvard. This monthly event features local artists showcasing their work, and it is always hugely impressive! The first time I played here was with THE Potts & Pans Trio¬†back in 2013. Since, I’ve been back a few times doing solo vibes, a duo with Matt (P&P), and then a duo with Andy. This week was the second time for Andy, Jo & I appearing at the Starline as the trio, and we were stationed in a new upstairs section. The 4th Fridays experience seems to grow everytime I’m there. This month had a steam punk theme, and the costumes were amazing. Although we were just in our regular digs, I definitely was motivated to start playing Theif! again :)

IMG_7941Saturday was another return performance for the three of us, this time out at the Buzz Cafe. The night started off with a Mexican Spice Mocha for me, and a macaroon for Andy (hailed by Jo’s Mom to be the greatest of all macaroons!) We had a few patrons stick around for most of the show, and Christina (P&P) made it out and snagged a performance pic for us! I’ve really gotten some great mileage out of my new cajon by The Box Kit since I purchased it earlier this year, and I am really excited to continue exploring the instrument and our trio’s sound. Be sure to follow me on Facebook & Twitter to keep up to date with upcoming performances ūüėÄ


Ursäkta mig! Time to Talk Steelpan

Ursäkta mig! Time to Talk Steelpan

Potts & Pans frequently gets invited to cultural events. We’ve been known to play at general cultural fairs and parades, frequently have performed at Caribbean festivals, and have even found our way into repeated Oktoberfest events. Yesterday, we were thrilled to be part of the Swedish Cultural Society of Chicago’s October Meeting.

After club organizer Per-Hugo Kristenssen¬†saw us perform at the Park Ridge Library, he contacted Matt and was excited to have us play for the Society. Matt and I had the plan together for our regular Potts & Pans duo performance, but as we so often do, realized a way to make the performance even better for our client. Anna “Cammie” Howell, member of our community band who you may remember from GLSF15 performing “Song of Sunrise” with the P&P Professional group, is half Swedish! She also happens to be a rather accomplished uker. All in all, Anna was the perfect way for us to fill out a trio for the Swedish Society. So, as Matt and I were heading out to our various performances on Saturday (Matt had a wedding, and I was playing Timpani in Libertyville), I called Anna and asked if she would be available for a performance with Matt and I the next day. An hour later, she stepped up and said she was good to go – Three cheers for Cammie!IMG_7914

That being said, there’s a reason one of our Community Band hashtags is #cammiefreaksout. When she first arrived to the shop in the morning, Matt and I were bombarded with a long and exaggerated explanation of why she chose black skirt over black pants for the performance. We were able to calm her down and discussed instrumentation options. Anna would stay on Uke, while Matt and I traded sets between Cajon & Seconds.¬†And although it remains that #cammiefreaksout, she did an excellent job jumping in on all of our music¬†in a single rehearsal.

And off to Chicago we went! The Swedish Cultural Society meets monthly at the Irving Park Lutheran Church. This church was absolutely gorgeous. Beautiful Tiffany stained glass windows and an elaborate marble carving made standing in the sanctuary a stunning experience. Upstairs in the reception room, we set up for our performance, while the Society set up for their meeting. Amongst their set up stood a full size United States flag, next to the Swedish flag. Per-Hugo knew the history of these particular flags and told us how that US flag had been flown over the capital building in Washington, and the Swedish flag was personally delivered to the Society by the King of Sweden!

IMG_7912Before our performance, the Society held their monthly meeting, going over financial details and discussing future events. The meeting was flavored with historical stories that Per-Hugo was well versed in. It quickly became clear that he was quite educated in both US and Swedish history, along with most countries that have interacted with either nation! It’s not every gig that comes with a free history lesson – anyone wanting to learn some should check out the Swedish Cultural Society’s next meeting on November 1st!

Once it was time for our performance, we brought in a few history lessons of our own. The Society was thrilled to hear how the steelpan came to its invention in Trinidad & Tobago, and how the instruments are built and tuned. We played calypsos, socas, american rock, jazz standards and bossa charts. We set up my Cajon from TheBoxKit, along with both our sets of seconds with the uke inbetween. The members asked us questions throughout, and were pleasantly interested in the information we had to share, as well as pleased with the music we had to play. Per-Hugo shared more about the countries he’s studied or the stories he’s heard, and then Anna taught Matt and I a few words in Swedish!

The performance ended and we enjoyed coffee and light Swedish fare while getting to talk with the members a bit more about our music as well as the dealings in the Swedish Cultural Society. Overall this performance was a wonderful trade in knowledge, and having such an attentive audience who enjoyed our music so much made it even better.

10.4 Swedish Gig

On the way home we stopped at Olive Garden, a band favorite due to Matt and my own love of endless breadsticks, and grabbed dinner for the three of us. Excellent performance finished, we were again reminded how #cammiefreaksout, only this time we witnessed her go into an endless stream of helpless laughter! Regardless, dinner was a delicious end to a wonderful performance. We went home, and are looking forward to our next adventure. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter so you don’t miss all the action!

Until next time,


August with Potts & Pans

August with Potts & Pans

Summers with Potts & Pans are fantastic! We have so many things going on, that often Matt, Christina and Myself have to split up responsibilities and spread out to cover multiple shows at once! During the month of August, I was able to take lead or do solo performances for a number of really cool gigs. Some of these were private events, but if you missed any of the public ones, you should probably LIKE us of facebook to make sure that doesn’t happen anymore :)



Capture2Potts & Pans does a lot of weddings. We offer cocktail hours, reception music, ceremony music, DJ services, or anything else you need to make your wedding the perfect day! We’ll also match your colors, as we have shirts in almost every shade. For me, I had two weddings in August that were both AWESOME! Capture3First up, I went up to the Abbey Resort in Fontanta on Lake Geneva. After our many trips up here to play at Gordy’s Boat House, it was fun to see a bit more of the town. I was happy to work with the Bride, Ashley, to prepare everything for their cocktail hour. This was an outdoors performance playing solo steelpan. I brought my double seconds, and of course, used my 4 PP8b8CF blues from the Steelpan Store (definitely my favorite mallet for seconds!) The big surprise was Ashley wanted me to learn a few Mumford & Sons tunes to play. We are always happy to learn new music for our clients, so when she asked if I could play any Mumford, I looked some up, and put together this quick sample using my iPhone and she loved it. So I got a list of 6 Mumford tunes, mixed it in with some of our Caribbean favorites, and the cocktail hour was a success. To add to the fun, when I got out of my car I noticed I was parked next to a Felix & Fingers car! Mike and Emily were also at the Abbey playing for the reception of another couples wedding. That’s right, we’re taking over!


The following weekend, I was back in Wisconsin, but this time went all the way up to Kohler. I took our Van, Lolita, who is guarded by Clifford. Look out for the #CliffordGoes hashtag to see where he’s off to next! IMG_7577I had worked with the bride, Cindy, for a long time putting together her wedding. Potts & Pans was there for the entire event. First, I played some solo double seconds for the ceremony down by the lake. The weather was beautiful, and the service was barefoot and flawless. The main attraction was the trio, in which I was joined by P&P members Emily and Aras for a Steelpan/Vibes/Drum group, and we played for a cocktail double hour before dinner. During dinner my guys were able to catch some delicious sandwiches (mine was patiently waiting for me to eat it later), while I went inside for some more solo seconds during the dinner time. With all the moving from place to place to play, the whole night went super smoothly and I was thrilled at the reactions I was hearing from all the guests. One even referred to me as “Joe Locke!” Flattering, undeserved, but still super awesome to hear ūüėÄ After dinner, I rejoined the team and we did another hour of trio work for the final portion of the reception. We were able to grab a nice photo with the couple and our instruments, and talk with some guests afterwards. The couple has always loved the Caribbean and having the steelpan at their wedding was the “perfect addition to the day.” Add on the facts that all of their IMG_7578guests were super polite, receptive to the music, the venue was gorgeous and the weather was ideal, this was a truly¬†enjoyable performance.IMG_7590








Capture4Another particularly exciting show for me last month was my return to the Anvil Club. Last year I performed for their Luau Pig Roast, and everyone loved it, so they had me come back this year! The food, as anticipated, was expertly prepared, and the event was another success. They had door prizes of wine and gift cards, and the guests got to enjoy the beautiful decorations, delicious food, and the great sounds of double seconds throughout the night. Although we had a rainy end to the day, it held off until right at the end of the event, so all the guests had a great time, I just got a little wet while loading my car!


This place is awesome! This was the site of my first duo gig with Potts & Pans. This has been the site of a number of great solo, duo, and community band performances. The venue is awesome! If you live anywhere near northern Illinois and you haven’t seen their Green House you need to go immediately! Furthermore, they host a weekly event over the summer called “Tunes on the Terrace” and this year I had two different shows during August. Being able to split roles, I did a full night of Steelpan,Capture5 IMG_7564showcasing its versatility as a solo instrument, it’s ability to perform a wide variety of musical styles, and discuss a bit of its rich, and very very recent history.¬†Later in the month, I returned for a full night of solo vibraphone. This time I focused on Jazz tunes, playing standards in the standard style, mixing in a few newer elements, and even performing a few originals. Both shows were attened by a large and appreciative audience. For the vibraphone show, I was thrilled to hear a lot of “you should’ve seen this guy last time — he plays steelpan!” while I was setting up. I also got to meet a fellow vibes player and world war II vet, Dick, at the vibraphone performance and share stories of moving these things around and playing combo gigs. This was definitely a great way to close out the month for me, and I can’t wait to head back to the gardens next season.


That’s all for now folks,



Cold Weather – Great Vibes!

Cold Weather – Great Vibes!

CMS1November was a fantastic month! Facebook Likes have grown, Twitter Followers are increasing (you should follow too!), and the shows were an absolute blast! First, Potts & Pans brought a quartet out to Cool Music Stop in Harvard, IL. I played vibes, with Matt and Christina on pan, and the show was a blast. The night was cold, but the heat was cranked and we brought some Caribbean jazz up to northern IL. I really love playing vibes with these guys, not only do pan and vibes sound beautiful together, but when you spend so much time with the same guys, it’s so much easier to communicate musically! The solos this night were killin’ (even though I maybe quoted the same Andy Narell¬†lick over and over… became one of those jokes only the three of us up on stage were laughing about!)


Next up was #PASIC14! Matt and I spent a few days preparing over 100 pairs of mallets, and a few other odds and ends to take out to the show with The Steelpan Store. This year in Indianapolis was awesome. We sold a pan, lots of mallets, a few other things, and made a huge amount of connections. The pan presence at #PASIC14 was incredible. Kyle Dunleavy and Alan Coyle were both there with artists Sherwin Thwaits and Tracy Thorton. Matt and I got to spend time playing pan, talking pan (selling pan) and even enjoyed a fantastic meet and greet dinner arranged  by Brandon Haskett with all the steelband directors in attendance. We also got to talk with one of my favorite vibists, Arthur Lipner Рa loyal customer of The Steelpan Store! We were also thrilled to hear all the hype that was out there around the Great Lakes Steelpan Festival!

clfolFor those in town – Potts & Pans closed the month with Crystal Lake’s Festival of Lights parade. I was on lead pan for this one (using Potts & Pans 9B7-wd-rd mallets available here). Not only did Matt get some¬†electricity in #TheLady, but we used that to light up both the inside of the bus, and the entire trailer (it was an awesomely excellent musical italian bistro on wheels!) We performed Destra’s State of Mind, and Matt’s arrangement of Jingle Bells (Soca Style :P) The crowd loved it, and we are looking to make this one an annual event. We even got some wonderful photos from¬†J Nanez Photography!

I was able to bring some Jazz Vibes over to the Presbyterian Church of Palatine this past Sunday. I was invited to provide special music during their service, and a couple of standards fit the bill. The members of the church were all very receptive to the music, and many had great compliments afterwards – it looks like I’ll be back there soon! I have known the pastor, Teri, for sometime, and it was great getting to see her new church. We also sang together on a tune at the end of the service ūüėÄ This was a wonderful environment for the vibraphone. A smaller place requiring no amplification, allowing the instrument to sing brightly throughout the hall. One hard of hearing member even commented “Your music was the only¬†thing I could hear during service, and it was so beautiful it brought tears to my eyes.” Compliments like that are about as good as they get!


Next up – Toys for Tots Benefit Concert! If you’re in Crystal Lake, or anywhere near, you won’t want to miss this one. Simply bring a new, unwrapped toy to donate, and you get a wonderful concert. Featuring our community steelband, as well as the professional P&P crew, we have socas, calypsos, holiday favorites, flute trios, and some vibes features! See you December 7th, at 4:00!

That’s all for now,



CD Release and some Timpani

CD Release and some Timpani

Last Sunday was awesome. My day started at St. Joseph’s Parish in Libertyville. I’ve talked about how much I enjoy playing here before. This time was no exception. The music director, Ron Vanasdlen, puts together wonderful services filled with exceptional music,¬†and fits us all into a tiny corner of the church! We had piano, organ, winds, strings, full choir, and of course – timpani.¬†All together, the service for All Souls Day was great. I was happy to meet Kathleen Cizewski¬†who was playing piano for the service. We connected over her music school, Kathi’s Musicians Center¬†and it’s similarities to what we are working on with CAM via the Potts & Pans community steelband, our new batteria, and future projects. I can’t wait for the next time I get to play with these folks – the music is always truly beautiful. You’ll see me there next month, details coming soon!


After the morning service, I booked it out of Libertyville to make it over to Stage Left Cafe in Woodstock. I have had the wonderful opportunity to work with Andrew D. Huber on his newest album, Mercury Gets a Moon. The album will be available to purchase within a week, and you can hear me playing kit on most of the tracks. Andy’s son, and my student, can also be heard drumming towards the end of the CD :) This past Sunday, we launched the album with a CD release concert. Joining Andy and I, also heavily featured on the album, was Jo Marie Sison. It was awesome playing with such a talented violinist. The live sound between guitar and violin was awesome, and Jo found a great balance between bowed, plucked, and other sweet sounds on her instrument. Since I don’t get to play kit too often, it’s such a treat to play with great artists when I do.


In the meantime, Potts & Pans is still going strong – a lot of pan things happening. New vibes should be arriving before the new year as well. Stay tuned here and on the other internets for more updates!





This past week was a good one for gigs. I got to do 3 with Potts & Pans, each very rewarding. The first was a private event for a women with terminal breast cancer. Getting to bring smiles and laughter into the house was amazing, and this performance was very special. We also did an educational trio out in Park Ridge. Lastly, I finished the week with a solo performance out in Lake Forest. This was for the Betty Bash, which was an awesome fundraiser hosted by the Mothers Trust Foundation. It was hosted in the Lake Forest College, which was beautiful, and was complete with silent auction, food, drink, karaoke, and steelpan! I got to play for 90 minutes, all reggae, on my double seconds. This was a ton of fun, the music coming out of my pans was great. I was really digging the solos and voicing I was creating, and the excitement in the audience due to my music was palpable. I played traditional reggae tunes, but also did some reggae arrangements on jazz standards or pop tunes, which was awesome! I had a particularly good time because I was using one of our new iPads instead of a music binder, and one of our new EV speakers. The use of both was easy, and they worked great. After the show, they invited me to take part in some of their food – and I was thrilled! They had curry chicken, fresh guacamole and tacos, pasta and red wine, plus more than I could fit onto my plate. All together, this was a wonderful event, and I was happy to be a part of it.

Please check out my post over at Potts & Pans to see some more information about these three shows!

The weekend ended with the Band Showcase at CLC. All the area schools were around and I really enjoyed all the shows. I am really proud of the CLC drumline and the work they’ve done this year. You can catch us one at least once more for this Friday’s (10/31) play-offs game.


Stay tuned for more.




I love this season – the food, the drink, and even the weather are all ideally suited to my tastes. The work is good too. Last week I played Timpani for the Red Mass at St. Joseph’s in Libertyville. I started playing here a few months back and have fortunate to be able to return a few times, and have scheduled to do so plenty more. Having grown up sitting next to my dad in church choir, participating as either a percussionist or a singer in various church ensembles throughout high school and college, and seeing my fair share since as a professional, it is not lightly that I say how nice this church choir sounds. The director, Ron, has worked with the choir to have them react well to a conductor (rare for ANY choir) and blend their sound beautifully. Ron has also gathered a very talented group of musicians that I am truly pleased to play with when the opportunities arise.

Later, I took my Central Kids to the Oswego Marching Band Showcase. This is a mix between concert and competition. The whole band did wonderful, and I was really pleased with how my Drumline played. You can hear them at either of our remaining football games (10/17 & 10/24) or at our Band Showcase on 10/25.

Rounding out this week, Matt and I headed up to Lake Geneva yesterday to play for their Oktoberfest celebration. We were there last year, and they asked us to come back this year (because we are so awesome!) We did vibes and pan mostly, but also brought some hand drums for the kids to play with us, and then did some vibes and accordion on a couple German tunes. The crowd reaction was great and the festival was a lot of fun.

That’s it for now. Check back for more.