While area residents continue to wait for summer to arrive, the Deer Park Concert Series brought some tropical heat to start the eighth annual event.
Bram Brata, which was a big splash when they played at Mix Park in 2008, repeated that performance on Saturday in front of a crowd of more than 200 who took in the concert under sunny albiet somewhat mild temperatures. The steel drum band, made up of high school students in the Tri-Cities area, played a mixture of jazz, pop, movie themes and reggae tunes for more than two hours.
Concert organizers, who had a record fund-raising effort this spring, were pleased to be able to book the band, which created plenty of positive feedback following their 2008 show.
Ben Leggett began the group in the early 1990s while he was a middle school music teacher. He quickly discovered that his students weren’t eager to give up playing the steel drums when they entered high school so he created the Tri-Cities Steel Drum Association and Bram Brata (meaning unexpected big party) was born.
The concert series show featured 22 musicians playing various steel drums along with some of the auxiliary instruments like the tambourine and congas.
After almost every song, the musicians would shuffle on the gazebo stage to their new instrument.
In addition to the concert, some members of the band took their instruments off stage during the break between sets to give members of the audience a closer look at the steel drum configuration.
Leggett noted that there are seven types of steel drums in Tridad, the instrument’s birthplace, and that average cost of drums used by Bram Brata is around $1,700 each.
In addition to Bram Brata, Leggett continues with a middle school program, OK2Botay (OK to dance). Those musicians move up to the big stage when the older musicians go off to college.
Leggett noted that four of the musicians, all recent high school graduates, will leave the group at the end of the summer for other endeavors.