Ian and members' suggestions for planning parties that include Ian's music.

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Steel Drums and Hawaiian Parties

Over the years Ian has performed at and helped people plan countless tropical-themed parties.  He's learned a thing or two about tropical parties while doing this. 

Ian's Initial Suggestions:

1. Make sure to understand the logistical needs of the band so they can put on a great show.

2. Put the band close to the action (food serving, bar, etc.).

3. Don't just hope for perfect weather and not plan for bad weather.  While having a glorious, sunny day for your tropical party is ideal to most people, some of the best tropical parties that Ian has been a part of in the Northwest have been in the pouring rain.  Hey, it rains in the tropics too... a lot.  A little bit of planning can assure that your party will be fun regardless of the weather.


If You Want To Encourage Interaction with the Music/Musicians (Not Just Background Music):

4. Leave a little space for dancing.

5. Limbo sticks are a lot of fun at a tropical party!  This can be just a broom stick or a fancier "official" limbo stick with different levels.  (Be careful with the "limbo sticks" from party stores that are ballons where you put water in the base. They don't really seem to stand up.)

6. You can purchase or order some shakers and musical instruments for guests to play and take home with them. One place that we have used is MakesParties.com. If you wanted to get really fancy you could even have something printed on them to commemorate your party.

7. Let people know there will be oportunities to win some prizes participating with the band. Ian does things like a hand jive competition, prizes for knowing who wrote certain songs, limbo competition, etc.

8. Will there be kids there? One thing Ian does at school shows and retirment homes (and even sometimes at restaurants and bars) is to have audience create their own musical instruments out of recycled materials before the show. He then gets them up performing with the band on their instruments and they show the band how to play their instruments and the band then creates original music with these instruments.  Another option is to have a craft table station where the kids and adults can create their own instruments at your party.  This idea may take a little more planning to pull off but it will certainly make your party unique!  Find out more about this concept at www.recycalypso.com.


Caribbean Themed Parties:


There are now a number of very yummy Caribbean restaurants in town.  My favorite is Pam's Kitchen in the University District in Seattle.  You might contact them about catering.




Hawaiian Parties:


Hawaiian Parties: 

Can you play some Hawaiian music at our Luau?
The short answer to this question is that what I normally play is what I also have played at countless luau parties over the years.
The long answer is that steel drums aren't culturally Polynesian by tradition.  However, they are probably one of the most common entertainment at Hawaiian themed parties.  They are also common now in Hawaii wherever there are tourists.  Steel drums are also very similar to the log drum, which would be the most traditional sort of Polynesian instrument.  So at this point it seems that steel drums are becoming part of the Hawaiian tradition.
In terms of repertoire, I have one or two songs that are specifically Hawaiian, but most people wouldn't recognize much true Hawaiian music anyway (unless they are from Hawaii), so I wouldn't recommend it as a programming choice.  True true Hawaiian music might include log drums, chanting, and Hula dancing by big muscular men.  I have only worked with one group in the Pacific Northwest that offers entertainment similar to this.  The truth is though that music and cultural traditions are constantly evolving and in as much as people strongly associate the sound of steel drums with being on vacation in a tropical location like Hawaii a steel drum group is a very logical choice for a Hawaiian party.
Looking for a Hawaiian caterer?  I have worked with these guys and performed at their restaurant.  They have great food!

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  • Hi Anna,
    Okay, I will work on this.
    As far as my availability I am only available until around 2pm at the latest (same as last year) since I have a regular yearly event that I do at a school in Renton that evening.  If you wanted expanded musical entertainment we could talk about that.  I could possibly schedule someone else to come in for the evening, bring a trio in for the morning and have two of them stay the rest of the day when I leave to continue entertainment, etc.  Various options.  If you want a different type of Caribbean entertainment in the evening I could probably book that for you also, for example, a salsa band.
    I definitely recommend Pam's Kitchen for authentic Trinidadian food.  They've also been featured on that cooking show with Guy Fiori (sp).  I haven't worked with them as caterers before so I can't vouch for their punctuality, but have no reason to think they wouldn't be well organized.  Casualitas in DT Seattle does catering of West Indian food I believe.  I believe I have worked with them and the food was good.  If you want sort of Americanized Caribbean food you could check with Bahama Breeze.  I believe that they cater.  I think I have also done a few events with Island Soul Restaurant down in Columbia City.
    I also know of a Puerto Rican restaurant and a Cuban Restaurant and Cuban food truck over here in Ballard.  Again though, I can't make any guarantees for any of these in terms of their experience and infrastructure for catering.  
    How many people are you feeding?
    How fancy do you want it?
    Do you want a generalized Caribbean vacation theme, a specific country theme (Havana nights, Jamaica, Trinidad Carnival)?  For a generalized, non-specific, Caribbean vacation theme that appeals to most Americans Bahama Breeze has that pretty down.  Check out their web site if you are interested in that.
    From what I have observed they are a pretty sophisticated crowd at your tournaments, so they might not need the more bland, Americanized Caribbean food that the Bahama Breeze food.  For my taste I would probably choose Pam's Kitchen, but that's just me.
    If you'd like me to help you get in touch with someone at the Bahama Breeze or Pam's kitchen I could do that.  I don't have so many ideas about decorations other than party favor musical instruments, which you can read about at the link above.  I do know that there are zillions of kitchy items like palm trees available at party stores.
    If you want a dance group or something like that, or dance lessons, I could probably set that up.
  • From one of Ian's Clients:

    We are having a Caribbean theme to the golf event this year. Do you have recommendations for food vendors and other items (entertainment, decorations). I attached the flier that I have forwarded to the marketing team that mentions expanded options. We would appreciate your suggestions. 
    We are looking for a general Caribbean feel for the event. 
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