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Steel Drums, Buckets, and Summer Fun

It’s been so long since I sent out my last newsletter.  Even though it is off season for me a lot has been going on.

Summer 2015 is shaping up to be a busy one!  I already have over 50 gigs booked and more coming in all the time.  I will be performing many family-oriented programs all over Western Washington.  Some are workshops, some are more straight up performances, some are focused on a tween age group, others elementary age group, and others all ages.  Some of these have even made it onto my public calendar!  Please click here to get an idea of where you might catch one of my performances this summer. I am very much looking forward to these performances and sure hope you will come out and join me for some of them!

Of course one of the things I did this winter was my Midwest Recycalypso tour.  Please click here to read part 2 of my blog recounting this experience.

And click here to read part 1 if you haven’t seen that already.

In the past two months I have had some wonderful performances back here in the Puget Sound area.  

A memorable one was at Bennett Elementary School in Bellevue.  Click here to see a glimpse of the start of the show,

featuring my awesome 5-piece band Isaac Castillo, Frank Heye, Adam Kessler, and Ernesto Pediangco.

Click Here for Video

The show featured instruments that students invented and fabricated out of recycled materials.

I never tire of seeing and hearing the musical instruments the kids invent.  One girl had brought from home a huge piece of egg-carton-like cardboard, almost as big as she was.  She attached various rubber bands to pluck and other containers to hit on this large piece of cardboard and she called the entire thing the “Bazoonga”!  I brought her up in front of the group to demonstrate and explain her instrument.  She played it, hitting and plucking… then I noticed that a hand lotion dispencer was also part of the instrument and she hadn’t used it to make any sounds.  I asked her what it was for… “so the Bazoonga smells good” she said.  Now that is creative!!  Never have I given much thought to how a musical instrument smelled :)

After the show a group of girls came up to get our autographs on a piece of paper towel.


Isaac proceeded to play some ukulele for them and they were so impressed that one of them even pretend fainted!


We also received some very touching feedback from a parent regarding this show:

I wanted to say thank you to you and your band for a great day at Bennett.  Everyone was delighted and there was so much happiness buzzing in the hallway after school. 

My children stayed after school for an hour to play on the playground and kids from the Boys and Girls after school care program came out parading their instruments!  

That little boy… with the intuitive sense of rhythm... I shared your compliment with his mother yesterday.  She said that she and her husband (his parents) are going through a divorce and his mother was away in a rehab program so he has been acting out getting lots of negative attention.  THIS was exactly the happy, positive day he needed!  Intuitively, I was thinking that this happy music would inspire little lives but I didn't expect to see the results so soon. 
Thank YOU!

It is such a gift to be able to have a positive impact on children’s lives and we are so honored!

Another memorable event was trying out my new “tween”-focused workshop called Recycalypso: Bucket Drumming Remix.  The workshop brings together culture, steel drums, music, and physics and I use the music computer program Ableton Live to create a live remix of sounds created by the kids with their voices, buckets that they play on, my voice, and steel drum.  I often have ideas about how to use music technology in performance but, when I actually get in front of an audience, it is often very difficult to actually get the technology to work as planned.  But in this case I did three abbreviated bucket drumming workshops in a row and the technology worked every time!

Please click here to listen to a raw remix of what we did.

It uses only sounds that the kids created during the workshop and that I manipulated.

And click here to listen to a more polished remix

where I added my voice (with lyrics recaping the workshop) and steel drums to the elements that the kids recorded.

I was able to create a version for each of the three workshops I did.  So much fun!  Now that I am beginning to have these new technology skills in hand I plan to try and create as many custom remixes of my shows as possible.  I hope to become more and more skilled at manipulating this amazing music technology to allow my audiences and I to create unique music together!

I look forward to seeing you at some of the many shows this summer!

Read more…

As I mentioned, my drive to my first gig in Nebraska was a bit of a haze. I remember stopping somewhere in the mountains in Montana late at night and finding a hotel to sleep in. Turned out it was next to the train tracks, crude oil trains running back and forth all night... I slept for maybe 4 or 5 hours then got on my way again. Things got a little dicey later on Sunday with my wakefulness so I had to stop and take a nap in my car. By Sunday night I really wasn’t sure if I would make it for my first gig, but with help from the lovely and talented Anne Heneberry (who made hotel reservations for me on Sunday night as I exhausting my driving capacity for the day), I was able to make it to a hotel within striking distance of my first gig the next day. I was already so grateful for me new (used) Toyota Sienna with all its bells and whistles that I'm not used to, like cruise control. They sure did come in handy during the driving. I'm pretty sure that I will destroy the cargo area of this vehicle sooner rather than later with all the gear loading and unloading and its plastic trim. We'll see how it lasts and whether I need to move back towards a real cargo vehicle soon, but for now surely am enjoying the bells and whistles!

One of my most vivid memories of the marathon trip to Nebraska was driving into Sunday night not knowing if I would make it to my first show the next morning and finding a radio station that was all Native American singing and drumming. Driving off into the unknown darkness listening to this haunting and beautiful music so rooted in this new and flat land that I have rarely traversed.

I showed up at my first school gig the next morning not terribly confident that everything would go smoothly.


But all of my performing instincts just kicked right in even though I was dog tired. The show was a great success! The staff were quite friendly and the principle even invited me to stay with his family if I came back through the area on my tour or future tours. Wow, was I surprised that the first show went so well!

I was off and running! After the first week of touring I took stock. Sitting in a cafe in Canby, MN. I realized I had driven something like 2500 to 3000 miles in the past week and performed 12 solo shows in front of perhaps 1000 to 2000 students total. It was a HUGE challenge to get ready for the tour. It used to take me between 1.5 to 2.5 hours to set up and at least 1 hour to break down. In this first week I had had 15 minutes to set up at most shows. My new Fender Expo line array PA system didn’t sound quite as good as my Bose system but it sure did set up quickly and fills a gymnasium well. And I realizing that when I'm playing in echo chambers most of the time the added audio quality isn't really missed … well, maybe just a bit on the high end is missed. Anyway, all my work seemed to have paid off and I was able to get set up in the time I had and the shows were ROCKIN'!! Forget being big in Japan, I felt I was big in the Midwest with the K-8 crowd!




Now the trick was to settle into life on the road and figure out what to do on the weekends. Sisseton, SD, my first weekend stop, was not inspiring me at all. Here are some pictures of downtown Sisseton and the shuttered theater to give you some idea of why I was lacking inspiration.




Read more…

I hope everyone is having a happy, PANtastic holiday season!  I am back in town after a wonderful and rewarding 7.5-week, 76-show solo tour around the Midwest.  After driving 10 or 11 thousand miles and so many wonderful experiences I am excited to share my tour tales with everyone and very much looking forward to bringing more of my musical ideas to life in 2015.

In fact, if you have kids in your life, or even if you don’t, I would love for you to join our steel drum party to celebrate Noon Years Eve!  I will be performing with Christian Krehbiel and Ernesto Pediangco and we will play festive music from around the world.  We will even have a countdown to noon!  This is a great way for kids who need to go to bed before midnight to ring in the new year.

I sure hope you will come and bring the kids!  And if you do come, I hope you will encourage the kids to invent their own Noon Year’s Musical Instrument.  This instrument can represent something that your child wishes for in 2015 or it can just be a fun, cool sounding instrument.  And by "kids" I mean people ages 0 to 95 :)

**Wednesday, December 31st, 2014, 11:30am to 12:30pm, King County Library System-Bellevue Library (Room #1), 1111 110th Avenue NE, Bellevue, WA 98004


Noon Year's Steel Drum Party @ Bellevue Library
Celebrate the noon year with a steel drum party and songs and sounds from around the world.  Featuring Caribbean steel drums, percussion from around the world, and children’s original recycled-musical-instrument inventions!  Seating is limited.  First come, first seated.  Sponsored by Bellevue Friends of the Library. 

More information at:

Here are the instructions for how to make your New Year’s Musical Invention:

1. Think of a wish for 2015 (optional).
2. Look around you in your house.  Find interesting-sounding recycled materials from the recycling bin or elsewhere.  The only rules are A. NO GLASS, B. NOTHING SHARP (so make sure and remove sharp edges from tin cans, etc.), C. MAKE SURE THE ITEM IS CLEAN.  Listen to the sounds they make.  If you have a wish for 2015 decide how to make an instrument that sounds like your wish.
3. If you want you can combine materials as well using tape or other methods.  How would that tea box sound taped to the top of the plastic yogurt container?  How would it sound to use noodles, beans, or other food items to turn your recycled item into a shaker.
4. Maybe you want to decorate your recycled instrument with paint or any other method?  This is a great opportunity to show your wish for 2015 with your decorations!
5. When you finish, figure out all the ways you can make sounds with your recycled instrument.  Can you hit it with your hand to make a nice sound?  Can you hit it with a stick and make a cool sound?  What happens if you hit it in different spots, does it make different sounds?  Is it louder when you play it one way then when you play it another way?  Can you shake it and make a sound?  How many different ways can you shake it?
6. Come up with a name for your instrument.  You can name it with your wish for 2015.  For example, “MorePlayTimeWithFriends” could be a name.  If you don’t want to name it your wish you could give it a name that describes what the instrument does.  For example, one student who made a really fun looking shaker called it the supercalafradjashaker.  Or the name can have nothing to do with the sound of the instrument.  You can call your instrument “Frank” if it looks like “Frank” to you.  You can name your instrument anything you want, just be creative.
7. Practice your instrument so you learn how to play it.  Remember, you are the world’s expert on playing your instrument.
8. Bring your instrument to the Noon Year’s Steel Drum Party and help Ian and his friends make music to ring in the New Year!

Age Limit
Family program, all ages welcome!

Ticket Details
Free!  No tickets required.

Ian Dobson’s Steel Drum Party with Ian Dobson, Christian Krehbiel, and Ernesto Pediangco

Fabulous Midwest Tour!

I have so much to tell about my amazing Midwest tour!  It is hard to know where to start.  I plan to create several blog entries over the next few months to tell the tale.  Please enjoy the following first instalment.  Just click on the link below:

And please click on the link below to see a newspaper article written about my show in South Dakota:

I sure hope to see some of you at the Noon Year's Eve show!  It will be so much fun.  Please enjoy your last few days of 2014... that is plenty of time to make your New Year's Musical Invention to bring down to the show.

Read more…

I got a random call around August of 2013 asking if I wanted to do a solo tour of schools all over the Midwest during the 2014/2015 school year.  If you are making a living as a musician you should be somewhat used to booking out a year or more in advance.  Nevertheless, this offer made me nervous.  Not only was it far in the future but the schedule and transportation elements sounded… basically they sounded impossible.  If I were to do this tour I would need to drive alone to the Midwest and put between 9,000 and 12,000 miles on my vehicle in the space of just over 7 weeks.  This would definitely mean replacing my old drum mobile that I have been driving for the past 15 years.



Much more intimidating, however, was the scheduling.  I would have to perform 2 or 3 shows per day every weekday and be able to set up and tear down in 30 minutes (which during the tour I realized was on the long side since I actually often only had 15 minutes to set up).  I would need to be completely self-contained in terms of audio gear since I couldn't count on school sound systems to be adequate for musical performance, or even to be available or working for that matter.  My setup time in the summer of 2013 had come down from about 2 to 2.5 hours to the breathtakingly fast 1 to 1.5 hours.  Now I would have to cut my fastest setup time in half (and as I found out later, cut it by half again).

After thinking about it for several weeks though I decided to go for it.  It just seemed like such a wonderful opportunity to enrich the educations of a diverse group of kids all over the Midwest and to have a fascinating experience.

I spent the next year researching equipment and customizing and streamlining my setup until it arrived at this (minus the surf boards and the steel drum on the right):


The real tricky part was finding a sound system that would cover an audience up to 300 (which I found out on the tour was actually up to about 700) but also still be very quick to set up and not too heavy.  This was no easy task.  I use Bose systems because they sound great for what I typically do, but with a 30-minute-setup goal they take too long and are too heavy.  I spent months researching various systems and testing them.  Thanks to the local Sennheiser rep I was able to get a K-Array system to try out.  I even went out to Whidbey Island to do a side-by-side test of my two Bose systems and the K-Array.


After spending perhaps a month trying to get the K-Array to sound like I wanted it I gave up and was back to square one.   I only was able to find something that I hoped would work about 4 weeks before the tour started.  What I found was a brand new product that hadn’t reached any stores yet, the Fender Expo.  I believe I was the first person to buy one at Guitar Center in Washington, perhaps even on the West Cost.  You can see the fender to my left in the picture below:


With the tour just a few weeks away I still didn’t have a new vehicle that would make a trip of this type possible.  After having not shopped for or purchased a vehicle in 15 years this was very stressful!  I ended up finally purchasing a car less than a week before the start of my tour.  Thanks to all who helped me figure that out, especially the Ronalds!  Meet the new drum mobile, braving the Midwest elements like a trooper!


If you’re looking for a used car and need help, let me know!  I’ll put you in touch with the Ronalds and you’ll be in good hands.

Now all that was left was to pack and go… how hard could that be?

Well, since I was so short on time, it was very hard.  Untested vehicle, untested equipment setup, never having loaded or unloaded my equipment in or out of the new vehicle, needing to be prepared to make the show go on in whatever performance situation I would find myself, being prepared for Midwest winter weather…  I need to thank everyone who helped me get through this, particularly Anne Heneberry!!  I couldn't have done it without Annie!

In the end I was supposed to leave on Friday morning to get to Nebraska for my first show on Monday morning.  What actually happened was that I had stuff spread all over the house until Saturday morning. 


I had to make sure all my equipment was working, make sure I had all the cables plus spare cables and parts, clothes, cases, etc. etc. etc.  Here's what the living room looked like (just don’t tell Annie!)

I didn’t get on the road until Saturday afternoon at about 1pm after having had only a few hours of sleep the previous several days.  That left me with just over 40 hours to drive solo to my first gig in Nebraska.  As you can imagine, the drive was a bit of a blur.  But I was already really appreciating my new car and its stereo and cruise control!

Tune in next time to see if I made it to Nebraska in time for the first show on Monday morning!

Read more…
Ian Dobson got elementary students into the beat during the Dakota Assemblies session in the school gymnasium, Thursday, Nov. 20.
Using various percussion instruments, Dobson had the audience clapping, dancing and doing the limbo. Individuals and small groups of volunteers joined him front and center to illustrate the ease of learning rhythms. He demonstrated that rhythm is everywhere, from running in place, dribbling a basketball, to creating your own instruments out of recycled materials.
Dobson said that he guided audiences through a musical journey. He gave several examples of how, historically, different cultures have been restricted from music and instruments through slavery, controlling governments and extremely poor economics. Instruments can be clapping, cowbells, wooden xylophones, to the steel drum which is made by pounding out a concave surface from the end of a metal barrel.
Dobson said, growing up, he heard rhythms all the time. The washing machine had its own beat, and “I got pretty excited about clean clothes, and that’s just weird,” he joked. Dobson used a different term of “hambone” for the beat that some people recognize as shave and a haircut, ten cents. He said that it is the basic rhythm for hundreds of rock and roll songs.
He taught the students the “Mockingbird” song. He and two Philip instructors – Jessica Wheeler and Ella Smith – performed a dance routine from the musical “Grease.” Three students – Brin Heltzel, Mallory Vetter and Kiarra Moses – had practiced the cup song (also called “You’ll be Sorry When I’m Gone”) and did the motions as the audience sang the words. Mary Nelson was Dobson’s partner as they taught the audience to dance the cha-cha-cha.
Using his recording and play-back equipment, Dobson took sounds from student-made instruments to create a musical beat.
Dobson illustrated the versitility of the steel drum by using it to play “Flight of the Bumblebee.” He also showed that several rhythms can be played at one time. “You kind of have to shut your brain off to do that,” he admitted. Finally, the students had to return to class, but did so to a musical beat as they went under a limbo rope.
Dobson has earned a master’s degree in percussion and now entertains on cruise ships when he isn’t teaching. He finds that teaching kids through his entertainment is “vastly more rewarding, because I get to play for the kids. I get to be more creative.” He continued, “This is awesome because the kids really appreciate it. They are so inventive and creative,” he said. “I can try to inspire the kids, using our ingenuity to build a better future.”  
Ian Dobson, with the help of Jessica Wheeler, left, and Ella Smith, taught elementary students a dance routine from the musical “Grease.” He illustrated that rhythm can be created from almost anything.
Ian Dobson, with the help of Mary Nelson, got the kids into doing the “Cha-cha-cha” as proof the kids could learn rhythm.
The syncopated actions were done by Brin Heltzel, Mallory Vetter and Kiarra Moses while Ian Dobson and the audience sang the words to “The Cup Song.”
Read more…

Fun Show in Edmonds!

Ian Dobson's Steel Drum Party was the featured act at Tuesday's Edmonds Summer Concert in the Park at the Hazel Miller Plaza in downtown Edmonds.

Ian Dobson’s Steel Drum Party was the featured act at Tuesday’s Edmonds Summer Concert in the Park at the Hazel Miller Plaza in downtown Edmonds. (Photos by Larry Vogel)

Christian Krehbiel's steel drum solo drew a group of young admirers.

Christian Krehbiel’s steel drum solo drew a group of young admirers.

You can watch highlights of the Steel Drum Party on My Edmonds News TV here.

The skies may have been grey, but the mood was sunny as Ian Dobson’s Steel Drum Party brought the sounds of the Caribbean to Tuesday’s noontime Concert in the Park at Hazel Miller Plaza.

With the crowd overflowing the plaza and spilling out onto the sidewalks, Dobson and accompanist Christian Krehbiel kept the energy up through an hour of nonstop, foot-tapping, tropical music, that even included a limbo party!

The Summer Concerts in the Park are presented by the Edmonds Arts Commission, and perform on two venues, Hazel Miller Plaza and Edmonds City Park. The twice-weekly Hazel Miller performances are sponsored by the Hazel Miller Foundation. They are held at noon on Tuesdays and at 5 pm on Thursdays. The City Park series runs Sunday afternoons, and is sponsored by Lynnwood Honda and Acura of Lynnwood. All performances are free and open to the public.

Read more…

Steel Drums-What's New This Summer?

Well this summer has certainly brought a lot of the “new” for me.  Lots of new technology in my steel drum setup (so fun!), getting ready to see new parts of the US in my fall school tour (76 schools, 7 weeks), and, most importantly, launching my new teaching program called “Ian Dobson’s Rhythm Academy”.

The next few weeks offer several public performances and appearances where you can come and hear and ask me about all this new stuff.  Here they are…

**Saturday, June 14th (tomorrow), 9am to 4pm, Washington Homeschool Organization Convention, Booth #916, Washington State Fair - Blue Gate, 110 9th Ave SW, Puyallup, WA 98371, United States

Link for Further Information:

Ian Dobson’s Rhythm Academy

I have a booth here to introduce kids and parents to my Rhythm Academy.  Providing music education to kids can be a challenge: finding expert teachers, gathering peers for group music making, transporting your students to lessons…
With the Rhythm Academy I am offering a unique solution that utilizes an on-line social network which can be supplemented with private and group instruction (via Skype or in-person) and live performance. The core of the approach is peer mentoring and frequent instructor evaluation.  The step-by-step on-line curriculum uses gaming elements, which kids relate to, in order to encourage helping fellow students while improving their own skills.
If you or someone you know will be headed to the Puyallup State Fairgrounds for the convention please send them over to booth #916 to hear more about the Rhythm Academy!

**Saturday, June 14th (tomorrow!), 2:45pm to 3:30pm, P.S. I Love You Festival, Percival Landing, Mud Bay Stage, 222 Columbia St. NW, Olympia, WA

Link for Further Information:
Ian Dobson's Pan Leggo--A Caribbean Steel Drum Party!!
The Oly Mountain Boys
Holy Oly Girls
Dana Lyons
Kim Archer
Che Oke ten
One World Taiko
Mukana Marimba
All Ages/Family!

Celebrating Puget Sound through music, film, food and fun!
P.S. I Love You Festival
Fun, unique experiences to connect with Puget Sound!
More than 25 booths offering hands-on activities for all ages.
Games and recreation opportunities, including kayaking instruction from 3pm-6pm.
Storytelling in the Harbor House.
Delicious local food.
Interactive “Drain Dare” crawl through adventure.
Tiny sustainable home on display.
And more!!
Evening Sea Cinema in celebration of World Oceans Day
The Sea Cinema starts at 5:30 pm across the street in the Olympia Center.
5:30 pm – Family fun, cartoons, and Happy Feet (a family feature)
7:45 pm – Local short films
8:30 pm – Pre-release test screening of Return of the River about the Elwha River dam removal
9:30 pm – Interactive Q&A session with film makers & screening survey

**Saturday, June 21st, 12noon to 4pm, Tommy Bahama, Bellevue Square, Bellevue, WA

I’ll be playing in store for their summer solstice store event.  I wouldn’t necessarily recommend going to the mall just to hear me in this setting, but if you happen to be in Downtown Bellevue at that time come by and say hello!

**Wednesday, June 25th, 6:30pm to 8pm, Vashon Library, 17707 100th Avenue SW Vashon Island, WA 98070
Bucket Drum Remix!
How are the Caribbean Islands, physics, music, and computers related?  Come and play bucket drums and help produce Vashon Library’s Bucket Drum Remix and you will find out!
In this program I'll shares how people with few resources in various cultures have used their creativity and resourcefulness to engineer sophisticated musical instruments from recycled materials. The primary example used in the show is the Caribbean instrument called the steel drum.  I'll begin the show by performing on the steel drum, getting attendees involved with dancing and rhythmic games, providing a bit of cultural and historical background, and introducing the musical concept of “syncopation” which is so prominent in Caribbean music. I'll then presents a section on the physics of the steel drum with the cognitive learning objective of students being able to explain a sound wave and how multiple different pitches are achieved on one piece of material. Recycled buckets are then given to the students and they are asked to explore the sounds of the bucket themselves, apply the physics learned from the steel drum to the sounds created by the bucket, and be able to explain the basic physics of how the bucket sounds are made.
I'll then explore syncopation more deeply by teaching students basic bucket drumming with the physical learning objective of students being able to demonstrate syncopation.
To finish up the show I'll introduce digital technology into the mix so that attendees can relate their workshop experience more to the contemporary digital music that teenagers listen to. Attendees perform acoustic sounds that I'll then capture digitally with the cognitive learning objective of being able to explain what happens to the sound wave when it becomes digitized. Attendees collaborate with me to decide which digital processes to apply to these acoustic sounds and a final acoustic/digital performance is created.

Age Limit
All ages but the target audience is Middle School, Junior High and Teen (ages 13-18)

Ticket Details
Pre-registration with the librarian is required.  Contact Ursula Schwaiger, Adult and Teen Services Librarian, Vashon Library.
Ian Dobson Solo

Come out to a show and celebrate what's NEW with me!

Read more…

This all seems pretty intuitively true.  Particularly I think the part about playing various rhythms with different limbs being a form of problem solving.  I know when I am playing some Afro Cuban groove that uses 4 quite distinct rhythms on my different limbs my brain actually feels very relaxed.  There is something almost therapeutic about it.

Click here to read the article

Read more…

I have some fun shows coming up in the next few weeks!  Today at the University of Washington’s Meany Hall is the Day of Percussion.  I will be leading an all star percussion jam from 4pm to 5pm, and we may have one of the most famous percussionists and musicians in the world today, Zakir Hussain, stopping by to join us!!  What an incredible honor that will be if he is able to come by.  But even if he can’t make it the jam will be a blast!

Next Saturday I have another fun family show at Crossroads Bellevue.  To celebrate I will be releasing my Crossroads Recycalypso Remix.  Last time I performed at Crossroads I did my Recycalypso Workshop where kids invented their own unique musical instruments out of recycled materials.  I recorded their instruments and am creating a fun remix from them!  Keep your eyes and ears out for that, especially if you attended that Recycalypso Workshop, so that you can hear your (or your children’s) musical contribution to the remix!

One more family/kid-friendly public performance will take place the following Saturday at the Seattle Center.

All the details are below!

**Today, Saturday, May 3rd, 4pm to 5pm, Meany Hall for the Performing Arts, George Washington Lane Northeast, Seattle, WA, United States
Ian Dobson's All Star Latin/Caribbean Jam

Ian’s event is part of the larger Day of Percussion which lasts from 10am to 9pm or so.  This Day of Percussion is a great event for drum or percussion students and other people who are generally percussion nerds!!  In the All Star Latin/Caribbean Jam top Latin and Caribbean percussionists from around the Puget Sound area will break down and explain various rhythmical genres from the Caribbean and South America.  They will then expertly perform those genres as an ensemble.  Come prepared for some irresistible percussion playing, valuable learning, and audience participation!

There is a very good chance that Zakir Hussain, one of the most well respected percussionists and musicians in the world will stop by and play with us!!!

More Information:


Ian Dobson, Ernesto Pediangco, Tor Dietrichson, Nonda Trimis, Arturo Rodriguez, and other top Latin/Caribbean percussionists from the Pacific Northwest.  Possibly the living legend Zakir Hussain.

How to Get to Meany Hall, Room #268:

Driving Directions to UW Meany Hall: The Meany Hall is located on the University of Washington Campus, near the intersection of 15th Ave NE and NE 40th Street. From North/South bound I-5: Take the NE 45th street exit. Proceed East on NE 45th St. Turn right at 15th Ave NE and proceed South. Turn left at NE 41st St, into the Central Parking Garage (CPG). Once inside the parking garage look for white and purple signs directing you to Meany Hall. I suggest entering Meany Hall on the West side and then take the stairs all the way up to the top floor.  Room 268 will be right at the top of the stairs.

**Saturday, May 10th, 6:30pm to 7:30pm, Crossroads Bellevue, 15600 NE 8th Street Bellevue, WA 98008
Ian Dobson's Steel Drum Party at Crossroads Bellevue 2nd Saturdays

Age Limit:
All Ages, Geared to Kids!

Link for Further Information:

Ian Dobson's Steel Drum Party Trio with Christian Krehbiel, Ernesto Pediangco, and Ian Dobson

This is part of Crossroads new-and-very-successful Family First events.  If you haven’t been to Crossroads it is probably the coolest “mall” around.  They have a great stage in the middle of the building and have many live music and cultural events there.  Ian, Ernesto, and Christian will perform one hour of family friendly fun!

Translated from Caribbean English, Pan Leggo means “steel drum party.”  In the program Ian shares the joy of exploring other cultures through music by recounting his quirky musical journey from Seattle grunge kid to Steel Drum musician.  In the process audiences learn some music and cultural history and gain insight into being resourceful and creative.  Ian’s interactive web site provides learning opportunities before and after the show.

**Saturday, May 17th, 12noon to 2pm, Seattle Center Exhibition Hall, 305 Harrison Street, Seattle,WA 98109
Ian Dobson's Steel Drum Party at Seattle Center

Ian will be performing his very interactive kids show at this wonderful event which is in support of public education.  There will be free books in partnership with a nationally recognized non-profit organization, First Book, to give the gift of reading to each child by providing new books at no cost.  There will also be a community Resource Fair with organizations like Washington Bus, Literacy Source, United Way, Faith Action Network, Vietnamese Friends Association, Friends of the Seattle Public Library, and more.  Besides entertainment there will be food, and reading circles. Attend the Children’s Museum for free with a Medicaid or EBT card.
For info, call 206-242-4777 or email

Age Limit
All ages and kid friendly

Ticket Details

Ian Dobson’s Steel Drum Party-Solo

I hope you can make it to one or more of these shows!

Read more…

Gratefulness for This Week of Music

An intense flurry of gigs and workshops over the past week or so.  So very rewarding!  Being a full-time musician is very hard work.  This week it felt worth it, like I was inspiring people and making a difference.  Thank you so much to King County Libraries, Pierce County Library System, and especially to Gilbert Elementary in Yakima.  Also much gratefulness to all the fabulous musicians I work with when I am not performing solo.  And a big big thanks to all the young people that inspired me with their creativity and enthusiasm creating the wildest recycled instruments you've ever seen!

Read more…

Steel Drum Strategy for Playoffs

The Seahawks are in the playoffs!!

We all have high hopes for the Seahawks, look forward to the game tomorrow, and wish them well… but don’t let that game get stale and boring.  Why not come down to the Tillicum library for the first 1.5 hours of the game, have some fun making instruments, creating music, and dancing around, and then get back in time for the really exciting part of the game-the last part!

Sea Gals Say, "go see Recycalsypso!"" />
The Sea Gals say, "even though the playoff game starts right before Recycalypso, we're going to clobber the Saints, so you have plenty of time to go have fun at Recycalypso in Tillicum and get back home to see the end of the game."

Also, if you’re thinking about getting married, or if you just happen to be Downtown Seattle, come on down to the Convention Center where I’ll be playing in the lobby.

Here are all the details of the fun this weekend:

*** Tillicum Pierce County Library, 14916 Washington Ave SW, Lakewood, WA,2pm until 3pm
Age Limit:
All Ages!

Link for Further Information:

Ian Dobson's Recycalypso-Solo

An opportunity to learn about the amazing history and culture of the steel drum with Ian Dobson. Kids of all ages can explore creative ways to turn items that they think of as garbage into musical instruments. This is a concert and a workshop combined into one excellent musical experience. Participants gain a new appreciation for resourcefulness and repurposing and an understanding of how frugality can lead to creativity.

*** Washington State Convention Center, 800 Convention Place, Seattle, WA 98101, 10:00-11:25 and 1:00-2:55 (I will play in the lobby as you enter the Wedding Show)
Age Limit:
All Ages!

Link for Further Information:

Ian Dobson's Pan Leggo-Solo

Come and enjoy some steel drum music in the lobby of the Convention Center if you happen to be downtown!  You’ll get an idea of what type of music I might play at a wedding, and some music I might not play at a wedding too J

If you want to go into the show the Seattle Wedding Show features more than 400 local, regional and national vendors, including event facilities, bakeries, bridal boutiques, caterers, disc jockeys, florists, jewelers, photographers, transportation providers, wedding consultants, and much more!  Classic and contemporary bridal gowns, tuxedos, bridesmaid and mother-of-the-bride dresses will be on display at fashion shows held throughout the event.
Tickets to the wedding show (not needed to watch me in the lobby) are $17 and are good for Saturday January 11th 2014 OR Sunday January 12th 2014. If you come to the show SaturdaySunday admittance is FREE. Kids 12 and Under are Free.
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Adams Elementary Recycalypso Fun!

I'm psyched to be presenting a workshop and assembly performance with my 4-piece band at Adams Elementary for students on Wednesday.

The band and I will be conducting my "Recycalypso" workshop for 50 minutes with the 4th grade then having a full band performance of my very interactive "Ian Dobson's Steel Drum Party" show where the 4th graders will get to play their original musical creations for the entire school!

Christian Krehbiel, Isaac Castillo, Adam Kessler and the entire Adams 4th grade are going to help me rock the house!

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Fall is definitely here and I am looking forward to things slowing down with performances a little so I can finish a new CD. 

Oh but not just yet!  There are some really fun public shows coming up in the next few days.  And then next week I have some great private house concerts and schools shows.  Here is the information about the public shows… 

**October 5th, 2013, around 1pm to 4pm, Washington State University Campus, North Fairway Rd. in front of Beasley Coliseum, Pullman, WA

Link for Tickets and/or Further Information:

Further information about the festival in general can be found here:

Ian Dobson’s Pan Leggo (six-piece band)

The inaugural festival is a collaborative initiative organized by WSU Performing Arts and will feature world music, dance, cuisine, workshops, school outreach programs, and other activities.

Ian Dobson’s Pan Leggo (six piece band) will be playing for the Cougar World Party on Saturday, October 5th at North Fairway Rd. in front of Beasley Coliseum.  Ian will be offering a Latin dance class at approximately 1pm and the band will play a lively set at approximately 2 or 2:15pm.   There will be lots of opportunities to participate by: dancing, singing, limbo competition, cup song competition, hand jive competition, and more!  The band features Ian on vocals, steel drums, and percussion as well as a gang of top Seattle musicians:  Jeff Busch on drum set; Ernesto Pediangco on congas and percussion; Christian Krehbiel on steel drums, marimba, keyboards, percussion; Isaac Castillo on bass; and Kiara Hall on background vocals and lead vocals.
Other activities and performers at the World Party will include:
Bands:  Sesitshaya Marimba Band, Border Highlanders, WSU Jazz Big Band
Food concessions
Market tables
Beer garden
Hands-on art activities and family-oriented events
The International Students' Council's (ISC) annual Cougar World Party (formerly "Party in the Park")—with live international music, dancing, and performances and cultural games and activities—is also moving to North Fairway Rd. to participate in Humanitas.

Ticket Details
All events at the Humanitas Festival are FREE

Age Limit:
All Ages, Families

**October 6th, 2013, 12noon to 4pm, La Quinta Hotel, 1425 East 27th St, Tacoma, WA

Link for Tickets and/or Further Information:

Ian will be showcasing his school and library show, “Ian Dobson’s Pan Leggo".  Ian is on first followed by these great entertainers…
Rick Anderson
Henrik Bothe
Robert Kikuchi-Yngojo
Greg Bennick
Chris Fascione
Curtis Carlyle
Rene Bibaud
Alex Zerbe
You're invited to the 5th annual Washington School Assembly Showcase at Tacoma LaQuinta Hotel!

This is great for teachers, librarians, and anyone else looking for great entertainment programs for young people.  Bring the kids too!

Ian will be showcasing his school and library show, “Ian Dobson’s Pan Leggo".  Ian is on first right at 1pm.

The schedule for the day:
12:00 pm         doors open to the public, visit performers booths
1:00 pm to about 3pm           Showcase performances
4:00 pm           event ends
Age Limit
All ages, families

I hope to see you at one of these shows!

What’s Coming Up for Me?
This winter will be devoted to finishing a CD and some other projects, practicing, experimenting with new musical technology and honing my solo show, and getting ready for my big Midwest school tour next fall.  I’m looking forward to the fall!


Keep dancin’


Ian Dobson


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Baby Likes Steel Drums... or not?

I was performing for the second year in a row at someone's US Independence Day party yesterday evening.  So I was playing a song with my backing tracks and someone comes up carrying a very young infant.  Super cute, a little goofy looking.  The baby is looking all around and seems to be enjoying the music, or at least taking it in.  The baby didn't seem to think it was too loud or anything.  When I finished the song the baby got a little bit fussy.  I thought, "oh, how wonderful, the baby likes the music and wants it to continue."  This is often the case with pre-verbal kids or almost pre-verbal kids.  They will turn to their parents when the music stops and say "more," or "why did the music stop."  So I thought I would just be a great guy and play a children's song.  I started playing a soft little version of "Mary Had a Little Lamb", melody only, on the steel drum.  The baby burst into tears and started howling!!  What does it mean?  Was the baby saying "don't condescend to me and play children's music"?  And if the baby was saying "gee you suck" why did it enjoy the music so much at first?  Maybe babe can't abide music that doesn't have a funky beat?

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Moving Wedding

Just played at a wedding this evening. The groom was in a wheelchair. It was a lovely group and we got them singing and dancing and it was a wonderful, special time with the bride and groom's blended family all there, in addition to all of their friends. Only after did I find out the groom has ALS and probably has a short time to live. The bride said her husband really loves steel drums and marimba, both of which we had there, and he loves music and loved our performance and was trying to be as close to the music as possible. Ooof. What an honor to be part of a wedding like that. Very poignant. It is certainly a privilege to perform music in situations such as this. Even though I'm not quite sure how I'll find the energy to make it through all the performances and travel this summer, experiences like this sure do make it seem worth while.

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I faced down an angry mob of 4 to 7 year old girls today. It was terrifying! I was playing for an elementary school carnival and it was time for my break and I was STARVING and eager to get to the BBQ. That's when angry girl mob descended. There were maybe 15 to 20 of them. First they told me I was going to be grounded for 2 weeks for stopping the music. Then they decided that wasn't enough so they changed it and informed me I would be grounded for a million weeks. Then they began to chant! I think it was "play more music"...

Suffice it to say that I didn't get my break, no sir, not on tonight's gig. I was SO hungry by the end of the gig.

I'll definitely need years of therapy to process this experience.

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Erin Havlik started with an empty butter tub and ended up with a drum at the “Recalypso” workshop at Saturday’s Earth Day celebration.

The 9-year-old from Hillsboro added beads to the plastic container and then decided adding some rice would create a nice additional sound.

Havlik was one of hundreds of children who made instruments out of recycled materials while steel drum musician Ian Dobson played to the crowd. Poor residents of Trinidad and Tobago invented steel drums when all they had was cast off metal, Dobson said, so the “Recalypso” made a perfect Earth Day event.

“It’s important to encourage young people’s creativity and show them how they can be resourceful and innovative,” he said. “And it’s especially important on days like this.”

Havlik said she liked creating something out of nothing.

“It’s fun that you get to make instruments out of regular stuff you didn’t know could make music,” the 9-year-old said. “It’s awesome.”

Longview’s Mara Bridges agreed, proudly showing off the “Rattlesnake” drum she made with a metal can, beads and beans.

“We thought we’d check out the whole thing, but so far we haven’t left this spot because they’re enjoying it so much,” dad Michael Bridges said of Mara and her brother 6-year-old Mason, who had a whole pile of newly crafted instruments.

When they did venture out they had plenty of company. More than a thousand area residents visited Saturday’s event at the Cowlitz County Expo Center, soaking up songs, information and occasional sunshine.

Booths ran the gamut of topics and even included a 48-foot “wildlife response and rehabilitation unit” trailer used to wash and treat birds contaminated with oil. While the climbing wall and inflatable tunnels were a draw for children, many were also seen proudly clutching seedlings given out to take home and plant.

Kelso’s Mattalyn Axtell learned which plastics can and can’t be recycled at the Longview Recycles table, saying she likes sorting recyclables at home as well.

“It’s good because it helps the environment,” the 10-year-old said while showing off the sunflower seed she planted at another booth. “It’s pretty cool.”

TDN Online Editor; email:

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A Great Finish to Labor Day Weekend

After a lovely little vacation East of the mountains I am thrilled to be playing again tonight at Salty’s on Redondo Beach in Des Moines, WA. for their Monday Music Series!


Last Monday was loads of fun and the weather was gorgeous!   I was so happy to see some of your familiar faces there. Today should be beautiful as well. There’s nothing like sitting out on Salty’s deck on a sunny evening watching the sun move towards the horizon and listening to some island music.


Here is the winning Recycalypso instrument from the Buzz Inn last weekend. It’s called the “Bamboo Bongo” and was made from bamboo from the winner’s yard. It is quite beautiful, don't you think! Not to mention that it can create lots of interesting sounds.


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I’ve had so many great shows the past few weeks! And while summer is winding to a close, the bookings just keep coming. I’m happy to report two public performances in the next few days:
Today, Sunday August 26th, I’ll be back at the Buzz Inn in Lake Stevens FOR ONE FINAL PERFORMANCE THIS SUMMER. If you haven’t come down yet, please come today. I will likely perform out there again, but at the moment I am not scheduled and there’ll surely be a bit of a break after the summer season before my next show there. As always, we are hoping to have special guests (various Lake Stevens residents showing off their original Recycalypso instruments). Everyone is welcome to participate in the Recycalypso fun! You can try your Recycalypso hand at winning a t-shirt (it’s the hippest fashion accessory in Lake Stevens this summer) and possibly a gift certificate for the Buzz Inn. If you don’t win a t-shirt I believe the Buzz will have them for sale.
August 26th, 2012
4pm to 6pm
The Buzz Inn
1801 Main St.
Lake Stevens, WA 98258
21+ only
On Monday I’ll be playing for the first time at the fabulous beach destination restaurant in Des Moines, Salty’s at Redondo, for their Monday Music Series! I’ll be playing there this coming Monday and then every Monday in September. Salty’s staff is very excited to have me there and I am so excited to be there! Come at 5pm and catch the last hour of happy hour and the first hour of Ian's intoxicating Caribbean music and you'll end up staying for the whole evening!
Currently you can enjoy Salty’s Select Cadillac Margarita on the rocks, accompanied by Ceviche made with bay scallops and bay shrimp, marinated in lime and lemon juice for $8. During August they'll featured Redondo fave dishes from the 1980s:
*Valley Girl Cajun Calamari with Salty’s Blackening Seasonings, Garlic Aioli
*Bodacious Bruschetta & Tomato-Basil Salsa
*Wicked “Mad Mac” Seafood Caesar Salad with Parmesan, Chilean Crab Meat, Bay Shrimp, Tomato, Black Olives, Red Pepper Wheels, Bleu  Cheese Crumbles
*Rad Escargot Royal, Baked in Curry Butter, Sour Cream-Parmesan Melt, Chives, Parsley
*Garlic Cheese Bread Milano to the Max with Toasted French Loaf, Roasted Garlic, Oven-baked Aged Cheeses
August 27th, 2012
5pm to 7pm
Salty's at Redondo Beach
23201 Redondo Beach Dr S
Des Moines, WA 98193
Please call restaurant at (253) 946-0636 for age restrictions
A Few Fun Moments from the Past Several Weeks:
At our Recycalypso competitions at the Buzz Inn on August 12th the winning entry was the "Bilophone". This was an original musical instrument that an audience member created by repurposing an old bicycle, overgrown with blackberry bushes in their yard, to be an innovative, creative musical instrument.
This guy can really play the bilophone!  Click here to watch the video!!
Last week Christian and I played for a company party for Razorfish, a great high-tech marketing company, at the woodland park zoo. We performed on the Zoo Tunes stage. Some of the incredible performers who have been on that stage in the past few weeks were Los Lobos, Melissa Etheridge, Pink Martini, and Ziggy Marley. There were lots of guitar picks laying around the stage so I collected some hoping they were maybe Ziggy Marleys.   I’m doing a major overhaul of my setup and it looks really cool. It looks even cooler on the Zoo Tunes stage!

Here are the Eastside Catholic Cheerleaders staffing the Recycalypso booth at our show in Sammamish for Sammamish Days.  Notice they are all proudly wearing "Recycalypso" pins.  The part of Waldo is played by Lynne H who does an incredible job organizing this event every year.
I hope to see you this summer!
Keep dancin’

Ian Dobson
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