The Steel Pan Collective  


Profile in Pan - George Pollis


Music typically starts at an early age for many pan players. George Pollis’ first musical influence was from his father. His father was from Philadelphia and played in the Philadelphia Mummers String Band. Mummers parades are commonplace around New Years Day and their Carnival type performance are wildly entertaining. His father also played jazz, comedy bands and any kind of entertaining music in the ‘50s, ‘60s, and ‘70s.


George learned to play guitar as he was growing up. He took his music talents with him into the Coast Guard. He was part of several groups, including one that played what he called Arctic Music. “We had a couple of guitars, some ukeleles and handmade percussion instruments - mostly anything we could get off the ship such as buckets and wooden planks.”


George went on to get a bachelor's degree at West Chester University and a master’s at the University of Pennsylvania. He continued playing music while in school. When he moved to Florida, the youth music minister at his church asked if he knew any reggae songs. George was familiar with the likes of Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff, and UB40. He took the reggae beat of those songs and wrote Christian lyrics. As more and more kids from the church got interested, he decided what the music really needed was a steel drum sound. So he ordered his first steel drum from Trinidad. When he went to pick the drum up, he asked if there was anyone local who played. He was given names of a few players in the area from Trinidad and Jamaica. And for the next year and a half, George found himself driving religiously to their homes to learn the ins and outs of the instrument. He soon started booking and performing gigs with the steel drums. Ten years later, he turned professional playing for Jimmy Buffett and opening for Dave Matthews. His groups, including Reel Ting Steel Drum Band, are booked solid throughout the year at private, corporate and public events.


These days, George has taken an interest in the manufacturing of high quality steel drums at reasonable prices. He says it started about two years ago while teaching steel pans to kids. “My students would buy steel drums off the internet mainly,” he says. “They were similar to what I did when I ordered my first one. Unfortunately, some would be of poor quality and in need of tuning.” Through his connections with the folks at Panyard Inc. and a local manufacturer and tuner he designed an engineering process that is different than the traditional approach to building pans. View the entire process.


Customers can receive a pan that is more durable and not in need of constant tuning. The pans at Palm Beach Pans are cost 65% less than most high end pans and sound equally good. “The tone and quality are very good,” says George. “With some companies, it is a two year wait to get a pan. When you want to play, you don’t necessarily want to wait. Or to spend $2500 to get a 22” drum especially one that has to be tuned every couple of months. My drum is three years old and I haven’t had to tune it one time.” George says he sees his future role less on the performance side and more on the manufacturing and operation side of his business. “I didn’t plan it that way. I am a retired banker,” he says. “I see myself setting up schools with high quality steel drums and teaching others to play.”


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(Back to Oct. 2014 Newsletter)



Music typically starts at an early age for many pan players. George Pollis’ first musical influence was from his father. His father was from Philadelphia and played in the Philadelphia Mummers String Band. Mummers parades are commonplace around New Years Day and their Carnival type performance are wildly entertaining. His father also played jazz, comedy bands and any kind of entertaining music in the ‘50s, ‘60s, and ‘70s.


George learned to play guitar as he was growing up. He took his music talents with him into the Coast Guard. He was part of several groups, including one that played what he called Arctic Music. “We had a couple of guitars, some ukeleles and handmade percussion instruments - most anything we could get off the ship such as buckets and wooden planks.”


George went on to get bachelor's degree at West Chester University and a master’s at the University of Pennsylvania. He continued playing music while in school. When he moved to Florida, the youth music minister at his church asked if he knew any reggae songs. George was familiar with the likes of Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff, and UB40. He took the reggae beat of those songs and wrote Christian lyrics. As more and more kids from the church got interested, he decided what the music really needed was a steel drum sound.

 

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