Steelband veteran leads FSU’s Mas N’ Steel in rousing performance
By Samantha Joseph
Not long after being introduced to the steel pan as a member of Leon High School’s steelband in 2004, Shawn Fasig developed a liking to the indigenous Caribbean instrument.
His amazement by the symphonic sound that comes out of a steel oil drum infused a passion that hasn’t waned since his high school years when he began playing the instrument.
This past Friday, Fasig led FSU steelband as it put on a captivating performance at the Opperman music hall.
Known as Mas N’ Steel, the band performed a repertoire of tunes that ranged from old-school to modern-day hits. The list includes a rendition of the reggae band Inner Circle’s “Sweat.”
But the biggest surprise of the night was Mas N’ Steel’s cover of Denyse Plummer’s hit calypso “Woman is Boss.” Plummer, a former winner of Trinidad’s calypso queen title, performed the song with a steelband instead of a traditional back-up band.
Mas N’ Steel went hard with its version of the song, pounding it out for 10 entertaining minutes. The performance featured several changes in tempo and rhythm that kept the audience captivated for as long as the band played.
The crowd showed its appreciation with a rousing, lengthy standing ovation.
Being a part of a performance that moves an audience is one reason that Amelia Carroll got involved in the art of playing in a steelband. Like, Fasig, she got her start at Leon High School at the age of 14.
She first saw the Leon band perform when she was in middle school.
“I thought that’s pretty cool (and) I’d want to get into something musical so I went from there (to Leon),” said Carroll. “Since they have one here (at FSU) I just wanted to keep doing it.
“I didn’t want to lose it because you can’t really find a lot of steel bands anywhere so I wanted to stay with it. I would probably come back next year if my schedule permits it.”
Carroll’s band mate Maritza Hofius joined Mas N’ Steel with a sense of purpose. Hofius, a graduate student, said she plays in the band to aid in her music therapy profession.
“My music therapy professor mentioned that we should do world music ensembles just in case we would ever work with patients that want to use drums with them,” said Hofius.
For Fasig, his pan-playing experience came full circle with last Friday’s performance. He will return to Leon as the school’s steelband instructor, fulfilling a dream that started when he joined the Lions’ band.
“It means everything to me,” he said. “I got teary eyed in that last song because I love teaching this group so much. I wish I could teach every group in Tallahassee but there isn’t enough time in the day.”