Gonna Make It
Out With Shabang! Ask any Caribbean musician in the Bay Area if he's heard of Harry Best and the answer is a resounding 'Yes.' In fact, Harry is a true Caribbean music pioneer in the area. So why is everybody acting like his band Shabang is something new on the scene? Well, for many years, Harry was content to remain in the obscure but lucrative circuit of corporate events and private parties. But the 'dot-com' crash together with the 9/11 cataclysm changed all of that. Like a Phoenix, Harry Best and Shabang have arisen from the ashes of these fiascos with a tight fresh sound that has people asking 'Who are these guys?' 'Where are they from?' This summer all the questions will be answered when the group launches a mini concert tour of cities and counties around the Bay. The tour coincides with the release of their new CD entitled 'Gonna Make It' which includes five original songs written and composed by Harry. The other five tunes on the set are refreshing covers that show the group has not completely cut it's ties with the corporate world. But the new direction is evident. Harry's a seasoned songwriter who's music has had more notoriety than his band. For years he's written hit song's for international Caribbean Artists such as Arrow. His lyrics are arresting, his melodies sweet, and the rhythms infectious. He is just as comfortable being the romantic, the rebel or the mystic. Add to that his accomplished skills on the steelpan and you have the foundation of the band's music. But ask Harry and he'll tell you that the real secret to Shabang's charm is in their emotional approach to their performances. 'We go out to have fun,' Harry says. 'With each other, first of all; and that gets projected in the music. The contagion is hard for the audience to resist.' A feature of Shabang's music is the enchanting sound of their steeldrums. Affectionately known as 'pans', steeldrums are hand-crafted and finely tuned from 55-gallon oil barrels. Dexter Bruce, a native of Trinidad and Tobago and a veteran pan-player, formerly of Our Boys Steel Orchestra brings that special radiance to the Shabang sound. Bass player Ed (Mac) McCarver is the pillar of the band. Says Harry: 'Most of my compositions are written off bass lines...and I know I can depend on Mac to be in the pocket with an almost digital precision.' Mac's versatility and facility with the different Caribbean music genres gives that consistent pulse that is the special trade-mark of Shabang's music. Drummer Tyrone Gray is also another veteran musician from the Our Boys corral of talent that's spread all over the Bay Area. He creates that pocket for Mac which translates into a tight groove. The Bay Area concerts this summer are outdoors and free. You might want to make it a family event.