Steel del Sol members (clockwise from upper left) Jeff Rodenkirch, his brother Dave, Christina Walton, and David Walton. Dave Rodenkirch will not be performing for this concert.

Steel del Sol, steel drum band

Tuesday, June 4, 2019, 11:30 am-12:30 pm, The Arizona Senior Academy Building

The shimmering sounds and infectious rhythms of Caribbean steel music return to the Arizona Senior Academy with the ever-popular Steel del Sol trio. David and Christina Walton on steel pan and Jeff Rodenkirch on electric upright bass will explore Calypso, Soca, Ska, Reggae, Samba, Bossa Nova, Salsa and Afro-Cuban compositions.

Caribbean street musicians first created tuned percussion instruments from pots and pans, hubcaps, and other metal debris, then discovered a better source in used 55-gallon oil barrels, which could be tuned to specific pitches by hammering impressions on the surface. The invention of the modern steel pan in Trinidad in the 1940s brought this music to an international audience.

Steel pan design has continued to advance, and so has the music. Today, steel band programs are offered in high schools and colleges across the country, and Tucson is home to some of the finest.

David Walton, founder of Steel del Sol, is the former director of the Empire High School Steel Drum Band, and a founding member of the University of Arizona Steel Drum Band program. A percussionist, bassist, composer, and arranger, he currently teaches at the St. Gregory School and publishes sheet music for steel bands under the name Barking Basslines.

Walton’s wife, Christina, is the assistant band director at Catalina Foothills High School, where she oversees the marching drum line and the steel band program. Both Waltons have DMA degrees from the University of Arizona.

The third member of the trio, bassist Jeff Rodenkirch, an electronics engineer, recording engineer, and designer of studio, movie theater and concert hall sound systems, is currently technical director of the Fox Theater in downtown Tucson. 

Written by Nancy Green, Academy Village Volunteer

June 4: “A Musical Caribbean Getaway”