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The Cheese Factor of Using Backing Tracks As a Solo Performing Pannist Ultimately Depends on the Individual

As a pannist who often performs solo and never with backing tracks, it is clear that there are pannists of the solo performing persuasion who consistently use backing tracks when performing. Often, these backing tracks are of the midi variety and inherently produce a significant cheese factor as far as solo performance goes. How great this particular cheese factor ultimately is depends upon the individual performer. Backing tracks produced using live instruments are a somewhat different story, but for the sake of staying on topic, let us stick with the overall idea of solo steelpan performers who use backing tracks in general.

The Ultimate Cheese Ball

For the readers who are fond of cheese balls, one of the main ingredients of this popular snackfood as you may know is corn, and rightly so. The word ''corny'' has been used in this blog in the past in order to refer to the general handpan community. As this blog has an international audience, there have been some readers who have failed to grasp the meaning behind the word, ''corny''. For those readers who may not be familiar with American slang, the word ''corny'' is used to describe anything lacking coolness, or anything uncool for all intents and purposes.

With that being clarified, the epitome of steelpan cornball cheesiness is definitely Bob Lyons.

So much for merit based views on YouTube, as if a meritocracy ever existed in the first instance as far as steelpan videos on YouTube are concerned. With over 2 million views to date, the above video is apparently the most viewed steelpan video on YouTube. KaribPAN has published some recent articles concerning this pan disparity; Questionably Low YouTube View Counts of Stunning Steelpan Videos as well as Three Important Things We Can Learn From These Throughly Underrated Pan Videos. 


Solo Pannist With Backing Track and a Splash of Class

Clocking in with just over 1 million views is a pannist hailing from St. Martin who is performing the standard, ''Yellow Bird'' along with a backing track and unlike Bob Lyons, this pannist's 1 million views are well deserved as he definitely has the talent and the touch to back up his numbers. 

 Although the preceding video features a backing track, there is no cheese factor evident with this particular pannist and the reason for this is as stated earlier, namely that the cheesiness of performing with backing tracks as a soloist is strictly dependent upon the individual performer. This can be said for any musician utilizing backing tracks, regardless of what instrument is being played. 

Performing on the Pan With a Hawaiian Shirt And Straw Hat is Corny

Apparently Bob Lyons never got the memo that donning a Hawaiian shirt and a straw hat and adopting this outift as his steelpan performance uniform is not cool, especially in light of the fact that it is hard to find a photo of Bob Lyons in an outfit other than a Hawaiian shirt and a straw hat. 

It seems as though there is a consensus among certain pan performers regarding Hawaiian shirts and the role that they play as standard steelpan performing attire. Hawaiian shirts and straw hats are one thing, but Hawaiian shirts topped off with an old, beat up, snapback baseball cap is almost another issue entirely, yet still closely related enough to the issue at hand to be relevant.

Terry Baber is another steelpan cornball who appears to have a comfortable airport gig, and while he may do a poor job representing authentic steelpan culture to airplane travelers, he does it with heart. All of this in spite of the fact that his pan sounds out of tune, and his backing track sounds like something that was recorded from a child's karaoke toy. 


Closing Out With Class, Freddy Harris III

Freddy Harris III is one of those up and coming young pannists who is carrying the steelpan torch for the current younger generation of pannists. It is virtually guaranteed that Freddy Harris III will never perform with a Hawaiian shirt and a straw hat. And although he is sporting a fitted baseball cap, it is far from worn out. Hence, pannists of a Caribbean background who perform solo with backing tracks, will not usually come across with anything corny about them, and naturally so. 





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  • HAMEED on

    I cannot sing so I took my pan to the Karaoke bar, way back in 1987. I did not imagine this would become a medium for pan players, ask DICK LOCHAN a former journalist with the Guardian newspaper, he was the MC

  • Lynley Tolls on

    Music is not a contact sport. Calling out individuals is uncool in EVERY way.

  • Handpan Mafia Anon. on

    Wait, if im Rudy… and im a troll… it means that im trolling myself….
    Ohhh jeeez… someone plz find my medication… i cant take life in here anymore.

  • Panmageddon on

    All hail Rudy the true messiah!
    I shall kiss the ground that Rudy walks on!
    Wait, am i Rudy?
    Are you Rudy?
    Are we all Rudy?

  • Patty Melt on

    You are a without a doubt a snotty faced pile of perturbed parrot feces with the fleas of 1000 camels infested upon your soul. Now let’s all move on and not pay anymore attention to this wackadoo!

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