The world of pan is small, and one is constantly reminded of this fact whenever one has the chance encounter with another individual who is involved with the steelpan in one of its various incarnations. In this particular instance, yours truly had the fateful fortune of stumbling upon a throwback gem of a steelpan-handpan hybrid made years ago by ''Phantom'' of Innersound. This pan was made so long ago that the owner, who goes by the name of Sapphire, forgot Phantom's name by the time I met him.
A True Steelpan Story
While traveling to the west side of Germany this week on personal business, I unexpectedly ran into an acquaintance from Detroit whom I had not seen in a long time. We exchanged pleasantries for a few minutes until he advised me that he was on the way to visit a friend. He invited me to visit the shop of his friend which was close by, and as my train back to Berlin was not leaving for another couple of hours, I obliged and agreed to go to the shop with him and kill some time.
My friend and I arrived at the shop and I was introduced to the owners, one of which is Sapphire. After speaking briefly with Sapphire it became known that we have the steelpan in common. He explained to me that he is the proud owner of a ''handpan''. At that point, my interest was peaked and I became curious. I asked Sapphire who made his instrument but he did not remember the name of the maker. I then asked him where he bought his ''handpan'' and he said, ''Berlin''. Knowing that Sapphire was no customer of KaribPAN and there are only two known handpan makers in Berlin, it immediately became clear to me that Phantom was the maker behind this surprise find of a steelpan in question. When I asked Sapphire if Phantom made his instrument, he said ''yes''. Upon realizing this I became giddy and even more so when Sapphire informed me that he had his handpan and wanted to show it to me.
Early Phantom Steelpan-Handpan Hybrid Live and Direct
When Sapphire retrieved his ''handpan'' and removed the case, I witnessed what initially appeared to be the top half of a handpan with no resonator. I was baffled and asked Sapphire, ''Where is the resonator?'', he explained to me that it did not have a resonator and upon closer inspection, I realized that Sapphire's ''handpan'' was in fact a tuned oil drum lid. It is a well known fact that many other handpan makers experimented with oil barrel lids before moving on to higher grade raw forms to make their handpans. I asked Sapphire to play something for me and this is what I recorded:
Needless to say, as Sapphire had forgotten Phantom's name until he met me and I jogged his memory, Sapphire had also forgotten Phantom's number and has not had a tuning on his instrument in years. I called Phantom in order to tell him the news of my fateful meeting with Sapphire and this allowed him and Sapphire to re-connect after all of these years, which I am sure will open the door for Sapphire's baby to get tuned up in the future. However, it was clear that Sapphire is a proud owner of his instrument and it is a source of tremendous joy for him as well as a tried and proven source of income for him as far as busking is concerned
Phantom, my friend, you have come along way! Big up yourself.