The unmistakable, mellifluous, joyous, sweet sound of steel pans wafted through two Key Peninsula schools during the last Thursday of May.
The Limbo Fish, a steel drum band comprised of 40 fourth- and fifth-graders from White Bluffs Elementary in Richland, shared their talents with the students and staff of Evergreen and Minter Creek elementary schools.
The Limbo Fish visit areas of western Washington in even years, and for the last two visits have been in the Gig Harbor/Key Peninsula areas –– playing at Artondale Elementary in Gig Harbor and Minter Creek in 2012.
The band is led by Ben Leggett, music teacher at White Bluffs.
Leggett has been a music teacher for 28 years, beginning in Buckley, and has been teaching with steel drums (technically called pans) for about 20 years.
The PTA, parents and students raised funds for two years to finance their trip to the KP. On the first day, they did two performances at Yakima schools on their way to a Gig Harbor motel.
The drummers started their second morning with an hourlong performance at Evergreen. After loading up all their pans into the pan trailer, they boarded their chartered luxury bus, followed by several cars of parents, for a ride to the KP Civic Center to enjoy the playground and feast on pizza.
They had an afternoon performance for Minter Creek students and staff, including one song in concert with the Minter Creek Marimba Band. Leggett sent music in January to Paula DeMoss, Minter Creek music teacher, who taught her students the song. Leggett keeps the beat for the band by playing the timbales, a drum from Cuba.
The Limbo Fish played music from Jamaica and Trinidad as well as “La Bamba,” “Kiss the Girl,” “Clocks” by Coldplay and several others. Students were invited to participate in a limbo contest, won by Eli Coen at Minter Creek.
After a lesson by Leggett about where pans originated and how they are made, the band concluded their performance with “Hot, Hot, Hot” while nearly everyone, including principal Ty Robuck, danced in a very long conga line. When asked what he thought about the Limbo Fish performance, Robuck stated, “We will have them back!”
The group unwound at Horseshoe Lake before having dinner in Silverdale. They performed at the Washington Veterans’ Home in Port Orchard before their five-hour drive home on the third day of their tour.
According to Leggett, at the veterans’ home, the staff and some of the Limbo Fish were moved to tears when a veteran, who had been almost comatose for several years, waved and clapped his hands to the music.
For information about the Limbo Fish or other steel drum bands, visit tcsba.org.