Potts & Pans Steelband has two main functions. The steelpan, also called the steel drum by some, is not a very popular instrument in Northern Illinois and being that Potts & Pans is one of the only steelbands in the Chicago area, Potts & Pans takes education very seriously. Although many of our performances are at libraries and other educational events, we also do many private and corporate events as well. You may be asking, well aren’t you just like any other band than? This is a good question, and here is what makes us different. Even on non-educational performances Potts & Pans stays around after the performance for question and answer sessions. On top of that, 100% of the profits brought in from the band (after paying the musicians) go toward furthering our educational department.
Potts & Pans Steelband is based out of Woodstock IL and is the vision of Matt Potts. Matt is a graduate from Northern Illinois University with a degree in Industrial and Systems Engineering and also a degree in Steelpan Construction and Production. Upon leaving NIU, Matt realized that there were no opportunities to perform in a steelband now that he left NIU. After talking with some other NIU alums, Matt decided to purchase enough pans to start a steelband.
Although currently comprised almost entirely of NIU current and past students, this group is not closed to others. Everybody is welcome to take part in this ensemble. Currently there is only enough room for around 10 musicians, that will certainly grow in the future. Along with his playing, managing, and arranging duties, Matt is also the resident tuner of the band and is constantly on the lookout for new instruments. Matt is currently developing his building skills as well so that he can start making the band’s instruments from scratch.
Matt’s vision for the group is to help foster the growth of the steelpan within the Chicagoland area. He has plans to incorporate instructional classes with local high schools and use the Potts & Pans Steelband to help promote the instrument at local events. As interest continues to grow, Potts & Pans will grow as well. Matt’s ultimate goal for the band is to create a place within the community for friends to make music together while also educating people about the instrument and it’s rich heritage. He hopes to one day see the Potts & Pans Steelband become an integral part of the community here just as steelbands are in Trinidad.
As popularity and funding for the group grows, a special program for underprivileged children in community will be started. This program will focus on teaching kids that are not able to take music lessons anywhere else learn an instrument. Once this is accomplished, the business model for Potts & Pans will be shared with other communities around the US creating more opportunities for the steelpan to grow and prosper.
The inspiration for this band is rooted in Matt Potts’ experiences in the steelbands both in Trinidad and in New York. These bands serve as community hubs for people to go, lime, enjoy music, make friends, and learn from each other. Potts & Pans is determined to be a positive addition to the community and the Potts & Pans Steelband serves as the architect to this plan.