Richard Rudolph, and his wife Delilah, are longtime SWVA music teachers. Back in 2000, born out of a desire to keep things new and fresh for their students, they attended a steel drum summit in West Virginia. Amongst this international gathering of Carribean musicians, they found themselves jumping on the train that is the joy-filled, endless-summer, can't-help-but-dance-along world of playing the "pans".
They decided to bring this contagious experience back to their students in Roanoke and formed a couple of bands that performed local concerts whilst also traveling around to competitions and presenting informational workshops in the area. One such workshop took place somewhere around 2008 here at Smith Mountain Lake, and dozens of the attendees that evening were enthusiastic about weaving steel drums into the permanent musical fabric of the lake!
Here we are nearly a decade and a half later, and the SML Steel Drum Band is 50+ members strong. The group practices year-round on Monday evenings at Bridgewater Plaza, so this is a fantastic opportunity if you're looking for a fun outlet during the winter months. Do you need prior musical experience? “Absolutely not!”, says ‘Pandaddy’ Richard who heads up the group. All ages are welcomed, and if you're worried about being on your feet for too long, well, you can even play the pans sitting down!
When a new member joins the band, Richard has a few one-on-one sessions to acclimate them to the instrument. After that, they join the 'Toucans'. This is the beginner/intermediate arm of the band, and members are welcome to stay there as long as they'd like! If, however, they would enjoy the challenge of more difficult music, they can move up to the ‘Parrot Band’ which dives into the more intricate side of playing the steel drums. Sidenote: there are even apps available now that allow you to practice at home!
The combined bands perform 2-3 local concerts each year that benefit area charities/foundations. They also enjoy traveling to competitions and just getting together and making festive music! Whether it's island style, Latin, pop, holiday, you name it, you can't walk away from a practice without a smile on your face!
If you'd like more information on joining the band, feel free to contact Richard via text: