Calypso Band 107/407C

Founded in 1986 by Dr. Eugene Novotney, the Humboldt State Calypso Band was the first ensemble of its kind in the entire California State University system. The Humboldt State Calypso Band is a 100% acoustic group comprised of an orchestra of steel drums, or more accurately, steelpans. The steelpan, or "pan" as it is called in the Caribbean, is a highly developed instrument formed from a raw 55-gallon oil barrel. The barrel is hammered, measured, etched, tempered, and then fine-tuned by an expert craftsman. Through the use of single, double, and multiple combinations of barrels of different depths, the full symphonic range of instrumentation is reproduced.

The Humboldt Calypso Band prides itself in maintaining an accurate and authentic connection to the roots of the steelband movement and the innovative musicians of Trinidad & Tobago, the island nation that created and developed this unique percussion phenomenon. Many of the Humboldt State Calypso Bands’ steelpans are built by Clifford Alexis, a Trinidad native living in the United States. The band is dedicated to the performance of traditional and contemporary music from the Caribbean, Africa, Brazil, and the United States.

The indigenous “Calypso” and “Soca” music performed by the Humboldt State Calypso Band represents the true voice of steelband music in the Caribbean, and steelband arrangements from Trinidad & Tobago greatly influence the group's repertoire and instrumentation. Over its twenty-five years of existence, the Humboldt State Calypso Band has developed a relationship with some of Trinidad & Tobago’s most important steelband composers, most notably Ray Holman & Len “Boogsie” Sharpe, who have written many of the arrangements and original scores that the group performs. Some alumni of the group have traveled to the West Indies, where they performed in the National Panorama Competition during Trinidad’s famous Carnival celebration, and performed in some of the best steelbands in the world. Other alumni have gone on to lead steelbands in communities, in public schools, at colleges and universities, and professionally throughout the United States.

The Humboldt State Calypso Band meets weekly as a class in the Department of Music, and is open to both music majors and non-majors alike. In addition to the Humboldt State Calypso Band’s regular performances at Humboldt State University and throughout Northern California, the Calypso Band has undertaken tours to San Francisco, Santa Cruz, San Jose, Santa Rosa, Sacramento, Stockton, Fresno, Bakersfield, Berkeley, Oakland, Long Beach, Los Angeles, San Diego, Eugene, OR, and Seattle, WA.

Calypso Band performing "Astrud" by Basia

Calypso Band performing "Steelband Paradise" by Ray Holman

Calypso Band performing "Afro-Blue" by Mongo Santamaria

Calypso Band performing "Pan on the Move" by Ray Holman

Calypso Band performing "Somebody" by Baron

Calypso Band performing "Pan Rising" by Len 'Boogsie' Sharpe

Student Documentary Project on the Humboldt State Calypso Band