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The Esso Trinidad Steel Band

Steel drum ambassadors the Esso Trinidad Steel Band began their career in 1942. Originally named the Tripoli Steel Band in honor of the U.S. Marines Hymn (with its reference to "the shores of Tripoli"), the group's roots lie in the evolution of the steel pan, the homemade percussion instrument forged from the milk tins, paint cans, and oil barrels clotting Trinidad's shores. At first a means of creative expression for the island's poor, steel pan bands eventually surfaced across Trinidad, leading to fierce competition at the annual Carnival celebration. With Hugh Borde assuming leadership of the Tripoli Steel Band in 1951, the group quickly emerged as one of the most skilled and creative units in competition, and in 1964 won the first official Steel Band Music Festival. By this time Trinidad was independent from British rule, and with foreign oil companies fearing nationalization of their business, they began seeking new ways to win favor with the island's population. In 1965, the Esso oil company agreed to sponsor the Tripoli Steel Band, which was renamed the Esso Trinidad Steel Band as a result. Esso provided instruments, uniforms, and touring finances for the 28-piece outfit, which in 1967 made its international debut at the Montreal Expo World's Fair. The appearance earned the group a record deal with the Toronto-based ARC Sound label, and in 1971 a Van Dyke Parks-produced LP followed on Warner Bros. When Esso terminated its sponsorship, the renamed Trinidad Tripoli Steel Band toured the world for over two years in support of the flamboyant pianist Liberace. An LP, Liberace Presents the Trinidad Tripoli Steel Band, also won a Grammy Award. When Borde relocated his family from Trinidad to Ypsilanti, MI, in 1976, the group effectively splintered, but his children (led by son Emile) later organized a new Trinidad Tripoli Steel Band lineup, releasing the LP Momentum in 1985. This version of the group continued touring into the next century. ~ Jason Ankeny
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: Esso Trinidad Steel Band

1. Apeman

2. If You Let Me Make Love To You Then Why Can't I Touch You?

3. Ride On Sammy

4. Simple Calypso

5. Cecilia

6. I Want You Back

7. Sabre Dance

8. Come To The Sunshine

9. Erasmus B. Black

10. If I Had The Wings(Like A Dove)

11. Singer Man

12. Aquarium

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