The Tampa Bay Steel Orchestra formed in 2003 in St. Petersburg, FL. TBSO is a traditional steel band, utilizing steel pans, percussion and vocals. They perform the traditional Calypso and Soca of Trinidad & Tobago (the birthplace of steel pan), as well as other Caribbean styles and even classical music. Their first CD, Tampa Bay Steel Orchestra, is available on all major download services. They’ve been featured in two successful Pops series with the Florida Orchestra, and have performed at the Palladium Theater in St. Petersburg, Largo Cultural Center, Tampa Bay Caribbean Carnival, St. Petersburg College, the WFLA “Daytime” show, and St. Petersburg First Night with American Idol’s Michael Lynche.
John Shaw – tenor pan
John Shaw is the principal percussionist with The Florida Orchestra, which he joined in 1992. He has been with the Eastern Music Festival in Greensboro, North Carolina since 2008, where he also serves as principal percussion. Shaw earned a bachelor’s of music degree from Florida State University, where he studied with Gary Werdesheim, and a master’s of music degree from Temple University as a student of noted Philadelphia Orchestra percussionist Alan Abel.
Fred Johnson – vocals
Fred is a graduate of the National Academy of the Performing Arts as well as the Master Performers School of the National Mime Theater. He has recorded and toured worldwide with jazz legends Chick Corea, Richard Elliot, George Benson, David Sanborn, B. B. King, Ramsey Lewis, Patti LaBelle, Herbie Mann, and the great Miles Davis. Currently the Director of Education and Outreach at The Center for Creative Resources in New York, Fred was for many years affiliated with the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center in Florida where he served as both Vice President of Education and Humanities and Artist-in-Residence.
Joe Braccio – double tenor pans
Joe Braccio, guitarist and steel drummer, teaches at Eckerd College, St. Petersburg College, Pinellas County Center for the Arts, John Hopkins Communicatons Magnet and also taught briefly at Clearwater Christian college. Joe started the curriculum for both guitar and steel drums at Perkins elementary, John Hopkins middle, PCCA and co-started steel drums with John Shaw at St Petersburg College.
Dave Holmstrand – double tenor pans
Dave has a background in percussion and tech. He was in the Busch Gardens Steel Band in the 90’s and is a founding member of the Tampa Bay Steel Orchestra. Currently, his group Caladesi Steel Band is a popular steel drum band at resorts and events all around Florida. He’s worked on digital advertising and web development projects for national publications, and now works through his own company, engine room web.
Steady Joseph – cello pans
Steady is originally from Trinidad & Tobago, the birthplace of the steel pan. He performed for many years as a percussionist at Walt Disney World, and has recorded with Eric Darius and Gloria Gaynor.
Patrick Bettison – bass pans, percussion
Patrick is a bassist and chromatic harmonica player, born in England and raised in Australia. He has toured and performed with Acoustic Alchemy, Gary Husband, Gumbi Ortiz, Manfredo Fest and many others.
Mark Neuenschwander – bass pans
Mark Neuenschwander adopted the bass in order to perform more jazz and contemporary music. He studied music at Memphis State and engineering at Purdue. Widely known as one of Florida’s finest bassists and busiest musicians, Mark has performed or recorded with many “greats,” including Cab Calloway, Billy Eckstine, Panama Francis, Steve Allen, Rosemary Clooney, Diane Schuur, Michael Feinstein, Yanni, Chick Corea, John Abercrombie, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Monty Alexander, George Wein, Russell Malone, John Pizzarelli and hundreds more. Mark is also on the faculty of St. Petersburg College, Eckerd College and the Pinellas County Center for the Arts.
Craig Benson – drums
Craig Benson is a percussionist for the Naples Philharmonic and a substitute with the Florida Orchestra.
Johnny Lowery – percussion
Johnny Lowery is a Tampa native, and performed all over the country for the US Marine Corps Show Band. He was a member of the Busch Gardens Steel Band, and has also performed at Disney and Universal Studios. He now performs with Caladesi Steel Band and his own group, JLowerySteel.
Some Photos ©2009 J.M.Lennon/Lennon Media All Rights Reserved