Ipswich band inspired by Windrush fathers' musical legacy to showcase unique Caribbean sound
PUBLISHED: 15:45 04 August 2018 | UPDATED: 15:45 04 August 2018
An Ipswich-based Caribbean band carrying on their Windrush fathers’ musical legacy are bringing their unique blend of tropical music to one of the town’s busiest shopping spots.
Phaze2 Caribbean Steelband, whose fathers formed the Ipswich Caribbean Band in the early 1960s, will be showcasing their traditional Caribbean beats with a modern twist at the Sailmakers Shopping Centre.
Bass pan player Dave Claxton, 52, from Ipswich, said: “We’re really looking forward to playing at the shopping centre. It’s our hometown and the chances are we’ll know a lot of people.
“It’s going to be very entertaining with a bit of audience participation. We like to spread a bit of happiness. I always say the steelpans make you see sunshine with your eyes shut.”
The band grew up listening to Caribbean music as their parents, who originated from the West Indies, came over to the UK as part of the Windrush generation.
They formed the band to keep their fathers’ legacy alive, although some of the original group are still performing today.
Mr Claxton added: “They have performed regularly at the Suffolk Show for many a year. We do help them out occasionally when they’re short of players.
“Our dads wanted the legacy and tradition to carry on. We were practising in the cellar of a pub for a while until we had enough songs.
“Some band members have changed but the mainstay of the band are the sons of the fathers in the main steel band. And all our pan players play exactly the same pans our dads did. I play the bass pan just like my dad.
“It’s in our heritage, our dads nurtured us and when we first started practising they stood over us and helped. Now the fledglings have come through.”
Mike Sorhaindo, manager of Sailmakers Shopping Centre, spent his childhood on the West Indian island of Dominica. He said: “Steel bands are a unique example of Caribbean culture with a fantastic sound and very high quality musicianship.
“They will add a really authentic feel to the event and with Caribbean food and plenty of fun lined up it promises to be quite a carnival at Sailmakers.”
The band predominantly play Soca, Calypso and reggae music but also cover the likes of Ed Sheeran, Amy Winehouse, Elvis, and U2 with a Caribbean flavour.
The group are regularly booked for events and have played at the fan zone outside Ipswich Town FC’s Portman Road on match day – with a gig pencilled in before the East Anglia Derby with Norwich City in September.
Mr Claxton, whose parents originated from the islands of St Kitts and Nevis, said he remembered the odd occasion when he’d be lucky enough to see his dad perform in his band, although as a child he never had any desire to follow in his footsteps.
He said “Occasionally it would be a treat for us to go and watch them. They used to travel about in a van and because a lot of them couldn’t drive there would be quite a few members travelling in it. It would also be crammed with instruments so trying to fit children in it as well wasn’t very easy.
“I never thought back then that I wanted to follow in my father’s footsteps. I was too involved in playing football and chasing girls.
“We watched them playing and thought this is interesting. The conversation was had and it turned out they had a spare set of rusty and battered pans so we practised with them.
“Over time we got better instruments, made a better sound and it basically evolved from there.
“When you play pans and hear the song come out you feel so good about the music you’re creating.
“We’ve taken what our dads do and given it a modern take. We try to incorporate everything for everyone.”
The showcase will take place during Ipswich’s free four-day Summer Carnival from August 9-12 – with Caribbean-themed events held at Sailmakers from 11.30am to 4pm each day.