Washington National Steel Orchestra records at Blue House Productions
Zest and spirit and spunk and funk. These are just a few of the many words one could use to describe the Washington National Steel Orchestra. The group, led by a pair of brothers, comes from the greater DC area. The instruments that make up the orchestra are as unique as the individuals who play them; all play variations of the traditional steel drum. The steel drum’s origin is found in Trinidad and Tobago, and listening to the WNSO perform, it feels as though you’ve traveled to the island itself. Without a doubt, the group can synchronize with one another in a familial quality as if they have been playing together for years. A fairly new group, the WNSO first preformed the other night at Blue House Productions’ Sound Stage, just a short drive from Washington, DC. The night was off to a slow start as different members trickled in from their day jobs and after school programs, but it picked up quickly after the first beats were dropped. The group’s age range is from teens in high school to adults and parents. Despite the gap in age, the group sounded particularly cohesive as they warmed up, and set up. Talking to each other as if they had known their fellow orchestra members their whole lives, the Steel Orchestra exuded a sense of camaraderie in their demeanor. Once recording began, their collective sound filled the spacious studio to the brim, and an infectious groove formed. Standing in the background watching flashes of cameras go off as the group fearlessly danced through their music, I couldn’t help tapping my foot along to the beat. Watching the Washington National Steel Orchestra perform was like watching a ballet of sound, in which the performers are so good the overall effect is seemingly effortless. Soon, everyone was dancing and swaying to the orchestra’s harmonies.