Maverick Steel to Perform at CSU Mall Fest April 28
For Michael Thursby, bringing a steelpan band to the music program at Minnesota State Mankato marks another item he checked off his bucket list.
For some, creation of Maverick Steel may seem like a little check compared to the gigantic mark Thursby has made as the driving force behind the formation and evolution of the Maverick Machine marching band. But for Thursby, music director for athletic bands and percussion, it has been a true labor of love.
“I’m very passionate about steel drums and world music in general.” Thursby said. “And when I started here in 2013, I had it on my bucket list of things to bring the University. After a couple of years, we found the funding to get the instruments and get it started.”
Before long, the steel band was off the ground.
“The branding that we have used is Maverick Steel. Just because it’s kind of a cool sound to it,” Thursby said. “It’s an offshoot of our University percussion ensemble. We traditionally have performed at the percussion ensemble concerts, and it’s been kind of limited to that. I do see now more opportunities for us to have that group perform in different areas.”
The Maverick Steel will get its first outing of the year – literally – as part of the day’s outdoor activities at the Centennial Student Union’s annual Mall Fest on Wednesday, April 28. The University’s steel band will entertain with a short set starting at 11 a.m.
Following the performance, the CSU Serendipity Music Series will host the local rock and country band, Fat City All-Stars, who will play until 1 p.m. Other Mall Fest activities include free hot dogs and a petting zoo. The Student Events Team will also present its annual 1,000 Ways to Win ping-pong drop at noon.
‘This group is just so much fun. The students are having a great time learning these instruments and I’m having fun just watching them. Even though we’re wearing masks and protecting ourselves, you can tell that everybody is just smiling. After a year like we’ve had, that’s what we need right now.’MICHAEL THURSBY
Thursby said he added the steel drum to his personal percussion portfolio while earning is undergraduate degree at the University of Iowa. He later played with the professional steel band, The Pan Handlers, out of the Twin Cities.
It’s always been something since I did my undergrad that I’ve just loved and been interested in,” he said.
As he introduces this new instrument to his percussion students, Thursby said passing that love for the steel pan on to his students has its own reward.
“This group is just so much fun,” he said about Maverick Steel, despite a trying year when COVID has impacted live performances. “The students are having a great time learning these instruments and I’m having fun just watching them. Even though we’re wearing masks and protecting ourselves, you can tell that everybody is just smiling. After a year like we’ve had, that’s what we need right now.”
Rising from its calypsos roots, the steelpan is now found in a wide range of music, Thursby said.
You’ll hear steel bands play basically anything and everything from pop music to rock and reggae swing,” he said, “Almost every style of music can be played on these instruments, which is really cool as well.”
Thursby said Maverick Steel is finalizing its play list for its upcoming Mall Fest performance.
And don’t doubt that somewhere, somehow, the Maverick Rouser will be added to the Maverick Steel repertoire.
“That’s on the list,” Thursby said with a chuckle. “We haven’t learned it yet, but it’s on the list. It’s something I’ve wanted to do since we started the group.”
Steelpan (also know as steel pan, steel drum or pan, and sometimes, collectively with other musicians, as a steelband or orchestra) is a musical instrument originating from Trinidad and Tobago. Steelpan musicians are called pannists.