Music in the Park

Bacchanal steel drum band
has high energy sound

Cincinnati band to perform in Madison

By Tess Worrell
Contributing Writer

(September 2012) – As days shorten and temperatures drop, saying good-bye to summer can be hard. Just in time, Bacchanal Steel Band conjures images of sunny beaches and ocean breezes as their calypso beat brings a final taste of summer to Madison. Bacchanal specializes in steel drums and tenor pans to create both Calypso and Soca tunes – the primary musical styles from Trinidad, home of steel instruments. The band also throws in some Reggae, pop, classical and jazz, just to keep the night interesting.

Bacchanal Steel Band

Photo provided

The Bacchanal Stee
l Band was inspired
by teen musicians
playing in Cincinnati.
The band consists
of (from left) Bill
Jackson, Brian Malone,
Jennie Malone
and Bernie Wells.

When Bacchanal played for Madison Main Street Program’s “Music in the Park” series a couple of years ago, listeners were so enthralled with the band’s musical variety organizers were thrilled to bring them back to finish the Music in the Park series.
Music in the Park offers free concerts at the Broadway Fountain every second Friday from June through September. Bacchanal will take the stage at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 8. While this will be the last regular Music in the Park event, a special “Music in the Park” concert is held annually for the Saturday night of Madison Chautauqua, Sept. 29, featuring the Doctors Band. It begins at 7 p.m. also.
Madisonians are invited to bring folding chairs and blankets to enjoy a free evening of music downtown for these popular concerts.
Bacchanal was formed by a lucky, chance-encounter with a group of struggling teens. Lead musician Brian Malone started his musical career as a percussionist and played professionally for orchestras in the Cincinnati area.
“I was in Cincinnati one day and heard a group of teens playing this incredible music. I loved the style and wanted to learn more,” says Malone. The teens were members of the Over the Rhine Steel Drum Band, playing at Peaslee Neighborhood Center, a local community center for at-risk teens. The center put on a free training program in steel drums to give local teens the opportunity to learn the style and get a start in music.
Over the Rhine rehearsed and performed out of the center. “I got a job at the center to learn to play the music. Before long, they made me director of the band. We played through the center until 2001.”
After leaving the center, Malone organized his own band with his now-wife, Jennie Malone, an old college buddy, Bernie Wells, and Bill Jackson. Malone plays tenor pan, his wife plays double second pan, Wells the drums and Jackson focuses on bass. They bring steel drum music to the tri-state region.
“Our best gig came when we were invited to play the Caribbean leg of a world-wide Japanese cruise. We got to actually visit the places originating the music we love to play,” says Malone.
The band also travels throughout the region and as far as North Carolina conducting school programs to introduce students to the steel band style. Bacchanal’s unique tropical style is sure to bring a fresh energy and engages listeners in a departure from the typical rock, blues, and country styles that play the series.
Madison Main Street Program is a non-profit organization promoting businesses in Madison. The concert series helps bring people downtown and promote downtown businesses, according to Gerry Reilly, head of Madison Main Street Project.
“While Music in the Park is the most popular offering, the Main Street Program also promotes business through events such as the Fourth Friday events, Art Jam, the “Buy-Local” campaign and seminars helping educate local business leaders. We work to grow the Madison economy by offering events that bring people downtown and encourage them to buy locally.”
Reilly notes that as the money stays in Madison, more products come available here, and we keep jobs in Madison.
“Because we are a non-profit organization without any city support, we pass the hat at concerts to keep funding flowing to these important endeavors. The summer concert series has been a great success, and we hope to see the pay off for local businesses.”
Malone said he can’t wait for Bacchanal to return to Madison. “We love historic river towns,” he notes. “We walk down Main Street, tour the Lanier Mansion, and enjoy the river. We can’t wait to get back there and spend an evening with the people. We’d love to see everyone come down to the Broadway Fountain to enjoy the concert. We’ll even offer the opportunity for audience members to get involved if they like. Just come listen and enjoy.”

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