Ian Dobson
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Ian Dobson

Seattle, Washington, United States | SELF

Seattle, Washington, United States | SELF
Band World Latin





"Ian Dobson's Pan Leggo is a fun and energetic band that can't help but make you happy!" - Robert Smith, National Public Radio Correspondent


"Dobson’s wanderlust and musical passion can be heard on his self-produced CD Caribbean Steel Drum Party. Dobson and his musicians perform exuberant salsa, samba…, reggae…, rock…, jazz (a salsafied version of John Coltrane’s ‘Giant Steps’), and Baroque…" - Patricia L. Herlevi, Skagit Valley Herald


Caribbean Steel Drum Party (2009)

Some tracks have been played on college radio stations, including the cover of Giant Steps by John Coltrane



Ian is a Seattle native who turned his back on the fame and fortune of grunge stardom to travel the world performing and learning about the music of various cultures. In 1995 Ian was asked to play drum set in the Pan Leggo Steelband, which got its start at Oberlin College. He became the band’s leader in 1997 and soon realized he wanted to learn to play the steel drums himself.

Ian’s musical hallmark is his ability to take disparate cultural influences and mix them together. To offer a few examples, he puts the Caribbean steel drum in jazz and classical settings, playing John Coltrane and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, and he takes popular American standbys, such as those by Jimmy Buffett, and transforms them by incorporating Salsa, Calypso, or other Latin/world rhythms. He loves to combine musical elements to make music of other cultures accessible to North Americans. At the same time, he is a great fit for communities with a large Hispanic population as his show resonates culturally with many Latinos and can be conducted in Spanish and/or English.

Ian defines his job as “musician and world music guide.” He is equal parts performing artist, teacher, and travel guide and his vision is to bring the world together through music and technology. To this end community outreach is a very important part of what he does and he strives to leverage technology to increase his effectiveness in this area.

Ian's website (iandobson.com) includes its own social network (similar to Facebook) and uses those structures to create an innovative online music space for his audiences, students, and workshop participants to learn, mentor, and share. His online materials allow Ian to encourage community involvement in his show before and long after his actual performance or class.

Ian loves to teach, and his specific community outreach programs include Caribbean dance and music clinics; “Recycalypso,” a participatory steel drum and recycling clinic ideal for encouraging recycling; guest appearances with concert or jazz bands at high schools and colleges; guest teaching in Spanish and Portuguese; and computer clinics exploring MIDI sequencing, music notation, and digital recording. In addition to his jazz studies B.Mus and his Percussion Performance M.M. from the University of Washington, he earned a B.A. in History from Pomona College and studied at the Oberlin Conservatory and the University of Lisbon. He also has an academic background in digital media and languages and is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese.

Ian offers two shows that feature the steel drums.

His new show, “Ian Dobson's Caribbean Escape,” is geared towards indoor theater performances and offers a participatory, entertaining, and educational program that is ideal for communities in need of an uplifting break from the winter. He currently offers this show as a quartet or quintet. Ian encourages presenters to be creative and playful with the show; perhaps serving Margaritas and coordinate with a local restaurant to serve a Caribbean menu the night of the performance. Combine these efforts with say a Caribbean dance and drumming workshop and a Recycalypso workshop and it's the next best thing to buying everyone in your community tickets to the Caribbean!

His original show is called “Ian Dobson’s Pan Leggo.” In Caribbean English “pan leggo” literally means “steel drum party,” and a party is just what this show delivers. Ian Dobson’s Pan Leggo is highly interactive and ideal for outdoor summer concerts, parties, school shows, and many other settings. Ian’s performances highlight the joy of exploring the world through music, the serendipity of combining several musical cultures in one song, and the creative genius of humans to make beautiful music out of whatever is around them. The show is available as a solo, duo, trio, quartet, quintet, sextet, or septet. More information on this show is available at www.panleggo.com.