NACOGDOCHES, Texas – The Jacks of Steel at Stephen F. Austin State University will present “This Feelin’ Nice” program when the steel band performs at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 14, in Cole Concert Hall on the SFA campus.
Directed by Dr. James Vilseck, the Jacks of Steel will perform music that is “relaxing, groovy and just plain enjoyable to listen to,” Vilseck said. “The entire program is based on ‘feel-good’ music. We feature some traditional pieces, called a soca or a calypso, that you would typically think of when you think steel drums, as well as some popular songs all about that warm feeling, such as ‘Happy’ by Pharell Williams and ‘I Can See Clearly Now’ by Johnny Nash.”
Vilseck said the theme of the concert relates to his favorite characteristic about this type of ensemble. “The steel drum ensemble is a blast to perform in and to teach,” he said. “The music often fits into the theme already, so selecting the repertoire actually became a challenge, because we had so much to pull from. The charts we are playing, while all feel-good music, still brings a good variety, from fast and energetic, to slow and relaxing. This concert is sure to bring a smile to your face!”
The concert opens with “Morning Dance” written by Jay Beckinstein and performed by the band Spyro Gyra. A personal favorite of Vilseck’s and the first chart he played on steel pan in his undergraduate studies, he described it as “a jazz fusion chart that is the epitome of feel-good music, bringing a positive energy and groove, as if to start the day off right, or in this case, the concert.”
In addition to “Happy” and “I Can See Clearly Now,” the audience will recognize “Don’t Worry Be Happy” by Bobby McFerrin, as the ensemble brings a Caribbean twist to each song.
For the final piece of the concert, the Jacks of Steel will be joined by Nacogdoches High School percussion students under the direction of Frank Gonzalez. Performing the classic steel band chart “Jump in the Line,” the SFA members will play on steel pans while the NHS students perform on various mallet instruments.
Vilseck described the current Jacks of Steel group as “one of the most energetic and skilled steel band ensembles I’ve taught here at SFA. The way they have embraced the music and this program makes me very excited to share their music with people. The coolest thing to me is that many of the members had never touched a steel band instrument when we started at the end of August, yet they have pushed themselves to master the instrument and the repertoire.”
Tickets are $8 for adults, $6 for seniors and $3 for students and youth. To purchase tickets, call the SFA Fine Arts Box Office at (936) 468-6407 or visit finearts.sfasu.edu. For additional information, contact the SFA School of Music at (936) 468-4602.