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The Caribbean Coyotes celebrate Mardi Gras

On Mardi Gras, the University of South Dakota bands celebrated with a performance in the fine arts building. The USD steel band named the Caribbean Coyotes and USD’s Jazz Band performed. Dr. Darin Wadley directs both of these bands.

“Mardi Gras is a worldwide celebration,” Wadley said. “In Trinidad, it is their main steel band holiday. There are competitions and parades and that’s how the steel band started. I thought it’d be appropriate to do the steel band.”

While the bands have been practicing frequently in preparation for their individual concerts, Wadley felt it was important for the groups to come together to celebrate Mardi Gras.

“We just rehearsed our pieces and worked on what we were going to play,” Wadley said. “The jazz band had a concert the previous night, and the steel band has our big concert coming up in April. So we are still learning but we had enough tunes to play” 

USD has the only steel drum band in South Dakota, so Wadley said this was a unique experience. Sophomore drummer Brady Riker said he liked the challenge.

“My favorite part, personally, is trying to learn the school songs on the steel drums,” Riker said. “Typically, the part I was given was written for trombones, and at first it was a challenge. I finally got it and now I can play our school song on the steel drums.”

Riker said this performance allowed students to enjoy the music and learn more about the history behind it.

“We learned a whole lot about cultures that differ from ours and it was very eye-opening,” Riker said. ”I believe students should come to watch these performances because you learn about all these amazing pieces of music, where the steel drums came from and the history of the steel drums. Wadley knows a lot about steel drums and it is always amazing to learn more about.”

Wadley said USD’s steel band is open to everybody on campus and is not specific to music majors.

“Anybody on campus is eligible to play. All you have to be able to do is read music,” Wadley said. “So if anyone has played any instrument, they can still play in the percussion ensemble, they can play in the steel band.”

The Caribbean Coyotes’ next performance will be Wednesday, April 6.

“It’s a groovy experience,” Riker said. “We will be playing all the tunes we already played for Mardi Gras and more.”