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Derek Smith, steel drum musician

San Francisco Bay Area musician Derek Smith has been entertaining audiences for more than 25 years though his innovative music that combines the melodic brightness of the Caribbean steel drum with the driving rhythms of Calypso and Latin Jazz. Smith's unique sound is inspired by legendary musicians like timbales king Tito Puente, Latin Jazz vibraphone great Cal Tjader, and calypso master Lord Kitchener. The influence of such renown players has led Smith to create an original musical experience that can be described as soulful and joyous. 

Smith manages several bands reflecting each of his musical strengths and interests. Performing on steel drums for the majority of his performances, his talent isn't limited to the pan. His credits also include a long list of drumset, percussion, and vibraphone appearances on other musicians' albums.


He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in music, with an emphasis on percussion. Smith graduated from Cal Poly Humboldt under the direction of Eugene Novotney (and the Humboldt Calypso Band.) 


Smith has shared the stage with some notable steel drum bands including: Andy Narell, Jeff Narell, Pankind Steel Drum Band, Jim Munzenrider & SF Panhandlers, Phil Hawkins, Ray Holman, Cliff Alexis, Humboldt Calypso Band, Starlift Steelband (in Trinidad & Tobago), Duvone Stewart. 

Smith teaches steel drum and performs for schools throughout the SF Bay Area: He taught and directed the Solano Panhandlers steel band at Solano Community College in Fairfield, CA for 6 years. He continues to provide assemblies to every elementary school in San Francisco as employed by the San Francisco Symphony (Adventures in Music). He has much experience teaching after-school programs to middle and elementary schools including Edna Brewer Middle School in Oakland, Mission Junior High in Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz High School, East Bay Center for the Performing Arts in Richmond.  


Smith's trips to the Caribbean led him to Cuba and Puerto Rico for percussive studies, and Trinidad, West Indies for steelpan and carnival experience. A cruise ship gig ("Salsa Cruise") took him along the Mexican coast and back to Catalina Island.

Steel Drum CD's that Derek Smith has recorded:

Derek Smith - Latin Expression
Derek Smith - Pan Montuno

Pankind - IUMA

Panyard Sketches - Sanch Records

Humboldt Calypso Band (w/Ray Holman) - discontinued


Can you find Derek Smith playing steel drums (double tenors) in this video?

O' Trinidad, Starlift steel band, 1998, in Port of Spain, Trinidad. 

(arranged by one of the most revered Trinidadian steel band arrangers, Ray Holman) 

CD Recordings Available:

Derek Smith Pan Montuno CD

Pan Montuno

2005 - DSMP

Derek Smith Latin Expression CD

Latin Expression

2009 - DSMP

Panyard Sketches

Panyard Sketches

1998 - Sanch Electronix Ltd

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