Steel Drumming at the Apollo

By School Library Journal

The excitement of rivalry with a driving beat pounds through this account of the Hamilton Hill Steel Drum Band’s journey through three amateur rounds in the Super Top Dog competition at Harlem’s Apollo Theater. Marx introduces the seven young men, a combination of brothers and friends who attend the John Sayles School of Fine Arts and The Hamilton Hill Arts Center in Schenectady, NY. Dancers, singers, and talented musicians proficient on varied instruments, the musicians share a passionate dedication to their dreams that has helped them overcome a variety of family and personal difficulties. Marx traces the band’s progress through the tiers of competition in clear evocative prose depicting the visceral experience of performing as well as the hard work of practice and composition. Senisi’s color photographs enliven every page with shots of the teens (her son among them), the crowds, and the theater, capturing the thrill of the experience. Sidebars offer interesting background information about musical instruments and equipment, aspects of performance, and the Apollo itself. A CD of the band performing eight original selections, including their signature piece, “Bailamos,” completes readers’ sensory experience. More than just the story of a music competition, Steel Drumming at the Apollo is an inspiring story of young people overcoming personal odds with creativity and vision.