“Clyde plays electric base; plays it with finesse and grace.”
So are the opening words of a song by Waylon Jennings, written for his base player who complained there was never a song with his name in it. This complaint inspired Waylon to write one for him.
The same could be said about Darren Dyke and Zack Orr, who headlined the Eastern New Mexico University steel drum concert last Friday evening. (No, not the part about the name, although I don’t recall hearing those names in a song either.) The aspect I refer to is the acoustic guitar and steel drum which these two gentlemen combined for some incredibly transporting music.
When I say transporting, I mean exactly what you think I mean. Shall we go to Barbados? The Bahamas? Trinidad? We have only to close our eyes and our chairs in the CUB ballroom become beach chairs. We can hear the surf pounding behind the ringing and rhythm of the steel drum, sliding up and down the scale, followed by the soft acoustic guitar.
Oh, no. Reality brings us back to here and now, just as I was getting up to take a swim or order a cool coconut you-know-what drink. We are not sitting where the waves come crashing in and invite us to play. There is not a big yellow Caribbean moon over head. That is the stage light from the front of the auditorium.
But it seemed so real. I thought I was there. Awww. … No, Jackson, you were still right here in Portales. These two guys are just so good, they make you think you are in the islands.
We’ve done this routine before. In fact, we have done it for five years, each spring when the steel drum band gives its concert outside. Led by Neil Rutland, their director, they move their considerable amount of equipment out to the ENMU lawn. You bring the picnic, they make the music. As night comes down around you, you pretend that you are on the islands.
If you get really caught up in the fantasy, you may find yourself diving into the fountain.
But hey, these two guys added icing to the already very appealing cake. The steel drum band welcomed a considerable number of new players this year, who benefited I am sure from being exposed to the two special guests.
The only sad part of the evening was when one of my freshman, who plays in the band, informed me that the previous evening had been a jazz concert, which we also like to attend and which we managed to miss. There will, I am sure, be another.
Anyway, cheers to Professor Rutland and his musicians for arranging this event and bringing in two special guests. Boos, as always, to those who sat home Friday night and complained that there is nothing to do around here.
Get out and live, mon!
Clyde Davis is pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Portales and an instructor at Eastern New Mexico University. He can be contacted at