PAN-JUMBIE

Meet “Kat in De Hat” Brixton’s steel pans busker

UK – Walk by Brixton Tube and on almost any day and Mikey will be entertaining you on his steelpan. Simone Richardson dropped some cash into his basket and asked him about himself …

Mikey likes to be called “Kat in De Hat” – it’s on his business card, alongside the Jamaican flag. His parents are from Jamaica, but he was born in Camberwell and grew up there and has since lived in Dulwich, Peckham and, of course, Brixton. He is a Brixtonian at heart. He says it is his “stomping ground”.

He was 12 when he first played a steelpan: “I used to just mess about with a primary school band that had got a steelpan set, which was fun to do and it helped me progress learning. I moved into a professional band, which is where I learnt the rudiments of the instrument and how to play properly.”

Mikey has been a member of the London All Stars Steel Orchestra since 1986. It was founded in 1974 by Trinidadian Frank Rollock, a very accomplished pianist and multi-instrumentalist, who lays claim to organising Brixton’s first carnival.

Steelpan originated in Trinidad and Tobago and at its famous annual carnival in February. London’s Notting Hill carnival has Panorama – its own steelpan competition. It has attracted hundreds of performers and audiences in the thousands.

“I have been playing on the road at the Notting Hill carnival since 1978 and I started paying at the Panorama evening,” says Mikey.

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