Local community steel band Steelin’ Thunder will give back to its Caribbean roots via a concert Sunday, Jan. 24 at 2 p.m. in the sanctuary of Rockland Congregational Church, 180 Limerock St.

The concert is a benefit for a medical relief mission to the victims of the Haiti earthquake. Dr. Kevin Olehnik of Penobscot Bay Orthopaedic Medicine Associates will lead a team of local physicians who will travel to Haiti as soon as possible to help provide medical assistance.

After the concert, refreshments will be served while the audience has an opportunity to meet the musicians and learn about the melodic sound of steel drums.¬†Generous donations are requested, to benefit the relief efforts of Dr. Olehnik’s team in Haiti.

Steel drums were invented on the island of Trinidad around the time of World War II. The very first pitched steel drums were made from smaller metal containers and were convex in shape. The performer would carry the smaller metal drum with one hand and beat the metal with the other. Today, the drum is constructed from the bottom of a 55-gallon barrel, sunk down in a concave fashion and tuned with precision.

Steelin’ Thunder had its genesis in youth and adult education programs. Ten years ago, Mike Miller of Rockland visited his son at summer camp and found him playing steel drums. Thinking “How hard could it be?” he set about the task of raising $8,000 for the equipment for a steel drum band.

The first MSAD 5 Adult Education steel drum class was taught by Carl Chase of Blue Hill, in order to show Miller what was needed. After much practice, Steelin’ Thunder was born. Band members were reluctant to perform at first but when they realized that people would pay and they could raise money for the program in that way, they acquiesced.

Today, Steelin’ Thunder is still led by Mike Miller and presents 20 or so performances a year, from Damariscotta to Belfast and all over the Midcoast. The band’s members have donated their time and funds to local music programs and continue to wow the audiences with a broad repertoire and a little shtick.

Sunday’s concert is co-sponsored by Steelin’ Thunder and Rockland Congregational Church.

VillageSoup Art/Entertainment Editor Dagney Ernest can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail to dernest@villagesoup.com.