KONKIE: Steel Pan Extremist from Curaçao
Russell 'Konkie' Halmeyer was born and raised on the island of Curaçao, 60 kilometres off the coast of Venezuela. Konkie is a percussionist who specializes in the steelpan, a percussion instrument originating from Trinidad and Tobago that is made out of an industrial drum. He started playing at the age of 12. Throughout his career, he has explored the boundaries of the steelpan and associated genres. Konkie has become one of the most innovative pannists in the Caribbean, taking the steel pan out of its context of steel bands, carnival and calypsos. In the 1990s he often performed in the USA and Europe, merging steel band sounds with jazz.
In Curaçao, where he is considered the most important pannist on the island, Konkie mainly performs in hotels and at tourist sites. He enjoys playing for these crowds, but his true passion and joy lie in arranging deep and melancholic compositions. The two tracks on this single are the result of that joy. Simadan Kologá means ‘the hanging harvest’ in the Papiamentu language. Simadan or Seú is the local harvest period on the island. Kologá means ‘hanging’: Konkie used a hanging steel pan for the arrangement. Mi Ke Libertat means ‘I want freedom’.
Other instruments heard on this release: drum, conch (seashell horn), and chapi, the iron part of a hoe that slaves used to work the fields with.
The sculpture on the sleeve art is a real-life artefact made out of stray plastic collected on the northern coast of Curaçao by Roberto Tjon-A-Meeuw and production by Mathijs Reinen (Rozaly).