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pan-handlers - then and now

Ten years ago, a brand-new band was born

In this video taken April 26th, 2014, founding Pan-handlers members practice "My Band" by Ray Holman. The OG band members (with the possible exception of Jeremy Kunkel) had no idea that Pan-handlers would become the region's premier steel-drum band, nor that their efforts would result, a decade later, in multiple steel-drum education and performance programs. This video is must-see-TV as we journey back in time to see the 2014 version of some familiar faces!

Original band members, in order of appearance in the video: Jess Szafranski, Nate Gamb, Adrian Davis, Alysha Weyer, Greg Kroshus, Jo Hartfiel, Jeremy Kunkel, Andrew Meyer, Jeff Mohr, and Josh Swantz (not pictured - he's taking the video!)

That was then, and this is now!

Pan-handlers Director Chris Belich is honored to further the founders' legacy as he looks to the future. "Hundreds of performances and thousands of entertainment-hours later, Pan-handlers is still a fan favorite and routinely opens the summer season for popular local outdoor venues," said Belich.

Current members include: Director Chris Belich, Assistant Director Olin Edwards, Greg Kroshus, Charlotte Hugget, Emily Krawczewski, Emily Herold, Julie Osmonson, Kate Hildebrant, Karin Rau, Robert Skoglund, Jess Szafranski, Andrew Martin, Peyton Green, Katy Goerke, Scott Jennerjohn, Chris Erickson, Mathew Solace, Kelly Elias, and Michael Olive (Logistics & Operations).


Tribute to Pan Founding Member Jeff Mohr
by Jeremy Kunkel

"The founding member of the Pan-handlers Steel Drum Band, and one of the greatest champions of the Chops, Inc. Pan Programs, was our dear friend Jeff Mohr. My very first recruiting phone call was to Jeff, not because of the pan player he was (nobody really knew what they were doing) but because of the person he was. Jeff had never really read any music outside of the single line denoting his bass drum part as a member of Chopstix and the Chops, Inc. Drum & Bugle Corps, so the idea of playing many different notes, figuring out the key signature, and learning an entirely different instrument took a little bit of convincing.

As expected, Jeff worked. And worked. Until he was confident with his parts and was the most reliable member of the band. As a long-time Chops board member and web designer, Jeff started our Pan-handlers website and streamlined our communications. Jeff filled in for parades, played every trio gig for multiple years, and stood in front of hundreds of students helping administer the Pan Outreach program during its infancy.

It literally took cancer to keep Jeff out of a school, performance, or rehearsal, and he continued to practice his instrument in his home until it was no longer physically possible. Every year since his passing, a song in our performance at Day of Pan is dedicated to Jeff's memory, during which I play his cellos...which, in my mind, will always be Jeff's cellos. Every note played on these instruments, be it during a parade, concert, in a classroom, or in the practice room is a testament to the legacy of work Jeff put in to make all of these programs possible. Thank you, dear friend. You are deeply missed every day."

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