By Ann Reily
---- — The distinctive sounds of steel drums will fill the air outside The Tannery Marketplace tonight, when students from Zach Field Drum Studios will show off their talents in a free concert.
The show, which starts at 7 and will last about an hour, will feature three of the studio’s student bands, which include youths in elementary school, middle school and high school. They will all play on drums made in Philadelphia from 55-gallon oil cans.
Concertgoers can expect a variety of music, from traditional calypso music to more modern tunes like “Two Step” by Dave Matthews Band and “Boogie on Reggae Woman” by Stevie Wonder.
Members of the high school band said they are particularly excited to perform “Two Step” tonight.
“I really like ‘Two Step,’” said Lindsey Thurlow, a 17-year-old Newbury resident who plays the tenor drum, also known as the lead pan. “I didn’t really like Dave Matthews before, and now I’m OK with him.”
“I didn’t really know Dave Matthews at first, and it’s kind of opened me up to him,” said Luca Provencal, 16, of Merrimac.
Thurlow, who attends Triton Regional High School, has been taking lessons at the studio since she was in the eighth grade. Provencal, a student at Pentucket Regional High School, started playing drums in the fourth grade and first began learning steel drums four years later.
“I just like the sound of them,” said Provencal, who plays double seconds.
Tonight’s concert will serve as a sort of a farewell performance, as it marks the end of the groups’ sessions, with new ones slated to start in September. Some of the younger students will move up to new groups, while others will “graduate” from the high school group and head off to college.
Joe August, 18, who plays the cellos, leaves next week for Scotland, where he will study physics at the University of St. Andrews. The St. John’s Prep alumnus and Groveland resident said he hopes to continue playing music “just for fun.”
In addition to drums, which he started playing in the seventh grade, he also has experience on the piano, clarinet and saxophone.
“I wanted to play drums because they seemed fun, so I gave it a shot, and it was fun, so here I am,” he said.
Eddie Gaudet, 18, is also saying goodbye to the high school group tonight, something he said hasn’t registered with him yet.
“It will definitely hit me once I get there,” said Gaudet, who started officially playing drums in the third grade but said he has been banging “pots and pans since I was 3.”
The Merrimac resident and Pentucket graduate said he will miss the camaraderie of the group the most, particularly the moments they spend together on the road. The group often plays at The Governor’s Academy in Byfield and will kill time at the playground there between setting up and performing.
“Some of the best moments are before the show,” Gaudet said. “We all just hang out. It’s nice to form a close bond with everyone.”
“I love the time when we’re all traveling in the van together,” said Zach Field, who started his studios in West Newbury in 1999. “It just feels like one big family.”
Gaudet, who plays double seconds, is heading off to the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he plans to continue his music education and eventually make a career out of it.
“It sounds selfish, but I just want to play for me,” he said.
And Gaudet won’t leave Zach Field Drum Studios all together. Next summer, he will play with the Plum Island Pans, the studios’ faculty group. Field said he also is thinking about starting an alumni group that he hopes Gaudet will be a part of.
Tonight’s concert will be a good learning experience for the younger bands, Field said.
“The elementary kids get to see the older student bands play,” he said. “They can see what’s ahead of them. It’s very motivating for them.”
In turn, “The high school kids get to see where they once started,” said Field, who has been in the Tannery for three years now and has grown his business to include six instructors.
Tonight’s show will be held under the event tent in the parking lot and is appropriate for all ages. Attendees are encouraged to bring chairs.
If you go
What: Performance by Zach Field Drum Studios’ student bands
When: Tonight at 7
Where: Event tent in front of Mill 1, The Tannery Marketplace, 50 Water St., Newburyport
How much: Free