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John Patti: Man of Steel


John Patti has been involved with Steel Drums since the age of 10 years old. Thanks to a theme park “Sesame Place” with old steel drums as part of an attraction called “Oscar’s Trash Cans.” John remembers “It was the first time I ever played a steel drum and where it all started. I looked into the instrument once I got back home and started teaching myself.”

Let’s start back with John’s parents (Jimmy Buffett fans) videoing him on a drum set his second birthday and giving him the instrumental tools that had him playing rhythm to songs by age four. John played drums and percussion on any object by tapping, beating or banging focusing on creating a rhythm. From school books to furniture, even using his own body to make sounds from his chest, stomach, mouth and legs! “If I could make a beat or groove with it, I was doing it.” John tinkered around with the piano and guitar whenever he came across one figuring out melodies and chords, but never really learned how to play them professionally.

John Patti Percussions

Steel drums became an obvious choice for John as a musician seeing how the market was wide open and in demand. John figured he would carve out his own niche. That’s what prompted him to start his own band “Wasting Daylight” in his freshman/sophomore year of High School. The band primarily performed Jimmy Buffett covers, but a few other musical acts as well. John said “It was a start of my musical adventures with bands, and I can definitely say they’ve been adventures!”

“Performing in the mid-Atlantic region with musical groups such as duo “Key Lime Pie” and the band “Captain Quint” eventually led me to meeting and networking in the Trop Rock / Parrot Head world. I would be a guest performer with A1A, Tropical Soul, John Frinzi, Jimmy and the Parrots, Kelly McGuire and many more before meeting and joining Jim Morris and the band. Jim Morris needed a full time steel drum player for the band and others just needed a special guest position. So I moved to Florida and began working as a Steel Drum artist with Jim Morris and many other artists in the Trop Rock genre. – But joining Jim Morris and The Big Bamboo Band certainly upped my presence in the Trop scene to a whole new level” said John.

Over the years, John has put his own solo talent to recordings, creating his own style of island/jazz infusion to share with the world. In 2006, at age 23, John felt it was time to get in the studio releasing his own music and covering popular jazz songs on his first CD, “Above the Fold.” The eye opening experience into the world of studio production was fun and creative. He learned a lot and had wonderful help from his friends in Baltimore.

John Patti Cabana Breeze CD

“Cabana Breeze” his 2010 release jumped up to the next level of musical and production quality. With the help of a very talented group of “insanely talented musicians, studios, engineers and producers in St. Louis” said John. An island-based sound infused with John’s jazz and R&B blend led this CD to some air time on Sirius XM’s Radio Magaritaville.

“A Calyp-Soul Christmas” (released in 2012) is John’s combination of a love for Christmas music and the joy of all his childhood memories. John explains “I thought it would be fun to put out an album that would hopefully do the same for others and if nothing else would keep me in their musical rotation once a year!” It was back to St. Louis to create this exhilarating and incredible sound incorporating island, jazz and R&B sounds with steel drums as the lead voice to popular Christmas songs.

In 2015 John Patti might have been the busiest man in Trop Rock

John shared “Through the wonderful magic of technology they send me the files and I record in my own home studio and then send it back. It was fun to hear songs coming together and cool to hear the final product.” John performed over 200+ shows in 2015. Either as a solo/duo act or with a band, worked with 15-20 different groups of artists at events and Trop Rock festivals during 2015, which led him to MOTM on stage receiving Musician of the Year. John said “It was definitely a surprise to win the TRMA Musician of the Year Award, but I truly appreciate the support.”

John Patti TRMA Award

He considers himself always learning and practicing various styles of music which leads him to his own unique blend of jazz, blues, pop and world music that he incorporates into songs of each performer and groups he works with. Here are just 11 of the artists and their CDs in which you can find John Patti’s musical footprints.

  • James “Sunny Jim” White – “Rum Shoes”
  • Kelly McGuire – “Destiny & Fate”
  • Tropical Soul – “Blue Jeans & Blue Skies”
  • John Frinzi – “Salt River”
  • Thom Shepherd – “Tropicalfragilistcehpealidocious”
  • Coley McCabe – Yet to be titled CD coming out in Oct. 2016
  • Bill Cockrell – “Dog’s Life”
  • John Friday – “Still in Mexico”
  • Mike Miller – “Perspective”
  • Don Middlebrook – “Songs from Talespin Bay”
  • Jimi Pappas – The JPs (Jimi Pappas & John Patti) “We’ve Gotcha Covered”John Patti Beads

Heading in to 2016, John expressed how much fun it is to travel around the country and is looking forward to more shows with “The JPs” promoting their newly released CD. Traveling with Jim Morris as a trio or full band allows some room for the JPs to pick up some extra playtime. Jimi Pappas and John have been playing for five years now and had a great time putting personal stylistic stamps on some cover songs we all know on their new CD “We’ve Gotcha Covered.” John is always up for a challenge and is looking forward to working with new artists in the upcoming year.


“Family is really big to me” stresses John. While still a newly wed and new home owner, he takes a break from his “Honey Do List” to enjoy his down time. John is big on live music, paddle boarding/kayaking and even some videography projects. Finding time in the crazy schedules to sneak in a few vacations this past year John and his wife enjoyed a trips to Brazil, Peru and a few spots around the US.

Keep up with Trop Rock’s “Man of Steel” on his website: John Patti

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Scott Edward Searls

Friday 12th of February 2016

Excellent story and a interesting young man. True musician. Thanks

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