A stretch of I-76 that runs through Philadelphia known as the Schuylkill Expressway essentially shut down in a standstill traffic jam Saturday afternoon, but a bunch of stranded motorists made the best out of the situation by breaking out into a spontaneous steel drum and limbo party. This was thanks to the Trinidad North Steel Drum Band & Company
, that had also been passing through and saw an opportunity to brighten the day of a bunch of frustrated people, who at that point had gotten out of their cars like in the REM video
A Baltimore meteorologist named Justin Berk on his way to Philly for the Rock and Roll Half Marathon captured the scene for posterity and uploaded it to YouTube. Philadelphias NBC10
The result was a chance meeting of Berk and David Gettes of Trinidad North Steel Drum Band & Company. Gettes and percussionist Paul Downie were traveling from the Muhlenberg International Festival in Reading to Media when they got stuck.
Just after 2 p.m., Gettes pulled out his steel drum and played a pop-up set of island sounds for 15 minutes as motorists danced in a limbo line.
We were struck in the traffic. We saw people around us frustrated. I know the magic of the (steel drum) instrument. It was not taking any toll on me to do that so why not, said Gettes.
I would have never thought of steel drums as being magical, but the Schuylkill Expressway is no joke and you can now consider me a believer. For a point of reference, the stretch of highway which is the main artery that connects Philly to the western suburbs was built in the 1950s and has just two narrow lanes in both directions. Since it's sandwiched between the Schuylkill River and basically mountains, expansion is pretty much impossible. It is almost never not a nightmare to drive on.
So, hats off to you, Trinidad North Steel Drum Band & Company. This is nothing short of heroic.