For Dale and Mary King and their sons, the annual Tri-Cities Steel Band Association holiday concert isn’t merely a fun evening filled with music.
It’s also a beloved family tradition.
The Kings, who live north of Pasco, have been part of the association for years — ever since Lane, the oldest, first tried the steel drum.
He took classes and began working his way through the drum program. His younger brothers Seth, Chad and Ian all followed.
Lane is 21 now, poised to graduate from Whitworth University this spring and start his career as a music teacher.
But he’ll be back this weekend for the holiday show. He wouldn’t miss it.
“The thing that’s been a really good for all of (the boys) is the sense of community” provided by the program, Mary King said.
“The kids come from all different backgrounds — different schools, different ages. But they lift each other up,” she said.
The Christmas concert is at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Bethel Church, 600 Shockley Road, Richland.
The show will feature an array of musical styles, from Caribbean and African to pop. And plenty of Christmas music will be in the mix.
A silent auction and bake sale also are planned.
The association got its start in 1996 with one steel drum ensemble, Bram Bratá. It’s grown to include a second steel drum band, called OK2Botay, as well as the marimba groups ‘Bahuru and ‘Baduku.
Ben Leggett directs the steel drum groups and Walt Hampton directs the marimba groups. They’re both Tri-City music teachers.
The King boys all studied or study under Leggett on the steel drum side.
After Lane, Seth is the next oldest at 19. He’s a student at the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis.
Chad, 17, and Ian, 14, both still are at home and in the steel drum program.
Like the Kings, the Von Bargen family in West Richland also has a long history with the group.
Brian and Libby Von Bargen’s four kids all are steel drum players.
Kaarin, 19, now a student at the University of Idaho, was the first to give it a shot.
She became part of the program as a kid, and her younger siblings Jacob, 18, Ethan, 16 and Elise, 13, all eventually signed up, too. The younger three all still are at home and in the program.
Kaarin will be home on winter break in time for the holiday show, her mother said. Like Lane King, she wouldn’t miss it.
“Some of her very best friends are from that group,” Libby Von Bargen said.
The program has given the Von Bargen kids confidence, connection, musicianship and a lot of fun, their mom said.
It’s a exceptional group, she said. And the Christmas concert is a special event that celebrates all that.
“Some of the songs are played by candlelight. It’s really moving,” Libby Von Bargen said. “We’ve certainly been blessed by the program.”
Tickets to the Christmas concert are $7.50 and are available at TCSBA.org or at the door.