Steel Tropics is a hot Steel Drum Band based out of Orange County in Southern California. The group performs Caribbean Steel Drum Music for all types of events. In addition to performing live steel pan music, this Orange County steeldrum band also has several exciting steel drum and Calypso music recordings available to purchase as actual physical cds or digital downloads of both full albums as well as single songs.

Their tropical music is quite popular and the band finds that people who purchase their music for the 1st time often become regular repeat buyers. Steel Tropics Caribbean “Steel Band Music” has been featured in Major Motion Pictures, Network & Cable Television programs and on Popular Compilation CDs

You can find our steel drum music at the following online retailers

Steel Tropics



Whether it is live or our recorded music, the sounds of Steel Tropics will move your soul!

My Musical Story/The Early Years

I come from a very musical family on both sides. My father Robert and his father Clyde were both highly accomplished piano tuners by trade.  Grandpa Clyde was also quite a violinist. My pop was classically trained as a vocalist and made some amazing classical voice recordings several years ago. On my mother Pam’s side, her father Leo was a professional musician/music arranger played various saxophones with famous bands of the big band era.  Pam also sang big band swing style vocals and made some outstanding recordings as well. She has a natural sense of musicality.

My father also worked for many years as the foreman of a shop that repaired any and all instruments in all of the Los Angeles County schools.  My Dad was always bringing home various instruments for my brothers & I to check out and see if we were at all interested in playing any of them. We three were very lucky to be exposed to different types of instruments so young. If it weren’t for this, I may never have gotten into music at all. So we each ended up choosing a different instrument to play. I picked the trombone, brother Jim picked the trumpet and Bill the oldest picked the saxophone.

I started playing trombone in 4th grade in our little elementary school band.  So on I went playing in the jr. high band on the trombone. I excelled at a fairly quick rate and in 9th grade I auditioned & was picked to play in the All Southern California Jr. High Honor Band. One of 8 other bone players in the state to do so. Pretty scary & exciting at the same time. There were so many awesome young musicians in that band. I kept it up throughout high school and was picked for several California state honor orchestras and jazz bands including 2 years in the Monterrey Jazz Festival All Star High School Jazz Band. In my senior year in high school, I also got interested in string instruments. My dad found me a 4 string Dixieland style tenor banjo. I practiced on it a ton and found it really fun to play. Shortly after high school I started playing local gigs on trombone, banjo and also guitar. I did that for many years.

Enter The Steel Drum!

tom18After playing trombone, banjo & guitar for a long time I somehow stumbled into the Caribbean steel drums or steel pan as the traditional instrument is referred to. It was in early 1997 when I got a call from Frank(a musician pal who is quite a drummer/steel drummer)one day out of the blue. He asked me if I wanted to play guitar along with him on some gigs as he played the steel drums. I really didn’t know that Frank had been playing in a steel band. Anyways we got together, clicked right away and off we went. I at once fell in love with the steel drums and the Calypso music. The steel band music sounded so awesome!

Shortly after the first few gigs we did, I landed the two of us a steady gig at Sea World in San Diego. For the first week I was playing guitar with Frank on steel drums.  A few weeks into the gig we found a steel drum for sale, I bought it, started practicing on it a ton and decided to bring it to Sea World right away.  I seemed to get by alright playing it on the gig so I decided not to bring the guitar any more and from then on I have been playing the Caribbean steel drums full time. I owe a lot to Frank for turning me onto the tropical music of the steel drums.

At some point in early 2000 I had decided that I wanted to record a CD of steel drum music of my own. So that is precisely what I did. I ended up simply calling the CD Steel Tropics with Tom Liston. I loved doing that CD so much that I recorded a Christmas steel pan cd shortly after the 1st one. Recording Calypso music is so much fun! I was lucky enough to have one of our tracks from our Christmas Paradise CD “Mele Kalikimaka” included on a Tommy Bahama Holiday Compilation CD.  I found that I was keeping really busy doing live gigs and with my cds so I kept on doing more steel pan music recordings.  I recorded a jazz steel drum CD called Bebop Bahama that was a kick to do because it was so different than any recordings we had done prior to this. For me though, the most recent cd that I recorded titled Island Dreamin’ has probably been my favorite one to date. It is all original songs that I wrote, arranged and produced.

I was so stoked when one day in 2010 I received an email from one of the major entertainment networks saying that they wanted to use my song “Sweet Calypso Woman” off of our Island Dreamin’ recording in the new Jennifer Lopez movie in production called The Back up Plan. The flick finally came out.  My wife Susan & I went to see it. Tell you what, it is pretty cool to not only hear one of your original tunes you wrote in a movie but seeing your name in the ending credits aint to bad either. Good times!

So as you can see I love music; I love playing, writing, recording and listening as well. I am truly blessed to be able to make a living at music. It is something that I really love to do. I consider myself very fortunate indeed. Stay tuned for more great steel drum music this year!

Musically, Tom Liston
& Steel Tropics