Rich Howells

SONG PREMIERE: Scranton musician Steve Werner expresses ‘Síorghrá,’ or eternal love, through handpan

SONG PREMIERE: Scranton musician Steve Werner expresses ‘Síorghrá,’ or eternal love, through handpan
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Steve Werner has been playing the drums for most of his life – 22 years now – but when he picked up the handpan three years ago, it opened up a whole new musical avenue for him.

“I’ve stayed with the hanpan over the years because it gives me a unique sound and allows me to play solo. Also, it was a shit-ton of money,” Werner joked.

“I’ve been writing this kind of music in my head since I was a teenager; I just didn’t have the ability to make it. I wasn’t good enough then. The handpan opens up a lot of opportunities for me to create the music that I always wanted to make. It has so many different tones and textures. You can play lead, rhythm, or bass parts. It’s also limiting, which is very challenging sometimes, but then I just fill it in with other instruments I play. When I find something I want that I can’t play, then I just call one of my awesome talented friends and they do it.”

Werner called on a handful of these friends when he started working on a full album of these beautiful, soothing handpan tunes a year and a half ago. Currently recording at JL Studios in Olyphant, the 34-year-old Scranton native asked NEPA Scene to premiere a track he just completed called “Síorghrá,” which is the Irish Gaelic word for “eternal love.”

“This was my most recent song I recorded. I wanted it be more intense. I wrote the main part to be very Celtic-sounding; that’s why the title is in Gaelic,” Werner said. “I love Celtic music, probably more than any other music. A lot of the songs I listen to are sung in Gaelic. The strings are my favorite part of this song.”

Dan King, Ed Cuozzo, Jay Preston, Joe Loftus, Mike Iorio, and a few other local musicians play throughout the album, which is almost completed. These 10 songs will prove to be quite different from Werner’s work as a drummer for Scranton indie rock band Blinded Passenger, coming from deep emotions, “sometimes my own, sometimes other people’s.”

“I think most of the songs are different from each other, but it’s the same kind of feel,” he described.

“I would just like to thank all the people who helped me with this album and also the people who listen to my stuff.”

Listen to Werner’s handpan cover of the “Game of Thrones” theme song here and watch him join cellist Dan King for an improvised set for the local “In the Office” music series here. His set from the 2016 Electric City Music Conference can also be streamed or downloaded here.

Photo by KAE Imagery