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Zach Field

For 12 years zach field served as percussion director for the Pentucket Regional School District. He has also been an instructor and lecturer inside auditoriums at Salem State College and UMass Lowell. Field is an innovator with an ear and mind for music, specifically the sounds of drums-all types of drums. Operating his own instruction studio in the heart of Newburyport and performing in three different groups, Field is a real-deal music man. One of his ensembles, Plum Island Pans, has grown in popularity around the North Shore. Providing colorful accompaniment, the three-member steel drum band adds punch to special events, weddings, and cruises with a mix of traditional, reggae, and jazz sounds. In fact, Plum Island Pans puts the “art” in party.

How did Plum Island Pans get started? We are all drum teachers at Zach Field Drum Studios at The Tannery Marketplace in Newburyport. I had been teaching at the Pentucket Regional School District, running percussion ensembles for many years. I was trying to figure out a way to create interesting group ensembles at my drum studio. Every year I go to PASIC (Percussive Arts Society International Conference) to see clinics and check out all the percussion vendors. I was walking around the showroom and I started talking with Kyle Dunleavy of KD Steel Drums. I realized that steel drumming is what I needed to do. I had Kyle make us an ensemble’s worth of steel drums-four lead pans, two sets of double seconds, a cello, and a six-can bass-for a total of 17 steel drums. I picked them up on December 30, 2009, and the rest is history.

What’s behind the group’s name? We named the group Plum Island Pans because it was kind of catchy. We teach right down the street from Plum Island. In the summer, before our lessons, we go to there to sit on the beach. My wife and I got engaged on the island. It is a pretty amazing place, except during greenhead flies season!

What are the band members’ individual backgrounds? I went to UMass Lowell for music performance; Austin went to UMass Lowell for music business; and Conal Ryan went to Plymouth State for music performance and sound recording. We use many different players [with] similar backgrounds. We are all primarily drum set players, but we also play hand percussion, mallet percussion, etc.

What is the group’s mission? We play a lot of different events, including private house parties, weddings, large corporate parties, cruise ships, and local vacation hotspots. Plum Island Pans is a very seasonal group, so we play [mostly] in the summertime. I love the reaction on people’s faces when they hear our first note; it instantly relaxes them. Most people have heard steel drums on cruise ships or on a Caribbean vacation. We are happy to bring that to them in their everyday lives. Plum Island Pans allows people to slow down, relax, and feel good!  To learn more about Plum Island Pans, including how to book the group for an event, visit  -Kiley Jacques