Skip Lilly is a North Carolina native who now resides in Daytona Beach. While he has a business administration and marketing degree from East Carolina University, Skip spends much of his spare time entertaining people all over the world on the steel drums. From Atlantic City to Key West, and from the British Virgin Islands to the Bahamas, Steel Daddy brings original music and well-known songs by performers like Jimmy Buffett and Bob Marley, as well as classic rock and current tunes.
Steel Daddy frequently plays the venue Grabbers on Guana Cay, in the Bahamas. Skip was inspired to play by a local group of men playing steel drums while on a sailing vacation with his dad in the early 1980s. It was at Stanley's Welcome Bar in the British Virgin Islands that he first fell in love with the unique sound.
He got his first streel drum in 2000 and had his first performance in 2001. Skip taught himself to play the instrument by practicing every day. He was fortunate enough to meet the inventor of the instrument, Ellie Mannette, who still is on faculty at West Virginia University. Skip admires Ellie's passion to create, his persistence on quality, the lifetime achievement of spreading the art form and to pass on his ability to as many as he can to ensure the art form lives on and grows.
Skip notes, the steel drum is the only new innovative acoustical instrument in the last century that does not require amplification. Already owning a drum kit and playing drums since high school, the steel drum had a lot of the same reward. I found myself creating certain note sequences that would work together in certain time that became unique. This is when it became fun and addictive. After a while I had many songs and would play them two times over a three-hour gig. After about three years of this, I decided to incorporate the guitar and singing. This allowed Skip to include more current tunes that were in line with the island-style music.
Skip is an expert on the instrument and on the rich history of it. He traveled all the way to Ellie's shop to learn the deep history and to gain respect for its roots. Though Skip has not yet taught anyone else to play, he plans on passing down his knowledge and techniques to his 18-month old daughter Peyton. He has been saving a real miniature ten-note steel drum for her to learn on. The instrument is definitely not something that just anyone can pick-up. It is very expensive. A quality steel drum can cost around $3100, so keep this in mind if you are interested in learning. Any musician knows that any amount of time and money spent on something you truly love doing, is worth it. Consider how much of a passion it is for you. For Skip there was never a question.
Skip recalls the funny story that inspired the name Steel Daddy. When asked how he should be introduced for a gig, nothing came to mind. The phrase, “Who's your daddy?” was widely used at the time. When someone called out “Who's your steel daddy?” and the name stuck! After about a year, the 'Who's your' dropped off, and there you have it!
Some of his most memorable gigs include playing for the PGA tour and Mark Omera. He has been able to play in a lot of special places in front of special people over the last ten years. The best thing for Skip is that he gets paid to play music for a few hours that he would want to hear anyways. Skip still performs all over, but recently he has started to primarily playing exclusive private and corporate shows. Skip's goal for the future is to continue playing with the same zest as he did when he started in 2000. He misses making new music as often. It is difficult playing loud music with an 18-month old at home. Hopefully there will be much more to come from Steel Daddy in the future for Floridians and for island music-lovers everywhere. Continue reading on Examiner.com: