Inside Out Steelband

Inside Out Steelband is dedicated to the advocacy and advancement of steel drums in Austin and Central Texas communities. As a result of Inside Out and its affiliated programs, Austin has become established as a center of contemporary steel band activity.

Inside Out Steelband, a federal 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, is the unifying steel band organization in central Texas. Since 1996, Inside Out has been presenting school assembly concerts, workshops and public performances in addition to steel pan instruction. As a result of its efforts, at least twelve curricular steel bands exist in Austin area schools, two community bands rehearse weekly, and an annual summer camp is available for students ages 12-18. Inside Out and its affiliated groups present over 50 performances annually, reaching an audience of over 15,000 people.

Inside Out’s mission is to create community through music by promoting the rich art and tradition of the Trinidadian steel pan in Austin and Central Texas. Inside Out educates, enriches, and entertains Central Texans of all ages by creating and supporting fully inclusive steel band programs, benefiting participants and audiences alike. Inside Out seeks to bring people together from diverse backgrounds so that they may experience the unifying power of music.

CJ Menge—Executive and Artistic Director

CJ Menge, Executive and Artistic Director of Inside Out Steelband

CJ Menge’s passion for building community through music has led to a diverse career as a steel pan performer, educator, composer and advocate. He is a classically trained percussionist who has been playing steel pan professionally since 1992.

Menge initially founded the Inside Out Steelband Arts-in-Education program in 1996 and has worked diligently since then to create a community of steel bands in Austin and Central Texas. He has served as Artist-in-Residence or Director of steel pan ensembles at the elementary, middle school, high school, university, and community level. As a result of Menge’s guidance, Austin now has many schools with year-round steel band programs that are part of the daily class curriculum. He has held long-term teaching positions with several school programs, some of which include James Bowie High School (1997-present), McCallum High School and Fine Arts Academy (1998-present), Sam Houston High School (San Antonio ISD) (2012-present), Covington Middle School (2000-2012), KIPP Austin College Prep (2010-2012) and the University of Texas at Austin (1999).

Menge established the community steel band component of Inside Out in 2000, which extends the organization’s reach outside of schools and into the general population. This group currently consists of 30 members, ranging in age from 12 to 70.

As a clinician, Menge has worked extensively with school programs throughout Texas and has been a clinician and guest artist with several college and university steel band programs including Abilene Christian University, the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Florida, Texas A&M University Kingsville, and the University of Oklahoma. He has been an adjudicator for the Virginia International PANFest and the Florida Steel Band Festival. He is a Berklee College of Music Certified PULSE Instructor and currently serves as a member of the Percussive Arts Society World Percussion Committee.

Notable past performances include featured soloist appearances with the McCallum Knights of Steel at the 2007 Midwest Clinic and with the St. Edward’s University Choir on their concert tours of Scotland, Portugal and Spain. He has directed ensembles at four Percussive Arts Society International Conventions, the 2012 Midwest Clinic, and has performed in the Trinidad and Tobago National Panorama competition three times (Invaders Steel Orchestra, birdsong Steel Orchestra, and Skiffle Steel Orchestra) and London Panorama (Croydon Steel Orchestra).

Menge has composed and arranged over 100 works for steel band. His works have been performed throughout the United States, and have been featured at national and international festivals. Many of his compositions and arrangements may be found at Boxfish Music Publishing, Inc. (www.boxfishmusic.com).

Contact CJ directly at cj@insideoutsteelband.org