Monday, February 20, 2006

Outfit your band in the kitchen and hardware store

High quality, European-style instruments were in short supply in North America during the first decades of the 20th century. Even if they could be found, few rural musicians could afford them.
More affordable instruments were in order. Two of Mama's spoons, her washboard, a couple of dried bones from Sunday's rib dinner, and a freshly emptied jug of corn liquor. What you couldn't get from the kitchen, you were sure to find at the general store for a reasonable sum.

The Jaw Harp (or Jews Harp) is one of the oldest and most widespread of instruments. Metal Jaw Harps have been uncovered in historic excavations around the western world. The bamboo version is found throughout Asia and the South Pacific.

John Wright - Medley of Irish Reels.mp3
from Good Time Music - recorded at the National Folk Festival at Wolf Trap Farm Park in Vienna, Virginia, 1974

Bones were a readily available and popular rhythm and percussion instrument.

Blind Blake - Dry Bone Shuffle.mp3
from The Best of Blind Blake - available from Yazoo

Washboard and Kazoo. Add a fine guitar player and you're ready for them up-town joints.
Blind Boy Fuller - Jitterbug Rag.mp3

Now, knowing how much I enjoy a good jug band, I know a few of you out there are wondering why I didn't post any jug. I've got a good excuse. I ain't quite emptied this one yet!


Blogger Mr. Beer N. Hockey said...

Let's not forget that most powerful of percussion instruments - the heel of your boot.

February 21, 2006 8:16 AM  
Anonymous Tootie said...

Did I ever tell you that I've played the spoons since I was about 12?

February 21, 2006 3:03 PM  
Blogger countrygrrl said...

a comb and paper is a great way to impress your friends and neighbours. as a kid i always got money from the folks next door when i played a few tunes on it...

February 22, 2006 2:18 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

Bootheels, spoons, comb and paper...
I suppose people still don't need expensive instruments to make good music.

February 22, 2006 9:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is actually referencing a post from early Feb 2006. Bruce Gardner from Boxcar Preachers checking in. Just saw the comment about us on your blog and I wanted to respond. Boxcar Preachers, although we find a good sweet spot in humor, are no less committed to the old timey music than our more solemn brethren. Sure, we can spin a tale about Microsurgical Vasectomy Reversals, but also belly up to the gospel with equal enthusiasm. Thanks for the words, brother, but know that we are in no way trying to smear the genre in which we have planted our roots.
PS - sorry to put a speed bump in your blog...

June 07, 2006 9:21 PM  

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