The Air at the Top of the Bottle

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Opening “Pandora’s Music Box”

January 26th, 2010 · 1 Comment

The Ullage Group’s sixth public outing attracted our largest turnout yet.  We ran out of chairs and pews; some had to stand, fidgeting.

After an introductory sermonette, Lisa uncorked the ullage, and poured out the traditional offering to our hosts at the Jalopy Theater, Geoff and Lynette Wiley.  She then discussed the cultural history of toy instruments, musical toys, and novelty instruments.  She demonstrated the Rolmonica, choral top, musical typewriter, anti-gravity whistle, and a variety of other odd devices; Doug assisted on the toy koto, mini-oud, one-string fiddle, and bazooka.  Geoff played a bit on a home-made Stroh violin.  Lisa and Doug concluded with a coarse ditty, “Prince Albert,” scored for Flutophone and toy banjo-uke.

Doug followed with a cursory history of fretless zithers and gizmo harps, with brief examples on the Tremoloa, Harmonette, Regent Zither, and Violin-Uke.  The audience gasped at the unveiling of that Marxochime masterwork, the Marxolin (the blue kind).

After intermission, Geoff built a washtub bass onstage, from scratch to completion, with his usual prowess.

Anthony profiled electronic music pioneer Bruce Haack, played some of his recordings, and showed a clip of Haack demonstrating the Dermatron, an instrument akin to the Theremin, but played on a human face.  He then offered an object lesson in “circuit blasting,” by destroying an electronic keyboard with a vintage violet ray generator.

All of the participants joined in on the finale, a rousing rendition of that old favorite, “Frankie and Johnny,” played on whatever we could fit in.

Pandora’s Music Box has been emptied!  Only Hope remains, crouched in the corner, stopping its ears.

Doug shows off the space-age Marxolin. Lisa and Doug explain.dscf9521.jpg Doug blows his mellophone violetray.jpg“Prince Albert” gets the royal treatment on toy banjo uke and flutophone. Photos: Bob Schaffer

(Posted by Doug Skinner)

Tags: Bulletins · Clubs and Associations · Diversions · Education · Ephemera · Music · Non-cinema · Ukulele

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 angela // Feb 2, 2010 at 10:52 am

    This was a fantastic show. Definitely the best live version of Frankie and Johnny I’ve ever heard. The secret is out on this here Ullage Group. You guys packed them in. Can’t wait for the next one. Congrats!

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