Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Dec 20 2004

The Bobwundaye gig went pretty well. I got there e…

The Bobwundaye gig went pretty well. I got there early and used the extra time to go buy socks. The ones I had on, you see, were too thick and my feet were suffocating. The good news was there was a sock store nearby. The bad news was that there is one kind of sock sold in Taiwan, and that is the kind of ankle-length dress sock that allows my feet to slide around inside any shoe I have.

The answer? “Two pairs, please.” They’re also cheap.

When I finally waltzed in to the pub I ran into Will, drink already in hand, and Joe Duffer, who was doing a story on bands and the places they play or something for TaiwanFun. Will and I answered his questions for a while as other people began to show up. Folks were piling up barbeque makings outside on the sidewalk. Joe was asking the band members’ names, and Will and I were doing Fun with Nicknames while I made faces from the awful cider I was drinking.

“And your name is?” Joe asked Will.

“Slim. And this here’s Steamboat.”

“I see. And who else’s in the band?”

“Well, there’s Thumper, Sandman, and uh…Dave,” Will “Slim” Thelin concluded. It seems Dave Chen’s the only guy in the group that’s never been called anything but “Dave”. Not that it matters because Joe emailed us and said he was only going to mention Dave, Tim, Will and Paul in the article.

The above-mentioned soon showed up, all hauling equipment. I’d just brought my little black poaquet trumpet, but Sandy “Sandman” Murray brought penny whistle, sax, guitars, and a vat of barbeque sauce. Tim “Thumper” Hogan was similarly laden.

The sun set, the grill fired up, and Dave “Dave” Chen began setting up his washtub bass, which consisted of a very large, very orange plastic washbasin with a thin bungee cord attached to the middle of the bottom. The other end was tied to a stick about the size of a broom handle. What you did, I learned, was pluck the bungee cord with one hand and adjust the pitch with the other , stretching it in and out by moving the stick. Brilliant! We got it up on the stage and took turns trying it out, but nobody but Dave really knew how to play it.

The bass really added something to the music, though. During one song, I forget which, I just started playing it and found it to be a lot of fun trying to match the rhythms and pitches of the music. My hand was getting a bit raw so I grabbed a mic handle off the railing and used it to strum instead, which seemed to work quite well. In fact, after I started getting the hang of it, I began to really enjoy playing the thing.

Over the course of the evening I went back and forth from bass to trumpet and back to bass, though I did manage to get off beat a couple of times. Nobody seemed to mind much, though.

Muddy Basin Ramblers Photoshopped at Bobwundaye! Film at 11.

The Ramblers had occupied the stage for most of the evening, but as midnight approached some other people got up and played. Songs like “Imagine” and “Leaving on a Jet Plane” were sung (and not well, believe me), signaling that it was time to go. Dave either was impressed by my way with the washtub bass or he didn’t feel like lugging it home again, so he gave it to me. We’re playing again on Thursday at The Shannon, but we haven’t worked out which songs I’d be playing horn and which ones on the tub. I guess we’ll work something out there. I need to get a trumpet stand, though. Or two, if they’re cheap.

posted by Poagao at 5:20 pm  

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