Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Aug 01 2005

When the weather gets hot, people in the Bitan are…

When the weather gets hot, people in the Bitan area like to go sit on the suspension bridge in the cooling breeze. They bring little plastic chairs, bags of food, and sometimes little radios with them. Entire families can be seen sitting with their backs to the railing, chatting up the neighbors a few feet down.

The other day I was crossing the bridge carrying the baritone I picked up in Tainan, just back from the repair shop. The guy did a pretty good job fixing the dents in the bell, but not so much on the dents elsewhere…I suppose they were more difficult to get to. I also had no luck in finding a new mouthpiece, as it seems to require a special size they don’t carry here.

An old guy and a woman I took to be either his wife or caretaker saw the ratty baritone case and almost did a little jig of happiness. “What is that? A horn?” he asked excitedly.

“It’s a baritone,” I said.

“What’s that? Is it like a trumpet? I play trumpet, you know,” he said, gleefully humming a little jazz riff. So I opened it up and showed him. I played a few bars of nonsense and we were immediately surrounded by a crowd of onlookers. I handed the instrument to the old guy, and he played a few notes.

The crowd dispersed. I guess they weren’t interested in an old Taiwanese guy playing a baritone so much. It turned out that he played trumpet for decades before hurting his back while lifting a heavy stack of sheet music. It was clear that his wife/caretaker didn’t like his involvement in music one bit, and he felt deprived of it. You would think he’d been locked away from his music for years from the way he acted.

We chatted and I got his name and number so I could invite him to the next Muddy Basin Ramblers performance, whenever that is. He said he knew the head of an instrument museum in Taichung that is full of musical wonders too great to describe, and invited me down to take a look some time.

The wife/caretaker frowned on all of this activity by her husband/charge, and she gently but forcefully steered the old guy back over the bridge, saying he needed to rest.

Tomorrow night at around 7pm I’m going over to the WWRN studios to re-record an interview with them. They had me over there last week but there was a problem with the equipment, and I have to do it again. John, the fellow who interviewed me, is also interested in having the Ramblers over for a performance/interview, which I think sounds like a grand idea. I’ve been itching to get back into music. I even bought a cheap Audio Technica microphone recently to try out with Garageband on my Powerbook. As a quick and dirty test, I recorded a short bit from the song “Saint James Infirmary” in four tracks: washtub bass, ukulele, muted trumpet and voice. The levels were really low, but Darrell massaged the mp3 a little and got rid of some of the noise. This is the result. Now that I know it works (basically), I might put a little more effort into the performance part of it.

posted by Poagao at 3:16 pm  

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