A washboard festival? Really? Yes, really. Logan, Ohio is the home of the last washboard manufacturer in the US, the Columbus Washboard Company. I was surprised to learn that not only are washboards still being made, they're being made just an hour or so from my home.
Unfortunately we had a priority yesterday that could not be ignored: during the heavy rains Thursday our roof sprung a big leak. So that was on top of the to-do list. Larry started work on it Friday, finding the source of the trouble and getting together materials. Saturday was repair day. I wanted to leave bright and early for the festival but that wasn't to be: the roof had to come first. I picked berries--red and black raspberries, strawberries, cherries and currants--and made my favorite Cherry Berry jam while I waited for him to finish.
Washboard musicians were everywhere, Here, musicians line up to get on stage after DeZydeco for a group act with the next band.
Later I asked NTB how he found this festival , and he said he'd been buying his washboards (note that plural) from the Columbus Washboard Company and heard about it through them. His style was unlike anything I'd ever seen, although he assured me that people in the south have been doing it for years: playing with 12-gauge shotgun shells on their fingers instead of the traditional thimbles. He played seated, with the washboard on his lap like a dulcimer, and he added a cymbal and other sounds to his playing. You can see and hear his playing on this Youtube clip. He also plays with a group called the Ebony Hillbillies. You can read more about NTB on his blog NTB/Singing Drums.
In the course of conversation with NTB I mentioned that I was a storyteller and he asked if I happened to know a lady named Regina who was a friend of his in New York. Such a small world--I did know Regina, having met her at the Sharing the Fire storytelling conference in Albany last year, and we've been Facebook friends since that time. Connections, they're everywhere.
Juggernaut Jug Band, from Louisville, KY. I had heard this group before when they came to Kanawha county as part of a summer reading program some years ago. Imagine someone who cam play a harmonica, washboard, and five or six other instruments all at the same time! And he sounded right good on the nose flute too. This group is as fun to watch as they are to hear; the pre-song discussion on this video (including a bit about the Kama Sutra, no less, and a little nose flute) is a good example of their eclectic style.
So next year? Oh yeah, this festival is on our calendar already. I even have a washboard that I used to mess around with. It was actually the one I used in our pre-electricity days. I painted it up and started learning to play it; then one of the legs broke. My father fixed it for me but I've never played it since. Maybe it's time to get it out again.
Copyright 2012 Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.