The "Blataphone"

Or as a local instrument repair man calls them, "Fartaphones." 

New Orleans may rightly claim to the be Sousaphone Capital of the Western World but, if truth be told, it's actually the Fiberglass Sousaphone Capital of the World. They're cheaper, lighter and seemingly all stolen from a school band in Mississippi (ok, not true but true enough to be funny.) Most seem to be held together with duct tape and good intensions and I've never seen one ever even close to a hard case, much less a gig bag. The cats who play them in the street bands don their best to pump as much air through them as they can, producing, well, a great blatting roar. 

I've played them, but they're never my first choice. I was loaned a lovely older King, like the one pictured in the William Bell ad here, when I was teaching at Klez Fest UK in London. And the NCTA provided me one for my appearances with Frank London's Klezmer Brass
W/ Susan Watts @ Richmond Folk Festival
All Stars. Which was a good thing too because at the American Folk Festival in Bangor, a coastal storm came up out of nowhere during our main stage performance, making the band scatter but for reasons I'm still not sure about I just kept playing in the driving rain. I guess I subconsciously realized that wrapped in plastic, I'd be safe from a lightning strike.

I don't own one of these, but I wouldn't turn one down if you have one sitting in you garage or attic. Seriously.


Ross Daly on Modal Music and much, much more.

Rubinchik's Orkestyr (z"ll)
In 1996 I had the pleasure of taking my little Yiddish music band from Austin TX all the way to the south of France for a short tour and a series of performances at Le Nuits Atypiques de Langon. It's an amazing festival, curated not just musically but socially, and the musicians I interacted with there have informed much of what I know about music as a living culture. I had been there before, in 1993 as bassist for Santiago Jimenez, Jr., and was primed for this festivals tradition of purposeful admixture and cultural dialog. One of the featured artists in '96 was Ross Daly

I was really struck with him and his approach to music and collaboration. There was a young cellist from NYC who had been hired by Daly to come and perform with him, yet he had never met him before in person. The cellist, the very talented Rufus Cappadocia confessed to me how spooked he was to show up to a major event unrehearsed and just play with the featured act. But I saw the initial duet set between him and Daly that was frankly incredible, natural and real; some of the best music making I had ever encountered to that date. 

Daly showed up at the festival with a group of musicians from varied back rounds, including among others a Persian Zarb player who had at one time played for the Shah of Iran and then Khomeni after the revolution, and presented what was to all the world a very cohesive and musical presentation. A very deep cat, who I enjoyed hanging and conversing with quite a bit the week we were there.

I was just reminded of him today when a pal forwarded me his TED talk, in which he hits many of the notes that I personally have had a hard time expressing. I'm including this lecture as core material to my music students and recommend you take the short bit of time to check him out. Ross is kinda droll in his approach, but hang in there as he makes some observations that really ring true to my experience in music making and cultural connections.

Ross Daly on Modal Music: