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.