Jimmy Broccoli: Washboard Player?
Overwhelmingly, most people reading this know me as a poet, some know me as a commentator, some know me as a librarian, a few know me as a former ASL (American Sign Language) interpreter, and a very small number of people know me as a washboard player.
It's the last descriptor/role (washboard player) that gets the most questions and confused looks. "Really?" or "you're joking?" often follow my declaration. LOL. It's all in good fun!
But, yes, I really am a washboard player - just ask my neighbors, they can confirm I practice most Saturday late afternoons or early evenings for a couple of hours (Haha).
Unknown to most, the washboard as a musical instrument was inspired by the West African tradition of hamboning - an expressive dance and musical style that involves stomping, clapping, slapping one's legs, arms, and/or chest and cheeks.
These dance and musical traditions eventually led to using common items around the house as instruments - and the clapping, stomping, and general merry-making remained within the tradition. These trends led to the jug becoming an instrument (musicians blow into the jug) - also the washtub base, spoons (yes, like the ones you use to eat with), and the washboard became commonplace.
I've played for about 9 years now and have a distinct style. The fun of playing the washboard is knowing when to play in single time, 1 1/2 time, or double-time.
Here is a photo of me with my washboard. Unlike many players, I don't stand up - I sit the washboard on one knee or lean it on the ground when I play, so I can better feel the music. And, yes, those are thimbles on my fingers. Washboard players bang metal against metal. That is what we do.
Thank you to Briana Botsford (of Botsford Media) for taking the photo. The color filters add extra drama to the photo and I totally love that (I'm a bit less vampiric in real life).
I'll play one day on Facebook and on my webpage. Not today, but soon. It will be a knee-slapping good time. Hells, yeah!