There are many benefits to singing and learning a musical instrument. Music has the potential to heal hearts and many believe that music heals bodies as well. Check out this list of 18 benefits to learning to play an instrument: http://www.effectivemusicteaching.com/articles/directors/18-benefits-of-playing-a-musical-instrument/
Since Front Porch Folk began a little less than 2 years ago, we’ve seen folks enjoy most all those 18 benefits. When you’re playing music and singing, your entire body and spirit are lifted to another place. We love getting our audience involved as we nearly always carry so egg shakers or other percussion instruments to encourage people to play along. Sharing that experience, at the same time, with a whole group of people creates a whole new positive energy. A connection is formed with those involved that transcends all differences. The greater the harmony and shared rhythms, the greater the joy. With as many as a dozen Front Porch Players, there are layers of sound. It’s been fun to experience the creative process as individuals seek just the right instrument to add their own touch to a song. Suddenly old traditional and familiar songs become uniquely ours – Front Porch Folk style.
The same is happening with our spin off group – UkeLadies and Gents. The last uke night 29 players – beginner to experienced – were playing in sync within just an hour. It’s magic.
In a world full of conflict, there’s nothing better! Listening to music can be healing but if you really want to experience magic, play and sing. It’s the immersion that reaches the deepest.
Front Porch Folk are testing Linda’s new Cigar Box Guitars (CBG). Kathy is testing both a fretless and a fretted model. In the video above, she is playing her fretless model. Holly is playing build number 4, which was a big hit recently on Time Square in NYC. Sue is playing number 3 and numbers 6 and 7 are now complete. 6 has a particularly sweet sound – something about the cigar box shape and wood. Number 7 is the first electric version. 8, 9 and 10 will soon be complete. The group is helping to fine tune the design and playability. Holly believes that we’ll be ready to offer them to the public with number 11 and she’s probably right. So far most models are fretted and scaled as dulcimer/strumsticks with 3 strings. They are tuned to DAD though you could easily adapt your own tuning. They will be available to try in Studio 27A at Oil City’s National Transit Building. In January you can find them at the Queen City Cafe – the Q – in Titusville.
Every CBG is unique with real wooden cigar boxes fitted to the neck. The necks so far have been made from re-purposed poplar, cherry and oak. The goal is to use as many re-purposed parts as possible to make a nice sounding instrument that’s fun to play. Studio 27A is open the second Saturday each month. Come see us and pick up a CBG to check out the sound for yourself. Or watch for Front Porch Folk to play in your area. Someone in the group will play a CBG on a song or two.
When my little brother really liked something, he would sleep with it under his pillow. He put some big items under his pillow and somehow slept propped up on a lumpy pillow.
When Holly likes something, she looks for photo opportunities with it. Such is the case with the Cigar Box Guitar I recently built for her. And so, her CBG went to New York City for photos on Times Square. A cigar box instrument is not a
normal sight in NYC so we got plenty of looks and inquiries. It was a conversation starter and interestingly, it was native New Yorkers who were the ones to ask about it.
So, what is a Cigar Box Guitar or CBG? It’s a musical instrument with a Cigar Box as the body. So far, I’ve made 4 string instruments which could, more appropriately, be called Cigar Box strumsticks or dulcimer’s. The one’s I’ve finished are fretted like a dulcimer so they are very easy to play and tuned to DAD.
Since there are many shapes and sizes of Cigar boxes, no two are alike. Every neck must be custom cut to match the cigar box. I have to determine the best place to put the sound holes for both aesthetics and sound. There’s no way to know just how it will play and sound until it’s put together. With each build, I’m a little happier with how it comes together. I’ve collected a few luthier tools to make the work easier and more precise. Build #1 is in the studio, 27A in Oil City’s National Transit Building. It’s interesting to look at but plays horribly.
Front Porch Bass player, Kathy Bartlett has build #2, a fretless model. Sue Wren, singer/strumstick player, has build #3 and Holly has build #4. I know they will each give me suggestions for future builds. Build #5 just recently went to Kathy Barlett (who now owns 2), one unfretted and her 2nd one fretted. When I get to Build #7 – it will be mine. That’s my lucky number.
Meanwhile, enjoy the pictures of CBG #4 in New York City. Holly, has already set sales goals for 2013. So, stay tuned, my CBG’s will hopefully be on the market during the 1st quarter of 2013.
1879 Hawaiian immigrants from Portugal brought unusual stringed instruments. One was a little Madeiran guitar know as a machete. Today it is broadly known as the Hawaiian Ukelele. It’s popularity grew after it was featured at the Pan-American Exposition in 1915. Soon the little 4 string instrument was available in department stores across the country as record companies released a slew of novelty songs featuring the Uke. The ukelele craze waned as the big band sound became the rage in the 30′s and 40′s.
After WWII, and the return of troops who served on the Pacific Islands, the ukelele was in again. The popularity of Arthur Goodfrey’s TV show where he often played the Uke, is credited with spurring the sale of millions of plastic ukelele’s in the 50′s.
At the National Transit building the last Tuesday of every month at 7 pm – the Uke is back. UkeLadies and Gents are meeting to share their enthusiasm for music. At the first gathering in August in Studio 27a – 18 uke-sters – beginner, novice and even a ukelele maker – strummed their first tunes together.
So if you have an old ukelele sitting around, dust if off and join in the fun. Extra ukes are on hand for you to try. If you like it, we can point you to some regional sources to pick one up for a low cost. No experience required. Hope you will join us – National Transit Building – Studio 27a – last Tuesday of the month. It’s free and open to the public.
I started thinking and realized if I made some sort of a hammock to hold the body between the wide arms an inexpensive guitar stand could work. First I thought I could slip a stocking cap over the arms. It worked to a degree, but didn’t hold tight enough in the back and wanted to slip off. I then thought if I sewed together a pair of socks I could slip them over each of the arms. The guitar stand was black, so I used black crew socks. They slipped over the arms, stayed tight in the back, and supported the body of my instruments perfectly. I made inexpensive stands for these instruments costing me only $9.99 and pair of old socks!
Wednesday, June 13th a beautiful day for a performance in Pipeline Alley at the Historic National Transit Building(s) with an audience of over 60 people! Thanks to the Oil City Arts Council for sponsoring this great event. Looking for a great all-around fun music group for your next event. Call FPF at 814-673-5641 or email us at email@example.com
One of our canjo workshop students became a star during Front Porch Folk’s Sunday night performance at the Butler Outdoor Extravaganza. Kathy Finley-Bartlett also performs her first Blue’s solo with Linda Henderson accompanying. The Trio promoted Front Porch Folk and the BOC has already invited us back next year. Hopefully a few more of the gang can join us. SO, we will be back dreaming up a whole new workshop and as our friend Jerome Wincek (who performed Saturday night) would say, “bring your garbage and let’s jam”. Thanks to the BOC for a fun-filled weekend of outdoor activities and great evening entertainment. Below are a few photos taken during the course of the weekend.
Holly and Linda attended workshops and a concert with well-known Master Dulcimer Player Stephen Seifert. Thanks to the Clarion Dulcimer Club for sponsoring this event which was held at the DeBence Antique Music World in Franklin PA (a great location). We hope to jam soon with our new friends from the Clarion Dulcimer Club, either at one of their events or at one of ours. What a fun-filled day of loosening up! Thanks again CDC for bringing Stephen Seifert to Franklin PA. The workshops and concert was awesome!!!
Gail Beck is a familiar face around the Oil City area as owner of BloominGail’s florist. Now she is FPF’s fashion queen as she is always stylin’. You can tell from her responses below that she carries a song in her heart and is excited to share that heart with the rest of us. And she’s a darn good dulcimer player too!
Asked what she likes about Front Porch Folk, Gail says, “Well that is easy! By invitation, I started showing up late last summer as just a get away from my hectic life from my job. Realizing it was total therapy for me because I could just put my work aside for a few hours and be with a fun and good group of people! In the beginning, I was only singing and playing fun percussion instruments, then I got a Can-Jo, which then developed into buying a Dulcimer, and now a Strum-Stick. This group is much more than I ever imagined it would be. We are a family that supports each other and I am proud to be a part of it.
My favorite thing to do as a group is to play at The Presbyterian Home each month. To see the joy in their faces, brings such joy within my heart. Also, I like doing the workshops at The Transit Building as well.”
My favorite song is “I’ll Fly Away”, but more recently I have loved playing “One True Friend”