Bones Fest III
||Russ and Wilma Myers of Brightwood, VA were great hosts opening their almost one century old home to 25 bones
players and their guests. The view of the Blue Ridge Mountains from the
deck, which served as our stage, was inspiring. Russ, a bones playing purist,
tolerated all deviations in procedure of bones playing, bells, whistles,
rattles and dress. He opened the festival with a brief history of the bones
demonstrated how he can change
the pitch while playing without interrupting play. The
festival was structured into three parts. Part I gave each player a chance
to introduce themselves and demonstrate their own styles and bones thing.
Part II consisted of groups; specialty shows and free style group jamming.
It was rumored that the racket was heard as far away as the mall in Washington
DC. Part III of the Fest was a business-like meeting where the attendees
after much discussion agreed upon forming an association of bones players.
The purpose being to preserve and foster development of bones playing sounds
and music. To distinguish musical bone players from archeological boners,
osteopaths, trombone, domino and die players, and with the permission of
Joe Birl the holder of the Rhythm Bones® trademark, the association
selected the Rhythm Bones Society for its name and elected a Board of Directors
and a slate of officers. These include:
Cowett, Executive Director, Greensboro, NC
Myers – Assistant Director, Brightwood, VA
Wixson – Sec/Treasurer, Steve Wixson, Signal Mnt, TN
Brown – Board Member, Winchendon, MA
Carroll – Board Member, Reston, VA
Mercier – Board Member, Cork Ireland
Mescher – Board Member, Halbur, IA
of Directors met following the Fest and selected Chattanooga, TN as the
site for Bones Fest IV. It will be held during the 4th weekend of Sept.
(22, 23 and 24) 2000.
formalities were followed by another hour of bones jamming, mostly to 1990's
music where everyone contributed. Although everyone present contributed
much to the success of this event I will signal out several folks who took
the event even further with their efforts.
||Bones, Balls and Bells, Darryl
"Spike Bones" Muhrer gave us an abbreviated version of his show which represents
American entertainment from the era of 1840 to 1940. He included singing,
dancing, juggling, puppets and audience participation in addition to bones
playing. Spike went from cow bones, in front of the pastured cows behind
our host's house, to Vegetarian (American wooden) bones commonly used today.Later
Spike was part of a spontaneous "Bones-off" with Black Bart theWisconsin
boner and rib bones maker.
Wixson gave us an Internet review of Bones sites accompanied by a CD with
clips from many old time greats. In addition to playing the bones he also
arranged a library of sorts, which displayed bone types, teaching tools,
CD's, tapes, cassettes and historical items. Unexpected gifts from attendees
donated additional material, which created a (Bones Playing/Rhythm Bones)
"Black Bart" or "Bones Man" (depending upon the audience) Boyles, is a
real bones maker and showman from Wisconsin.
He showed us his secrets as to how to dress "the part", add humor, select
a good animal, retrieve the right parts from the slaughter house, boil
them down, and make collectable bones with scrimshaw and silver tips. In
addition he shared a film clip of himself in a failed beer commercial and
a Jamaican Holiday. With all of that and the "Bones-off" with Spike he
was a great showman.
Cowett our web page mistress, in addition to playing bones until she blistered
her fingers, had her computer set up to demonstrate accessing and retrieving
the Rhythm Bones Central web site (http://www.rhythmbones.com/) to all
who were interested. This web site is responsible for bringing many of
"Mr. Bones" Cahill, warring a top hat and appropriate attire of the 1850's
got everyone's attention. He played with one long curved bone and one short
flat thick bone in each hand and created sounds of unusual quality.
Duhon, an 82 year old Acadian from Louisiana was a real treat for everyone.
His brother Willie retrieved him from a nursing home just for Bones Fest
III. He played pieces of leg bone of a cow, which he had cut and polished
to resemble narrow piano keys. Dan Cowett accompanied the
5 ft. 2 in. Duhon on guitar. Duhon wore a long red shirt which reached
his knees where a wide white belt held up little patched britches under
a huge stomach. His legs looked to be only 2 ft. long. When the music started
he turned on like a light bulb with hands flying, bones clicking and body
swinging as he danced and played to the sound of the music.
|Paul in costume
||Paul as himself
a thrill to have four female bones players appearing. Sally Carroll was
without question the rookie of the year. Martha Cowett and Deborah Brown
were experienced but Vivian Cox at 78 was one of the few professional players
present. She plays at the Boogstown Inn and Cabaret Supper Club in Boggstown,
IN and Bronson, MO in Ragtime and Roaring Twenties Bands. She was a ball
of fire at the Fest and never missed a click.
Bones and Bonesgrass music were on the scene with Mel Mercier
from Cork, Ireland on Bodhran, Ev Cowett on bones and Dan Cowett on guitar.
Mel brought an Irish flavor to the spirited music written by Dan and an
excellent one-handed bone solo later in the day. Dan was
also our sound man and cassette tape/CD coordinator. He did and excellent job.
Birl holder of the Rhythm Bones® patent and Trademark gave us the story
of making plastic Rhythm Bones, obtaining a patent and trademark and manufacturing
and distributing them. It is a long story filled with many "almost made
it's" which kept us on the edge of our seats. Joe never gave up. On top
of that Joe is a great bones player with many tricks, historical bone trinkets
and photos in his bag which he happily shared with us.
introduced us to classical castanets, a great performance by a world class
percussionist. Bones players can all take a page out of his book to add
to their repertoire. And that being said we cannot over look Carl
"Old Bones" Hedrick, Fincastle, VA who mixed bones and great humor; Tom
Rice, Farmville, VA clicking to 1800's banjo music; Charlie Breeland, King
William, VA who promised to prepare for Fest IV;
Cowett, Richmond, VA playing bones like a rock drummer at a concert; Parker
Waite, Sedgwick, ME with bones hip hop; John Cowett, Wilmington, NC first
solo; Kevin Dunn, Farmville, VA singing and playing bones to Irish music;
Art Scholtz, Upton, NY with a bag full of tricks too numerous to mention;
Bill Rough, Earlsville, VA who had to leave early; and the Swedish Rhapsody
with Dan , Al, Tom, Martha, John and Ev Cowett playing with Percy Faith
and his Orchestra. It was a great day ofsharing, caring and learning, not
unlike a family reunion. A weekend to remember!
This page was last updated February 22, 2003 by Jonathan Danforth, you can reach him at email@example.com.