I was first shown how to play the bones in 1997 by an Irish theater director for whom I was providing music. After a 10-minute ‘lesson,’ I threw down the little wooden buggers in frustration and forgot the whole thing.
In 2003, I wandered into a music store in Maryland which happened to have a pair of amazing Black Bart rib bones AND an instructional cassette/booklet by Percy “Mr. Bones” Danforth. On a 4-hour drive home up the NJ Turnpike, I learned most of the basics of bones playing, thanks to Percy’s excellent cassette ‘course.’
I’m a working drummer, percussionist and Taketina rhythm teacher. I play bones in many musical situations here in New York City—for example, in a solo percussion/voice concert I gave in Estonia in Sept., 2005, now available as a CD on the Satchimay Interventions label for $5/copy including s/h. If interested in ordering, please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. I prefer ‘bone bones’ but play also the various wood bones (purple heart, pine, verawood, others). Bring on the BONES!
Letter to the Editor – 2006. Thanks for your kind comments and for your interest in my recordings. The bones that I use when I record with Las Rubias Del Norte and other artists are a two pair of rib bones; one is a rather heavy, short set of steer bones that I ordered from Lark In The Morning out in California, made by somebody in Texas. I tend to use those in the right hand. When played at a certain angle, they sound like wood blocks and have the most amazing tone. I’m not sure if that translated onto the recording, though we did have really good old microphones at our disposal, Neumann’s with original tube power supply, I believe.
I do play wood bones, and many others. That fellow from Kansas, Tom James, whom you connected me with, sent me recently a pair of buffalo rib bones that he made himself. So you know how it goes, it’s an endless quest for new sounds. Greg Burrows