October Mountain Washtub Band 2015
OCTOBER MOUNTAIN WASHBOARD BAND.........how it came about
October Mountain Washtub band is a band that you might say is a throwback to the days of yesteryear!
Let’s talk about a scenario that really did happen in many variations. ‘The Front Porch Band.’
In fact, I, Don, had a similar start with my musical training. Here is the scenario; Two friends, one with an old hand-me-down guitar and the other with a dime store harmonica sit on a front porch in the warm summer sun. The guitar player has bought a chord book and knows his chords pretty well. The harmonica player has mastered a dozen songs.
They start playing together. They work on their timing and rhythm. What do you know? They sound pretty good! They are enthused and play most every day they can. Mom And Dad come out to listen. A few friends show up.
This scenario might have taken place in the depression days. Back then no one had a lot of money to spare.
One friend wants to join in but he (or she) can’t play an instrument …or afford one for that matter.
Listening to the music, the friend decides the duo needs a bass beat. He has an idea. He goes home. There is an old washtub in the shed. The zinc coating is worn off in places from years of washdays. It has rust. No one wants it.
He finds an old broom and cuts off the worn, bristle end. He cuts a groove in the bottom of the stick so it will stay on the lip of the turned upside down, washtub.
A hole is punched in the middle of the bottom of the washtub. A strong length of twine is run through this hole up to the top of the broom handle and through a hole in the end of the stick. The twine is tied off so it is tight, top and bottom.
With his foot on the rim, his hand on the broom handle, the twine is plucked. A wonderful bass note is produced! He finds by rocking the handle back the string is tightened and higher notes are achieved. When the handle is moved the other way loosening the string, lower notes result.
Demonstrating his new instrument, the washtub bass player is welcomed into the band! Boy, as practice goes on they are really producing music!
Another friend shows up with a washboard hanging loosely from his neck with a piece of clothesline. Wearing old thimbles on his fingers he rubs the washboard vigorously up and down in time with the music and it sounds like a drum!
Now the whole neighborhood shows up to hear them play. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you a ‘Front Porch Band’!
Well, that was a long story but I think you get my point. A lot of people started that way with many variations of instruments both manufactured and home made.
October Mountain Washtub Band tries to capture the sound, excitement and feel of this type of band. We are, in essence re-creating a mostly forgotten, small historical part of American music.
The harmonica, guitar, washtub and washboard are there along with three and four part harmony. We sing and play bluegrass, classic country, gospel, patriotic and some old pop tunes. You might also hear an Irish reel, polka or a old folk ballad. We play all our music with the same relish, playing solely for the audience.
We are for hire for any occasion and have been hired as a dance band, too. We have had a feature article written about us in the Orlando Sentinel and in Style Magazine.
Some of the venues we have played are:
Leesburg Farmer’s Market
Rennigers Market “Wild West Fest”
Hart’s Old Country Store
Mt. Dora Christmas Walk
Sing - Alongs
House Parties (We were hired in the Villages for a ‘House Completion party.)
Our repertoire of songs includes Civil War era music and we have played for many Civil War events.
Our band members are:
Cookie Polly - Rhythm Guitar and Fiddle
Don Polly - Harmonica
Dolly Baraso Washtub Bass
Linda Willsey Washboard
Hank Link - Banjo and Guitar
We have a large repertoire of songs and we have tailored the selections to fit specific needs. St. Patrick’s Day Irish songs, Fourth of July patriotic songs, Christmas, Church service and Funeral services gospel, Bluegrass Festivals Bluegrass songs, Folk Festivals Folk and Ballad songs, Country Music Festivals Country songs. Recently we performed at a “Wild West Fest” where we performed cowboy, western and songs sung by our pioneer forefathers.
We are very flexible but in most cases people that hire us want us to mix the music so everyone in the audience hears an old favorite.
What sets us apart from other bands is our three and four part harmony. Also, Cookie and Dolly, step dance, on stage, to a medley of Cowboy tunes.
Here is a sampling of a few of our songs;
Rocky Top, Will The Circle be Unbroken, Jambalaya, Shenandoah, I’ll Fly Away, I want to be a Cowboy’s Sweetheart, Your Cheatin’ Heart, A medley of Polka’s, Send me the Pillow you dream on, Oh Dem Golden Slippers, Tennessee Waltz, Ashoken Farewell, Amazing Grace medley, Crazy, Wabash Cannonball, Folsom Prison Blues, Rolling in My Sweet Baby’s Arms, Pistol Packin’ Mama, Hello Sunshine (an Original song), West Virginia, Old Rugged Cross, Soldier’s Joy, Rancho Grande’, Dixie/Battle Hymn of the Republic, House of the Rising Sun, Ghost Riders in the Sky, The Rose, Hey Good Lookin’, Blues Stay away from Me, Wayfaring Stranger, Long Black Veil, Waltz Across Texas … and many more!
Don And Cookie Polly are married. They were both born in the Berkshire Mountains of western Massachusetts, which is part of the Appalachian mountain chain that stretches from Georgia to Maine. Rich musical traditions have come from the Appalachians.
October Mountain is an actual mountain. Don lived on one side and Cookie on the other.
While living in California, Don and Cookie formed the first October Mountain Band. It was a successful Bluegrass band with six members, playing traditional Bluegrass instruments. A CD was made and it has been well received. It has been sent to our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Copies are for sale at the low price of $15 each.
When Don retired, he and Cookie moved to central Florida. It wasn’t long before they decided to form another October Mountain Band. This time, though, they wanted to be a little different so the idea of “The Front Porch Band” was conceived. Part of the band would play homemade instruments.
The reception for this type of band has been excellent. Dolly on washtub and Linda on washboard are approached after many performances and questioned about their unique instruments.
Dolly Baraso: Dolly is our only native Floridian, she was born in Miami. She has mastered the washtub bass. If you close your eyes it sounds like she is playing a stand up bass!
Linda Willsey: Linda was born in Redlands, California. Linda plays the washboard with her fingernails, and gets a lot of great rhythm out of it for us!
Hank Link: Hank was born in Washington, D.C. He is our newest member. Hank plays the Banjo and Guitar.
All of us sing in different capacities, either melody or harmony as the song dictates. We play for many private parties but often are hired for public performances. We will be posting our upcoming engagements on this website. We are located in Leesburg, Florida.
If you wish to hire us or for more information, please call 352-508-5563 and ask for Cookie or e-mail us at this website.
October Mountain Washtub Band