October Mountain Washtub Band
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 feature articles 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
David Logan Mandolin and guitar. David also sings harmony and leads
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 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!
Hank Link: Hank was born in Washington, D.C. Hank plays the Banjo and Guitar.
David Logan: David was born in Cleveland, Alabama
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
Besides being a musician, Don Polly is also an author. Here’s a short synopsis of each of his books.
FLUFFY – (Science Fiction)
Don’t let the cute name fool you. He is a genetically created animal. Created for use by government forces, Fluffy is stolen while still a baby and given to an elderly woman and her adopted family to raise secretly away from the laboratories and authorities, Fluffy grows into a fiercely loyal pet with emphasis on “fierce”. The government agency wants their investment back. They track his mistress down but, she will not give him up easily.
DEWEY’S MACHINE –(Science Fiction)
Dewey Coyle, an ordinary man has been long estranged from his perfectionist father. Dr. Coyle is a noted quantum physicist. Alerted by friends, Dewey is told his father has been missing for weeks. Reluctantly, he goes to his father’s house and there in the basement he finds that a firebomb has failed to go off. Its purpose was to destroy a strange machine. What is it? A beautiful colleague comes looking for his father. She is astounded at the machine. She tells Dewey she believes it is a time machine! Together they go back through time looking for Dewey’s father. Adventures happen! Love, too.
ETHAN MAGUIRE – Book One. (Western)
Born in 1849, Ethan grows up hearing about the fabulous California gold rush. At age 19 and against his parents’ wishes he sets out to follow his dream; strike it rich in the gold fields!
Ethan has never been away from his Massachusetts farm so has no idea of the dangers of the wild western frontier of 1868. A chance meeting of a 16 year old Comanche girl named Sus-ke’-an-ta, caught in a terrible situation, changes everything for him. Will he make it to California? Indians, bad men, dangerous weather, many pitfalls await. Set against the mountains, prairies, the Oregon and California trails this is pure adventure with a love story.
YELLOW SUN – Book Two (Western)
Yellow Sun picks up right where Ethan Maguire ended. The second generation of the Maguire family face dangers, death, hardships and coming of age from the 1870’s to the dawn of the new 20th century. Will this new generation learn from what their parents experienced? There are no disappointments. The action and love stories move ahead at a quick pace.
A third and final Maguire saga called “The Maguire Heritage” is in the works.
If purchased through Don: Fluffy, Dewey’s Machine and Ethan Maguire are $15 + $3 postage. Yellow Sun is $17 + $3 postage.
Books can be purchased and signed by the author. Call Don at 352-508-5563 to order.
Or you can email Don at firstname.lastname@example.org to order books.
They also may be ordered from amazon.com
Kindle versions of Ethan Maguire and Yellow Sun are available.
Check Amazon for the Kindle version prices. Sometimes they offer special prices.