Saturday, October 24, 2009

One man band

Last night, the idea of the one-man band popped into my head, so I have spent part of my morning poking around for some examples. I found one on the streets of Croatia, one at Quincy Market in Boston, one in Morecambe, Lancashire, U.K., one in Greece, and Professor Gizmo on TV. When I was doing the research, I also found a clip of Dick Van Dyke's character performing in the 1964 film "Mary Poppins." The traditional one-man band straps wind instruments around the neck, carries a drum on his back connected to a footpad, attaches cymbals to the knees, ties tambourines and maracas to the limbs, and plays a banjo, ukelele, or guitar. Musicians who play guitar and harmonica simultaneously are so common, they are no longer considered one-man bands, and technology has broadened the definition to include a single musician playing multiple instruments one at a time that are recorded on multiple tracks and then combined into a single song. The earliest known examples of one-man bands date from the 13th c. "The one-man band exists, in all its uniqueness and independence, as a most elusive yet persistent musical tradition." Even more elusive is the one-woman band, but I found one: Esmerelda Strange (watch video).

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