Five Cool Things - Blue Man Group, Spoon Whammy Bars, more...

NOV 16, 2018

Welcome to FIVE COOL THINGS, a daily roundup of fantastic curiosities, curated by Shane Speal, author of Making Poor Man's Guitars.  Today we look at some fantastic musical inspiration, starting with the Blue Man Group, making whammy bars from spoons and discovering Peg Leg Sam.  Let's dig in...

THING 1: The Blue Man Group is starting a new behind-the-scenes show on Youtube called "Creative Chaos."  Each episode will be posted each Saturday on their channel and will delve into the instruments, stage production and music of this modern Vaudeville sensation.  Subscribe to their Youtube channel here.

THING 2:  "Snuff Cans & Boredom"  The instrument pictured at the top of today's Five Cool Things is a Skoal snuff can guitar I've had for more than 20 years.  It was whittled and made by a co-worker of mine when I worked in a factory warehouse.  Hear me try to play it and ponder the thought of creative boredom.

THING 3:  Spoon Whammy Bars!  My friend, Mike Orr buys dollar store serving spoons and turns them into whammy bars for his cigar box guitars.  You may know Orr from his fantastic book, Handmade Music Factory.  So... does the whammy work?  Kinda sorta.  When the strings are strummed open without any guitar slide, you can get a chorusing sound by shaking the handle with a heavy hand.  But hey, it looks seriously cool!

THING 4:  The Leadbaby Cigar Box Guitar Concept.  Leadbelly was a blues icon who played a 12 string Stella acoustic guitar.  He was responsible for iconic songs such as "Good Night Irene," "In the Pines" and "Black Betty."  

I've always been enraptured by his double-coursed guitar and it inspired me to create a tiny version using a cigar box.  I called it the Leadbaby and it sounds a bit like a slide mandolin.  Have a listen.

I just put the Leadbaby on sale at along with many other cool cigar box guitars that were part of the Cigar Box Guitar Museum at Speal's Tavern.  Check them out... they're all Santa approved!

THING 5:  [HERO] Peg Leg Sam.  Years ago, I found a cassette tape of Peg Leg Sam at a junk store.  I couldn't believe my ears when I listened to his breathy, relaxed harmonica playing and singing.  Years later, I stumbled across the Youtube videos chronicling his life as a minstrel show performer.  I was blown away that he really did have a peg leg... and a heavily scarred face.  This guy has seen some tough times... and yet, he smiles.  Enjoy this snippet.  (Do yourself a favor and search "Peg Leg Sam" on Youtube for even more awesomeness.

There's your Five Cool Things for the day.  Life is good.  Go make somebody smile today.

Shane Speal



1 comment

  • Dano Schultz
    Dano Schultz
    Great first post Shane. I wonder if shaping a peg leg is a lot like shaping a guitar neck? Thanks for another fine distraction! ~Dano

    Great first post Shane. I wonder if shaping a peg leg is a lot like shaping a guitar neck? Thanks for another fine distraction!

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