It's International Strange Music Day. Let's celebrate with some hot musicians.
In case you've totally overlooked your "fun holiday calendar," this month, International Strange Music Day is upon us — a day dedicated to highlighting all sorts of weird sounds from obscure instruments you've probably never heard of before (and definitely can't pronounce).
We're all about broadening our horizons here, especially when it comes to our musical tastes. So, to make the noises coming from these seven strange instruments even sweeter, we interviewed some smokin' hot guys who just happen to play them.
If you've never been turned on by the sounds of an accordion, or seen a man with washboard abs play a washboard on his abs, you're in for a real treat. Check out what these hot musicians had to say about their non-mainstream musical instruments.
Instrument: Washboard, accordion, djembe and tongue drums.
How long have you been playing?: I first sat behind an accordion at age 6 or 7 (my father had played since age 8). As for the washboard, when I discovered Zydeco music I took what I knew from drumming and applied it to the washboard.
What made you want to learn to play it?: Family, family, genes, genes, nepotism.
Fun fact about your instrument that we probably wouldn't know?: Early wood-framed washboards would wear out easily. Luckily, Zydeco pioneer Clifton Chenier's cousin was a sheet metal worker and developed the style often seen today.
Tell us about the best/coolest/most memorable performance you ever played: The collective memories that I've opening for the Neville Brothers, Spin Doctors, 10,000 Maniacs, Blood, Sweat & Tears — and that's just the Zydeco band.
Approximate number of ladies you've made swoon while playing?: Impossible to say really. I'd see couples air-washboarding and pointing at me, then kissing. So I have no specific idea of what made, if any, swoon for me. Do my mom and grandma count?
How long have you been playing the ukulele?: Six years! I started playing my senior year of college.
What made you want to learn to play it?: I'd been struggling with guitar for about two years and was getting impatient. A friend of mine and I were working on a boat together and when we'd walk around town he'd play his mandolin. I wanted something easy and portable to accompany him, and ukulele seemed like a natural substitute for guitar.
Fun fact about your instrument that we probably wouldn't know?: Ukuleles are surprisingly versatile. I own several kinds with very diverse tones: a banjolele (sound of a banjo, tuning of a uke), a plastic backed acoustic electric, even a solid body electric I can use with pedals and distortion. You wouldn't be able to distinguish it from an electric guitar.
Tell us about the best/coolest/most memorable performance you played: There have been so many memories made playing ukulele on random outings in New York City. I can't count the number of times I've started boozy sing-alongs with entire subway cars at one in the morning.
I guess my favorite moment was performing on a corner in New Brunswick with my mandolin friend one Friday night last year. We made $90 in tips from drunk Rutgers students walking to and from the bars. People kept requesting Red Hot Chili Peppers, which I don't know how to play, but they didn't seem to notice how badly I was faking as long as I ended with the refrain to "Califonication."
Approximate number of ladies you've made swoon while playing the ukulele?: A surprising number ... in the dozens at least, if you're just counting breaking the ice for flirting. It sets you apart at the bar or on the street if you can start spontaneously serenading someone. It looks more goofy than sexy, but if you know how to work goofy, you've got it made. I still make my girlfriend "swoon" with quiet love songs in bed at night. Another benefit to the ukulele being portable.
Can we watch you jam out?: Here's a link to a recording I did with some friends a year and a half ago (it picks up at 1:53). I just moved, so I'm between bands, but you can also check out crappy recordings of my music here.
Anything else we should know?: Anyone can learn ukulele. Just buy one today and bring it everywhere you go for a month or two. You'll bother your friends for a while, but it'll be worth it.
How long have you been playing the cajón?: I've been playing the cajón for a little over two years now.
What made you want to learn to play it?: I actually had to learn it as part of my understudy track in Once: The Musical, but I'd always wanted to pick them up as they're great for percussion in intimate settings, and much easier than dragging around a drum kit.
Fun fact about your instrument that we probably wouldn't know?: The cajón was an instrument that was developed in the 19th century during periods of slavery in Peru. It's believed that the instruments were adapted from Spanish shipping crates and also as a way to subvert the Spanish ban on musical instruments, because they would disguise them as seats or stools.
Tell us about the best/coolest/most memorable performance you played: I had so many memorable performances playing this instrument, but I'll never forget my first time playing Andrej in Once.
There was a song in the pre-show where I had to play ukulele and at the same time keep the beat by kicking the cajón with my foot, and it's in no way a short song. Needless to say, I learned that I was going to need to strengthen my legs a bit. Ha! But I've also played it a lot with friends and castmates outside of the show, and I've always enjoyed lending myself to that.
Approximate number of ladies you've made swoon while playing the cajón?: Difficult question, but judging on a number of factors, I'm going to estimate around 19,231.
Anything else we should know?: Anyone who wants to pick up a percussion instrument and has other friends who play folk music or any kind of acoustic style music should totally consider going down to their local music store and picking one up. Or build your own! They're fun, easy to learn and can really add to a song.
How long have you been playing the accordion?: I've been playing accordion since I was 4, so 24 years.
What made you want to learn to play it?: I wanted to learn it from a young age, but most of it was "forced" on me by my family.
Fun fact about your instrument that we probably wouldn't know?: The accordion is an instrument used by many different ethnicities, and it can make you a lot of money.
Tell us about the best/coolest/most memorable performance you played: The coolest, most memorable moment I have is playing next to my idol Eddie Blazonczyk Sr. at Seven Springs, PA when I was 12 years old.
Approximate number of ladies you've made swoon while playing the accordion?: I've never counted the "swooning" ladies that have come from me playing the accordion, but I do get laughed at a lot at work when they hear that I play it. The "polka groupies" are usually the ones that swoon.
Can we watch you jam out?: Here's a recent video (note the swooning girls in the front).
How long have you been playing the didgeridoo?: I was introduced to the didgeridoo around the age of 7 by my dad.
What made you want to learn to play it?: It was on my dad's bucket list to learn a technique the didgeridoo is famous for: circular breathing. I loved the sound of it from the start, and began learning on a PVC pipe didge.
It was something I did from time to time for fun. But at 15, I had an amazing experience at Victor Wooten's Music Camp in Nashville, and it made me want to play the instrument seriously. By the age of 16 I played my first paid gig.
Fun fact about your instrument that we probably wouldn't know?: A fun fact about the didgeridoo is that it actually has medical benefits. People with Obstructive Sleep Apnea see improvements in their sleep over time by playing the didgeridoo. The improvement can be so drastic that those who previously slept with an air machine can sleep without it after some months of playing.
Tell us about the best/coolest/most memorable performance you played: I have a lot of great performance memories, but one that stands out was my first on-campus college performance during my freshman year at Stony Brook University.
Some of my friends were skeptical that I could make entertaining beats with a didgeridoo, but when I went on stage and "dropped the bass," everyone lost it. That was the beginning of what would be an amazing time at college, which I'm still in the process of finishing.
Approximate number of ladies you've made swoon while playing the didgeridoo?: Ladies love didges. While I'll keep a lid on my success rate; I can promise that it's a charmer. Some people joke after hearing me play saying, "Wow, you must have a strong tongue" ... which is true.
Can we watch you jam out?: I don't have a lot of recent stuff, but if you want to hear me play, this is a video I like a lot.
How long have you been playing the melodica?: On and off for the past three years or so.
What made you want to learn to play it?: I first saw the instrument being played by the Rainbow Girls, a local Santa Barbara band, one night at Soho. It blew my mind, and I had to have one after that.
Fun fact about your instrument that we probably wouldn't know?: It's commonly used for education in Asia, like the recorder is in the U.S. The melodica has become surprisingly common in recent years, but there are many people who are in awe of the instrument when they see it; they're fascinated with the hose mechanism.
Tell us about the best/coolest/most memorable performance you ever played: The best memory I have with the melodica was during one summer when we were busking down on state street during the farmer's market. My band mates and I were playing a song, and it came time for my solo.
I got so into the solo that I had no idea it'd lasted over three minutes (that's a really long solo). I looked up to notice all my band members laughing at me, and a big group of people gathering to watch. I had no idea. That moment is forever known to us as the "Stevie" solo (Stevie Wonder).
Approximate number of ladies you've made swoon by playing the melodica?: I would have to say I've held more conversations with dudes due to the instrument. I think that hose scares the ladies away!
Instrument: Jaw harp
How long have you been playing the jaw harp?: I've been playing the jaw harp for about 7 years now, when patient ears are near.
What made you want to learn to play it?: I wanted to play it because it's so portable, and I was drawn to its uncommonness. Plus it's such a small investment of money and shelf space that it seemed as if there should be one in every home.
Fun fact about your instrument that we probably wouldn't know?: It goes by a lot of names and has been around in some form or another for thousands of years. It gets called a chew harp, Jew's harp, or juice harp and plenty else. Another huge perk is that Snoopy from Peanuts plays one; they don't call him Joe Cool for nothing.
Tell us about the best/coolest/most memorable performance you ever played: The most fun I had playing was probably down at a bluegrass jam in Red Hook, NY. It's rare that I have an occasion to play it for hours on end, and when it comes to music I'll go until I'm blue in the face.
Approximate number of ladies you've made swoon by playing the jaw harp?: Though it certainly arouses intrigue, the jaw harp doesn't exactly tout sex appeal. Some girls have asked to try and play it, which has always struck me as odd since you essentially hold the harp in your mouth, but I've obligingly shared.