Dick the Musician
You are likely not surprised to learn that Dick was a self taught musician – considering he was self taught in most everything else he did!
My earliest memories of Dick playing any instrument was a slew of harmonicas he blew in different keys. He had a natural ear for rhythm and melody and sometimes I’d play or sing along with him. We had fun!
Dick also acquired a couple of wooden recorders from somewhere and with them produced a gentler more lyrical sound.
In contrast, at our Drums for Fun sessions, he enjoyed fooling around with his variety of Hub Caps, using sticks to whack them or smashing them together. He was darn good at making ‘music’ in this unusual manner and got lots of laughs.
Many years ago Dick put together a homemade Bucket Bass with a broom handle, a length of clothesline and a galvanized bucket with a hole in the bottom.
Recently in 7 Arts Studio I found a strange wooden instrument made in Thailand. Held vertically it could only be played by blowing gently into a hole in the center and changing the pitch by pressing on small holes along a row of bamboo tubes. Back when it was given to me I had no idea how to really play it – and I still don’t. Dick was the only person who could play it with any pizzazz and gusto (and many tried!).
Dick was intrigued with the Didgeridoo – an instrument originally made by the Australian Aborigines. Eucalyptus tree limbs and termites have a lot to do with the production of this ancient instrument. Apparently, the eucalyptus branch, or maybe even an entire tree, gets invaded by the local termites who nosh on the insides making tunnels, which when properly blown, make a distinctive didg sound.
Self taught as usual, Dick experimented and made lots of didgeridoos out of PVC pipes, which he would then spray paint with wild colors and designs. He sold some, but gave even more away to other eager didg players.
I like to play the didg too and a few years ago I carefully chose a didgeridoo directly from Australia. When it arrived, excitedly I carefully opened the surprisingly heavy long box and was shocked to find it was too heavy for me to lift, never mind play!
My mistake had been not to check on the weight when ordering, even though I had all the other specifications just right. That taught me!
I told Dick of my dilemma. He took one look at this beautiful didg, tried it out, and said he’d buy it from me. Delighted, I told him I’d give him $40 off.
This allowed me to purchase my own Healing Didgeridoo from Australia, which is light weight and sounds wonderful.
Dick of course, found it easy to play any didg and had no trouble learning to circular breathe. This is tricky to do, but allows for nonstop playing although the process requires a person to inhale while still making an exhalation – impossible without this technique.
Dick also got himself a set of congas which he often played at our Drums For Fun. And, after years of playing his Bucket Bass, Dick found a terrific double bass which he bought for $1100 – which quickly became his major instrument which he continued to play for the rest of his life.
While working at USPL, the original OUT TO LUNCH BUNCH was created. Mostly this was just to make lunch time more interesting and fun for the group.
As their repertoire expanded the group began ‘Doing Fairs’ and found themselves invited to a variety of places to perform. They were popular! So much so, they asked Jim, our musical technical guy, to record on our 4 track the best of their musical renditions.
Jim did an excellent job and many were sold. Some of the CDs are still available today.
Jim of course is the same ‘Jim’ now helping with these ‘Dick’ chapters.
For many years we would throw a BIG PARTY every August – THE PINES ASTRO MUSIC FESTIVAL COOKOUT. Our backyard overflowed with at least 50 people, coming and going.
Dick and the musicians played a lot at these parties, Dick playing his bass (beer close by!) as the food and drinks were devoured with gusto and lots of laughter. Jim and I took videos of one of their performances, knowing it would be fun to see at later dates.
Dick, being such a people person, would travel far and wide for a musical gig with his friends. I especially remembered the yearly “PIG ROAST” at John Best’s place.
PERHAPS PIGS ROAST BETTER TO MUSIC !!!!!
And finally, a few words from Shakespeare …
“IF MUSIC BE THE FOOD OF LOVE, PLAY ON.”
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