TUNKHANNOCK — The washtub bass made a rumbling, metallic scr-e-e-e-ch as 8-year-old Gavin Waibel, of Dalton, pulled it across the floor at the Dietrich Theater.
When he had the folksy instrument in place, he started to ply the string attached to the upside down broom in the center of the overturned tub, creating a dub-dub-dub bass line for his fellow musicians.
Oh, and there were lots of them, with 12-year-old Livia Harrington, of Springville, and two other kids clackety-clack-clacking on the spoons, 7-year-old Ashton Swink, of Tunkhannock, rat-a-tatting drumsticks against a washboard and Mark Kucewicz, 10, of Harveys Lake tapping the kind of pipes you might see under a sink.
You can turn just about anything into a musical instrument, the kids said, as the week-long “Jammin’ in a Jugband” program for young musicians came to a close.
Guided by instructors David Driskell and Timothy Walker, who play in the Tioga County-based Sadie Green Sales Jugband, the children had spent the week at the Dietrich Theater crafting instruments and trying them.
“We took two spoons and bent them so they’d be curved like an S,” Livia said, explaining how to make one old-timey percussion instrument. “It was kind of hard.”
“We took a washboard and added plastic cartons and a bell,” Trent Frazier, 14, of Scranton said, describing an instrument that made several sounds, corresponding to the size of the cartons.
The kids called the last instrument they made a “bumblebee.” Crafted from wood, paper, string and a rubber band, it made a buzzing sound when they held onto the string and twirled the contraption through the air.
Then, with Driskell on banjo and Walker on guitar and harmonica, the entire group ended its program with a rousing rendition of “Mama Don’t Allow No Banjo Players ‘Round Here.” The song’s many verses gave a solo opportunity to everybody from the spoon players to the washboard player to the kids playing conventional instruments — 9-year-old Micah Kozlansky, of Tunkhannock, on guitar and 11-year-old Gregory Stapleton, of Springville, on trombone.
The day after the program ended, participants had a chance to perform with Driskell and Walker during Tunkhannock’s River Day celebration.
The experience was a great opportunity for their children, moms Tara Kozlansky, of Tunkhannock, and Shelly Waibel, of Dalton, said as they picked up their kids.
And, you never know, it might look good on a resume, especially if you, like 7-year-old participant Ashton Swink, “want to be a rock star and a vet” when you grow up.