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You can almost hear 'em...
February 26, 2009 4:32 AM   Subscribe

There's the fascinating autistic musical savant Blind Tom Wiggins. There are musical clowns and minstrels, and poignant images of child musicians. There are tantalizing and truly exotic images of musicians from far-flung corners of the world: India, Persia, China, Japan... all this and more at the Vintage Musicians Flickr group. Oh, and who's that critter with the banjo? Why, that may just be the ORIGINAL LOL CAT.
posted by flapjax at midnite (11 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
Banjo Cat is watching you hoedown. (And thanks for the rest of them, too... I love old pic-a-tures.)
posted by not_on_display at 4:42 AM on February 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Blind Tom started playing piano at four, and could duplicate exactly previously unheard tunes. He could mimic songs in German, Greek, French, and Latin (none of which he spoke). He did vocal impressions of the fiddle, bagpipe, and hurdy-gurdy. He composed original music, and could play facing away from the piano, with his right hand playing the left hand notes, and vice-versa. That said, he was extremely mentally challenged. He only spoke monosyllabicly, and his favorite activity was drawing circles on the floor while standing on one foot. He never owned the copyright to any of his original music.
posted by Bernt Pancreas at 5:18 AM on February 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


This calls for a Tom Wiggins wiki link. And NPR as well.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:29 AM on February 26, 2009


Oh, and Blind Tom dot org.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:30 AM on February 26, 2009


Fascinating stuff.
posted by Muttoneer at 5:49 AM on February 26, 2009


Oh, and who's that critter with the banjo? Why, that may just be the ORIGINAL LOL CAT.

I CAN HAZ FOGGY MOUNTIN BRAKEDOWN?
posted by jonp72 at 6:56 AM on February 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


That India picture is that of a haridaasu, a wandering mendicant who famously doesn't ask for alms, but sings songs dedicated to the lord Sri Maha Vishnu on his tambura and foot-cymbals ('gajjellu') during the dhanur maasam, the solar month immediately preceding the makara sankranti, a generally prosperous time in agarian India, when the kharif crop harvested in October would have been sold and generated wealth for the communities. You're expected to give rice as alms to a haridaasu; to ignore his songs would not just be inauspicious, it would be very very unlucky. Here's a more contemporary photo.

It's a fast dying tradition though; what with subsidised two-rupees-for-a-kilo-of-rice schemes, rice as earnings doesn't go that far these days. Then again, even back in the day, it was never really popular; you'd probably have utmost one or two haridaasus per region (they travel between towns).
posted by the cydonian at 7:12 AM on February 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


damn my lazy cats! i can hardly get them to play fetch, let alone banjo!
posted by msconduct at 11:13 AM on February 26, 2009


Really cool photo set. Thanks.
posted by Xoebe at 1:28 PM on February 26, 2009


Flap: You've uncovered the originator of the "claw" hammer banjo style.
posted by Faze at 3:59 PM on February 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


Faze FTW.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:19 PM on February 26, 2009


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