Competition update: The ‘Review Your Ukulele’ contest is now closed. There have been loads of great entries. I’ll be looking over all of them and will announce the result on Friday (probably – it’ll be a tough decision). Everyone who entered should have their Rick tab. If you didn’t get it something must have got lost along the way, send me your entry again and I’ll get it to you.
After last week’s post Madame Pamita got back to me with the answers. And it was worth the eleven month wait.
What was your first musical instrument and what made you pick it up?
my first musical instrument was imaginary tambourine in my backyard playing “band” with my neighborhood friends. we also did a lot of lip synching to my mother’s broadway show soundtrack records – “South Pacific” “The Music Man” “The Sound of Music” – we would set up a “curtain” across the clothes line, put on the record and perform an entire two and a half hour musical in 12 minutes. the ultimate broadway experience for those with short attention spans. Very
groundbreaking theatre. we were very avant garde. we had an all-girl cast of 2nd and 3rd graders playing the jets and the sharks in “west side story.” a bold choice, i know, but that’s because there were only girls in my neighborhood.
How did you go from surf music and Cheap Trick to old-time music and spiritualism?
there really is a secret link between all of them. I can see it clearly. anyone who sends me an email naming the mysterious common denominator will get a free CD from me. it might not be a cd of me, but it will be free.
I just got an email from a friend saying, “you’re always reinventing yourself” and I told him, no it’s not that I reinvent myself, it’s that I have M.A.D.D. (musical attention deficit disorder). I am like a very poorly trained dog who chases after a squirrel and then barks at a mailman and then starts running after a passing car. clearly my piano teacher didn’t rap my fingers hard enough with that ruler.
What goes on at a Parlor of Wonders show?
it is a madcap adventure into mysticism and mayhem and not unlike a 12 minute backyard version of “cabaret”. willkommen! bienvenue! I have a set of very large tarot cards. each card has a fortune (of course) and also a song attached to it. audience members come up, and pick a card, get a fortune and then i’ll sing the song that goes along with that card. the audience is, in essence, choosing the set list for the night. it’s always a different show. always unpredictable. the people who come up are often exceptionally drunk, which makes it even more entertaining.
How did you manage to build up such a collection of strange instruments?
by being the worst person ever at saving money. my latest favorite is my marxophone. it’s the people’s instrument, you know.
On a related note, have you ever managed to get a good tune out of your ukelin?
no, but i enjoy the bad tunes very much. it’s the best $15 bucks i ever spent. i bring it out at parties and become one of those insufferable people who forces partygoers to play it and then listen to the legend of the ukelin. do you know the story? they were sold door to door. the price on the inside of the ukelin says “$35” (which was a huge amount of money in the 1920s) but the sales man would sell it to you for “wholesale cost” which was $17.50, IF you would become a ukelin distributor yourself. If you sold 6 at full price, you would even get your $17.50 refunded. My ukelin came with all the original paperwork for the whole dastardly pyramid scheme transaction. See? now you know what it’s like to go to one of my parties. but you get to hear the ukelin legend from thousands of miles away! that’s the magic of the internet!
How did the idea for The Very Special come about?
My friend sid who invented the swirlygig and i were holed up in a cabin in the woods of wisconsin for a week. we were playing this and that and then we wrote the swirlygig jingle. and then we decided that more things needed jingles. things that we love that don’t get the credit that they deserve such as “foam fingers” and “slotted spoons” and “bobby pins”. have you heard any good bobby pin jingles lately? no, i thought not. now you can see the genius behind that. of course, being jingle writers, we’re not musical snobs who write only because we are “inspired,” so if you have something you want a jingle for, just send us the pertinent information and we’ll write a jingle for you for $1 a word. that’s a total bargain. jingles are short. the shortest one we wrote was a $4 jingle!
What have you written jingles for so far?
we are so prolific, we don’t keep track. well, sid does. she’s the organized twin. we are constantly writing jingles. the latest best one was for bituminous asphalt. our favorite one goes “flag foods – we’ll wave when you come in” – it doesn’t get better than that in the jingle biz. not for $8, it doesn’t.
I was reading your about page on the Dime Box Band site and it said you couldn’t live without ‘vintage jewelry, un-picked-over thriftshops and used bookstores’ and it struck me that there’s a similar vintage/used theme in a lot of the music you’ve made. What is it that appeals to you?
that bio had some very interesting repercussions. there was a time that i was dating around and i had a whole string of dates with different guys and they would take me to thrift stores. i thought, “wow! i’m meeting a lot of guys who are into thrift shopping.” but it turns out there was a question on there that said “what is your dream date” and i had just randomly put down something about thrift shopping. they had been scoping out my band website beforehand and
then planning our first date around that. now, of course, i’ve changed the answer to that question to “driving the getaway car at a bank robbery”
and i didn’t answer your question at all, did i?
I have to ask this one. What do you see in my future?
I pulled three cards for you
the seven of swords, the ace of wands and the moon card.
you are starting a new activity that you are very passionate about – new songs? a new project? but you’re very excited about it. the main thing to do though is to keep your thoughts about it based in realism, it will be easy to get “pie-in-the-sky” about something this new that you’re this excited about. dream big but also keep one foot on the terra firma of practicality. the best news of all though is that this project will involve doing something that is a little crafty – not illegal, but just a little rascally – and that you will get away with it!
Madame Pamita will be recording a new CD in August and touring after that. You can keep up to date with all the news on her website.