by Peter Aaron
If you came of age in days of the hootenannies or skiffle sessions of the early 1960s (or have parents who did), you may have seen or heard a stumpf fiddle without knowing there was even a name for this oddball folk instrument. Also known as a stump fiddle, boomba, Tuefel stick, pogo cello, bumbass, gob stick, Turkish crescent, or jingling Johnny, among other colorful names, the stumpf fiddle is a noisy, percussive contraption that’s consists of a long stick or broom handle usually with some kind of resonator head or strings, attached bells, clanging pans or other improvised cymbals. This month, you’ll have to the chance to make your own stumpf fiddle and join the fun at “Birth of the Stumpf Fiddle,” a workshop and concert at the Spillan mansion’s “camp for adults.”
The event is being led and performed by acclaimed artist and instrument maker Ed Potokar in partnership with his exhibit “Potophonics” at the Orphic Gallery in Roxbury. (The exhibit runs through August 25; for more information visit http://orphicgallery.com/.)
Here, Potokar explains and demonstrates a few of his creations:
“Birth of the Stumpf Fiddle” takes place at Spillan in Fleischmanns on August 24 from 10am to 8pm. Cost for the workshop and concert is $125 and includes all materials plus lunch and dinner. For the concert only, admission is $10. For more information, call (800) 811-3351 or visit Spillian.com.