Flutes n’ Banjoes

covered earsA musician friend of mine once told me that the thing that depressed him most about being a songwriter was the knowledge that the more prolific you are and the more prodigious and heralded your output, the greater the likelihood was that someone would eventually arrange one of your songs to include a flute solo. To him, the flute is the worst instrument ever, but can any musical instrument be truly evil on its own? Of course not -unless it’s a banjo. Banjos are way worse than flutes, although flutes are indeed extremely heinous. Actually, flutes might be even worse. It’s so hard to pick!

Flutes, of course, are willow-y and gentle, coquettish, bewitching; and should all be destroyed. Of all the musical instruments, the flute is the least butch, yet it is also the instrument most likely to be used to exterminate rats. Apparently, some flautists are horned, which again makes me a little wary about the whole operation.

Banjos on the other hand are loud, cockeyed, and belligerent, in the manner of a guest who tells bad jokes and will not leave. They were first discovered about twelve years ago on the same day as sex with barnyard animals, which might or might not be a coincidence. Orchestras very rarely have banjos, because even musicians have to draw the line somewhere.

Flutes are feminine, banjos are masculine; as always, either gender can wear you out completely in about ten minutes. But still, in the hands of a brilliant virtuoso, a flute becomes… well, no, it doesn’t; banjo doesn’t either, they both get, like 5% better, which is still pretty intolerable. And this isn’t just my opinion, either -it’s just plain true.

So which is worse, flute or banjo? I guess we’ll never know for sure, which only makes it that much harder to figure out which one to cast into the ocean first. I could go on, but what’s the use?

It’s like the weather we had in June -awful. The End.

Before we go, I’d like to mention some totally worthwhile things I might’ve been writing about this week in greater detail, if flutes and banjos didn’t exist:

NEW CDs: “Bitte Orca” by the Dirty Projectors -bracing, challenging, never dull; “boatclub” by boatclub -debut CD from Oakland, CA band that includes ex-Cape Codder Tom Carns also challenges, but sounds great and rocks in a free-spirited and open-hearted yet occasionally cynical manner; and “Love Letter To Andromeda” and “Holy Tweet” by Terry Adams -the former being an adventurous, mind-blowing solo recording on prepared piano and celeste, while the latter is an unexpectedly consistent blast of rootsy pop from NRBQ’s resident genius with a new band that makes a respectable stab at filling the gap they left.

BANDS THAT DELIVERED: Dumpstaphunk at the Wellfleet Beachcomber -for my money, their album doesn’t really do the job, but these Neville chillen were wonderful live, especially Ian Neville, who showed why rhythm guitar can still matter; and Samite at the Payomet Arts Center, who was gentle and elegant but still got the hippies up on their feet last Sunday armed with nothing but a kalimba.

GOOD MOVIES TO RENT: “Quid Pro Quo” and “Two Lovers.”


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