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Henry Wood's Cigar Box Violin Story, 1940's

Photo: Cigar Box Violin. Unknown maker

Vaudevillian, Henry Wood talks about performing in the famous WLS Barn Dance in Wisconsin back in the 1940’s.  As master at the musical saw, Wood went on to describe the unusual musical act he created for the Barn Dance:

“Sometimes Mr. Statz would tell the audience that I’d taken over everything in the barn — cowbells, pitchforks, tin cans, milk pails, saws and chains to make music with, and there were no tools left for work. He said he fixed me. He’d lock them all up.
Well, I’d go into the audience and see if anybody had a cigar box. We’d have a plant there ho did, and I’d borrow the box and cut a hole in the top. I’d get a broom handle and attach it, then string a wire across the whole. I’d snatch a violin bow from one of the fellows in the band, and I’d play that one-string fiddle while Mr. Statz would try to make his announcements.
It always brought down the house, or more accurately, the tent or barn. When he’d grab my fiddle and break it, the band would start in and I’d still have the stage, doing a comic jig or buck-and-wing dance. ”

From A Sawdust Heart: My Vaudeville Life in Medicine and Tent Shows – by Henry Wood as told to Michael Fedo.

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Jim Stanley
Jim Stanley
Jan 22, 2022

Few years back, I developed a clown character for the police department I worked for. I made a kazoo trombone out of pvc, with much the same result. Folks love to see plain ole objects used to entertain. A one string violin surely would bring down the house with laughter and amazement!

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