UKULELE MUSING 2020, No. 18, 25 April 2020–“Smoke Continues in Circles”

Well, another week has gone by and sequestration is the norm. Alison and I manage to keep busy with all those household tasks, face mask making, reading, hobbies, online streaming, family Zoom, and–of course–ukulele stuff. A bit more research and restoration work on ukes rather than strumming for me, but this too shall pass. Needless to say, we make our own kind of fun here at what we call “The Inn at Ice Pond.”

Last week my theme wafted into “cigarette music” and I promised that I would move on to cigars and smoking pipes “anon.” I guess that anon is now. Why not!

Let’s start with “stogie stuff I have found.” Probably the best thing about cigars vis-a-vis our favorite little musical instrument is what can be done with those old-fashioned cedar wood cigar boxes. I’ve built a couple of ukes and banjos out of them over the years. My favorite boxes are “Old Virginia Cheroots,” 5 for 10 cents! I can’t speak for their smoking qualities, probably pretty dreadful at that price, but the boxes are good wood and a perfect size.

A ready-made “body” for a uke, banjo, guitar, or fiddle got a lot of music into the hands of folks who couldn’t afford “store bought,”

and there are a lot of folks today who simply enjoy the challenge of craftsmanship coupled with recycling. These are not mine, but here is a nice selection.

It’s not a Martin, Kamaka, or Snowshoe but the price is right for a cigar box uke, providing you don’t mind a bit of retained cigar odor! But, how does one sound? Click or tap on the next image for the answer.

And, we shouldn’t forget those long ago, sweet old days when kids collected “cigar bands” from their fathers’ stogies. Here was a way to put these to good, colorful use. This beauty IS mine.

Oh well, we might as well listen to a cigar-themed tune while we’re at it. Click or tap on the next image but keep the room well ventilated.

And then, of course, the good old smoking pipe–briar, clay, calabash, meerschaum, hookah, corn cob–a sophisticated favorite.

And, yes, there are even some hookah musical references to be found. Seek and ye shall find!

There is even a hookah reference in our Leap Year (blue) songbook!

There is even a style of tobacco pipe called a “Ukulele.”  Who knew?

Now for a fun novelty song of the early 1900s about a wife tugging on the leash of a potentially straying, but nontheless pipe smoking, husband.

Tap or click on the next image to listen to this scold of a song!

And, let’s not overlook the pipe-smoking youth of America, with their ukuleles, of course.

So, without inhaling, or endorsing bad old habits, let’s end our musical muse on the subject of tobacco smoke with a song.

And, as usual, here’s a nice little going away tune on the ukulele. Click or tap on the next image for an introspective look at smoke not getting into our eyes!

So, stay safe, stay home, stay busy, stay viceless (sort of), and STAY TUNED!

Author: NohoBanjo of Northampton and, now, Easthampton, Mass.

Hi friends, neighbors, and fellow strummers. These “musings” are based on my interest and study of Banjo and Ukulele history, lore, and music. My goal is to both educate and enlighten by sharing what I have learned within a broad musical and historical context—with honesty and, at times, a bit of humor. Needless to say, your thoughts and comments are, as always, welcome.

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