04 April 2008

(one of) My Latest Obsession(s): Suitcase Drum Kits

I'm trying to remember when I first became aware of these things. It may have been on the bonus DVD that came with the Barenaked Ladies' "Everything to Everyone" CD. Drummer Tyler Stewart played a Suitcase drum kit on an all acoustic set, prompting someone (maybe Ed Robertson?) to say, "One day we'll have to buy you a real drum kit."

As far as I can tell, the suitcase drum kit is used primarily in bluegrass/old timey/ragtime music. Also it's used by buskers, due to it's compact size and ease of transport. Here are a few pix:

Dave Harris, a busker from Canada.

The Woody Pines from Ohio. I befriended them on MySpace ages ago. Great sound.

I guess they're used by rockabilly groups, too. This is The Hightown Crows of the UK.
And finally, a great video of one of these things in action. They sound pretty damn good!

The centerpiece (and namesake) of the suitcase drumkit is the suitcase bass drum (or "kickdrum".) (Here's a link to a guy who provides instructions for building one of these things. [UPDATE:  Dead link!  Try this tutorial.)
I'd like to know more about the history of this instrument ... I imagine it was invented by some hobo in 1910 who wanted to accompany his harmonica blowing and banjo plucking friends. I can just see 'em, sitting around a fire, waiting for the mulligan stew to warm up, stirring up a ruckus under a full moon.

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