Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Ready for Pacific Contact 2019

I will be attending Pacific Contact this year, a conference where the presenters of BC theatres meet artists and agents, as the presenters book their shows for the next 2 years. For the first time I am offering two types of shows -- a one-man show and an ensemble show. With the one-man show I will perform with a loop machine and video in order to play multiple junk instruments in a song.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Rehearsals Started for BC Tour

Rehearsals have begun for a tour to the Charles-Bailey Theatre in Trail, BC and to the ACT Arts Centre in Maple Ridge, BC. I have once again transformed our house into a rehearsal studio with junk instruments everywhere. We leave for Trail, BC this Monday for a Tuesday evening performance. Finding a truck and a minivan with snow tires and chains was one of the hardest parts of putting the tour together, as weather can get quite inclement en route. Instruments have been cleaned up, tuned, and fixed where needed, and my new instrument called The Sinkalimba - a kalimba built from a kitchen sink - was added to the roster. Our cousin from Germany, an excellent cellist, will be joining The Music of Junk for this tour.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Rocking the Massey Theatre!

What a great show that was, the sound system was fantastic, the Massey Theatre crew were very talented, and the audience was great. It was our best show yet, and the changes we made to the songs, the format and the instruments worked well. We brought some of the smaller instruments into the lobby after the show and the patrons seemed very interested and appreciative.
Rocking on the Musical Sled guitar at The Massey Theatre

Tuesday, September 20, 2016


Based on the rehearsal last weekend, our show is in great shape for the upcoming Massey Theatre performance on Oct 1st. As after many rehearsals, I have a long laundry-list of things to be repaired or rebuilt, as the instruments never cease to surprise me. All changes and fixes will be done by the next rehearsal this weekend. I have re-scored the 'recycolin' part since we just have one violin for this show. The new Cookesizer fits well into the orchestra and give wonderful background sustained chords to round out the sound, something I've missed since the beginning. It is going to be a great show!

My new Cookesizer - a keyboard made from junk, running on a junk computer, playing sampled sounds of junk

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Massey Theatre

We are booked to play at the Massey Theatre in New Westminster on Saturday, October 1, 2016! I have spent the summer fixing instruments and designing new ones. Rehearsals begin in a few weeks. The Massey Theatre is a beautiful theatre, the largest in the area outside of Vancouver, at 1,260 seats. It is quite historic and the people are wonderful to work with. I will spend more time during the performance explaining about the instruments, how they were built, where the junk came from, and so on, and the new instruments will round out the orchestra nicely. Almost all the original players will be back, it is going to be a great show!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The End of The Waterfront Performances

Well, what a great run we had! Audiences seemed to love the show, I was amazed by the comments on Twitter and Facebook. We struck the set and was out of the theatre within 3 hours of the end of the Sunday performance. Now my garage is full of junk, so to speak, and I need to figure out a good way to store the instruments. I've had some interest from other theatres to have our show perform on their stages, and I have purchased booth space at Pacific Contact at the end of March, a place where theatres meet artists with shows. The past few months have been a whirlwind, but I can't think of a better way to spend time. Thank you to all who came out to the shows, and to all who supported me and believed in this crazy idea.

You ain't seen nothing yet...

Friday, November 20, 2015

The Show!

Preview and Opening night were great! Crowds were receptive and the cast and crew really rocked the Waterfront Theatre on Granville Island! It took a day to build the set and a day to do the sound and lighting, and the result looks amazing.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Move into Rehearsal Studio

We rented a 26-foot U-Haul van and moved 2 years building of instruments out of our garage and into our rehearsal studio. We had 2 rehearsals already with our 12 performers of musicians and singers, it is sounding great, though some of the instruments need to be tweeked. I must build a new violin for the new violin player, if you have any suggestions as to what would make a good violin body, I'm all ears!

Play this video to see the move-out...

Photos of the instruments in our rehearsal studio

We performed at Science World last Saturday to a very welcoming audience who loved the instruments! We had a booth where we displayed some instruments and had the kids try some of them. They loved the percussion!

Monday, August 31, 2015

Rebuilding the Trash Set (Drums)

I wanted to give our drummer a larger palette of sound to play with, so I have rebuilt the Trash Set. The toms sound much better as I have used a technique which includes packing tape to create drum heads. I built a hi-hat using pot lids and the post from a lamp. Selecting the proper pot lids is quite a feat and required many hours walking through garage sales and thrift shops with a drum stick, tapping on various lids and metals, looking for the right resonances. I found lids that will serve the purpose well. The Trash Set now includes many new toms, a barbeque, my new hi-hat, a snare drum made from a water jug filled with pennies, and the floor tom is made from a large old leaf container. Other parts of the set use skis, golf clubs, a bicycle, dryer ducting, an old radiator and the shell of an old computer.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

The Bed Harp

I have my 'Bed Harp' at the stage where it now plays and seems to hold its tune. I had so many problems with this. It is built with a soft wood, and so the tension on the strings bends the wood, which throws all the other strings out of tune. I kept adding braces, butt then other weaker pieces of wood would start to bend. I think I finally have it now, as I was able to play it earlier today. I wanted to keep the harp area as clear as possible so that you can see through the bed at the player - that's the tough part, since there is no sound board to give the instrument strength. So far so good, I need to put a damper pedal on it, and somehow raise it so the player can stand rather than have to sit.

Constructing the Bed Harp

The Bed Harp from the front

The Bed Harp underside. Difficult to see the thin strings

The Bed Harp underside

Gathering More Junk

Driving home we noticed someone had put out an old rotting wodden staircase as free wood. I couldn't pass it up. Nikki helped me bring it home. I have since used almost every piece of it!

I went to Tsawwassen the weekend everyone put out their 'junk' to be picked up by the city. This isn't necessarily garbage, it is unused items that people want to throw away. I drove home with a truck load of 'junk' for the show.

Then I found someone on Craigslist who was selling 4" PVC sewer tubing. I need 100 feet to build a large tube instrument. So Nikki and I went out to Maple Ridge to pick it up.

I got it home and washed, cut all the tubes and tuned them, and found that ... well ... it just isn't enough to satisfy my vision. So I am going back to Maple Ridge to get another 100 feet tomorrow.

Cutting tubes using a mitre box I built to get the cuts right

Nikki calculating how much tubing I'll need
on our way to Maple Ridge to pick up the tubes

Tuning the tubes

CJSF Radio Spot

Erika (she played Melissa in 'Junk! The Musical' last year) and I along with Ute went down to CJSF Radio and were highlighted on the radio show (with two other musicians). We played a few songs from the show, including the new 'Happily Ever After'. She sang it very well, and gave the audience an idea of what is to come in the show. I backed her up with piano.

Scroll down to Melodies In Mind March 24th 2015 at the following link:

Click the button (3 horizontal lines on the right at that date) to show the four 'half-hour slots' for that evening:

We are on at the 8:30-9:00PM slot at time 0:00 minutes in, and the 9:00-9:30 slot at around 7:00 minutes in, as well as in other parts, but these are the main songs

The Autodrum

I finished building 'The Autodrum' from the front end of a 1999 Honda Civic. It is a timpani-stype large drum with many different metallic playing surfaces and great resonance. I found someone on Craigslist who was about to junk their car, so I bought a bunch of panels and inner workings of his car. I built a wooden frame and put the front end of the car and driver-side door back together, piece by piece. I wanted to make the wheels work so I can transport it to the stage. I also got the lights to work so it should look good in the show.

The sound is quite cool. I had to play with placement of the wooden beams under the areas of the body that I wanted to resonate, so the sound wouldn't be dead. On the other hand, too much white noise is no good either. So I've found a good balance. The percussionist can play on different parts of the body to have different tonal sounds.

During construction

Riding 'The Autodrum' with Nikki carrying/pushing it out of the garage for the first time

Playing 'The Autodrum'

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Research in Vienna

Came to Vienna to research homemade musical instruments and to continue writing the show. Through a friend we met a musician Friedrich who invited us into a musicology seminar at the University of Vienna. There we met the speaker, Hans Tshiritsch, who is an inventor of musical instruments, unlike any you've seen before. He invited us back to his place to see his workshop and meet his family. His workshop is a big musical playground. His musical instruments are prestine, beautiful metal art pieces that make musical sounds. Very inspirational.

Myself, Friedrich, Ute and Ute at the University of Vienna

Hans in his workshop. This instrument is made from an old sewing machine.
The wheel spins and rubs a string which is played, amplified by the metal horn

Hans' workshop - a musical playland!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Music of Junk: Phase 2 of Junk!

I spent the last few months rewriting the show and preparing it for 2015. I have rented the Waterfront Theatre in Granville Island from November 18 - 22, 2015. The show will be based on the success of Junk! The Musical. It will be called The Music of Junk and will feature most of the songs from the original show and more, including more 'junk' instruments. The songs will portray stories from the junkyard.

The stage will be larger and with this show I can realize the larger vision I originally had for the show (I had to scale it back for the Fringe Festival because of the very short set-up and take-down time requirements). I have outgrown our garage so I am currently looking for warehouse or industrial space to build the new stage. I have written some new musical themes that will serve as the basis for some new songs.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Going Well!

The run is going well so far! I'm impressed how many people have heard of the show when I go around Granville Island handing out flyers. Got a good review as below:

Friday, September 5, 2014

Opening Night!

What a blast we had! It was a good opening night, nice crowd, and it was really nice to perform (finally) in front of an audience. Our set-up and tear-down worked in the allotted time frame, so hopefully we're good to go for the other nights!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Photos of the Show

All Systems Go!

We had a good tech rehearsal on the weekend at the theatre. The biggest challenge is getting all the equipment, microphones, monitors, etc. on stage and set up within 10 to 15 minutes! Show looks great with lights, sounds great with the sound system. Kourosh Pazandeh will be our sound person through the run and he has been invaluable putting the tech for this project together, designing sound and lighting. We had our final rehearsal on Sunday. This is a big marketing week. Here is our new promo video, hot off the press!

Friday, August 15, 2014


I am putting the final touches on some of the instruments, such as the Tube Organ (photo below). I tuned it and set up the piping so it fits through the backstage door. All heavy pieces are now on wheels so they can be easily transported on and off stage. Our tech rehearsal is set in the theatre, I've drawn up a lighting diagram and sound diagram. Lots of little pieces still to do, but still exciting!