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OLD HAT HOME > PICTURE GALLERY > AFRICAN-AMERICAN EIGHT-PIECE BAND

 

African-American Eight-Piece Band
4 1/8” x 2 1/4” Photograph, circa 1930, Collection of Zachary Sigall

8-piece-band

Here’s an eight-man ensemble with an interesting lineup of instruments that includes flute (or piccolo), ukulele, banjo, two guitars, güiro, a makeshift bass (possibly a length of automotive exhaust pipe), and triangle. The güiro is an ancient percussive instrument common throughout the Caribbean, an open-ended hollow gourd with a row of notches cut in one side, played by rubbing a wooden stick across the grooves.

The identity and location of this group is unknown, although the clothing suggests a date around 1930. The güiro might indicate a Caribbean setting, but the presence of a five-string banjo makes the United States a more likely location for this photograph. New Orleans would not be a bad guess. The plant growing behind the musicians appears to be a wax myrtle, which is found across the American South and throughout the tropics.

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