My first and only time playing a washboard in front of a live audience. And their unvarnished reaction to the spectacle …

13 years ago today I was on a tiny stage in a tiny pub on a tiny island in Scotland playing the washboard with a band called Jimmy Wolfe.

I was introduced to the band by Washboard Man, their real washboard player. He invited me to join them on their tour of Cumbrae, ‘Scotland’s most accessible island.’

The ‘tour bus’ was the local ferry and we all pitched in lugging the bands’ gear onto it in Largs and off it when we arrived in Millport ten minutes later. 

I suspect I may have been invited along as an extra pair of hands, a kind of unofficial ‘roadie.’

Jimmy Wolfe were regular visitors to the island. And although the weather was ‘inclement’, shall we say, a good crowd gathered to watch them play in the Irish-themed bar out back. 

Halfway through the gig, Washboard Man needed to go to the loo. He nodded for me to come one stage and promptly placed the vest frottoir (basically a washboard you wear) over my head and handed me the spoons to play it with.

I consider it one of my life’s greatest achievements that I was able to play along for as long as it took Washboard Man to get to the loo and back with being pelted with beer coasters.

My playing went unnoticed.

Which, if I’m being honest, was the outcome I’d been hoping for.

Main image: Jimmy Wolfe playing to their oldest fan (Peter Moore)

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