Thursday, January 5, 2017

Don't Believe Everything You Read

Has anyone noticed the uproar lately over fake news? Stories posted online would have us believing that Cuba is ramping up their nuclear arsenal and that the Pope endorsed Trump for president. In my hometown of Dayton, Ohio this past year, there was a story circulating that the rock band Limp Bizkit would be appearing at a convenience store on the city’s east side. Not true, but several hundred people actually turned out for it. It was on Facebook and Twitter, so it must be accurate, right?

The weekly newspaper where I freelance devoted a recent issue to fake news. The writers were invited to submit story ideas with a local angle, written as satire. This was too good to pass up so I wrote one in the style of something you’d read on The Onion or in Mad Magazine. Here it is, for your enjoyment. I would add that you should always verify a story before believing it.

“Get Your Jug On”

By Tim Smith

Dayton has been the home of many firsts, from flight to cash registers. Music has always been an indelible part of the community’s fabric. One local group has taken up the cause of preserving a form of music that had its birth in the Miami Valley.

The Jug Band and Tambourine Hall of Fame is the brainchild of Dud Wurtz. He envisions a showplace for the locally grown music that has entertained millions since the early 1970’s, a place where people can go to celebrate this phenomenon.

“This sound was born on the street corners of Dayton’s west side,” Wurtz said, “and it’s our duty to see that it gets celebrated here. Our goal is to cultivate and promote an appreciation and understanding of jug and tambourine music, and unite people through the international language of music.”

The group recently obtained non-profit status, and appeared before the Dayton City Commission to request an endowment. The Hall of Fame, also known as The Jug Center, has been actively soliciting donations for several years to make their dream a reality.

“We appear at every public event we can find throughout Dayton and the Midwest,” Wurtz said. “I recently returned from a trip to Oshkosh, Wisconsin, where I spoke at a music festival. We’ve gotten more than a thousand ‘likes’ on Facebook, and our website generates several hundred visitors a month. Donations have been pouring in and people are really supporting us. We’ve also petitioned some area lawmakers in Columbus to proclaim a Jug Music Day next year.”

Jug and tambourine music had its start in West Dayton. Legend has it that one of the first proponents was a local musician named Roger Salmon. He and three of his friends had been singing Doo-Wop for several years but wanted to branch out. After a rehearsal one night, Salmon blew across the top of his Colt 45 bottle, and everyone liked the sound it produced. One of the other members added a tambourine, and the groups dynamic quickly changed. Eventually they incorporated a kazoo and someone playing percussion licks on a metal trash can.

They decided to call themselves Zipp, and worked out some arrangements. Soon the group was performing at street fairs and backyard barbecues all over Dayton. They eventually caught the ear of music mogul Barry Gordy, who signed them to a recording contract. It wasn’t long before other Jug and Tambourine bands were formed to cash in on Zipp’s popularity. Some of the more noteworthy bands were The Pataskala Players, Two-tone, and Three Hits and a Miss.

“Zipp was really the group that put jug music on the map,” Wurtz said. “When they began to get successful, Roger Salmon was able to upgrade from a beer bottle to a ceramic whiskey jug that he picked up at a yard sale. That’s when things really took off for the band.”

Salmon’s original whiskey jug is one of the pieces of memorabilia that Wurtz and his museum committee have obtained. They also have some of the lime green plaid shirts worn by Zipp during their concerts, along with the first tambourine used by band member Chick Tokyo.

“People in the business have been great about donating items for the museum,” Wurtz said. “We’ve gotten programs, posters and ticket stubs from many jug and tambourine concerts, along with autographed pictures. We were fortunate to get a copy of the sheet music for Zipp’s first big hit, ‘Cabbage Rolls and Coffee,’ signed by Roger Salmon. That was a real coup.”

Wurtz has big plans for The Jug Center that reach beyond displaying memorabilia. His vision includes the Center being part and parcel of the community.

“We want to implement educational programs for the young people of Dayton,” he said. “Too many of them don’t appreciate this type of music, or understand the legacy behind it. We’ve got several prominent musicians on board to mentor young people in the proper technique of jug and tambourine playing. We also plan to have an annual ceremony to induct famous jug musicians and showcase their work.”

Wurtz and his committee continue to raise money for their dream project, a location for which has yet to be determined.

“We recently held a fundraiser at Wampler’s Bar where we encouraged everyone to dress in their favorite ‘70’s clothes,” he said. “We also had a Roger Salmon look-alike contest, which was a big hit. It was a tough call for the judges to choose a winner. The entire event was posted on YouTube, where it’s gotten a lot of hits from all over the world.”

This type of focus has led the group to form some lasting relationships with some of the biggest names in the business.

“We’re finalizing plans to sponsor our first-ever jug music and tambourine concert next year,” Wurtz said. “We’ve gotten a commitment from one of the true legends, Bootsie Carter and the Jug-nuts. They’ve been selling out stadiums and arenas for years.”

“We’re dedicated to seeing this museum become a reality,” he said. “Cleveland has the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and St. Louis has the House of Blues. The Jug Band and Tambourine Hall of Fame belongs right here, where it all began. We want it to be the go-to place whenever people visit Dayton, right up there with the Air Force museum.”

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Tim Smith is an award-winning, bestselling author whose books range from romantic mystery/thrillers to contemporary erotic romance. His website is www.timsmithauthor.com.


jean hart stewart said...

Pretty clever, Tim....

Fiona McGier said...

Very cleverly written piece of satire here, Tim. But I fear it won't be recognized as such by many.

The problem is that today's readers don't know and don't care whether or not something is true. There is a line in "Jesus Christ, Superstar," which I always listen to over the holidays. And if you haven't heard of it, you're too young. ;-D But Pontius Pilate is talking to Jesus after the crowds drag him in for judgement, "We both have truths...are mine the same as yours?"

One of my sons is a scientist, and says truth is what can be proven, and what everyone has to accept because it's proven to be true for everyone. But then, Climate Change is universally accepted by scientists the world over, but the "orange one" says it's not true, and his voters echo his disbelief. Inconvenient truths are still true, whether you believe them or not.

I fear we're in for a world of hurt for the next few years, as lies become true. And as my husband says, "We'll all learn to love smoking Victory cigarettes and drinking Victory gin, as we learn to love Big Brother." Took a few years longer than 1984, but we seem to have gotten here, none-the-less.