15 January 2014

I hear banjos - paddle faster.

American 'Sphinx' Octopus brooch.

Is there any tune that sounds good on the banjo?  And before the banjo-lovers of the world harangue me, first tell me any tune that sounds good on the banjo.  Ha! 

Don’t get me wrong, some tunes probably have the potential to possibly be somewhat entertaining on the banjo.  This is a discussion I had in desperation with the very nice banjo busker a few steps away from our stand at the Caloundra Street Fair.  In my defence, I only did this after Doug dared me to stage an intervention.  Our busker had tried Cocaine (JJ Cale) – didn’t work for us at double the usual beat.  Doug didn’t even realize this was the tune until I identified it for him.  He had tried The Wall (Pink Floyd) – so didn’t work.  He told me he was working on a perky version of Stairway to Heaven (Led Zeppelin).  Let me just say in advance – no, no, no.

French Lea Stein Fox brooch.
But because I’m a nice gel, and because the Caloundra Street Fair got off to a slow start – and okay because I value my sanity and was only a few steps away from a banjo busker for the next few hours – I had some suggestions for tunes he could play.

Given that he had an acoustic guitarist accompanying him, I asked if they had tried Dueling Banjos, the classic Redneck Banjo Anthem from the movie Deliverance.  Yes I acknowledged it could be a challenge to duel with only one banjo, but thought perhaps the guitarist could hold his own.  

One small problem – he had never heard of Dueling Banjos or Deliverance.  Come on!  Over the howls of banjo-lovers everywhere, I assert that there are precious few tunes a banjo can perform well, but Duelling Banjos has to be right up there.  So how could a dude who makes his living playing the banjo not know it?    

English sponge coral necklace.
But then I got all inspired and suggested Ride of the Valkyries (Richard Wagner if you’re into Opera, the Apocalypse Now helicopter scene if you’re into movies).  Before you scoff, hear me out:  do your best banjo impersonation.  It probably involves a lot of dang-dang-dang-ing, right?  Now try your dang-dang-danging to the tune of Ride of the Valkyries – it totally works.

One small problem – he hadn’t heard of Wagner, Ride of the Valkyries or Apocalypse Now. 

I offered the hopeful suggestion of Toreador from Carmen, my favourite Opera.  You have to try this as part of your banjo impersonation – it so works.  One small problem - he’d heard of Carmen but didn’t know Toreador, and my expert humming was to no avail.

French goldtone star fish brooch.
Still, I was undaunted.  Consider this:  what is the one song that sounds okay on the bagpipes?  Scotland the Brave, you’ve all cried.  Of course you did.  Every single time my sister and I hear mention of Scotland we are obliged to launch into a rousing, top-of-our-lungs, la-la-la-ing rendition of the first chorus of Scotland the Brave.  In an amazing coincidence, we sound uncannily like a couple of badly tuned banjos.  But when played by an actual (tuned) banjo, you should be on a winner.

One small problem – he hadn’t heard of Scotland the Brave.

English mother-of-pearl cross pendant.
But I had more - swapping Scottish nationalism for English patriotism, I suggested Rule Brittania.  Try a quick dang-dang-dang again yourself – don’t be shy, it doesn’t matter if someone is sitting next to you, they’ll just think Boy that person must really love England.  So - it works, right?  I could become a professional banjo-tune-suggesting-person at this rate.

One small problem – and you’ve guessed it.

Okay, now I was daunted.  I had run out of make-the-banjo-sound-half-decent suggestions.  Fortunately for me, just then the crowds turned up en masse and do you know I barely heard the banjo butchering tunes right next to me for the rest of the day.

English Celtic Dragon brooch.
As for our stand at the Caloundra Street Fair, yay it was great!  It was yet another hot day, and even though things were slow for the first hour, suddenly the crowds turned out in force.  At times we had so many people in our stand that I couldn’t get through and had to nip around the side to talk to customers waiting at the front. 

We focused mainly on vintage French kitchenware, because the steep curbs in Bulcock Street caused our tables to tilt alarmingly and several pieces of glass started to slide south.  So the glass was put away until next time, when we shall bring chocks to even up the table legs.  In the meantime, we had plenty of great vintage kitchenware and sold loads.  So that was judged to be a success, and we shall apply to take another stand on 26 January.  I’ll let you know if we get a spot.

French Aurora Borealis expanding bracelet.
In the meantime, we’re back at the Peregian Beach Market on Sunday 19 January.  We sold so much vintage French copper at Caloundra that we’ve had to do a good deal of cleaning in order to present new things at Peregian.  And yet more enamelware has to be unpacked – it’s looking like we’re going to run out of this stock well ahead of schedule.  The giant Jamie Oliver and round wooden boards rescued from the clutches of the irradiation company (see my last blog) have already sold so well that we only have a few left.  But they’ll come out at Peregian, plus some wooden dough troughs, plus new offerings of Art Deco glass and ceramics – whatever is in the next box I unpack.

Gorgeous Matisse necklace
We’re not allowed to sell jewellery at Caloundra but at Peregian I’ll offer a nice selection, some of which I've featured here, including a beautiful Matisse enamel-on-copper necklace that I am sacrificing - because I have a similar piece in my own collection and can’t justify having two.  Matisse is one of my favourite mid-20th century jewellery brands.  It sounds French but is actually American.  It’s eye-catching and very beautiful, but difficult to buy in Paris because French girls like it very much, so you’ve got to be quick to snap it up. 

Prices for Matisse and its sister-brands Monet and Renoir have shot up in recent years, so I am buying less because I need to find bargains.  Bargains are out there, but it’s become challenging to find them.  

American Monet brooch in original box. 

Scandinavian enameled jewellery prices have also rocketed up in the last few years, which on the one hand is a pity because it’s harder to buy, but on the other hand it’s great because I already own some lovely pieces.  Doug says I can’t have it both ways, but I say pishtosh to that.  Yes I can, just you watch.

If you plan to visit the Peregian Beach Market on Sunday 19 January, be sure to come by to say hello.  But unless you can play Ride of the Valkyries, please leave your banjo in the car.

Mischka has been photobombing my attempts to photograph new stock lately, but here is Calypso, going one better in a giant pudding bowl.  Baked Bengal, mmmmm.

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