From time to time it is good to be reminded how percussion has always been a part of the daily rhythms of Life. I came upon this 1938 photo in our family’s album from a fishing village in Nova Scotia. My grandfather, Billy Tom Feltmate, is on the right, shovelling earth around his newly dug well. Two of his friends, Nelt Grover and Sam Porter, are looking on. Sam, his pipe stuck in a corner of his mouth, has picked up the well bucket to beat out a useful rhythm. Nelt will no doubt start to sing a few rhymes in a minute. He was known for making verses on the spot about whatever activity was underway.
Step dancing, sea shanties, foot stomping and clapping at a dance in the Hall, all were a part of everyday life in the village. “Pounding out a tune on the piano” was meant literally. There were no drums in the village, so wash-tub or well bucket filled that visceral need.