The World’s Loudest Instrument: The Story of Silverware in Bluegrass

Music is so powerful that it often inspires non-musical people to pat their feet or clap their hands to the rhythm, so you can’t deny it’s magnetism. My entire life I have also observed it’s power to the point where people can’t even resist the urge to rattle two spoons together. And with that, let me introduce you to the unique musician, and loudest instrument in the world …an eating utensil. Yes, I’m referring to SPOON PLAYERS AND THEIR SPOONS.

Not a pre-war banjo, guitar or mandolin worth thousands of dollars, but someone clinging two spoons together playing rhythm is by far the loudest thing in a jam. This is a fun and enjoyable subject for me. Lots of musicians I know hate to see a spoon player coming…but not me. I love someone who is overtaken by the urge to be a part of something musical. Where the challenge comes in is trying to make sure it’s appropriate and not overbearing; because let’s face it …those two little pieces of metal are quite loud.

My dear friend Steve Sutton and I were at the M.A.C.C. festival in Columbus, Ohio many years ago and we passed an impromptu jam as we were leaving the park. Of all the incredible instruments in the jam, the thing we heard first, last and most was a tiny little man flogging the spoons. He got some dirty looks but he was persistent. It’s incredible to see some one having such a good time and wanting to be part of the music. That’s great…that’s what it’s about, and I love music like that too!

On the flip side, Jenny and I were at a concert once as spectators. My friend Rhonda Vincent got us some passes for the festival, so in the crowd we sat trying to enjoy the show while a man in the audience whipped out his cutlery and started going to town. It was pretty annoying for a quieter concert setting…and loud …have I mentioned that? Kentucky Borderline…CLANK CLANKY CLANK… And to make matters worse, his inebriated state did not afford him the ability to play in time! And on it went…The Last Best Place…CLANKITY CLANK CLANK. Really?

Upon being asked several times to please stop, the man kept on. At this point (I had not paid the $75 per person ticket price -thanks to Rhonda – but if had, I would have been very upset), I simply told the man I enjoyed his spoons and asked to see them. He handed them over and I threw them in creek near the entrance …never to see or hear them again. He was upset, drunk, and belligerent …but many others were happy, and for a brief moment I was a hero. Sometimes you have to sacrifice a few soldiers to take the hill. In this case his spoons weren’t appreciated but if people want to enjoy something and be part of it, make them feel welcome. I want to be on a major league baseball team sometimes. We all want to be a part of something. It may not be exactly what you want to hear …but please think of the happiness you gave that person who might reminisce about this musical experience for ages. And remember… two spoons together are loud. Try one spoon and a pot-holder.

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