Sunday, December 2, 2012

HellYeah Vegan Bongos Part Deux

So proud of my uber-veg friendly collection from Mr. Bongo-man;
this is everything, minus 1 shaker not shown.
We've got to talk, you and I.  Well over 1 week has passed since my last post.  When I started this blog, my goal was to write every other day, then 3x weekly, and now at least once a week.  Fail.  Sorry. Presently I'm working to find a better balance in my life.  I have so many work obligations coming at me from so many directions, even I surprise myself some days.  To that end, yesterday was more of a "me" day.  Why?  Well, mostly because it was the Sugarloaf Craft Show AND the Key West Garden Club Annual Show (the "Sue" show as I've come to call it here and elsewhere).  Total ME time.

I wait all year for the Sugarloaf Show.  All year.  The other happy vegan knows don't mess with my head on Sugarloaf day; meaning if he is the destined escort do NOT under any circumstance rain on my parade... don't complain about traffic (leave that to me), don't complain I'm talking to the artists or friends I see, don't complain I spend money on things maybe not considered necessities, and don't complain that you want to leave.  For the most part, he is a good sport on all points mentioned.

I've been thinking a lot about the Sugarloaf show since last year because I got one of the best purchases ever at the show last year.... vegan bongos.  I've blogged about them, posted a photo or two, and absolutely love that I have them.  Without too much repeat (you can read the old post), just know that I wanted vegan bongos for a long time (bongos without animal skins) and couldn't find any.  Well, ok I did find 1 vendor on line, but for a non-professional bongo player (i.e.: me) I couldn't justify the cost of a very very high priced set.  As I was tooling through the show last year, I heard some very excellent music flowing, and I could've sworn it sounded like live percussion accompaniment.  Upon further investigation I realized it WAS live drumming, and I bee-lined over to meet "Mr. Bongo-Man."  After some great demoing on his part, I was invited to play any and every drum, shaker and tambourine he had.  They were all made out of wood.  Technically, they're not bongos, rather they're called cajon drums. You can look that up, and I don't want to go into that here.  I bought a pair of lap bongos from him last year, and a shaker too (actually 2 shakers). I got myself in a wee bit of trouble on the ride home last year because the other happy vegan found my car bongo-ing annoying.  I switched to the shaker for part of the ride home, and we made peace.

I love my vegan bongos and think it's some of the best money I ever spent.  I haven't had a single day of buyer's remorse, instead I only wish I had more time to play them.  I use them mostly on very sunny days when no one is around... I turn the dial from "new age" which usually is the background to my days here, to metal of some sort.  I don't go for that tropical Jimmy you-know-who when I need to bongo.

These are this year's acquisitions from Mr. Bongo-Man!
Check out that shaker with the Guiro down the side! LOVE!
So, guess who was at Sugarloaf yesterday.  Yes, Mr. Bongo-Man was back.  He had some new and different items this year in addition to the wares I was familiar with from before.  This time around he even had guitars (I soooo wanted to take a picture, but I never photograph at shows). He is crafting all his instruments out of wood.  He remembered me from last year (hopefully only because I'm very enthusiastic about his stuff) and we talked for a bit.  First I wanted to know why he wasn't playing anything.  He explained why (there was a firetruck that had just left the area, and it was too loud, he wasn't going to be heard over it) then flipped on a little Aaron Neville.  He invited me to pick up anything I wanted and join him.  What caught my eye most this time was a special shaker he had on display with little ridges down the entire side.... wait.... could it be.... a guiro?  Ok, confession.... I've been wanting a guiro for a while now too. Why? I'm not sure, but I just felt I needed one.   I picked up the guiro/shaker, and asked Mr. Bongo-Man to show me how to use it. He put his guitar down, and picked up a stick/mallet from his offerings, and began to scratch it rhythmically up and down the side.  Oh dude, this is too good to be true. He handed it off to me, then went back to his guitar as Aaron Neville continued to flow softly.  As we played, Mr. Bongo-Man said he's not going to make the little shaker with the guiro down the side anymore "that was A LOT of work" and he laughed.  So, I bought the little shaker/guiro and a stick to play it.  Along with this little shaker/guiro, I bought 2 very small mini-shakers, what I'd call the equivalent of an egg shaker.  Anyone worth their salt knows what an egg shaker is, and if you don't, well you're missing out.  So, I bought 2 mini shakers (perfect for handing off to a friend who may forget their shaker or drum for circles, right?) and then bought yet ANOTHER shaker because it just felt "right" in my hand.  Taller than my other shakers, yet more narrow.  Perfect for me because I have small hands but long fingers. Lastly, I picked up a flat drum/shaker combo that is almost tambourine-like, but isn't open with a handle. Instead I hold it flat, and can slap it with my hands or fingers, play it with the mallet/stick I bought for my guiro, or even use it simply as a shaker since it is filled with beads or other pellets.  I liked this particular little flat shaker/drum because out of all of them on display (yes, I tried them ALL) this one stood out, it wanted to come home with me.

I have quite a little collection going of percussion from Mr. Bongo-Man.  After all this, I think it's only fair that I call him by his proper name (Mr. Jim Olean) and provide a proper shout-out for anyone who wants or needs vegan bongos, cajon drums, or other percussion (and yes, now guitars).  You can reach Jim at (305) 240-0731 or email him at  He was kind enough to give me the one and only brochure he brought to the show. I really appreciated that because you know something else? I have had more than a handful of people actually call me and/or write to me asking for his information so they can check out his bongos and buy them too.  And, sadly I didn't have it handy. I do also know that my vegan bongos post is one of the most popular posts I've ever written.  It gets TONS of hits.  Who knew?!

After we left Mr. Bongo-Man yesterday, the other happy vegan and I walked to the car.  I pulled out my little mallet and box shaker.  I began to drum to the music in my head, and in accordance with the day's rules, the other happy vegan did not complain.  He did ask me to switch to a shaker when we got in the car, and I agreed.  Of course, I chose the little guiro/shaker. I have to say, this little item is going to run neck and neck with my actual bongos for favorite purchase in life, ever. I guiro'd all the way down to Key West for the Sue Show, and most of the way home.  The only time I stopped was when I realized I could actually hold 3 shakers in one hand and jam.   Mr. Bongo-Man also gave me a super quick lesson about playing shakers double handed, but I admit that did not come easy for me, not at all.  I think I will practice that in the privacy of my own home. The 3 shakers-in-one-hand deal though I think went rather well. The sound was excellent, and each brought its own special qualities to my Ozzy's Boneyard fest up and down the Keys.

This morning I had reason to take an early morning drive down the Keys into Key West yet again.  In my little cup holder I had a Bongo-Man shaker.  I flicked on Octane (oh thank heaven for satellite radio) and jammed from time to time with my little shaker and my own perfectly out-of-pitch vocals to Metallica and VanHalen's finest offerings.  It was a good ride down.

I must again give serious thanks to Mr. Bongo-Man a/k/a Jim.  He's a pretty friendly guy, easy going, and makes nice quality artisan crafted percussion that a vegan gal like me needed to have in order to be more complete.  I said it last time, and will say it again... the world would be a much nicer place if everyone just had a pair of vegan bongos (or a guiro).  Thanks Mr. Bongo-Man. Oh, and ps: he wears a pretty cool hat too.

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