Spasm Bands to Spike Jones - Homemade Instruments in Pop Culture 1890-1966

by  Bash the Trash Environmental Arts

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Bash the Trash traces their musical roots back through the very first instrument builders, but the 20th Century provides a fascinating view of how homemade instruments were involved in the birth of Jazz, and then came to international prominence during the early days of television. We start with the Razzy Dazzy Spasm Band, a loose ensemble of newsboys living on the streets of New Orleans in the late 1890’s who performed on found-object instruments. Amazing period photos, contemporary articles and film clips offer tantalizing glimpses into the origins of Jazz. We’ll look at the the Jug Bands of the 20’s and 30’s, and explore how unusual and homemade instruments began to make their way into Hollywood and the early days of television. We’ll close our session with a look at Spike Jones a “novelty” musician whose band The City Slickers toured and recorded during the 40’s and 50’s, and hit the top ten chart 8 times, including a #1 hit.

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About This Program


Multipoint: $220.00
Point to Point: $220.00

This workshop is intended for a single classroom, but up to 4 additional classrooms may sign in.
First classroom: $220
Up to four additional classrooms @$55 each



Target Audience

Education: Grade(s) 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, Parent, Adult Learners, Homeschool/Family , Learning PodPublic Library: Library Patrons

Minimum participants:


Maximum participants:


Primary Disciplines

Culture, Fine Arts, Social and Emotional Learning( SEL), Social Studies/History, Music

Program Delivery Mode


Booking Information

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Receive this program and 9 more for one low price when you purchase the CILC Virtual Expeditions package. Learn more

For more information contact CILC at (507) 388-3672

Provider's Cancellation Policy

If for any reason the recipient wishes to reschedule up to 24 hours before the program, Bash the Trash will make every effort to accommodate the rescheduling.

If for any reason the recipient wishes to cancel a program, there is no fee up to 24 hours before the program. Cancellation within 24 hours of program, with no rescheduling possible, entails payment of the full fee.

However, in the case of a weather or pandemic-related cancellation within 24 hours of program, please contact us and we'll work it out.

About This Provider

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Bash the Trash Environmental Arts

United States

Bash the Trash programs are about music, science, culture, arts and the environment! Centered around the concept of sustainability, we’ve been building and performing with found-object instruments for over 30 years, making connections to plastic pollution and climate change. 

Over time our programs have evolved into a wide range of musical and cultural experiences that go beyond homemade instruments. Our diverse crew of presenters offer a series of programs based on their individual artistic skills and cultural backgrounds, making connections with students through their amazing experiences. We’re eager to interact with audiences through the arts, Q&A and conversation to create true cultural and artistic exchanges. 

Hands-on instrument-building or art-making is possible in most programs using simple reused/repurposed materials. Bash the Trash offers workshop/performances and multiple-session residencies as well as fun and useful professional development for educators, all closely aligned to national and local standards. Plus Bash the Trash programs are great for special days like Earth Day, National Recycling Day and World Water Day! 

Ian Bertles

Program Details


Every program is different depending on the audience, age, and desired outcome. But in general this workshop combines period photos and video with live demonstrations of musical instruments. Instrument-building segment is optional. Below are the "chapters" of the program:

Music genres and musical instruments pre-1900
Classical Music, Field Hollers, the Blues
New Orleans the Melting Pot
The Razzy Dazzy Spasm Band
The adventures of Emile "Stalebread" Lacoume
Homemade vs artisan-built instruments
Evolution of the drum set
Jug Bands of the 20's and 30's
Demo of diddley bow and oil can guitar
Vaudeville, Hollywood, Television
Spike Jones and His City Slickers


This workshop will focus on a variety of subjects, here are a few:
Examine the transition to the Jazz age, and the beginnings of Pop Music culture
Get a glimpse of the lives of musicians in the early 1900s
See how homemade instruments helped to popularize music as a participatory form
[Build a simple instrument to get the feel...?]
Begin to understand the seismic effect that the record player had on music in the 1900s, and draw comparisons to the switch to digital in the late 90s
Consider the effects of race on media in the early 20th Century
See how homemade instruments moved from vaudeville to Hollywood and then to Television
Explore how "novelty bands" such as Spike Jones (a precursor to Weird Al?) conquered popular music, and then television

Standards Alignment

National Standards

This program is designed to work with classroom curriculum and through art, make connections to:
Science: Environment, Climate Change, Plastic Pollution
Music: Cultural music, instrument families, music history
Cultural Studies, History, Social Studies

State Standards

Available upon request