Tom Ravenscroft's One Man Band



With a guitar in hand, harmonica in mouth, cymbals and bells and a big drum strapped to the back, Tom Ravenscroft goes in search of the musical characters who prefer to go solo.

One Man Bands have a surprisingly long history, documented in pictures and writings from France and Spain as far back as the middle ages. Entertaining and enterprising men, they started with a flute and a drum and, over the centuries, have literally added whistles and bells - as well as cymbals, harmonica, accordion, trumpet, and the list goes on.

Contemporary one man band legends include North Carolina's Jim Garner, Georgia's Jesse Fuller and West Virginia's Hasil Adkins who have all influenced current players such as Bloodshot Bill and Washboard Hank - who Tom tracks down.

Charmed by their inventiveness and talent, Tom visits the one man band festival, an annual event in Montreal where the world's most musical solitary figures perform. He finds some eccentric characters with rich stories following traditions that stretch way back into British and American folk and blues music. Meeting performers such as Bob Log III, Dana Schecter (also known as Insect Ark) and Spain's 'Hyperpotamus', Tom learns what it takes to become a one man band.

Producer: Jo Meek

A Sparklab production for BBC Radio 4.