Cape Breton's Magazine

> Issue 56 > Page 42 - Otis Tomas: Making Instruments & Tunes

Page 42 - Otis Tomas: Making Instruments & Tunes

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1991/1/1 (295 reads)

thing. I mean, I lived briefly in several communal situations. You know, friends that would set up a place together. At that time a lot of people were doing that. You know, I certainly was interested in those times, certainly, in all the myths that were going on--the '60s and that--I was, I guess, quite a bit a part of that. (When you came to Cape Breton, you were saying, you had...nothing.) Yeah, yeah. Started with nothing. First couple years were pretty rough, I guess. We were pretty poor, definitely--we didn't have much. Gosh, I don't know. I can remember scrounging around behind the seat of the truck, trying to find a nick- le or a dime or something so I could get a postage stamp to mail a let? ter! So we didn't have much, but.... Actually, I was--like I said, I used to--I spent a fair bit of time just travelling, and being on the road, kind of. To me, I was into sort of a--at one point, anjrway-- sort of a Jack Kerouac sort of a phase, I guess. I guess it was part of my idea of just figuring out what I was and what I was doing. It was almost like this kind of vol? untary poverty, sort of thing. I would travel--I'd have nothing. I'd take off with 500 and I might go across the country or something, just sort of challenging fate in That's not my design. I made the instrument • a copy of a Gibson F-5 mandolin, which were com? mon around the '20s and '30s. It's | very popular these days among bluegrass players, it's a particular I style that's come to be recognized | among mandolin players. The ones made by the originator, Lloyd Lore, who worthed for Gib? son • they're worth, oh, many thousands of dollars now. It's got | a few of my own variations, but the basic design is the Gibson. (The baci< of it is...?) Curly maple. | That's Cape Breton maple there. It's a beautiful piece of wood, i wish i had the instrument to show ( you. It's hard to see just on a biaci(-and-white photo, but it's got an amazing curl in the grain • wave in it. Every once in awhile you come across a tree that has that kind of grain. To get a piece that has that kind of a flame in it, that deep a ripple in the grain, that clear and distinct and even • that's quite a beautiful piece right there. I mean, you'd have to go through a thousand logs of maple trees to find one that has grain like that. This is (actually) two pieces. You can see it's matched, right down the centre. The rough piece that I started with would be sawn down the middle and opened up like a book, so the grain matches from one side to the other • kind of sym? metrical, around that centre line. 10 to 6 I Monday to Saturday = 224-3782 Country • Bluegrass • Rock • Folk Fiddle and Newfoundland Music Largest Atlantic Region Music selection in Eastern Canada. Tap your toe to Cape Breton & Newfoundland Fiddle, Accordion & Folk Music, & "Down East" Presentations. Write or ask for our list of Newfoundland & Maritime Music. ~ Available by Mail Order ~ 2 miles south of CHETICAMP, on the Cabot Trail P. O. Box 516, Cheticamp, N.S. BOE 1H0 10 to 6 6 Days 224-3782 ynnruiuy store a way, just to see what would happen, where I would go, what would come to me. So, to me--in those years, anyway--I mean, the idea of poverty, to me, was--it was a challenge, in a sense. Where I grew up, I grew up in a fairly well-to-do kind of family. We never had financial hard times or anything that I remember as a kid, really. But, growing up, having all of that--in the '60s and that, there was a lot of that going on. A lot of us were sort of rejecting that type of society that just sort of provides you with every? thing. That was, I guess, part of my chal? lenge to that, to see that I could be my? self and have nothing, and still have strength that I could survive and I could, you know--I didn't really need anything. I guess there was something of that in those days, the way I thought about things, and how I went.... I mean, now I've got stuff just like anybody else does. But having gone through that, I think I certainly discovered a certain kind of strength or something, like, to me, just to know that--like the kind of freedom of having nothing and being sort of somewhere or anywhere, and seeing that life would support me and that I would Island Vinyl Siding Ltd. LeBlanc Siding Ltd. Authorized Dealer tor i "'"'-' '' re AM f *wS'ffl3l' Aluminum & Vinyl Siding i!'') • ?'rTlSiDl''*' Aluminum Windows & Doors Shutters / Softfit / Fascia / Awnings Professional installation of Aluminum & Vinyl Siding in Cape Breton for over 15 years. Free Estimates forR.R.A.P., N.S.H.C, & C.M.H.C. Programs, and all other siding Inquiries. Call Collect: SONNY MacPHERSON 109 Reservoir Road SYDNEY 539-4626
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