The Cane Gang

flute cane

The Cane Gang began as the brainstorm of Barbara Truex and Chris White. Their inspiration came from White's work cataloguing and managing the cane collection of an Arts Resource Service client. (ARS is the couple's arts related consultation company.) Among the system or gadget canes in the collection are a number of instrument canes. The idea of forming a group that utilizes instrument and other gadget canes in performance began to be explored with various colleagues and friends. The idea fascinated people with its endless possibilities.

Since the summer of 2007 the concept turned to action and has taken on a life of its own leading to the formation of The Cane Gang. The group consists of Barbara Truex (dulcimer, ukulele), Vincent Pasternak (violin), Joel Eckhaus (ukulele, luthier), Carl Dimow (flute), Ken Lovelett (percussion, instrument maker), and Michael Lane Trautman (pantomime, physical comedy). The Harpswell Maine collector has very generously made several of his antique pieces available to the group. These have been, as needed, professionally restored and made playable again. Members of The Cane Gang are especially grateful for the opportunity to work with these canes.

violin cane 1

Among the collection instrument canes is a violin cane, made in Montevideo, Uruguay by a German immigrant maker, used by Vincent Pasternak. Various flute canes, including one made in the late 19th C. by the noted instrument company Besson are played by Carl Dimow. The dulcimer cane used by Barbara Truex was made by a North Carolina maker from walnut and cherry. Another cane used is a music stand cane created circa 1860.

violin open

While many of the instrument canes used are collection pieces, the project also led The Cane Gang to seek out craftsmen capable of creating new instrument canes and inspired two members of the group to do so themselves. Joel Eckhaus and Ken Lovelett are both highly regarded instrument makers in addition to their talents as performing musicians. Eckhaus is a luthier who specializes in tenor guitars and ukuleles, which he markets under the Earnest Instruments label. He performs with The Cane Gang on a prototype ukulele cane dubbed the "Shelele". Lovelett has developed an impressive number of patented percussion instruments that are sold under the name American Percussion. He has also created and exhibited various unique sound sculptures at galleries throughout the Northeast. Lovelett created a number of instrument canes for The Cane Gang including a single-string bass and various percussion canes.

The Cane Gang performers come from a wide array of musical and theatrical backgrounds. They also bring other talents to the project including theater, pantomime and instrument building. As musicians their diverse experience covers many kinds of music including classical, folk, jazz, pop and klezmer. These eclectic performers bring to life the original intentions of the antique instrument canes. They will make you look at canes in an entirely new light.

flute 2