The Ugly Stick - A Newfoundland Musical Instrument
Just what in the world is an ugly stick?
The ugly stick is a traditional Newfoundland musical instrument fashioned out of household and tool shed items, typically a mop handle with bottle caps, tin cans, small bells and other noise makers. The instrument is played with a drum stick and has a distinctive sound.
The instrument’s main body is a mop or broom handle cut to approximately four feet. An old rubber boot was attached to the bottom and a cymbal attached at the very top. At strategic intervals along the length of the shaft, nails affixed with bottle caps, felt tins and other noise makers would be nailed into the shaft. The instrument would then be decorated with items of colour and fluff to the artist’s taste.
On our travels through Rocky Harbour we got a chance to catch the local Newfoundland band Anchors Aweigh play one night and demonstrate the fine art of uglistickness. They suggested dressing up your instrument in the likeness of someone who annoys you. Either way, on a recent getaway to Martha’s Vineyard we constructed our own stick. Now if we could only find someone that has rhythm enough to play it well!
Anchors Aweigh with ugly stick on left of photo.
Visit our video of a couple of ugly sticks in action on the Drive The Globe YouTube site.