Paul’s Original Lumberjack Pots ’n Pans Band
They were big. They were loud. They were hairy. And they were the hottest thing since Lars and Lena’s Singin’ Saws Revue. Paul Bunyan’s Original Lumberjack Pots ’n Pans Band was the buzz of the North Woods and the hit of every parade and picnic they played. So what’s their story?
It all started one summer night when a few of Paul’s lumberjacks were assigned to dishwashin’ duty. Well, being the rough, tough loggers they were, that didn’t sit too well, and they were pretty grumbly about it. In fact, they were downright hoppin’ mad!
“This is womens’ work!” snarled Dirty Duff O’Doole, and he threw the coffee pot into the wash tub with a big boisterous bang.
“Yah sure, you betcha—we’re ax men!” hollered One-Eye Einar Einarsson, and he kicked over the empty soup pot with a cantankerous clang.
“Darn tootin’!” yelled Hackensack Harvey Hooper, as he flung three tin pans into the tub with a ding and a ding and a dong.
“Hey wait a minute there fellas,” piped up Loblolly Louie LaRue. “By gum, that sounded pretty spiffy! Let’s try that again. Everybody pick up your pans.”
Wondering what the heck Louie was up to, they all picked up their pots and pans and waited for Louie’s cue.
“Ready now boys?” Louie said. “On the count of three... a-one and a-two and a-three!” BANG! CLANG! FLING-A-DING-DING-DONG!
“Ooh, ain’t that purty! Can we join in?” It was Old Josh Oshkosh, peg-leg Stumpy Svede Svenson and the Flambeau twins, Frenchy and Frenchy (nobody could tell ’em apart anyway!)
Well, with nine lumberjacks pitching in, the dishes were spic and span in no time, and they stayed up all night practicing for a whole month. They got so good that Paul said they should practice full time and be ready to play at the Big Bean Feed coming up that fall. They were tickled pink! That is, in a burly, manly sort of way.
Naturally, Loblolly Louie was the bandleader, having a tin ear and all. He kept everybody on key and playing together and got to say “A-one and a-two and a-three” before every song. And he got to wear a bow tie. What a hambone!
Dirty Duff tooted into the coffee pot spout, using the lid as a wah-wah, and came up with their first big hit, “I Dropped a Hammer on My Toe and Now I Wah-Wah Want My Mommy.”
One-Eye Einar played a mean soup pot using spoons and ladles and sometimes even just his hands— mostly for the big conga line finale at the end of the evening. That could get pretty wild!
Hackensack Harvey was a whole one-man percussion section, playing plates and bowls and lids and jars. Of course, he had to stop using jars, because the musician’s union said that wasn’t allowed in a Pots ’n Pans Band.
Josh Oshkosh was a hoot on the cast iron grill pan— you know, the kind with the little ridges. He’d wear out two or three spoons a night rubbin’ ’em over that grill, especially if the folks wanted an encore of his solo on “My Caboose Came Loose and Ran Into a Moose.” That’s a real crowd pleaser.
Stumpy Svede only had one leg, but he could play seven different pots and pans at the same time! That was somethin’ to see by golly! In fact he eventually went out on his own as “Stump the Band.”
Frenchy and Frenchy Flambeau weren’t as versatile. They could only play one thing... the double boiler. But they were pretty popular because they banged out a real toe-tappin’ version of “Please Forgive My Flirting But I’m Fairly Fondu You.”
Oh, they were somethin’! And when the Big Bean Feed rolled around, they were ready to go. They all put on their best flannel shirts and clean dungarees and combed their beards. Einar even got a haircut! And you should’a heard that crowd cheer when they got up on the buckboard to play.
They wanted to start out with a real stomper, and boy, did they ever! When they cranked up with “There’s a Cricket in the Thicket and I’m Too Darn Fat to Kick It” everybody just went crazy! They were dancin’ and prancin’ and it was a real hootenanny right from the git-go!
They followed that one up with “Who Hid the Hooch Jug” and then “If You Saw What I Saw, You’d Be Sweaty Too!” Well by that time, everybody was all out of breath from dancin’ so Louie thought they should throw in a slow romantic one. And he had just the thing.
Dirty Duff started it off with a slow, low coffee pot croon, then Einar came in with a scrub brush on the grill pan for a soft, soulful shoosh. A hush fell over the crowd as Hackensak tinkled the tins and the Frenchys built up to a somber simmer on the double boiler.
When the rest of the band quietly joined in, it was the sweetest tune you’ve ever heard, and there wasn’t a dry eye in the place. That’s right, it was Louie’s arrangement of “I Lost My Love in Outing, Now I’m All Alone and Pouting.” Even Babe got all teary on that one.
Well suffice it to say the Pots ’n Pans Band was a big hit at the Bean Feed, and the rest is history. That was years ago, but their legacy still lives on to this very day. You can still see ’em play every year in the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Crosslake, and it’s loads of fun!
If you’re lucky, you might even get to hear Dirty Duff’s Irish/Norwegian favorite, “There’s a Leprechaun in My Lutefisk, but Lefse Let Him Be.” Hope to see you there!