from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- n. Jazz, folk, or country music played by performers who use unconventional instruments, such as kazoos, washboards, or jugs, sometimes in combination with conventional instruments.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. A type of folk music, with jazz and blues influences, using homemade or improvised instruments.
from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.
- n. a style of popular music in the 1950s; based on American folk music and played on guitars and improvised percussion instruments
Country blues groups in the pre-war American south were sometimes described as skiffle acts, but it was Glasgow-born Lonnie Donegan who popularised the idea of making music with improvised instruments such as a washboard and tea-chest bass in the mid-50s.
But knowing that it does adds meaning and weight to each moment, especially when John discovers his idol, Elvis Presley, his fledgling "skiffle" band embarks on its first performances and John is introduced to two promising young musicians named Paul and George.
"It's an Italian term and it's short for the word skiffle and skiffle means disgusting but it doesn't really mean disgusting in the way we use that word in English.
Set in Brighton in 1963 on the cusp of Beatlemania, there's a terrific skiffle band playing before each act, and each principal actor takes a solo turn on a bizarre instrument, ranging from washboard to tuned car-horns.
It's a shame that TV channels keep on making reality shows following Paris Hilton around or scripting the lives of the young and dumb for our amusement when they could be catch a psychedelic hippy skiffle group as they surf a drug- and BBQ chicken-powered wave across America.
It's a rare reunion for the Old Line Skiffle Combo, a Maryland six-piece that plays traditional skiffle and rockabilly tunes using everything from a washboard to pedal-steel guitar to recreate the shufflin' '50s vibe.
But Bean has set the action in 1963 in Brighton, and the key point is that Francis Henshall, a failed skiffle player, finds himself working for two guvnors.
For good measure there is even a prefatory skiffle session and musical interludes by Grant Olding.
The lyrics betray less knowledge about baseball ( "The catcher hits for .318") than lust ( "Oh elope with me in private and we'll set something ablaze!"), but the song's melody and skiffle beat overpower such shortcomings.
Rockabilly and doo-wop provide the sturdy structures, with a nod to the skiffle of the Quarrymen as he sings "Long, long lost John" over the fade of "I'm Losing You", in a deliberate echo of Lonnie Donegan's version of a song borrowed from Woody Guthrie.
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