The first post at Modern Washboarder might as well be about Ralf Reynolds, who’s probably the finest washboard player to walk the planet. He’s been doing this for decades, and he brings an effortless grace to the washboard that others would do well to emulate.
His preferred style of music is the hot jazz of the 1920s and 1930s, and he can do the job of an entire drum set with his little board. You’ll generally see him playing with the Reynolds Brothers, an incredibly skilled group of musicians that includes Ralf’s brother John on guitar, banjo and vocals. These guys are the greatest.
His setup includes a standard unlabeled board with a wavy crimp, a wood block, a small cowbell, and a cymbal–maybe a 12″ crash?–attached to the top. He plays the heck out of all of it with thimbles. His style seems to be riding with his right hand and saving his left for embellishments. He can pull off a one-handed ride no matter how fast the tune may be; you should see him crush “Nagasaki” some time.
I jammed with him once, several years ago at the Monterey Jazz Festival washboard concert. He graciously stayed in the background and let us amateurs have the spotlight.
One side benefit of watching the Reynolds Brothers is getting a load of the unbearably cool Katie Cavera on bass and occasional vocals. If you follow her around the Internet, you’ll find that she is distressingly multi-talented and charming as hell.
Learn more about Ralf Reynolds here: http://www.reynoldsbrothers.net/