Jessy Carolina’s Tiny Hi-Hat

Jessy Carolina is a singer who is currently getting some recognition for her work on the video game Bioshock Infinite, in which she sings a number of period songs. (Here’s an example: her rendition of the 1918 tune “After You’ve Gone.”)

She fronts a band called Jessy Carolina and the Hot Mess, described on its website as “a New York City based ensemble specializing in early American roots and jazz music from the late 1800’s to the 1930’s.” In addition to singing for the Hot Mess, Jessy plays washboard. (Her axe is an unlabeled pail-sized board with a wavy crimp, augmented by a small bell and what looks  like either an incredibly tiny splash cymbal or a very large zil. She uses thimbles.) She’s a good player; everything she does is understated but definitely adds a groove to the song. I’ve posted this video of the band in Washington Square Park not necessarily to showcase her board skills, but to show the little hi-hat she plays with her right foot and right hand. She drops in a little backbeat with the pedal and hits the old-time cymbal chokes at the right moments. It’s a nice little piece of equipment, but I can’t imagine where she found one that small.

Here’s another video of Jessy in action. She sings in this one, and we get a better look at her washboard stylings. At the end she hits a very, very hot one-handed groove and busts out a kazoo. She’s multitalented and pretty darned skilled at everything she’s doing.

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