Not as much time this year at Folklife as usual – no particular reason, really, other than I wanted to spend a couple of those days working on the album. But I did have a lot of fun jamming with Alouest on Sunday, doing the Quebecois trad thing. Sarah Kellington from Pinnpied made it too, and a good time was had by all.

I also picked up my customary New Noisemaker. See, I collect noisemakers. I have a whole shelf of them. Wooden train whistles, weird little rings you blow into that make sounds, bells, clackers, spoons, shakers, all sorts of toys. Sometimes they end up on other bands’s recordings!

Every year at the Folklife percussion tent, I play with what got brought this year, and see if anything makes noises I don’t already have.

So look at this crazy monster:

Is that awesome or what? It was in the discount bin for $7. The decorative bits were broken – the vertical slats originally went down further, some of the wicker wrap is missing, nothing that affects sound. So I trimmed, glued, and bound it at top and bottom – flutemaking skills, ahoy – and it’s sorted.

It makes a great, heavy, shlunk, clacky and interesting. You can also turn it to get a continuous falling-pebbles noise, and some other sounds too. People were asking me about it all day, hearing me play with it while walking around.

Normally that would be my only purchase. But not this year!

I’ve been thinking about a particular flute I didn’t buy last year for a year, which is a pretty good sign that I need to buy it. You might remember a year and a half ago or so, the abortive show trip down to Portland? One of my gear bags wandered off after our car broke down, taking with it a lot of gear and a couple of instruments, including one of my hand-built flutes, Popcorn.

Popcorn was my favourite flute, the one I carried around all the time, a bamboo D piccolo I’d make probably ten years before. I’ve never seen a flute made by anyone other than myself which sounded like it, or let me do a half-step-below-tonic trick like I could on it, and so on. I’ve been wanting to put together the flutemaking kit again ever since, to build a new one, but haven’t had time.

Well, these carbon-fibre flutes made in Oregon? They sound and act exactly like Popcorn, only with a better second octave. I can even do the half-step below tonic trick. It’s a little heavier because of the headstock, but that makes it tuneable. It’s amazing, and I’ve been wanting one since I didn’t buy one last year.

This year, Anna said “Carbony is here again, you should get that flute.” So I did.

I’m thinking of naming it “Kettlecorn.” Sound fitting, you think?