Jour : 6 juin 2017

Abby the Spoon Lady : Playing Spoons | A Quick History

Abby the Spoon Lady 

percussionist & storyteller

Playing Spoons | A Quick History

Playing Spoons | A Quick History  

    Playing Spoons| A History — There have been spoon players since before written history. Prehistoric rock drawings and pottery as early as the 4th millennium depict dancing figures with curved blades in their hands. Spoons belong to a class of instrument called concussion idiophone. This general class of instruments includes the oldest instruments known to man. Spoons themselves are prehistoric, and you can say that there have been spoon players since around the invention of the spoon.

Musical Spoons – an old tradition

Many ancient cultures included playing spoons. Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans all played spoons and a variation of the spoons called the rattle bones or the rhythm bones. Rhythm bones are usually a pair of small rib bones, such as from sheep or lamb.  Placed in the hand parallel to the palm with the convex sides facing each other. The bones are placed between each finger. Use one finger as a hinge, and the moving your wrist so that the bones hit each other or “rattle”.  

Rhythm bones are very similar to spoon playing and are also carved out of wood, creating different tones. Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans all played spoons and bones in their battle marches and some even speculate that human bones were used. During the crusades, when these armies were marching the clicking or the bones and spoons meant to their enemy that “the pagans were coming” and it was time to prepare for battle, or to even run and hide. 

from Making Multicultural Music – Sharing Diversity Through The Arts

Playing spoons is in many different cultures. The Irish, French-Canadian, Turkish, Russian and Vietnamese all played spoons as a part of their traditional music heritage. In America, spoons are associated with minstrels, jug bands, and folk music.

 Notable spoon players are Artis the Spoonman, Sam Spoons, Deb “Spoons” Perry, David Holt, Jim Cruise, and Tran Quang Hai. Keeping these ancient art forms is important to not only our own culture but to the world. The playing of spoons is keeping these ancient traditions alive, and forming new ones.

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Do you know any spoon players?

Tell me about it in the comments below… 

Want to read more?  Read a great post about famous spoon-players from around the world!

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  1. Jenny CampbellYou are by far the best I have ever heard . Love watching you play … I could lesson to you all day and never get. Biord !! When I go to my daughters we break out the spoons we love to play .. and I play the tambourine to . Continue to post your videos I share everyone. God bless you and the band ..

  2. Janet ConferYou are awesome. I have 3 sets of spoons for different tones but nothing that has the tone of yours. It appears you are using something, oil, cream, etc on your spoons. It that a secret or do you you share that info. Music is a very important part of my life and the spoons and washboard have become part of any trip I take. My spoons stay in my purse for you never know when there will be a chance to play:)

    1. BonitaJanet, she has told she uses a certain spoon and they are getting hard to find. Also, a friend of hers makes oil which you can buy

  3. JudyWe started a new charter school in salem s.c this year called next school eagle ridge. They have what they call break out class where community leaders come in and teach a group od kids. I wish we could somehow get you to show your talent to this school. No one will ever play as well as you. YOU ARE THE BEST. I’M hoping to get to ashville soon to see you inperson

  4. Gina HuweYou are the best I have ever heard and I believe you will go down in history as the BEST!!!! Just can’t get enough of listening to you!!!!!! God Bless

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Abby The Spoon Lady : Famous Spoon Players (Artis the Spoon Man, Trân Quang Hai, etc…)

Abby the Spoon Lady 

percussionist & storyteller

Famous Spoon Players

Famous Spoon Players

Here is a list of famous spoon players from around the world… and ones that are just really awesome!   Spoon playing is found in many different cultures, and the styles of playing can be very different from one country to another.  Every spoon player is unique, and there are many interesting videos of spoon playing scattered throughout the internet.  In this nice and tidy list, you will find somecross spoons very interesting, influential, and fun spoon players and some video all in one awesome place.  If you have a favorite spoon player that is not on this list, let me know about it in the comments.  I have to admit, this is not a complete list.

Artis the Spoonman

Artis the Spoonman is by far one of, if not the most, famous spoon players of all time.  He has been an active street performer in the Seattle and surrounding areas since the 1970s, and has played all over the United States and the world.  He has played with such acts as Frank Zappa, Sound Garden, Jimmy Page, and even the Seattle Philharmonic Orchestra.

find more information:

This video shows Artis the Spoonman performing the overture to Rossini’s “L’Italienne à Alger” with the Seattle Philharmonic in 1994.

Tran Quang Hai

Tran Quang Hai is a music ethnologist and traditional Vietnamese musician and is also a virtuoso spoon player.  A very talented man, you can find visit his youtube channel and find videos on all sorts of topics, from spoon playing to throat singing, to Vietnamese mouth harps.

You can find more about Tran Quang Hai at

Bert Draycott

Bert Draycott is an English musician and spoon player who won the World Spoons Championship several times.  He is entertaining to watch and can keep a whole room entertained with his enthusiasm.

Deb “Spoons” Perry 

Deb “Spoons” Perry is an amazing character,  Below is a video of her act from Australia’s Got Talent in 2008.  She has continued to play spoons since her Australian television debut, even making several trips to the United States.

You can find more information on Deb Perry by visiting

Joe May

Joe May is a great spoons player based out of the UK, who has gained some serious fame in her neck of the woods and for good reason.  She is incredibly talented and has amazing rhythm.  She focuses on teaching and workshops and does a lot to bring her community together.  This is definitely a woman who uses her powers for good.

Jim Cruise 

Jim Krzewski, known as Spoon Man Jim Cruise, is an entertainer, spoon player, philanthropist, and key-note speaker from Michigan.  He has been entertaining audiences for decades and has created a very interactive show.  He plays off of people’s heads and arms, dances, and even lights his spoons on fire!

You can find more about Jim Cruise by visiting

Sam Spoons

Sam Spoons is a member of the musical group Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, and a very proficient spoon player.  He’s got a lot of off the body tricks and jumping around, which keeps you on your toes.

Rhythm Chef

Here’s some video of world-class spoons player Wayne “Rhythm Chef” Jones, who currently hold a world record for spoon playing.  He’s got some neat tricks up his sleeve!  Perhaps one day I will attempt to break his record.

You can find out about his record by going to

Johnny Bongos Horgan

Johnny Bongos Horgan is an Irish spoon player with incredible timing and rhythm.  He’s sure to entertain, and once and a while makes it to the states.

You can find more about Johnny Bongos Horgan by reading this article:

David Holt 

David Holt is an American folk musician, well known for his work with Doc Watson.  He has many instructional videos on spoon playing and has interviewed numerous old time and folk musicians over the years.  I consider him to be an incredibly talented and smart man who possesses a vast knowledge of roots music.

You can find more about David Holt at

Abby the Spoon Lady 

I figure I’d better plop myself on this list.  I’m Abby the Spoon Lady and I live in Asheville, NC.  I’ve been playing spoons for a bit over a decade.  Here’s myself with the Fly By Night Rounders.  You can find more videos on our videos page on this website, or you can read all about me right on this website, and find out where I am by visiting our EVENTS page.


famous spoon players

Thanks for reading!

You can learn about the history of playing spoons by clicking this link.

Do you know any famous spoon players?

Let me know in the comments!

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