Lew Dite plays his Newfoundland ugly stick (purchased in St. John’s about 10 years ago) with a little help from his tie.
The ugly stick is a traditional Newfoundland musical instrument fashioned out of household and tool shed items, typically a mop with bottle caps, tin cans, small bells and other noise makers. The instrument is played with a stick that has undulations carved into it so that it can be dragged across the mop handle to given a rhythmic sound. The instrument’s main body is a mop cut to approximately four feet. A tin can is attached to the top. At strategic intervals along the length of the shaft, nails affixed with bottle caps would be nailed to the shaft. The ugly stick is held in one hand at about 3/4 up the shaft and the musician holds the beating stick in the other. The instrument is lifted and dropped on the floor in a rhythmic fashion while the musician strikes the attachments to embellish the sound.
This instrument originated in outports and remote villages. Social gatherings such as concerts (colloquially referred to as “tymes”) and kitchen parties, were an important part of the rural culture. The principle melody instruments were accordions and fiddles with rythmic accompaniment from the ugly stick.
“Beaten with the ugly stick” is an American and British idiom for someone or something that looks ugly or unappealing.
Duration : 0:3:55