Dr. Demento would be so proud.
Redmond’s Old Fire House (OFH) Teen Center, long famous for its all-ages rock concerts, now features a Weird Instrument Club, dedicated to adventurous music-making.
The club has been meeting Thursday evenings throughout the summer at 16510 NE 79th St. and plans to continue through the fall. There’s no fee to join and all local teens are welcome.
“We have a core group of teens that attends weekly and helps organize the meetings or jams,” said Dylan Wall, the media lab coordinator at the OFH. “People have brought all kinds of small noise makers and shakers, children’s toy instruments, industrial signal generators and proper weird instruments including bazooki, castanets, accordion, xylophone, djembe, conga drums and lots more. We’ll also allow electric guitars, as long as the sound is manipulated in a creative way.”
Wall noted, “Our definition of ‘weird instrument’ can get a bit loose, but we’re just trying to stay away from a typical rock and roll jam. The goal is to create a unique orchestration using a very assorted collection of instruments.”
At last, there’s a venue for folks who play spoons, a saw or an Oscar Mayer Wiener Whistle. And there’s no need to master “Stairway to Heaven.”
Said Wall, “It’s hard to classify the songs that are played as anything other than avant-garde. Most rely heavily on a basic rhythm and treat pitch as an afterthought. Rather than focus on composition with the club, we rotate participants from instrument to instrument and explore the different sounds that each can make. It would be an absolute blast to assemble a group that could perform, but it would require a re-visioning of the program.”
Of course, there still are plenty of opportunities for serious teen musicians to play and record at the OFH. Wall studied at Shoreline Community College and has worked at recording studios and music organizations throughout the greater Seattle area.
Casey Catherwood, who also helps with the Weird Instrument Club, graduated from Redmond High School in 2006 and played many shows at the OFH while working toward an associate’s degree at Seattle Central.
“I wrote a weekly music column about all-ages music for The Stranger, worked at a record store and now I’m proudly the event coordinator or the best teen center in the world (the OFH),” said Catherwood.
Teens with questions about the Weird Instrument Club or other performance opportunities at the OFH can e-mail Dylan Wall at DJWall@redmond.gov or Casey Catherwood at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the OFH at (425) 556-2370.