String Stranglers & Cobbler Gobblers

-A A +A
By Brian Funk, Editor

The fiddlers’ convention brings out the weird in us sometimes, from jam sessions in Port-A-Johns and kazoo parades to naked bathing in Chestnut Creek and flinging flaming instruments — all real traditions of the 73-year-old event’s colorful past.

One constant of Galax’s annual festival is the freaky and fanciful names musicians give their bands.

They range from the funny to the obscure to the possibly perverted — if we only understood what they meant.

Here are this year’s top 10 strangest band names, taken from the Galax Moose Lodge’s program for the convention, along with some speculation about where the names come from:

Bluegrass Bands

Canned Biskits of Calloway is back on the scene. The lead singer is out of the hospital and back with the band after apparently striking his head on a kitchen countertop.

The Sweltering Canyon Gods of Richmond is the best band of musical deities — a pickin’ pantheon, if you will — since the Mount Olympus Thunderbolts and the Valhalla Vikings. Thor used to play a mean clawhammer banjo — with a real hammer!

Delmer’s Toad of Bluefield, W.Va., is obviously an “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” movie reference. If you don’t get it, hang your head in shame. And stay out of Woolworth’s.

Kill-Basa Bill’s Road Show of Danbury, N.C., is only odd to first-timers at the Galax fiddlers’ convention. To long-timers, they’re convention fixtures. Visit the northeastern corner of Felts Park for this encampment of eccentrics.

Special Ed & The Short Bus from Richmond will make another appearance this year.

The performers — disqualified every year for playing their own songs, but determined to compete — have more fun in Felts Park than on stage, drawing a crowd wherever they decide to play an impromptu concert.

Fierce Twaang of Winchester is too angry to spell correctly, or perhaps those double-A’s stand for Alcoholics Anonymous. If so, they should hook up with the Seldom Sober Band from Climax.

Galax banjo legend Stevie Barr has assembled The Crooked Road Dizzy Heads. Those curvy mountain roads are enough to make your head spin — much like Stevie’s picking.

Farm Jazz of Winston-Salem, N.C., conjures the sounds and smells of Miles Davis and cow manure.

From Poquoson on the Eastern shore of Virginia come the Tree Hugging Dirt Worshippers. Who knew Al Gore had a band?

Abingdon’s Better’n Nothing band is on the roster, as well. We’ll wait till we hear them play to see if that name’s accurate.

Some bands name themselves after animals — Skeeterz Monkey of Shelby, N.C.; Bill Grogan’s Goat of Taylorsville, N.C.; and Concrete Chickens from Blacksburg.

Others always leave you hungry for more, taking their monikers from foods, like Glazed Ham, Sanitary Caf, MMM Good, Pig Pickin’ Pickers, Blue Plate Special and — depending on your appetite — Possum on the Porch.

Honorable Mentions in the Bluegrass Band category include The Dank Mountain Boys of Independence; Old & Immature of Newark, Del.; Slim Left Town of Hockesin, Del.; and Chicken House Wonder Band — Hardwick, Mass.

Old-Time Bands

The Big Lick String Stranglers from Roanoke sound both dirty and dangerous, but the name actually refers to the city’s original — and quite unfortunate — name.

Foozling, a Galax band, takes its name from a word the dictionary defines as “to manage or play awkwardly; bungle.” You just know they’ll be good.

Then there are the Modal Citizens of Suffern, N.Y. Music majors are such comedians!

The Greater Metropolitan Pungo String Band from Virginia Beach is gracing Galax with their presence. We’ve got players from New York, London and now the “metropolis” of Pungo — population 100. Welcome city folk!

The Tooth Pickers from Vienna are apparently made up of dentists, which means they can pick and grin with confidence. We wonder — are their instruments strung with dental floss?

A visit to the Tooth Pickers could probably make life more pleasant for the lead singer of Leah & The Bad Breath Boys from Martinsville.

(They are in no way related to the equally odorous Belchertones from Belchertown, Mass.)

The Over-Regulated Mountain Boys of East Bend, N.C., are making a political statement with their name. No fans of zoning laws or “big government,” I’m assuming.

The Ubiquitones from Greensboro, N.C., are back again. I see these guys at every festival I go to.

Ya get it?

Ohee Well, look it up — it’s funny.

(I’m such a word nerd.)

It takes a set of cajons to name your band The Mountain Oyster Chowder Band, but the State Road, N.C., group is a bunch of nuts anyway.

The Cobbler Gobblers of Wilkesboro, N.C. suggest a way of getting rid of that chowder taste. Gobble too much chowder or cobbler and you might need to borrow some Ex-Lax from the Tuesday Night Irregulars from Ashland.

Or, you could calm your stomach with some Cornbread & Buttermilk, a band from Roanoke.

Honorable mentions in the old-time band category include Pomokey Bushwhackers of Camp Springs, Md.; Farrington Ferrets of Richmond; The Dryhill Draggers of Ferrum; Sludge of Critz; and The Whoopin Hollar String Band of Orma, W.Va.