The announcement and descriptions presented in the MMD by John Tuttle
and later by Stephen Goodman, referred to the large orchestrion I have
built as "The Ding-A-Ling." This was its name-- until last night-- as
given it initially by its former owner who is no longer able to take
care of it, due to a serious medical condition.
Unfortunately, he never even got to see it or hear it, and I have
purchased it from his estate. It now belongs to me, and has a new and
more appropriate name. I asked a number of people what they thought of
this and that name, and got a large number of replies-- which we really
appreciate. But the name we finally settled on, very appropriately, was
submitted to us by Andy Taylor (that guy has lots of great ideas, by
The final name for the instrument is "Spirit of Independence." (It will
then carry my last name in discrete letters on the front, according to
a suggestion by George Bogatko).
Some other suggestions were The Room Eater, Craig's Crazy Contraption,
The Magical Music Maker, Excelsior Concert Orchestra, American Concert
Orchestrion, and so forth. It was fun while it lasted, and now, that's
over with. I like the new name. It is so very fitting for it-- every
inch of that machine represents liberty-- independence, freedom, true
old-fashioned Americanism, and a new look at an old concept.
The art glass, designed and created by Brian Lewis, a young up-and-
coming first-rate artist in true art glass (not just stained glass),
created for this orchestrion a dazzling panorama of The 1890's "Concert
in the Park," taking his ideas largely from the French impressionists.
Those concerts used to be an exciting, strongly anticipated event and
an American pastime on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. Thus we have the
bandstand, the band in fine detail, and many people and children in
every conceivable pose sitting, standing, and playing while the band
performs. Brian is now a fully accredited glass artist as a result of
this panorama, which enabled him to qualify as a master artist (easily).
Personally, it is some of the finest work I have ever seen, done with
some of the most beautiful shades of antique glass, detailed,
highlighted, back-painted, and each piece fired in a kiln oven before
assembly. It is truly a picture you never get tired of looking at.
The new name, "Spirit of Independence" connotes also where it was
conceived and built. Harry Truman's own home town, and its builder--
who lives only a mile away. It also reminded me of the barnstorming
days, Lucky Lindy, and "Spirit of St. Louis," Which made me happy I
was from Independence, since that name has already been taken!
Maybe someday we will again be able to get together with George Bogatko
and make an appropriate CD of this instrument to offer for sale (with
many of his own arrangements) for those who won't be able to hear it
in person (and for those who don't want to forget what they have just