You can probably imagine how excited I was about Ivy Ashe’s story in the Gazette last week about the new, old barrel piano acquired by the Preservation Trust for the Flying Horses. The original Catalonian hand-cranked piano manufactured in Spain is apparently similar to the original one used over a century ago, which the trust still has but is unusable. This one will hopefully be restored by Island piano tuning expert David Stanwood. The piano plays 10 tunes that may not be recognizable to us, since it was made in Barcelona.

In 2006, Clyde L. MacKenzie Jr. wrote a great story about the history of the Flying Horses in the Dukes County Intelligencer, noting that the early music played was called hurdy-gurdy, probably like the hurdy-gurdy men who played their rolling piano on Circuit avenue for tips in the 1920s. Some call it organ grinder music, but I envision it to have been waltzes to a faster beat, perhaps like that of Will Hardy’s Tivoli Girl performed at the Tivoli in the next block from the Flying Horses. I remember the music from my early years in the 1960s working there and hearing the songs played on the old Wurlitzer calliope that was replaced by a tape deck. The Preservation Trust, in turn, replaced it with the Stimson organ used today. I’m fairly sure that one of the 500 or so songs the Stimson has available was my old favorite waltz, Over the Waves, or Sobre las Olas, as the Mexican writer Juventino Rosas named it. I’m hoping that maybe it’s one of the 10 songs on the new, old Catalonian piano.

First published in Mexico in 1888, Over the Waves remains a popular song that has found its way into New Orleans jazz, bluegrass, country and Tejano music. It is associated with fairs and trapeze artists, and was unsurprisingly one of the songs available for Wurlitzer’s fairground organs.

I can’t wait to hear the new barrel piano and will let you know when the Flying Horses turns it on. Over the Waves would be icing on the cake!

Renaissance House, the artists and writers retreat on Pennacook avenue, is accepting applications for its 13th season this coming June, July and September 2014. Sponsored by the Helene Johnson and Dorothy West Foundation For Artists In Need, the retreat provides the time to create new works or finish existing ones. Founder Abigail McGrath says the program is offered to artists who can stay for one or two weeks and it includes room, meals and workshops. There is no application fee. The Renaissance House program includes formal dinners and presentations by local and visiting writers such as Jill Nelson, Jessica Harris, Susan Klein, Robert Hayden and others. To apply, email a sample of your work along with a one-page letter explaining why you need to get away to and visit

Fat Ronnie’s Reynaldo J. Faust announces he has been chosen to appear on cable’s Spike TV Network show Frankenfood, where he will be making his Bleu Berry Burger. The taping is in February and hopefully we will find out about an air date after that.

Oak Bluffs becomes the biggest town on the Island for MVY Radio’s Big Chili Contest tomorrow at the Portuguese American Club when 3,000 or so folks from here and America spend the day voting for who has the best chili while raising money for the Red Stocking Fund. This will be the first of the 27 prior chili fests without Seasons and WMVY no longer being an over-the-air radio station — both Auld Lang Syne situations. From 1 to 2 p.m. tomorrow the Oak Bluffs library is accepting new patients for the annual stuffed animal vet check-up. I’m taking Panda Bear, who will be 64 this year and who doesn’t seem to be aging as well as I am. Next Tuesday, Jan. 28, Miki Wolfe is teaching basic computer instruction for the few of you Luddites who haven’t taken the time to learn how to waste time online. She’ll be at the library from 2 to 6 p.m. and there is no charge. You will probably be able to go from there to the senior center to surf the web.

Happy birthday Juventino Rosas, born on Jan. 25, 1868 and who died at age 26 on July 9, 1894.

Keep your foot on a rock.