Featured Artist: Washboard Dave Paprocki

If you Google “washboard” you’re probably going to see a whole lot of washboard abs. If you Google Washboard Dave, however, you’re going to find a very special musician and character.

David Paprocki has lived in Rochester New York most of his life, attending Edison Tech. After a 2-year stint in the US Army he became a water meter reader for the city. Then, for thirty years, he delivered mail to his neighbors in Charlotte (pronounced shar-LOT, or Shlot, if you’re from there), a neighborhood in northwest Rochester. But what makes Dave Paprocki, Washboard Dave, is not where he’s from, or the “day jobs” he’s had; it’s his instrument of choice.

Once merely an unpretentious implement of laundry, Zydeco, Skiffle and Jug bands discovered that the versatile washboard was a marvelous percussion instrument. The corrugated surface, so good for scrubbing clothing, encouraged adventurous music-makers to strum, scratch and tap, adding nuance and variety to the sound of a standard drum kit.

Washboard Dave, however, has gone further than the usual player. He took the humble board and added a truly impressive array of sound-making objects to the standard wood and metal rig. Dave’s favorite gig rig has a small bongo drum, a cymbal, a vintage curtain tie-back, and a glass bottle (to name just a few of the improvements), all of which he plays with metal sewing thimbles firmly slipped over his fingertips.

An accomplished drummer with a long and storied past in Rochester bands, Dave began his percussion career in 1962 with the Paragons. Since then, he’s performed with the Jesters, the Knorks, the Howse, Spectrum, Live Oak, Chanka Chank, the Genesee Jug Sliders, Ancient Youth, the Public Market Band, the Crawdiddies (since 2011), the Cotton Toe 3, and P.V. Nunes Band, among others. He appears on recorded tracks too numerous to list.

In the last several years Dave began to take his washboards in another direction. As appreciative audiences marveled over his tricked-out rig, he realized that his own washboard had become more than just a musical instrument. It had become a piece of art. For the first time, Washboard Dave is showing his unique, decorative, wall-hung works of washboard art.

You can find him online at http://washboarddave.com, on Instagram at @realWashboardDave or on FB at https://www.facebook.com/wbd91647.