Carrying their 5-gallon buckets brimming with odds and ends from around the house and garage, the members of the Minnesota Percussion Trio could easily walk into any school or library and pass for neighborhood handymen.
But Bob Adney, Erik Barsness and Josh Carlson make the seemingly mundane objects come to life as musical instruments.
Using blocks of wood, tin cans, recycled sporting equipment, spoons and even grocery bags, they make contemporary music.
"We can get our instruments in one trip from the car," joked Adney, a longtime percussionist who teaches at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minn., the MacPhail Center for Music in Minneapolis and several other local institutions. "We'd like to play on hundred-dollar drum sets," he said, but they hope their inspiration will help their audiences gain a new appreciation for sound and how simply it can be made.
This afternoon, the award-winning trio that has turned just about anything into a musical instrument and played performances for kids and families for more than 20 years will bring its popular program, "Click, Clack, Clunk," to the Wildwood Library in Maplewood.
During the 50-minute program starting at 2 p.m., they will play John Cage's "Trio for Seven Woodblocks," an early percussion-only piece written in the 1930s. The show also will feature "Click," a rhythmic classic with Stomp-esque qualities, penned in 1990 by Minneapolis composer Mary Ellen Childs. The ensemble also will perform a number called "Wood, Metal, Skin," with each member taking one instrument made of those items, such as a hunk of wood, a pot lid and two hands for clapping.
"It really is intriguing how compositions can be made," Adney said. "From preschoolers to seniors, they will be entertained."
The Minnesota Percussion Trio got its start 22 years ago when WAMSO, the Minnesota Orchestra's women's auxiliary, felt the need to add a percussion group to its string, brass and woodwind ensembles that were touring schools. Adney has been bringing the arts experience to students and families ever since.
Earlier this year, the St. Paul-based arts organization Compas honored Adney and the ensemble for its excellence and longevity in the Twin Cities art scene, presenting the threesome with the Jim Dusso Award, named after the former managing director of Compas.
In addition to performing its three educational programs -- "Click, Clack, Clunk," "the Beat Goes on" and its newest program "Around the World in 80 Beats" -- at schools museums and libraries, the trio collaborates with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra on its "Start the Music" series, as well as its "Xplorchestra" music concerts.
"Music comes from the heart and then you figure something to play it on," Adney wrote on the trio's website.
"It's kind of a home brew situation," he said. "We tell them to pull out a pair of spoons and give it a try."
Tim Harlow • 651-735-1824