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Thanks to everyone who made the BOTMC online Spring Sitch, and Crankie Cabaret on March 6 a success!

For folks who missed the amazing Crankie Cabaret (or just want to see it again), you can watch the individual videos (with or without a Facebook login)  at

or on the Spring 2021 playlist on the BOTMC YouTube channel.

The QHH performance of Skillet Licorice & Boojum can be viewed (with or without a Facebook login) at  


As part of the Berkeley Old Time Music Convention’s Spring Sitch - Saturday March 6, 2021 - we are featuring a Crankie Cabaret. At 4 pm PST, following a day of seminars, workshops and jams, the Crankie Cabaret will feature a variety of beautiful Crankies (including YOURS if you submit one!)  in a Facebook Watch Party. Afterwards, stick around (or head over to the Quarantine Happy Hour) for some kickass old time dance music with 2 groups: Skillet Licorice and Nokosee Fields!
What’s a Crankie?  It  is an old storytelling art form, sometimes called a Panorama Box, popular in the 19th century. A long illustrated scroll is wound onto two spools. The spools are loaded into a box which has a viewing window. Then the scroll is hand-cranked while the story is told, or a tune is played or a song is sung. Crankies can be made in any size from a matchbox to a suitcase, out of paper, cloth, drawn, collaged, sewn, more! You have all winter to get creative.

Think of the unlimited possibilities of building crankies using everyday objects - cardboard, boxes, bike lights, suitcases, paper towels, wrapping paper, cereal boxes, shoe boxes, old tired instrument cases, etc.
You can find lots of information about crankies, including instructions for how to make one, at Sue Truman’s terrific website: 


Feeling socially isolated? Crankies are an excellent opportunity for artists and musicians to collaborate.

Guidelines for the Crankie Cabaret:

  1. You can use a previously constructed crankie, but the performance of the crankie should be especially for this event.

  2. Musical content:  the music should be Old Time related.  You can decide what that means.

  3. You are encouraged, in your crankie presentation, to explore and to acknowledge the Black and/or indigenous roots of whatever piece of music you are using. Take this opportunity to research your song and find out more about where it came from!

  4. Do not use commercially released recordings, i.e. a cut from a commercially released CD or digital download. This is for copyright purposes. The music should be something that is created especially for the Crankie Cabaret, and it's fine if it's pre-recorded. To clarify:  it's fine to record the version of John Hardy that you learned from Foghorn's recording, with you or your friend singing, and use that, but you can't use the actual Foghorn recording of  that (or any other) song.  In other words, you can use any song you want to.  But you have to make a new recording of that song; you can't use a recording that you downloaded from the internet or from a CD that you own.

  5. Please start your video by saying that this crankie/video is for the Crankie Cabaret.  You can add the name of the song, the crankie creator(s) and musicians, or anything else you want, of course!

  6. Time limit:  5 minutes, including spoken intro.  Shorter is definitely okay.


Here's how to be part of the Crankie Cabaret: Upload your Crankie Video anytime between February 15 and March 4, 2021 to our BOTMC Crankie Cabaret Entries Facebook Group.  To do this, you will need to join the FB group, which means you will need to have a FB account.  Your membership will need to be approved by one of the admins, so please don't wait til the last minute to join! 

Once approved, it will be put in a queue for the Watch Party on March 6, 4pm pst / 7pm pst 

If you don’t have a Facebook account, ask a friend if they would be willing to upload your video from their account.  
Your video will not show up on the Facebook Group until it has been approved by one of the admins.  

PLUS, we wanted to mention on the days before and following the Spring Sitch (March 5 and 7th), the Winnipeg Crankie Festival will be "crankin", so be sure to check out all of their acts as well!

Questions?  Email us.

A matchbox crankie

How to make a matchbox crankie

Matchbox crankie videos by Robin Fischer

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