Paul V. Beckley:
'Moondog' In Debut
New York Herald Tribune (1953)
Louis Thomas Hardin, who as 'Moondog', the blind street musician, has entertained passers-by for years in the midtown section of Manhattan, made his first professional stage appearance last night playing exotic percussion instruments, many of his own making, for a dance choreographed to his own composition, _Nocturne".
The dance, one of six performed by the New Dance Group last night at the Theresa Kaufman auditorium of the Young Men's and Young Women's Hebrew Association, Lexington Ave. and 92nd St., was choreographed by Donald McKayle. In addition to Moondog and his wife, Suzuko Hardin, who also played the percussion, three violists, Alfred Brown, Herbert Feldman and Emanuel Vardi, and two cellists, Lorin Bernshon and David Freed, supplied the musical background.
Cow Horns and Tuji
Using instruments ranging from Oriental temple blocks to cow horns scratched with the fingernails, Mr. Hardin produces variable rhythms reminiscent at times of African tribal drumming in tuned drums. Sometimes, with a thing he calls a tuji, he creates a darting rattle like that of an angry Western diamond back. His wife ran a thumbnail across a homemade harp of wooden quarter-inch dowels instead of strings and produced an uncanny but musical sighing sound.
Moondog, a name Mr. Hardin took in 1947 as a pseudonym in writing music, has a long beard and a braid of hair that hangs halfway down his back, giving him a rather Biblical appearance, he also wears clothing of his own make, a poncho-like cape and a long robe, emphasizing his Biblical aspect. He sewed both garments into their present form from regulation Army blankets.
His motive in donning this dress was not, he insisted, a desire to appear odd but a rebellion _against regimentation". He said, _The old days of rugged individualism are going. I cling to them. It has cost me plenty though". He explained that his garb had dissuaded many from offering him such a public appearance as last night's.
Blinded When Sixteen
Now thirty-seven, Mr. Hardin was born at Marysville, Kan. When he was sixteen, he lost his sight in the explosion of a dynamite cap at Hurley, Mo. After attending music courses at the Iowa State School for the Blind and the Conservatory of Music at Memphis, he came to New York in 1943 and began com-
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