Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Man wins acclaim with musical eccentricity

An Associated Press story in April of 1989 introduced Nick Sinnott, a 40-year-old personnel recruiter at North Pacific Lumber Co. in Portland, Ore., who was able to play “The Star-Spangled Banner” on his teeth — specifically, the No. 8 upper anterior tooth.

Sinnott attended St. Charles Grade School in northeast Portland and, like most boys his age, was interested in sports. But one of his fondest memories was of nights in the kitchen while the family did the dishes. His father, Roger, would sing folk tunes and sometimes play his teeth. He tapped them with a finger while changing the shape of his mouth. And one evening, young Nick found himself playing along, and it became a family pastime. The story said “his second teeth came in with very good tone and pitch.”

In college Sinnott perfected a routine that served him fairly well. He would stand up, sometimes at a microphone, and announce he would play his teeth. He would introduce an element of danger by stating that if his tongue was to get in the way of his eyetooth, he would be unable to see what he was playing. He would then proceed to announce that he would play “Yankee Doodle Dandy” and the “Lone Ranger” theme song (the “William Tell Overture”) in the key of T Flat (T, of course, standing for tooth). He said the routine stood him well during his years as a teacher and football coach at Central Catholic High School.

He drew a standing ovation for a performance dressed as “Rodney Roca” for a candy sale at the school, but Sinnott said the peak of his career occurred the night he gave an impromptu performance for about 200 people at Bunratty Castle in Limerick, Ireland, where he was vacationing. By then, he said, he had developed a technique of somehow flicking his No. 8 Anterior with all five fingers. The crowd, apparently, went insane.

“That’s the one where I thought I really made the big time,” Sinnott recalled. “’Now I’m  European hit,’ I told myself.”

Considering this story was published in the April 1st edition of the East Oregonian, I did a little research on the Internet to see if Mr. Sinnott was the real deal. I did find a Nicholas John Sinnott of the correct age currently living in Tualatin, so we can assume the story is a true one, and congratulate Mr. Sinnott on his 15 minutes of fame.

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