Collection of percussion instruments, “flotsam and jetsam from a lifetime of exploring sound” to be sold

Robert Fishbone, a musician and collector/inventor of mostly percussion instruments  can no longer play percussion because of recent, single sided deafness and is parting with the bulk of his collection with a silent auction at Stone Spiral Gallery, 2506 Sutton Boulevard in Maplewood.

The sale is Friday, May 17, 7-10:00 p.m.  The silent auction ends at 9:30 and the sale
continues Saturday, May 18th, 1-6 p.m.

From Robert Fishbone:

As George Harrison, and many others have testified: “All things must pass.”

In June of 2017 I was diagnosed and soon treated with Gamma Knife radiation for an Acoustic Neuroma. It is a rare, benign, thus non-cancerous tumor on the 8th cranial nerve which controls hearing and balance; it is located between the ear and brain stem and in my case, on the right side. Both the tumor itself, but more so the treatment, have had life changing side effects: balance issues, and on the affected side increased tinnitus, intermittent facial strangeness (twitching and contractions), and most sadly, severe loss of hearing. I am functionally deaf on my right side.

Because all sound comes through my one, semi-good left ear (I already wore hearing aids, and recently got a great new one) I am easily overwhelmed by even mildly noisy situations, can’t distinguish or understand much of what is said, and have thus withdrawn from most activities: parties, dinners, concerts, restaurants, gallery openings, lectures, etc.

My great kids, Tyler and Liza, once they got over the initial news, decided to help out by designing me this hat!

As some of you know, I have also stopped playing all of that fun percussion that meant so much to me and others, including at my synagogue, Central Reform Congregation in the Central West End..

But while my external world has seemingly diminished, the need for quiet and more intimacy has led me to volunteering in hospice, for the past two years at the DeGreeff Hospice House, now part of Mercy South. I can’t begin to tell you what a gift this has been to spend precious time with patients and their loved ones, offering familiar songs from their youth that they love, with my voice and baritone ukulele… it is humbling… it has become a ministry.

All of that said, it is time to let go of my remaining collection of mostly percussion instruments, many which have held special significance. Some are pictured below. There are also some wind instruments, some electronics, and some flotsam and jetsam from a lifetime of exploring sound.

The good people at Stone Spiral Coffee House on Sutton in Maplewood have graciously offered the use of their gallery for an instrument sale, which will partially benefit the Acoustic Neuroma Association, of which I am an active member. I will be there the entire time and will be happy to offer demo’s and back stories.

Please pass this on to anyone you know who might be interested.


Continue Drums made by Dick Schmidt w/ stand, technically they are Cajon Conga’s… I consulted with him early on, looking for the right sound, and these two have super crisp highs and a rich, warm bass

Remo, who I worked with to develop the Thunder Tubes, invented a drum head that fits on a single 5-gallon bucket; a set of three congas just seemed obvious to make

Brazilian bird whistles, solid rosewood, with carrying case, beautiful sound too

Boomwhackers, fun for all, and a 23-inch Wuhan gong and mallet, with years of spiritual mojo

Joe Unger, a wonderful St. Louis chiropractor brought this Ipu back from Hawaii for me in the mid-1980s. He told me it was made by a student of the last remaining, Hawaiian Ipu maker, an elder… lovely warm sound… Unusual in that the shell thickness is even throughout.

Lots of specialty sticks

After learning a bell rhythm called Gahu at a music workshop in Mexico, I commissioned Peter Englehart of California to make these nine, tuned, double bells. He recently told me these style bells are not made anymore, so they are rare. They come with a book and audio cassette by David Locke, showcasing his firsthand research on Drum Gahu. They are being sold as a set.

A fellow musician/mural artist from NYC gifted me this Koncovko, a Slovakian, overtone flute. With lovely carvings.

And lots more!

3 thoughts on “Collection of percussion instruments, “flotsam and jetsam from a lifetime of exploring sound” to be sold

  1. I contacted Aurelia Hartenberger, who collects musical instruments and donates them to her collection at the Sheldon, and she would like to contact Robert directly through his phone number. How may I accomplish this? She has a collection grouping honoring St. Louis musicians.

  2. I understand your hearing situation. Tinnitus is horrible and deafness in one side really makes for unpleasant social situations. I am percussionist with deafness in my left ear and tinnitus. I am very interested in the Brazilian bird whistles. Is there any way I could score some of that wonderful percussion?
    Thanks, Alan Lott

    • Hello, and thank you for your comment…if you want to see there Brazilian Bird Whistles you’ll need to come to the event. Several other people have expressed interest as well.