By Wally Stewart

It was strange, man – really strange!

PVC pipes, tin cans, hog snouts, and hard hats don't usually produce well-known music, but when the International Strange Music Ensemble landed at Iroquois Parks' gorgeous amphitheater on May 23, "usual" missed the ship.

1980 Ensemble co-founders John Tierney, Anne MacFie and Dick "Richard" Albin were aided by Blake Barker, Steve Lyon, Jenny Barker, Chris Perreault, Nancy Johnson and Missouri "manualist" Kevin Kloppenburg. More than 20 side-splitting "strange" songs were heard during a pleasant, 72 degree evening by a wildly enthusiastic, tiny crowd. (Even the front row was not filled.) Lyons' keyboard accompanied most of the time but stayed in the background.

Famous tunes were used, with altered lyrics, like MacFie's "There's No Music Like Strange Music." Its sound came from her beating on a "tin can abulator" – an assortment of food cans (labels intact) mounted on a saw-horse-like stand. Blake used an inflatable "air guitar," joining others with traditional axes (Including Perreault as rock bassist "Gash") for a rollicking "heavy metal" "Boil That Cabbage Down." The "trash can ending" had Blake pounding and stomping his guitar a la Pete Townsend. Beethoven devotees were inspired by "Ode To Joy," when Tierney, Albin and MacFie used a 6' length of perforated PVC pipe for a flautist trio.

A Mexican "Hard Hat Dance"featured the percussive sound from varied hard-surfaced hats worn by four of the men. One was a steel hat with a cymbal mounted atop it that Albin wore and played on other numbers. "Riverdancers" stepped to Celtic strains wearing scuba flippers to prevent sinking in rivers. Kloppenburg "manually" created the very "touching" "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" and others by, not so simply, squeezing his hands. Jenny, Anne and Nancy wore "Hungarian Hogs'" snouts, snorting their notes and gagging in unison to great applause.

The "visit" concluded with all performers together for "Stars And Stripes Forever," and Albin lead most of the rabid fans in an impromptu march on-stage.

The Ensemble gave a show worthy of a full house and received continuous appreciation. This was Louisville's 3rd "extrastrangestrial" sighting and I want another soon. It was strange, man – really strange!