Groovin’ on a Sunday afternoon

Monday, January 3, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 6:59 p.m. CDT, Friday, July 11, 2008

Although the second-floor balcony overlooking the entrance to the Columbia Public Library was quiet and nearly empty, Tom Verdot sat down, unpacked his instruments, closed his eyes and started fiddling anyway.

“If I didn’t enjoy it, I wouldn’t be doing it,” he said.

Verdot was invited to play at the library as part of the Tunes at Two program, which features a different musician the first Sunday of each month at 2 p.m. He came packed with a handmade violin, a banjo, several copies of his band’s CDs and a list of songs on a piece of scrap paper, whose melodies he obviously knew by heart.

Verdot began playing the violin as a child in his school orchestra. He now works out of his home in Columbia making and restoring antique violins, violas and occasionally banjos. The violin he played Sunday was his most recent finished product, but he usually sells the instruments he makes and restores.

His band, known as The Skirt Lifters, plays ragtime music around the United States and Europe. The band got its name from playing at Civil War re-enactments, a nod to the period dances at which the women wore hoop skirts they would raise and bounce about as they danced, Verdot said.

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