What kind of dog is Brando?
Brando is a Jack Russel-Chihuahua. I got him in Harlem, NYC for $120 in February 2010. He is named after one of my favorite actors: Marlon Brando.
When did you leave on Roadtrip #1?
I left Long island, NY on April 4, 2011 and returned on September 5, 2011. Exactly 5 months of travel.
I left Long Island, NY on November 22, 2011 and returned on December 12, 2011. 21 days of travel.
How did you create the idea for Piano Across America?
The Short Version:
I graduated college in 2008, and spent a year auditioning for acting gigs and getting small roles in non-union shows. After a year I was fed up with where my life was going. One thing that opened my eyes was that I met 40 year old actors who were doing the same thing they were doing at 20- going to auditions and trying to get jobs. At the time I was working 2 jobs just for the money and I was very unhappy because I wasn’t pursuing my passions. I would spend more time looking for jobs than having one. I asked myself this question, “What is my ideal life?” Piano Across America was created by combining all the things I love to do. Travel, Play Piano, and meet people.
Why did you decide to do this?
I originally embarked on this journey to develop myself as a piano player. I figured by being entirely reliant on the piano for food and gas would help me put more time into the piano and thus become a better, more technical player. I also wanted to compose my first original album. I believe that creativity is a delicate process that takes time to come to fruition. I wanted the time to be alone and explore my own unique sound through my inspirations.
What drives me now is the desire to learn about the people of the world and to document what the experience is like to travel without a definitive plan. I still want to make music and develop my skills but to use the music to inspire people throughout the world.
How do you travel?
I currently travel in a 12 foot Box truck I bought off eBay.
How do you pay for all your expenses on the road?
I pay for my expenses with my own money and through donations that people give me while on the road. I cant save money while traveling because gas prices are too high.
Where do you sleep on the road?
I did spend much of my time sleeping in the back of my truck throughout the 5 months. In some cities I would make friends who were kind enough to let me sleep on their couches. I also have friends in some cities that were willing to help me out. There was a time when I tried Couchsurfing.com which is a great way to meet people in other cities. I do like the challenge of trying to find a place to sleep. It forces me to make friends and put myself out there. I made the conscious choice never to sleep in hotels because its a waste of money.
What did you bring with you on your travels?
Doesn’t your piano go out of tune really easily? How do you tune it?
I dont know how to tune pianos. I want to learn but its difficult and time consuming. When I get to a city I find as many piano tuners using the internet and call each one to see if any of them are willing to give me a discounted tuning. I normally ask if they can do it for $20-$50. Sometimes its easy, sometimes its hard. I’ve even had times where someone gave me a tuning for free!
How do you move the piano?
The piano is on two 4-wheel dollies which are then strapped to the piano. I have a large ramp that I use to slowly let the piano roll down when I take it out of the truck. In the beginning of my trip, I used to push it back in, usually with the help of someone else. By the time I got to Austin, I couldnt do it anymore because my back was killing me. So I found a mechanic who built a winch system in the back of my truck to literally pull the piano up the ramp. No more killing my back. See the story here.
How long have you been playing piano?
I started playing piano when I was 18 years old in my freshman year of college. January of 2005. About 7 years. However, I didn’t start playing religiously and studying piano until about 5 years ago. Read my bio.
What kind of music do you play?
I’m a lover of all music. Jazz music is what propelled me to start playing piano in the first place. My roots are in Jazz, but I play classical, rock and pop music. I love to improvise and most of what I do when I play on the streets is take songs and play them in different styles or mash two different songs together. You may hear my playing a theme from Carmen by Bizet and mash it together with Besame Mucho and then take it into The Beatles- Yesterday…
What do you do when it rains?
I carry a large tarp with me if its cloudy. If it begins to pour I try as quickly as possible to cover the piano. I did get rained on in Austin, Texas.
Who are your favorite Musicians?
What are your favorite places?
See: Favorite Cities
Did you meet many people on the road?
I must have met over 500 people while traveling on the road for 5 months. There’s something about playing piano on the streets that grabs people’s attention and makes them want to talk to you. I had many conversations that opened my eyes to new ideas and thoughts.
What do your parents think of this?
My parents are big supporters of the arts. Both are very much into fine arts and music. At first they saw it as a phase that I was going through where I would travel for a short period. But when they saw how serious I was about doing this for a much longer period of time they started telling me to get my masters and study Business. I am 25 years old and they understand that it’s my life and respect that I want to pursue something I am really passionate about.
What are your plans for the future?
I hope to continue building on the Piano Across America tradition by traveling, playing piano on the streets, and meeting people. I am still developing my first original music album and slowly piecing ideas together.
I would like to do another roadtrip in the near future, but this time with a film crew so we can document the conversations, people, and experiences in better quality and with professionalism. The goal is to document the real experience of traveling by car and to show the truth of what the opinions of this country are. At the same time, inspiring people to seize the day and live the life they have always dreamed about.