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.
Click here for more on Brando
I’ve currently done 4 roadtrips ranging from 1 month to 6 months long.
Roadtrip #1- I left Long island, NY on April 4, 2011 and returned on September 5, 2011.
Roadtrip #2- NYC to Florida Keys and back. November 23-December 17, 2011
The $2 Roadtrip- Click here for the link for the $2 Roadtrip: Northeast and Canada.
Roadtrip through Mexico and Central America- 7 months
The Short Version:
I graduated college in 2008 with a BFA in Theater and minor in Writing, and spent a year auditioning for acting gigs and getting small roles in non-union shows. After a year and a half I was fed up with where my life was going. One moment that I remember clearly was when I met this 40 year old actor while waiting for an audition who was doing the same thing they were doing at 20: going to auditions and looking for jobs. I didnt understand why all these people were waiting for their big break and spending a majority of their time just looking for a gig.
I was really at a low point in my life, working a 9-5 as a personal assistant and truck driver for a Photographer. I kept asking myself this question every day, “What is my ideal life?” Piano Across America was created by combining all the things I love to do. Travel, Playing Piano, and meet People.
The Long Version
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 exploring my creativity through travel.
What drives me now is constantly challenging myself to go beyond my comfort zone and explore new territory musically and in my life. I have been striving to figure out how I can make a living doing the things I enjoy most and inspiring others at the same time. I’d like to take Piano Across America beyond America to schools, and onto the streets of major cities across the world.
In the beginning I traveled with a 12 foot yellow GMC Box truck. I spent a lot of time sleeping in the back as I moved along.
In June 2012 I sold the truck and bought myself a Ford Transit Connect.
I pay for my expenses with my own money and through donations that people give me while on the road. In the beginning, I wasnt able to make a living because of gas prices. Once I got rid of the truck, I began figuring out ways to make a good living through gigs and street performing.
There are tons of options for finding a place to sleep while on the road. I’ve spent a good amount of time sleeping in my car and camping and I really enjoy the rustic living conditions. When I sleep in my car I usually go to Hotels, coffee shops, and campgrounds to wash up and brush my teeth. When I first started traveling
I am also a devout Couchsurfing.com user. I have made some very close friends from all over the world through Couchsurfing, even people that I keep in touch with today. I recommend it to everyone I meet and encourage people to let go of the “fear” of using this service because its very safe.
I’ve even had moments where people would invite me to their homes for dinner and offer me a place to sleep. These rare moments are usually the best experiences I’ve had in my life because they’re purely spontaneous.
See: The Making of Piano Across America
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!
When I first started 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.
See: How to move a piano through NYC: An Experiment
I started playing piano when I was 18 years old in my freshman year of college. January of 2005. However, I didn’t start playing religiously and studying piano until about 5 years ago.
This wasnt something I was pursuing as a career. I only saw it as a hobby. It was around 2010 when I started seeing it as a career goal.
Read my bio.
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…
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. – See Video/photo
See: Favorite Cities
I must have met thousands of people while traveling on the road for the last 2 1/2 years. 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.
See: People I’ve met on the Road
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 27 years old and they understand that it’s my life and respect that I want to pursue something I am really passionate about.
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 want to keep challenging myself to do even more Epic roadtrips and inspiring people all over the world to follow their dreams and value their time on this earth. I really want to build this project to where I get to speak to students who are about to enter the real working world and work with people directly to help them.