The Musicians

Map Of Street Musician Locations In Chicago

Find out where you can listen to street musicians in Chicago here.

Meet The Musicians


Tim Anderson

Percussionist | Chicago, Illinois

Born and raised in Chicago, Tim is a member of the famous bucket drum performance group, “Positive Vibration.” He has been playing with them for four years and rehearses with them several hours every day.

Tim truly loves performing on the streets of Chicago. He is appreciative of everything that his Grandparents have provided for him. He has “clothes on his back and a roof over his head and doesn’t need anything more,” he says.


George Banks

Percussionist, vocalist, and guitarist | Evanston, Illinois

Despite having moved frequently as a child, George considers himself a true Chicagoan. He was trained in theater until he decided to pursue music in the early 1980s and began playing percussion and drum set for his church. In 1999, George took up the acoustic guitar. George has performed for many corporate parties and other events, including a three-week stint on “Celebrity Cruises.”

When playing acoustic guitar in the subway, George mainly plays covers. However, he often writes his own lyrics to the melodies of the songs he plays. He loves knowing that his music helps make someone’s day more enjoyable. For George, the most rewarding thing about playing music on the street is the smile on a child’s face that never fails to appear when hearing his music. George says that “adults will occasionally glance or watch; children always look back and watch.” This acts as a “sign of God’s approval” of George’s work.


Crystal Bowersox

Vocalist and guitarist | Toledo, Ohio

A native of Toledo, Ohio, Crystal started singing as a child. When she was six, she started the piano and by the time she turned ten, she had started the guitar. Hoping to start a career as a musician, at 18 she decided to move to the “nearest big city” and wound up in Chicago. Before becoming a finalist on American Idol, Crystal played at the Jackson and Washington Redline stops. She also regularly performed at clubs, bars, and private parties in Chicago and Toledo.

She loves to see the “way that [music] affects people’s moods.” However, she knows that she can’t please everyone. She writes most of the music that she performs.

Check out Crystal’s blog: http://crystalbowersox.blogspot.com/.


Vimont Brogsdale

Percussionist | Chicago, Illinois

At the age of 26, Vimont started playing the drums, thinking that they were the “coolest things in the world.” Since then, he has played drum set with several Chicago bands and has been playing street music for nearly six years. Vimont is passionate about sharing his art with audiences, as well as other street musicians.

Although it was fairly easy to obtain a street permit (despite frequent price increases), Vimont is dismayed at how confined street musicians have become. Each year, more and more streets and events become restricted. Vimont believes that what he does is a skill and a trade, and he hopes that the public and the City of Chicago appreciate his music. After all, “where would we be without music?”


Fred Caine, aka Kensey

Vocalist, Harmonica Player | Chicago, Illinois

Kensey sings and plays blues harp. He’s also in the world of face and body art and can be regularly seen painting faces at Chicago Bulls games. Kensey began singing and performing in the early 1970s, and learned a lot from Jimmy Reed. Kensey also spent a lot of time soaking up everything he could from his good friend, Junior Wells, who introduced him into the blues scene. Junior gave him his first chromatic harmonica back in 1972.


Ronald Christian

Vocalist | Chicago, Illinois

Ronald grew up in a musical family. His mother was a musician at his church for over 50 years. Ronald began his musical career singing in his church choir. For the past eight years, Ronald has performed as a Chicago street and subway musician. He joins Norman and Joseph, forming the popular trio that has accompanied the subway for a number of years.

Ronald loves the way his music positively affects the mood of his audiences. However, he would like his listeners to know that “just because you’re in the subway, doesn’t mean you’re homeless.” Ronald wants the public to understand and realize that street musicians are not homeless and that in fact, they have true musical talent.

Fun tidbit about Ron: He and his wife, Paula, have the same birthday – October 24th! While they had known each other for 20 years already, they hadn’t seen each other in a long while until they were re-acquainted when they happened to celebrate their birthday one year at the same club. They got married not long after that and have been together ever since!


Scott Dusenberry

Violinist | St. Louis, Missouri

Scott has been living in Chicago for the past eight years, since having moved from his hometown of St. Louis, Missouri. He is currently a graduate student at the University of Illinois Chicago. Scott began playing violin at the age of five and has been playing as a subway and street musician for only two months. He usually plays covers and often plays with fellow street musician, George Banks.

Scott is continually inspired by the nonverbal connection and interaction that his music creates between himself and his audiences. Despite his love of performing music as a street musician, he wishes that additional stops would be opened to allow subway musicians more places to share their talent.


Joseph Ellison

Guitarist and vocalist | Youngstown, Ohio

Joseph was born in Youngstown, Ohio, but moved around due to his father’s occupation as a truck driver. He has lived in Chicago since 1992. Joseph began to play guitar 20 years ago and has been a street musician for 15 years. Performing music on the street, he feels, has allowed him to make his profession more fun. Regularly, he performs with fellow musicians Norman and Ronald Christian. When he is not performing as a street musician, he plays at private parties and concert venues. He mostly sings and plays covers.

To Joseph, perhaps the most inspirational aspect of performing music on the street, is the reactions from his audience. He loves to see children get excited, jump around, and clap their hands to the music. However, he does get discouraged when people don’t appreciate his talents. He believes, “we were born on this earth to do what we do and we do it proudly.”


Andrew Foertsch-Jans

Guitarist and vocalist | Chicago, Illinois

Andrew has lived in Chicago his whole life and is now a third-year at the University of Chicago. He has been playing guitar seriously for about four years but just began busking in the summer of ’09. He has also trained in trumpet and has experience with bass, harmonica, and accordion.

Andrew plays rock and roll covers as well as a few blues standards. When asked of his reasons for becoming a street performer, he says, “Look, man, I’m just trying to dig it. And when I’m playing, I’m trying to find the people who are just trying to dig it too, so that we can all just try to dig it. That’s the real American dream.”


Cortez Harrington

Percussionist | Chicago, Illinois

A native Chicagoan, Cortez has been playing bucket drums for eight years, since his friend encouraged him to start playing the drums. Along with Tim, Cortez is a member of the bucket drum performance group, “Positive Vibration.”



Meisha Herron

Vocalist and Guitarist | Chicago, Illinois
Website: www.meishaherron.com

Meisha is a musician and singer/songwriter that has performed with notable blues artists Lovie Lee, Jimmy Burns and Shirley King, as well as with jazz vocalist, Maggie Brown, to name a few. She studied creative writing and took private guitar lessons at Columbia College. Her musical influences are varied, from Prince to Joan Armatrading to Nina Simone.

She is currently working on new material for her upcoming album, as she continues to play out in the city as a troubadour and on stage at venues such as The Joynt, Reggies, Underground Wonderbar, Kingston Mines, WineStyles, Hothouse, Cleo’s, Cafe Enuii, The Coffeehouse, HumanThread Art Gallery and her weekly Sunday praise and worship ensemble gig.


Allen Holland

Vocalist, steel drum player and guitarist | Seneca, South Carolina

Allen regularly performs in several cities, particularly Chicago and Atlanta. He is very active in supporting the cause of street performers. Allen loves to perform island music…anytime…anywhere…and anyplace. The steel pan is his canvas to try and “paint a masterpiece of the world through clear and simple perspective…that perspective is one of peace, love, and harmony.”


Chris James

Guitarist and vocalist | Shreveport, Louisiana

Chris is a talented guitarist who also plays violin and harmonica. He joined the U.S. Navy from 2006-2010, where he won a talent show for his guitar playing aboard the USS George Washington. He relocated to Chicago in June 2010 and currently is a music student.

He performs regularly with his band, Wall of Rhythm, which features Chris on guitar and vocals and his friends, Greg and Rhythm, who play djembe and another type of large African drum. Wall of Rhythm’s shows feature original improvisation, as well as cover songs from artists such as Marvin Gaye, Robin Thicke and Jimi Hendrix.


Michael Jette

Accordionist | Providence, Rhode Island

Michael grew up in Rhode Island where he first began playing accordion. He has been performing on the streets of Chicago for 18 years. His repertoire consists mostly of polkas.


Mark Johnson

Percussionist | Chicago, Illinois


Fritz Legros

Guitarist, vocalist, harmonica player and percussionist | Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Fritz has been playing guitar for as long as he can remember. He grew up in Haiti, and at the young age of 15 played guitar in the National Orchestra. He began to play guitar on the street in New York City in 1990. Since 1995, he has been performing in Chicago, creating rhythm with his feet, harmony with his guitar, and melody with his voice or his harmonica. He mostly plays original songs, which are often influenced by his experience as a musician in Haiti.

He enjoys being a street musician. His role as a street musician allows him to achieve a certain “closeness with people.” Unlike many critically acclaimed performers who are often idolized, Fritz feels that his audience sees him as a person. He says, “they see you perform and they’re inspired.” It is this mental and spiritual stimulation that his music creates that gives Fritz satisfaction.


Maverick

Guitarist and vocalist | Chicago, Illinois


Talon McKinney

Saxophonist


Robert O’Shall

Guitarist, vocalist and mandolin player | Texas

Born in Texas, Robert was raised in Nevada. Robert has been playing guitar and bass for ten years and recently began playing mandolin. He has been a street musician for several years.

“Every night is an adventure as a street musician,” he says. “Every day you see and meet new people.”


Remington Pettygrove

Guitarist, vocalist and harmonica player | Florida

Remington began writing songs in the fall 2004 while studying at DePaul University. Knowing little about the songwriting process, he relied heavily on his emotions to give life to his lyrics. He soon began performing his new songs in Chicago’s subway stations and was happily surprised to find that many received his music warmly. Remy is currently recording his first full length CD.


Leyla I. Royale

Cellist | Chicago, Illinois
www.leylairoyale.com
www.chicagostreetstrings.com

Leyla I. Royale is a classically trained cellist and composer hailing from Chicago, IL. She has 15 years of study on her instrument and recently graduated from Columbia College Chicago, having studied both music composition & audio production.

A few years after she started playing classical cello, Leyla stumbled into her first rock show as an early teenager at the Metro, and from there she was hooked into the local Chicago music scene and has been ever since. She works now as a cellist specializing in performing, recording, and arranging for local Chicago rock, hip hop, indie, etc. acts.

Leyla has worked with artists such as Kill Hannah, Amanda Palmer, Michael Jade, V is for Villains, etc. and has played venues such as the Metro, House of Blues, the Chicago Theatre, Webster Hall in New York City, and at South by Southwest 2013. She is also a member of Chicago Americana group Cobalt and the Hired Guns.

In 2011, Leyla started her career as a street performer by busking Bach solo on Michigan Avenue & State Street. In this year she also co founded the group Chicago Street Strings with violinist Hannah Watson; together they perform for weddings, private parties, farmers markets, and of course on the street when the weather’s right.

You can find more info about Leyla I. Royale at www.leylairoyale.com and www.chicagostreetstrings.com.


Dave Russell

Percussionist | Chicago, Illinois

Dave Russell has played drums for decades, drumming regularly for such names as Buddy Guy and Son Seals. He is also the author numerous drumming instructional books, CDs and DVDs. He can often be found performing at Red Line subway stops with the Tin Man.


Norman Smith

Vocalist | Chicago, Illinois

Originally from Chicago, Norman began singing in his high school chorus. He is a tenured street musician, having been singing in the subway since 1993. Along with fellow street musicians, Joseph and Ronald Christian, the three musicians have become known for their rendition of Stand By Me and other popular tunes. In addition to performing on the streets, he sings at private events.

What Norman loves the most about performing street music, is being able to watch the reactions of passers-by, especially when he can tell that his music makes someone’s day. He wishes that there were more subway stops open to street musicians.


Jerome Tolliver

Trombonist | Chicago, Illinois

Jerome began playing the trombone in his school band when he was 13. He has been performing in a horn trio for a year outside of the Chicago Art Institute. In addition to performing, Jerome is a prolific composer. He is currently attending Chicago State College.

His love of performing music as a street musician is fueled by the positive reactions he receives from his audiences.


Maria Tampico

Guitarist, violinist, vocalist and tapper


Keithen Terrell

Guitarist and vocalist | Chicago, Illinois

Born in Chicago, Keithen was raised in Schlater, Mississippi. His first instrument was the keyboard until a “longing in [his] soul” caused him to teach himself guitar. He is an active musician and in addition to playing regularly at the Chicago Redline stops, you can find him performing at local clubs and bars, including Bar Louie and Winestyles.

Keithen feels that the best part of being a street musician is to see people’s reactions as they stroll by him in the subway. He says that playing there allows him to practice and develop a stage presence in front of a crowd. He hopes that people realize that street and subway musicians are “artists who love to do what [they] do.”


Howard Wallace

Percussionist | Chicago, Illinois

Howard joins Tim and Cortez as a member of the bucket drum performance group, “Positive Vibration.” Originally from Chicago, Howard has been performing bucket drums for four years and loves playing music on the streets of Chicago.


Hannah Watson

Violinist | Barrington, Illinois
Website: www.hannahkwatson.com

When asked, “what is one amazing thing that few know about you?,” Hannah is likely to reply “I can fold my ear lobes up and stuff them into my ear, they will then stay there, and that way I can tune out the world to ‘hear’ the next piece of music that I am to write.”

Born into a musical family in 1988, Hannah was playing piano and violin by ten. She was fiddling, singing, dancing and drawing in advanced classes throughout high school in Barrington, IL. She completed a 5-year Bachelor of Music degree in Music Composition from Columbia College Chicago in 2012. Hannah studied composition with many distinguished professors including Marcos Balter, Ilya Levinson, Mark Watters and Andy Hill. She also studied under violinists Diane Delin, Edgar Gabriel, and David Yonan.

From “oi” punk-infused country tunes to Shosty’s 5th symphony – from top 40 hits to an electronically twisted Dvorak string quartet, Hannah slides from genre to genre like well-executed glissandi.


Thomas White

Guitarist and vocalist | Chicago, Illinois

Thomas White is a native Chicagoan. He has been playing the guitar for 30 years and has been a street musician for several years. To Thomas, his music is therapeutic to both himself and to those around him. He says, “I love it when people value what I do.”


Jerry Williams

Saxophonist | Chicago, Illinois

Although Jerry has been playing street music for only the past few years, he has played alto sax since he was 11 years old. Originally from Chicago, Jerry performs for several hours every day outside of the Chicago Art Institute. He also plays music at private venues and events, including having performed for a wedding at The Drake Hotel. Jerry is currently attending Northern Illinois University for music performance.

“You never know who’s going to hear you,” says Jerry when asked to describe some of the thrills of playing street music.