Filed Under:

A Honky-Tonk Duo Takes The Piano Outdoors

Play associated audio

Weekend Edition continues its series on the sounds of music al fresco with a musical act founded on a very inconvenient choice. You'd think a street musician would want to travel light when selecting an instrument — say, a ukulele, a violin, maybe a guitar. But a piano?

"It's about 300 pounds," says Kirby Lee Hammel. "Only one pulled muscle in the last year and a half, I think."

Hammel is one half of Clangin' & Bangin', a dynamic and muscular duo that works the streets of San Francisco and the Bay Area. Hammel's counterpart in the band is drummer Jake Alexander.

"It kind of started as a joke in a way, dragging out a huge piano, and I think the first time we did it we made, like $200 in two hours," Alexander says. "We thought, 'Man, we should keep doing this.' We got a lot of pity tips."

"You've got to have a real piano; it just gets that authentic sound," Hammel says. "We want it to ring out, so we take all the top off, we take the bottom front board off, and we also put it up on a 2-by-4 so it kind of bounces off that concrete below us." He adds, "It actually helps us get gigs because we don't need any amps."

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit

WAMU 88.5

Anne Tyler: "A Spool Of Blue Thread" (Rebroadcast)

In her first live radio interview ever, Pulitzer Prize winning author Anne Tyler joins Diane to talk about her 20th novel, "A Spool of Blue Thread."


Fine Brine From Appalachia: The Fancy Mountain Salt That Chefs Prize

An artisanal salt producer is processing brine from ancient ocean deposits below West Virgina's mountains. The company, J.Q. Dickinson Salt-Works, ships to top chefs who value the salt's minerality.

Downed Russian Warplane Highlights Regional Divide On Syria

Hugh Pope, director of communications and outreach at the International Crisis Group in Brussels, explains the growing divide between Turkey and Russia on their priorities inside Syria.

From Takeout To Breakups: Apps Can Deliver Anything, For A Price

Convenience is at an all-time premium — and a lot of smartphone apps promise to make many of the things we do every day easier. In a time-crunch or sheer laziness, how far will the apps take us?

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.