Manhattan Mini Storage and a Crazy Paino Guy: Perfect Together

If you missed our previous post and press release, over here at Manhattan Mini Storage we are very excited to have to great opportunity to sponsor one of the many true individuals in NYC who help make our fair city the incredible and magical place it is.

Today we sat down with Colin Huggins, the “Crazy Piano Guy”  who stores his many street performing pianos in our various Manhattan Mini Storage  facilities to talk to him about his music, his life, and of course, his piano storage needs!

MMS: Hi Colin! How are you today?

Good! a little stressed as always.. but something’s never change… ha

MMS:  Oh indeed!  I just want to start by saying how excited we are to have hooked up with you and to be able to help you perform and spread the music to NY. 

Me too! Glad you appreciate it!

MMS: Oh we do and thanks for taking the time to talk to us for the blog. 

Sure

MMS: So, how long have you been playing piano? 

I started when I was 16- a little late for most classical pianists’ standards.

MMS: But it works! And you are classically trained?  

Yes, I studied in Germany.

MMS:  Now, do you play any other instruments? 

Only Guitar.  I played guitar before piano, but would never play seriously at this point in my life.

MMS: Now you’re not originally from NY , right? How did you get here? 

Well, long story… I grew up in Atlanta GA and was dying to get out since I was about 9. After moving around a bit, I, at last, settled in Boston when I was 21. About 6 years ago when I had some job opportunities offered to me, I moved here.

MMS: Do you consider yourself a New Yorker now? 

Somewhat, I still often feel like a transplant. Not that I don’t feel welcome here. But as far as I can tell, to be a New Yorker, you must be from New York. I am clearly a mix of Boston and Atlanta.

MMS: Ha, but that IS NY at its finest! So, can you tell us: how did this all come about? How did you start to perform in the parks and subways? 

Well, I’d been a professional pianist in NYC for about 4 years and I’d experimented with different artistic projects and performances. One of the most important parts of art for me was the audience. I never really liked performances where the audience consisted of friends and family of the performers. It always seemed like such a waste. In my opinion Art isn’t really art until it draws a completely diverse audience. The only place where I saw this was with great street performers, particularly a few of the different Break dance crews I saw in Times Square. After having seen that for years I decided I needed to do something similar; something that created just as much of a spectacle. Without a doubt, this is it.

MMS: Why free music? Why not a bar gig or something that really pays? 

Ha, Bars don’t pay. They are the worst places to play music. I also get far more publicity from this than I could from any orchestra position or wedding gig or any “well paid” gig

MMS: So you found more pianos? From where? 

Craigslist generally. I had a couples other donated

MMS: How many are there now? 

10

MMS: And why did you choose Manhattan Mini Storage? 

Manhattan Mini Storage  has the most convenient locations for my purposes. I really couldn’t have done this without them.

MMS: Anything else in your storage units or just pianos? 

Just other stuff for these shows. Tap boards, drum equipment, etc.

MMS: So you have expanded, right? It’s not just you and a piano anymore: 

Yes, sometimes I’m still by myself. But when I really want a big show, I bring out tap dancers and a drummer. We’ve created a really great show!

MMS: I know! It’s is so great to see what you guys do! What is your favorite song to play? 

Lately, I’ve been enjoying “Sign Sealed Delivered”,  but it changes all the time

MMS: Now what is the reaction that you get from most people? 

All sorts of stuff… usually most folks are simply excited to see a great show with a real piano in a place where they never expected to see it.

MMS: Well, how DO you get those pianos down into the subway? 

Ha, should I give out the secret? I think the mystery might still be important. Of course, if someone should see me down there, they could always drop some money in the bucket and I might just  tell you about it.

MMS: Ah, he keeps the mystery alive! Ok, so what is the craziest thing that you have seen while playing? 

Well, there’s all the usual stuff. People dressed up in weird costumes for no good reason and all the wacky things that happen only in New York. But the craziest thing I ever saw would have to be a little more unexpected than that:

On one of my first trips down into the subway, there was a homeless woman who would just not leave me alone. She was asking for change, directions and continued bugging me about how I got the piano down there. Asking once is fine, but nonstop for a good 20 minutes can be troublesome.

I got requested to play “O Mio Babbino Caro” which I knew, but still needed music to play unfortunately. Then, another homeless person who had been bugging me earlier and also driving off several listeners was sitting on the bench near me and said that he knew the song and would like to play.  At this point, I’d had enough so I got up from the piano and said, “Fine, play it!” and stepped away from the piano.

Believe it or not, the guy actually did play it. Then even more astonishing, the woman who wouldn’t leave me alone started SINGING the whole aria! They then finished, people clapped and they both left, completely satisfied, not asking for anything else. All I could think was, “It just goes to show, the feeling one gets creating art and really being appreciated for it, is a satisfaction beyond compare.”

MMS:  How unexpectently amazing!  That is just so NY! ….So what’s next?

Not sure. I’d like to do some recording and see if I can create any success in the music industry, but it’s a long shot. Otherwise, I’ll just try and surprise you. As I’ve been doing……

***

Remember to check out the show schedule on Colin’s website to find out where Manhattan Mini Storage will be sponsoring the next show so you too can be part of the “Crazy Piano Guy” experience. We might just have more of this NY attraction up our sleeves too, so you bette stay tuned!

Do you know of other great stories that could happen only in NY? Of another amazing individual that does something unexpected in our city?  Drop us a line and let us know!