That 1 Guy
2639 Poplar St
Philadelphia, PA, 19130
This event is 21 and over
Watch & Listen
That 1 Guy
"Funky Bean," "Buttmachine," Mustaches and Laser beams. It reads like a page out of a Dr. Seuss book, but for Mike Silverman, better known as That 1 Guy, it is just the reality he was searching for.
At 150-200 live shows each year people gather to see his mad scientist at work, curiously watching as That 1 Guy plugs an electric chord into the heel of a cowboy boot and transforms it into an instrument. He howls and the audience joins him like a pack of coyotes. They even chime in for the song "Weasel Pot Pie," offering rhymes to finish a line about "cinnamon scones": Twilight Zones? Al Capones? Frank Stallones? That 1 Guy laughs and offers the grin of a Cheshire cat. Here is a man who loves his job.
Silverman's back story is not dissimilar to other musicians: he grew up a music geek, influenced by his jazz musician father, and enrolled in San Francisco Conservatory of Music before joining the jazz scene himself as a sought-after percussive bassist. This is where the similarities end, though, and where That 1 Guy began. "In my case, being a bass player, I just felt very restricted by the instrument itself," he says. "I've always wanted to sound different and have my own sound. I was headed that way on the bass, but for me to fully realize what I was hearing in my head sonically I was going to have to do it my way."
That 1 Guy set off on his own, challenging the idea of what a one-man band can and should be. Rather than altering and adding on to the bass, he started from scratch, conceptualizing and creating the Magic Pipe. Standing at seven-feet-tall, the collection of swiveling pipes, metal gears, bass strings and electronic buttons forms the shape of a harp, but is played like a futuristic gutbucket.
With his curious instrument, creative performances and abundant talent, That 1 Guy soon caught the attention of promoters around the world and began touring heavily, wowing crowds at Big Day Out, Glastonbury, Monterrey Jazz Festival, Lowlands, Wakarusa and numerous other festivals.
Is he strange? Perhaps. But as Billboard noted, "In the case of Mike Silverman's slamming, futuristic funk act… the normal rules of biology just don't apply." It suits That 1 Guy just fine.
"I like being my own person," he says. "I didn't set out to be a weirdo but I'm starting to embrace it."
A Boy and his Tuba
Brian Wolff first discovered the tuba at a music store in Austin, Texas. It was the summer of 1994, one of the hottest July's on record. And Wolff, whether deranged by the heat or the instruments sumptuous curves and shiny bell, knew instantly and inexplicably that he would dedicate the rest of his life to the pursuit of Tuba Stardom.
Knowing little of the tuba itself, he had few preconceived notions of the tuba's roll in music and thus was under the impression that, as a creator of sound, the tuba had no limitations at all. Wolff quickly dove in, starting a band with old friend Tony Nozero. They called themselves Just Drums and Tuba. Soon they added a guitar player and summarily dropped the "Just" from their name.
The band developed a visceral blend of old brass and new electronics, and toured the world extensively with Cake, Primus, Ani DiFranco among many others, building a fierce underground following in the process. But as over 50% of the marriages in the United States are wont to do, Drums and Tuba eventually packed it in and went their separate ways. Determined to strike out on his own in pursuit of the aforementioned Tuba Stardom, Wolff conceived of a solo act appropriately entitled "Wolff."
He returned to New York and barricaded the door to his apartment, emerging only after he had perfected a solo electronic tuba rock show whereby all sounds were produced by, with, through, and on the tuba, created live by banging, beat-boxing or singing through it, and playing in a conventional manner. With the use of loop pedals, Wolff was able to tie all these disparate sounds together, forming music that was both out there (somewhere) and yet rooted in traditional song structures and strong melodies.
Soon enough, Wolff was joined by drummer Steve Garofano (Triple Delight and Vic Thrill), recently displaced from New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina. As a duo, Garofano and Wolff made an instantaneous connection, carving out a sound somewhere between rock and dance music, with Garofano's drums countering Wolff's Tuba-centric loops. The two have honed their sound at delirious late-night shows at Pianos every Friday and Saturday.
Wolff's friend David Harris once said there was a mythical brass ceiling in the sky that dictated how big a star you could become when you dedicate your life to playing the tuba. In this prophecy, Wolff would some day wrestle with those demons in the sky, shattering that brass ceiling. Not coincidentally, Wolff's new album, recorded by the legendary Paul Mahajan and Mark Ephraim (TV on the Radio, The Yeah Yeah Yeah's) is entitled The Brass Ceiling.
Copyright 2007 - 2012 Wolff and Tuba
North Star Bar
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