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The KPAC Blog features classical music news, reviews, and analysis from South Texas and around the world.

Just A Man, His Piano And A Journey Across America

Paul Flahive

Visitors to the Alamo were greeted by some mid-day busking (street performing) yesterday morning.  Dotan Negrin has been hauling his upright piano all across the country for more than two years, performing on streets from New York to here in San Antonio.

Parked illegally next to the Alamo, Negrin unloaded his Baldwin piano from a fire-engine red van.

The compact upright piano has a laminated map velcroed to one side showing all the places Negrin has gone on his travels.

“I bought this one because its sound. I've actually gone through about six to seven different pianos, I think, in the last three years or so," he said.

The 26 year old shows up at a busy city street, hops out, unloads his piano and plays for loose change and the experience.  He has been documenting his experiences on his website pianoacrossamerica.com, where he has such stories as: “How to Push your Piano through New York City," and the slightly more intimidating “The Night I got Robbed by An Oxycotin Addict.”

"Originally I did this so I could just live a different kind of lifestyle," Negrin said. "I wanted to do something extraordinary with my life  rather than the 9-5 I had back in New York."

Negrin attempted to put his theater degree to work in New York by standing in lines waiting to audition for roles. The role he most often played, sadly, was that of struggling actor. 

Now two years later, he is meeting new people everyday, sleeping on people's couches through couchsurfing.org and paying for things through donations; he seems to be enjoying himself. 

A skeptical police officer looked on as he pushes his piano up the closed-off Alamo plaza street.

“Actually the last time I was here a police officer came up and took pictures. He was like a tourist," said Negrin.

Negrin sandwiched this performance between doing his laundry (which were still at the Laundromat) and running errands like buying another tire for his van.  He said they were heading off to Mexico that afternoon and were going to need it.   

While his parents aren’t wild about his career path, he views it as almost a mission to try and get others to do something amazing with their lives.

Negrin only played for about 20 minutes since he had a schedule to keep -- and also he was concerned about his illegally parked van.

Paul Flahive can be reached at Paul@tpr.org and on Twitter at @paulflahive