By: Juzzie Smith
My background was teaching music. Mostly harmonica and guitar from the ages of 16–26. I found my style from being able to play several instruments at the same time while teaching. Then when I became a father at 26-years-old, I decided to create my own style mixing blues with all genres. Playing on the streets and at markets all weekend every weekend is what created my voice and freedom to be a profound one-man band.
My One-Man Band Setup:
I play several guitars including lapslide. cigar box, nylon string, steel string, electric and ukulele. Around my neck I have my harmonica attached to a microphone with bluesy effects. Then my feet are my rhythm section — left foot keeps the beat from the box drum I’m sitting on and right foot has shaker and tambourine. I also juggle percussion with Chucka Chuks which has made my music go viral all over the world.
When I write, often a song will start with a groove and melody. I will create the song and work on the structure and feel. Then I will add lyrics to the melody and then put it all together.
My first time busking was terrible as I couldn’t hear myself so I made about 50 cents. In preparation, I then recognized, it is great to practice drum rhythms as I am usually doing four different rhythms at a time. Also walking is very healthy and your feet are the beat. You can practice beat boxing or humming to the rhythm of your feet. This really helped me in honing my craft.
My plan is always to enjoy what I do. Play places I love to be. I also need to know how much I can play before getting exhausted. It’s also very important to be creative and make time to grow musically.
I love to connect with people and bring them to feeling joy-full. Music is a great way to break through people beliefs and let them know they are amazing. Kids love what I do and to watch people’s reaction to kids being free and loving life shows us that we come from joy — we just have to connect back to our joy.
Ultimately you have to look after yourself. Play to support people. Music is energy so don’t play if you are depressed or angry. Connect to people and have fun.
Article in collaboration with Jeff Gorra — Artist Waves.