One Guitarist, One Truck, and 50 States
Strapped with nothing but an acoustic guitar, a microphone stand, an amplifier, and a used pickup truck with a few thousands miles on it, musician Pablo Picker has left behind his day job as a contractor and construction worker in Boston, and embarked on a self-funded solo tour where he’ll play tunes in 50 cities around the country, one in each state.
“I just wanted to get out there again,” said Picker, a self-proclaimed “busker” who used to spend time performing in Harvard Square, before putting down his guitar to focus on his construction business based in Jamaica Plain. “It’s the experiences that I remember from Harvard Square, that’s part of the reason I did this.”
That, and he just released a new acoustic album called “You. Me.” on iTunes last month.
Already three cities into his impromptu musical project, called the “Meter Tour,” where he plants his black truck in front of parking meters and local shops, busts out his instrument, and begins strumming chords for the passing pedestrians—he even plays in the pouring rain—Picker said although he has places mapped out, he doesn’t have a concrete plan for how he will approach the performances from state-to-state; he’s only concerned about plucking his way around the country, offering the pop-up art to anyone who wants to listen, and meeting people through his music to establish a sense of community.
“I’m hoping to discover a larger narrative around art and music and landscape and community, and put those all together. [I want to] feel a little bit more what it’s like to see space and meet people and share art and what comes from that,” he said.
Picker said his past experiences playing music have been limited to cafes and small stages, and the same people would always come out to see his shows. By planting himself in the back of his truck, a large banner draped along the side of the vehicle, he hopes to generate buzz on a national level.
“You have this access to people you would never have access to,” he said.
So far, Picker has visited Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, and even took a quick drive into Canada for a day, to share his tunes, and based on that small sampling of a public audience, he said his project has been well-received.
“In all three cities I have played, police cars have just driven by,” he said, referencing problems he may run into with permitting. “I’m just sitting on the edge of my truck, and it’s obvious what I’m doing, so they drove by and didn’t say anything.”
Cops aren’t the only ones OK with his plan. In Manchester, New Hampshire, he said workers came outside of their shops to listen to him play. “One of the businesses I was in front of was a cigar bar, and the owner came out and he was digging it. It’s very supportive so far, but it’s only three states.”
After two months of traveling, Picker plans on coming back full-circle, and put on a truck performance here in Boston.
“I think my truck will make it all the way,” he said.
Picker joins a growing list of Massachusetts natives who have decided to scrap their daily routines in favor of a country-wide soul-searching experience. Last month, Bostonology cofounder and Cambridge resident Peter Gorman quit his job, found someone to take over his apartment, and began a 10,000-mile bike trek from the East to West coast and back again.