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Vibraphonist Lugs His Picnic-Table-Sized Instrument Around Chicago

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And now to The World's A Stage, our summer series, taking us to a variety of outdoor performances. We're going to meet a man who lugs a percussion instrument about the size of a picnic table to a busy Chicago street corner to entertain passersby. Let's listen.

PREYAS ROY: We're here at the corner of Michigan and Randolph in downtown Chicago. It's a really live intersection. There's folks that work here, tourists, people in the city on business, panhandlers, and bums and junkies and cops.

My name is Preyas Roy and I play the vibraphone. It's a big instrument, weighs about 110 pounds. I'm out here playing for tips. I do this most days, basically whenever it's not raining.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

ROY: (Playing vibraphone).

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Bloody genius, OK? He has somehow turned a classic John Lennon tune, "Come Together," into, like, I don't know, some ethereal, hippy-dippy acid thing. It sounds great.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

ROY: (Playing vibraphone).

I play for about eight or 10 hours every day. Some people stop and listen. Usually when they stop and listen, they'll tip something. But you really can't tell who's going to be coming with a $20 or $50 bill.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

ROY: (Playing vibraphone).

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: It's my first time in Chicago. And I'm here for a conference, so I just come down a train and check it out. And this is the first thing I see in Chicago. It's very cool.

ROY: (Playing vibraphone).

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #3: I like the contrast between the scene and the sound. Like, I was hearing from walking by - it sounds very elegant. And seeing it is very simplistic and more almost industrial. The contrast is beautiful.

ROY: You know, I do this because it's a way for me to make a living on my instrument. When I started doing it, you know, I needed an income right away. I couldn't wait to make connections and do the hustle. And so I started coming out every day, and it worked. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.