Dec 032003
Authors: Chris Kampfe

There is only one man on stage. Sideburns pointed and long black

hair tucked under his even blacker hat, he steps up to what looks

like a plumber’s nightmare. A set of metal pipes twisting around

each other, wrapped in wires, strings, buttons and whatever else

might be found in a handyman’s junk drawer.

From a small jar in front of him, the man produces what appears

to be a violin bow. As the audience silently watches, he embraces

the pipe apparatus as if it was an upright bass and draws the bow

across a string that runs from top to bottom of the pipes that

stand nearly a foot above his head.

Instead of the anticipated grinding metal, the anxious ears of

the audience hear what appears to be a lone cello melody. Swaying

next to the pipes he plays a few bars of the classical piece and

before anyone in the audience can think to ask their neighbor what

is going on, the bow is dropped, a string is slapped and the real

show has begun.

The man onstage is Mike Silverman, more prominently known as

That 1 Guy.

Incorporating elements of funk, classical, techno and rock while

keeping a driving bass beat constant, Silverman’s show explores

myriad musical realms- all created through the pipes.

Throughout the show Silverman will slap, pluck and draw the

strings, while doing everything from playing the pipes with

drumsticks to strumming an old carpenters saw with a bow.

Silverman played mostly original pieces, but did incorporate

teases from “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” Black Sabbath’s “Iron

Man” and the theme to “I Dream of Genie.”

On some pieces Silverman accompanies the music vocally with a

dry monotone voice, which he said some compare to vocalist John

McCrea of the band Cake. Lyrically, Silverman’s words are difficult

to draw meaning from.

“I incorporate words in my songs not as much for their meanings,

but for their sound,” Silverman said. “I like the way words sound

and try to use them in my music rhythmically.”

While the music was half the show, the visual spectacle of

Silverman playing the pipes was the other half and during the last

song of the night, smoke poured out the top of the pipes to

accompany the music visually.

Hailing from the San Francisco Bay area, Silverman, 32,

constructed his pipes nearly 10 years ago and has been playing them

ever since.

“I was trained as a classical bassist,” Silverman said. “As I

got more and more involved in music, I wanted to add sounds to my

music that the bass couldn’t produce. It just made sense for me to

create something that could.”

When asked to describe his unique style, Silverman said it was

“somewhere in between Frank Zappa and Count Basie.” Just exactly

where in between the two is another question.

Silverman’s act came to the Starlight Theater last Saturday as a

co-headliner to the acclaimed Drums and Tuba. The three-piece

jazz-funk-rock ensemble from Austin, Texas composed of drums, tuba

and guitar, kept the audience equally pleased throughout the


While music and demanding tour schedules may wear away at the

outside lives of traveling musicians, Silverman keeps some old

interests a priority.

“I’ll be back in the Bay area around the holidays,” Silverman

said. “I need to be back for the Lord of the Rings release.”

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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