The Crazy Donkey | July 19, 2011

Ken, deftly threading rush hour traffic in his silver Prius. Sequence of aggressive moves in the Long Island afternoon sunlight, an environment where turn signals are a sign of weakness. He attended Hofstra. Which is what you need to survive here: local knowledge, local attitude.

Bart is in the passenger seat behind me. White knuckles in his sly humor, as a dozen tail lights flash simultaneously and Ken cuts right, working the shoulder.

I don’t look up.

Sketch™ 7-string guitar is on my lap, and setting intonation via the Peterson strobe tuner requires full attention. We are meeting Tosin in 20 minutes.

Side door, back stage. “Here for Tosin.”

Bouncer in faded black indicates across the club through the open door.

Second time meeting Tosin. Handshake. “Let’s see the guitar.”

He holds it cautiously, a dangerously unfamiliar machine. Everything is so different — except for strings, there is no frame of reference. And no time or place to play it now…sound checks are in progress for the evening performance. We step back outside onto the patio where it is quiet.

I take photos with the Nikon 35 mm DSLR. There are no smart phones yet. Every aspect has been coordinated via email.

He is not yet a rock star but soon will be. At this moment he is shy almost, absorbed in the instrument, intent. I am unsure if he wants to keep it. “It’s pretty radical.”

I stuff earplugs into my skull and we head inside. Tosin vanishes into the dressing rooms. Ken, Bart, and I look at each other. There is no protocol for this. Floating in a venue with time to wait too long. It’s a professional work space where we are not integral to the machinery.

Tosin reappears with Sketch. He is excited now and wants us to meet Evan Brewer, soloist. Evan will mesmerize and destroy the audience with his two-handed simultaneous tapping on dual basses later this evening. But for now, he is Leonard Nimoy in a flannel shirt, with human emotions overflowing any semblance of Vulcan control. Evan vibrates on a different plane, animated and intense, overflowing with ideas and wanting to speak bass to me.

Tosin graciously introduces Evan as his mentor, a kindred spirit who helped him develop two-handed harmonic tap technique. Tosin on eight string guitar. Evan on basses.

Things are getting interesting.

I can see they both are realizing connections I do not yet understand. Their world is music, and mine is tools. I have created a new type of tool…and already they are turning it into music.

Learn about the history of Sketch.