If you happen to see a guy who looks part-man, part-robot marching through downtown singing ’80s and ’90s pop tunes, playing what looks almost like an accordion, remain calm. This is Scotty Maxx, and he is Santa Cruz’s roving one-man-band extraordinaire. Because his entire setup is strapped to his back, he rarely sticks to one place when he busks downtown, especially now, as the city gets more strict with where downtown buskers can play.
“I figured if you’re on the move, what are they going to do? Tell you to keep moving?” Maxx says. “There’s some confusion from people about what exactly is happening. Even when people know, they don’t quite realize what I’m doing and what the machine is doing—or why it’s happening.”
His musical setup, which evolved over time, includes two melodicas strapped to his vest—Maxx calls it the “melodicoat.” On his back, he has an air mattress pump filling the melodicas with air so he can sing and play at the same time. He is also wearing a power glove which plays drum beats and is amplified by a boom box, also on his vest. He plays tunes by Madonna, Paul Simon, Talking Heads, Hall and Oates, and Michael Jackson. Sound confusing? Just know that it’s awesome.
“It’s this whole suit, like Iron Man. It’s taken on a life of its own,” Maxx says.
Maxx still plays keys in two local bands, the Terrible, and Harry and the Hitmen. His solo project stems from his techie interests as much as his musical ones. He’s been doing it for five years, and is always looking for ways to improve it.
“A lot of it was driven by: What can I do? It’s soldering, it’s sowing, it’s figuring out how to move air around. It was a lot of fun for me to make it,” Maxx says. “I spend at least as much time tinkering with it and revising it than I do actually playing it.”
INFO: 9 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 17. Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $8. 429-6994.