PORTLAND, Maine — A sporadic drizzle Friday didn’t keep Dotan Negrin from adding Portland to the list of cities he has entertained with tunes played on his upright piano.
Passers-by stopped Friday to watch Negrin, a New York City-based performer, who travels around the country in a van with his 2-year-old dog Brando, playing a wooden, upright piano. Brando paced back and forth on the top of the piano, barking occasionally as Negrin banged out a refrain from Scott Joplin’s “The Entertainer.”
Negrin said he has played in more than 45 cities across the country since he began traveling with the piano in April 2011. He began his travels because he said he wasn’t feeling fulfilled by his life in New York, and wanted a change.
“I asked myself, if I could do anything in the world, what would it be?” Negrin said. “I wanted to be able to travel, make music and meet people. I decided to just do it.”
Negrin bought his piano for $400, bought a truck to travel in, and left New York with Brando. Since then, he has logged thousands of miles, dozens of cities and is currently on his third such trip.
Despite the hassle of lugging his instrument around, Negrin said he much prefers his heavy, unwieldy piano to a more portable keyboard.
“It’s totally different when you have live strings vibrating,” he said. “Those strings are constantly changing. They’re not perfect, which is why it’s so beautiful.”
Negrin said he makes enough money with his street performing to pay for gas and save up a little as well. He said his goal is to be able to make a living at what he loves to do — travel and play music for people.
Negrin keeps a blog where he writes about his travels, his finances and his music.