Spotlight Iowa City: Making sidewalk music


SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Click here to view an exclusive photo slideshow.

(opens in new window)

For UI sophomore and street performer Andrew Wagner, that means a little square of bricks on the Pedestrian Mall next to Brothers Bar & Grill. It’s perfect: not too noisy, with a lot of foot traffic.

“It’s scenic in terms of the people who walk by,” he said. “You see a lot of interesting things. Sometimes people are really into [my] music and dance, or sit down and talk.”

On a given weekend, those passersby milling around can hear the strum of the 19-year-old’s guitar, maybe playing the Dave Matthews Band’s “Number 41.”

He took to music pretty naturally when he started piano lessons in the second grade, while brother Zach and father Dave took guitar lessons. But by high school, the economics major had switched over to the guitar, too. The attraction to music was in being able to learn something and do it well, said Andrew Wagner, who sports short, brown buzzed hair.

Music isn’t so seemingly far from Wagner’s economics major, either. Both involve the study of people, their perspectives, and how they interact with one another. And “as long as it doesn’t interfere with school,” Dave Wagner doesn’t have a problem with it, he said.

Rather than applying for basic employment during the school year, Andrew Wagner’s only income is through performing. The amount of time he plays is based on when he needs money. On a weekend night, and for about four or five hours of play, he said he can make between $50 to $60. Another factor in how much money he receives lies in the number of other street performers who are out showcasing their talents.

“We tend to crowd each other out,” he said.

Though the Ped Mall can be a risky place after dark, with intoxicated students stumbling around and picking fights, Wagner says it’s all about the environment.

“I don’t want to be the person I see getting into a fight and having a bottle smashed over his head,” he said. “If I can see it, I smile, then I go back to what I enjoy doing the most.”

He also frequently plays on a bench outside of his dorm at Hillcrest Residence Hall. In the evening, residents can hear his guitar plucking as well as his voice, strained with emotion, reverberating around the courtyard.

UI freshman Karen Augustyn is one of the many in the area who can hear Wagner from her first-floor room in the dorm.

“I think it is interesting to get his music out there because a university is a good place to get your name known,” Augustyn said.

People have reacted differently to his music. Some give him high-fives, others request music to dance to. Wagner reminisced over one night when a man asked him to play Dave Matthews Band’s “Crash into me” for $15 to slow dance with his girlfriend on the Ped Mall.

“They looked really happy,” he said. “That’s the point — to make people happy.”

> Share your thoughts! Click here to write a Letter to the Editor.

comments powered by Disqus
Daily Iowan Advertising
Today's Display Ads | Today's Classifieds | Advertising Info

Follow the DI through:

Sponsored Links  
T-Shirt Design  
Insurance Leads Charlotte Web Design
Health Insurance Leads Home Equity Loans
Home Service Guides  
Life Insurance DMI Furniture
Custom Magnets Buy a text ad


Privacy Policy (8/15/07) | Terms of Use (4/28/08) | Content Submission Agreement (8/23/07) | Copyright Compliance Policy (8/25/07) | RSS Terms of Use

Copyright © The Daily Iowan, All Rights Reserved.