A homeless man was videotaped by a pedestrian in downtown Sarasota in Florida while playing his rendition of “Come Sail Away” by Styx and wowed passersby with his piano-playing skills. His video, taken by a pedestrian, was uploaded on Facebook and immediately went viral. More than 93,000 Facebook users had shared the video and 2.3 million people have viewed it.
Concert pianist Rich Ridenour and six of his friends spearheaded the project called Sarasota Keys Piano Project, a public piano project where they had six spinet pianos colorfully designed and painted by several local artists and placed at several locations in downtown Sarasota for anyone to play. The public art project was launched in January 2014.
From a few tips to a possible regular job
The 51-year old homeless man, identified as Donald Gould, was shocked by his instant fame. When interviewed by local media, he said he was only thinking of making a few dollars in tips so he played the piano. He was quite known in the community and people fondly calls him “Boone.” He had been using the public pianos regularly and usually plays about five songs a day, playing popular songs as well as classics.
He had been delighting the locals with his piano-playing skills for some time but it was only when a video went online that more people took notice. He said during his interview that he played the clarinet during his stint in the Marine Corps and went to study music education in a college in Michigan after his military service ended. However, financial problems put a stop to his education as he had to work several jobs. Later he started a family but his wife passed away early. During his bout with substance abuse, social services took away his son. Living aimlessly, he found himself in Sarasota, and actually played music for a time with another musician named Paul Lonardo.
Thanks to the video, someone asked Surf Shack, a local restaurant if they could offer Gould a job. It looks like he will be treating the restaurant’s customers from now on.
Image Copyright: By imthong89 / 123RF Stock Photo