Chicago Street Performers Drum Up Donations Along Michigan Ave
Playing with their backs to the traffic moving through Chicago’s Michigan Avenue, the “West-Side Bucket Boys” use buckets, sticks and crates to drum up donations from pedestrians.
Self-proclaimed hustlers, Michael Davis and James Stevenson, both employees of The Community Action Team located on the west-side of Chicago, have been performing along Chicago’s Magnificent Mile regularly for about seven years, preferring to position themselves in front of highly trafficked businesses such as Michigan Avenue’s Walgreens, Niketown, and Forever 21 in addition to popular tourist hotspots like Chicago’s Field Museum.
In addition to performing on the city’s streets and working with The Community Action Team, Davis remarked, “We do shows on side too, bookings, birthdays, Bar Mitzvahs, half-times shows, all that good stuff.”
Having a reputation as being disrespectful, unlicensed, and often times too young to be out school during the school year, many bucket boys like David and Stevenson are just young men looking to cash in on their drumming skills. Both Davis and Stevenson started working as bucket boys in the early teens having been introduced into it and groomed by older, more season bucket boys.
As stated by Stevenson, “You use talents to make something that’s out of nothing, and we use buckets and sticks and crates to make money. That’s what we do. Its like a talent God gave us, and its just automatic.” Stevenson also noted family obligations including his a nine-month daughter, “I got make sure she is good, and I got to make sure me and my baby momma is good.”