The Elusive Vocal Saxophone
I have been a vocal percussionist (otherwise known as a beatboxer) since I was in high school. However, it wasn’t until I studied music in Germany that I was encouraged by Fried Dähn – one of my professors, who would eventually become my band mate – to refine my beatboxing skills enough to endure performing as part of a normal-length live concert. Until then I had kept my beatboxing within the realm of the electronic music studio and my public performances had been limited to short interludes between readings at poetry slams. With Fried’s encouragement I expanded my endurance and my repertoire of sounds, expanding on my snare rim, turntable, and vocal trumpet techniques.
In my years as a beatboxer I have seen Kenny Mohammad (the so-called “human orchestra”) perform twice and I have also watched my fair share of beatbox battles online. In fact, Berlin, Germany is host to international beatbox competitions. So you can imagine my surprise when last week in Berlin, Maryland at the Globe theater I encountered the amazing vocalizations of Douglas Everton, the front man of the Hot Buttered Nuggets.
Mr. Everton’s execution of vocal trumpet was flawless, and his vocal banjo and tuba were highly entertaining. But what really blew me away and literally had my jaw dropping and eyes popping out of my head was his remarkably accurate tenor saxophone. I hope you can appreciate the sheer awe I experienced listening to a man create the sound of a saxophone. Many a time I had pondered which instruments must be impossible to imitate with the human voice, and saxophone was always at the top of my list.
Douglas Everton, I salute you. Your saxophone impression inspired my imagination and expanded what I thought humanly musically possible. This video of the Hot Buttered Nuggets performing “Chinatown” at the Globe in Berlin, Maryland (April 9th, 2010) should hopefully transport some of the magic of his proficient ability.