Arts, Culture & Media

Here's a guitarist who just needs one string to jam

This story is about opportunity, or rather the lack of opportunity, and how one man dealt with it.

Player utilities

(This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.)

When the rest of the world is playing a six- or 12-string guitar, don't think you've failed if what you end up mastering is a one-string guitar.

That's exactly what happened to a Jamaican musician who goes by the name Brushy One-String.

His dad was Jamaican singer Freddie McKay. His mother was a back-up singer for Tina Turner. It seems the perfect background for a young man who wanted to go into music.

But his parents weren't around, hardly ever. That was frustrating for Brushy.

One of his sole possessions was a guitar under his bed with just one string. He persevered, picking tunes off the radio to play.

When he played in neighboring towns, Brush says people would exclaim, "'There's a new madman in town and he plays a one-stringed guitar.' And I was like, 'yeah,' and from that, the rest is history. Here I am."

This is also where the Brushy One-String story starts to get spackled with his own folklore.

He told me a story that goes like this:

"About three o'clock, I got a vision with a one-stringed guitar," he recounts. "This little short man came to me and said I could take this guitar. I said to him, 'Oh, I don't play an old man's guitar.' And he said, 'Oh, you can play this one.'

"I take the guitar and start to string it and started to play. Then the man turned three stars and vanished away. And the voice from the star said, 'take care of the guitar and the guitar will take care of you.' I woke in the morning and my uncle said, 'that's only one-string, you had a nightmare, nothing like that.'

"And his girlfriend said, 'ah, go and get your guitar, man, and wipe it off and play one string.' Dreams do come true."

Well, five million-plus hits on YouTube probably didn't figure into those dreams. But it was one of the benefits — after Brushy posted a video of himself a year ago playing a funky number called "Chicken in the Corn."

It's all because the only guitar he had as a kid was the one under his bed with one string. You make do with what you got.

Comments