DIY Hero: Old Thai Street Performer April 08, 2011 20:11 1 Comment

When I first visited Thailand in 2007, I was blown away by old man busking in the midst of massive street market in Chiang Mai. He plucked single notes from a squarish, wooden-fretted guitar and sang in that melismatic head voice that issues so effortlessly from Thai vocal chords.  But what really made me stop to stare was that his whole setup--from the small speaker-turned-microphone he sang into to the PA system mounted on his motorized cart--appeared to be hand made. I didn't have a camera on me at the time, so I vowed to come back as soon as I could and prayed I would be able to find him again when I did. "As soon as I could" turned out to be last December (2010) and I was thrilled to find the man in the same exact spot, this time playing amplified violin. Although I felt a little like a paparazzo circling him and his contraptions taking photos, I overcame my reluctance enough to get a few good shots. So, here is my photo tribute to the incredible ingenuity and skill of a man who, for lack of a better name, I must refer to as "Old Man DIY."

thai street performer
A true DIY hero.
DIY instruments
The photo album in center shows the man crafting these instruments himself. (Check out the action on that guitar!)
old man diy playing guitar
This shows Old Man DIY as I first saw him in 2007. I love the simplicity and utility of mounting the vocal microphone right on the guitar. It only works with a very specific guitar and posture combination, though!
foot pedal bell
This is a bell that would vibrate when he stomped the wood supporting it. I wish I had taken a better picture of this contraption, but it appears that he has some sort of pickup running from the container around the bell.
old man diy's cart
I'm not quite sure what the handles with buttons do. I assumed the cart was motorized, but now I don't see any evidence of that. Ideas?
Cart-mounted speakers. Brilliant!
audio mixer
Little mixer.
thai street drummer chiang mai
The drummer for a blind kazoo band down the street.