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On the Pipe

One-man band's homemade instrument makes some noise.

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That 1 Guy’s instrument of choice is a seven-foot contraption called the Magic Pipe, which looks suspiciously like the world’s biggest bong. The homemade device includes processors, kick-drum pedals, and bass strings. It also spouts a cloud of smoke. “It’s a work-in-progress,” says Mike Silverman, the one-man-band behind That 1 Guy. “I’m always looking for more sounds. It just sort of evolved into this thing.”

The 35-year-old oddball’s music career began as a bass player in various jazz combos around San Francisco. But he soon tired of the scene and set out on his own. First stop: Home Depot. “I went up and down the aisles and saw things that might work,” he says. “It took a lot of trial and error.” The Magic Pipe -- Silverman’s first attempt at crafting his own instrument -- turned out to be everything he needed<\!s>.<\!s>.<\!s>. and more. “There are hundreds of possible sounds,” he says.

In 2003, Silverman -- in typical one-man-show mode -- wrote, recorded, and produced his debut album, Songs in the Key of Beotch. On last year’s Live in the Land of Oz DVD, he worked the Magic Pipe as if it were a giant, metal stand-up bass. Silverman is now on tour, testing new songs -- which sound like Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart’s avant-garde musings -- for his sophomore CD, due later this year. “I miss playing with other musicians sometimes,” he says. “But I do a lot of improvising. I really enjoy digging stuff out of myself.”
Wed., Feb. 14, 9 p.m.

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