Some people might add a bell or sparkly tassels to their bicycle to make it unique. But Eric Rich and Corbin Baldwin added a full-size Weser Brothers piano.
Aptly named pianobike, the contraption—the piano is attached to the rear of a bike by a simple trailer—and the talented musicians who play it have been a mainstay at the Downtown Farmers Market. But now, after so many performances, Rich and Baldwin’s beloved rig is beginning to wear out, so they’re launching a Kickstarter campaign this month to fund the creation of a new pianobike.
The original piano was purchased from the KSL classifieds for $150, and Rich’s brother Coulson welded the trailer to the bike in just three days. Making the seemingly nonsensical setup functional was an intriguing challenge. “It’s interesting to take two objects that have very little relationship and try to weld them together to work in unison,” Rich says. “The two things, mechanically, are quite ingenious. Trying to put them together in the most streamlined way that works most efficiently has been a really fun project.”
Rich and Baldwin first started the pianobike project three years ago, after they met at the local Boing! Anarchist Collective. “When I heard Corbin play Chopin for the first time, I knew that he was gifted,” Rich says. “Music and piano really solidified our friendship that was previously based on similar worldviews.”
Baldwin and Rich have since developed a repertoire that ranges from classical to modern music. Rich is inspired by American minimalist composers like Philip Glass, and Baldwin says he’s recently been getting into some rags by Scott Joplin, but his favorite musician is still Chopin.
But this year, before a gig at the Sundance Film Festival, Baldwin and Rich discovered that their piano was in bad shape due to long hours in the sun and cold. “Taking it out of storage for Sundance, we found the whole piano frozen solid,” Rich says. “Corbin had faith that he could get it to work for the week of Sundance, and it did work, but we missed the opening weekend and compromised our performances because it was in terrible shape.”
Rich and Baldwin will be fundraising for four weeks on Kickstarter.com to fund the creation of a brand-new pianobike so that they can continue to wow audiences with their music. “We are replacing it out of need, not just to take on a cool project,” Rich says. Their goal is to raise $6,200, and they’re offering rewards, such as piano lessons from Corbin, and Polaroid photos of the building process.
This time around, Baldwin and Rich are making major changes to their pianobike creation. They plan to integrate a smaller Baldwin piano more fully into the frame of the bike, with the aim to cut air resistance. They will also incorporate disc brakes and load-bearing pneumatic wheels.
“[The changes] will ultimately allow us to take the pianobike to places we weren’t able to go before,” Rich says.