Mr. B pedals his 'boogie woogie' piano across Michigan

Jul 12, 2011

A quintet of musicians has been traveling across the state for the past 10 days. They don’t have a tour van or a u-haul stuffed with instruments. Instead, the guys are pedaling their bikes from Holland to Detroit…with their instruments in tow! They're also raising money for various charities along the way.

The man behind the JoyBox Express tour is Ann Arbor-musician Mark Braun, aka Mr. B. We caught up with the traveling troubadour and his quartet en route from Canton to Livonia.

This is the third time Braun's group has hauled their instruments across the state.

"There have  actually been a fair amount of bands that are doing the same thing right now with mandolins and guitars, or flutes and harmonicas, but none of them are taking with them a 352 pound piano and a string base guitar, set of drums…it’s a pretty spectacular thing."

Throughout the tour they play blues and jazz tunes as well as boogie woogie. 

Braun says they also "partner with groups as we travel through various towns across the state."  They especially try to work with groups that focus on providing access to arts or athletic programs for kids. The JoyBox Express also does several group rides throughout their two-week tour. People who want to participate in the group ride do so by raising money for a charity of their choice.

"This is about playing music in unexpected places for people. Just brightening up a life - one, two, three, four people at a time," says Braun.

"If we see someone painting a house, or sitting on a porch or just walking about and we think that they need to have their day cheered, we’ll stop right there and play them a tune right there on the spot. We’ve done it dozens of times."