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Bandwidth: Piano duo the John Brothers makes street performance pay

on March 25, 2011

Oakland residents John Morgan and John Boomer graduated from UC Berkeley in 2009. A few months later, they faced a decision: make some quick cash, or move back home.  They were unemployed, broke, and desperate to scrounge up the next month’s rent. On a lark, Morgan wheeled a full-size piano out to Macarthur BART station, sat down, and played.

Since then, the duo has played for tips as the John Brothers Piano Company at BART stations in Oakland and San Francisco. They play their original tunes — a combination of jazz, energetic stride piano, and amped-up classical — on a stripped-down piano from the Craigslist free pages. Now, they’re not only making a living of it, but if they have it their way, a career.

You can check out past issues of our new Bandwidth series on Oakland and Richmond musicians here.

Do you have a suggestion for an Oakland or Richmond-based band that we should profile as part of the Bandwidth series? Send suggestions for Oakland-based bands to and for Richmond-based bands to


  1. Suzanne Yada on March 25, 2011 at 7:00 pm

    Great video of some real talent! I love it when these guys play Berkeley BART, but I rarely stop to say hi. Shame on me!

  2. Rebren on March 28, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    I’ve got great video of them both on youtube! First: Second:

    They totally made my day when I saw them, too!

  3. sage hpkins on October 29, 2011 at 9:44 am

    Pretty inspiring! I’m a music major who is very nervous about how I will survive after I graduate, I can relate to not wanting to do anything else (even if “something else” seems more sensible on the surface). Keep going guys – maybe I’ll see at the Bart.

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