An Englishman in a canoe during the winter, a Captain America character in the grueling summer and Indians in the fall have all traversed through the Louisiana area in recent years in a trek down the Mississippi for one cause or another.
But perhaps the most unique group traveling from the Minnesota headwaters to New Orleans pedaled through Louisiana last Thursday, Oct. 9 on a contraption designed to attract contributions for youth music, arts and athletics program.
Members of “Mr. B’s Joybox Express” are from Ann Arbor, Mich., and part of the larger Artrain national non-profit that donates funds to leader Mark Brown’s favorite interests, music, arts and athletics.
The express is a trio riding three bicycles, all joined to a trailer hauling a stand-up piano.
Out front on the express pulling the piano is front man Brown, or Mr. B, who also plays the piano at stops in a blues boogie-woogie style. He did so on Georgia St. at high noon just before heading into Pikers Restaurant downtown for lunch.
“It was a lifelong dream of mine to go on an epic trip on a piano bike,” Brown said. “Music and movement is what we advocate.”
Brown and the other riders are all musicians. Brown had played as a soloist with jazz big bands but has an affection for blues piano players.
They solicit funds for Artrain while pedaling through towns and often play at schools.
“We teach the kids the history of jazz and blues piano,” Brown said.
Listening to him play on Georgia Street in the sun were bicyclists Jules Cunningham and Sam Genson, who pedal the two bikes in the back with their forks attached to the trailer.
They are followed by filmmaker Marty Stano and tour manager Shoshana Hurand in a chase vehicle.
To donate to Artrain through the express, log on to www.joboxexpress.com.