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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 editions of Bandwidth, our series profiling Richmond and Oakland 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

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