Music Al Fresco: Milwaukee's Saxophone Summer

Aug 26, 2012
Originally published on August 28, 2012 5:55 pm

"My favorite location is Miller Park, bar none," Scott Summers says. "Go Brewers!"

Summers is a saxophone player based in Milwaukee. He's been blowing the horn for 30 years — and about 10 years ago, he started playing on the street. Summers says performing outside the ballpark has brought him loyal followers.

"I got certain fans — you know, like season-ticket holders — [who] park at the north lot just so they can walk through the tunnel where I'm at," he says. "I found that very humbling. I didn't think they paid that much attention, but then people will walk by and say, 'No, we park in this lot just so we can hear you play.'

"I don't take it for granted," Summers says. "I really like the ability to influence people and make their day better."

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For many of us, summertime means enjoying outdoor fun, like heading to a ball game, for instance.


WERTHEIMER: Summer is also a great season for street musicians to show off their talents, like Scott Summers from Milwaukee. We meet him in our continuing Music Alfresco series.

SCOTT SUMMERS: My favorite location is Miller Park, bar none. I mean, go Brewers.


SUMMERS: I got certain fans, you know, like, season ticket holders who always park - a lot of people park at the north lot just so they can walk through the tunnel where I'm at. And I found that very humbling. And I was - I didn't think that they paid that much attention, but then people would walk by and say, no, we park in this lot just so we can hear you play.


SUMMERS: I get requests for a lot of television themes, like "The Pink Panther." Do "Sanford and Son." Can you do "The Simpsons?" And I have to know all of those as well.


SUMMERS: Right now, I can play and, you know, convey feelings to people and I can, like, be the soundtrack to what they're doing. Like, when people are walking by and I see busy city life, I, like, play music to keep people feeling good.


SUMMERS: Like, I don't take it for granted. I really like the ability to be able to, you know, influence people to make their day better.


SUMMERS: You're right there with people appreciating what you do. And I find the intimacy and the romance between the music and listener that much more, you know, perfect.


SUMMERS: Last November, it was snowing pretty bad and I have four kids. And I found out that they needed coats for the winter. And this is Milwaukee. Wisconsin winters don't play. I didn't have enough money and I knew they needed coats to go back to school with. So, I sold my saxophone. And I always go to the Uptowner Bar - that's my favorite bar down on Center Street. And normally I come in and play, but then Steve noticed I didn't have my saxophone. I was, like, really down about it. And he says where's your horn? And I tell him I had to sell it to buy my kids' coats. And he's like, well, I happen to have a saxophone down in the basement. If you get the pads fixed on it, you know, 'cause you're supposed to have a horn in your hand.


WERTHEIMER: Scott Summers playing his saxophone in the streets of Milwaukee. This is NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.