Local musicians debut ‘the Human Jukebox’

Zack Kardon, left, and John Johnson are Asheville's 'Human Jukebox.' Photo by Kat McReynolds

If you’ve ever stood before a group of performing musicians and imagined them playing a sweet serenade — “Michelle” by the Beatles, anyone? — especially for you, know now that your fantasy can become reality for a buck.

John Johnson (percussion, vocals) and Zack Kardon (guitar, vocals, whistles) of local art rock band Midnight Snack unveiled their latest musical venture — the Human Jukebox — to eager listeners during a recent busking set on College Street.

“It’s our day job,” Johnson remarks amicably, breaking character between numbers.

He’s supposed to be sitting dispassionately, recreating the jukebox’s inanimateness until the next passerby chooses from the list of cover songs on a cardboard prop beside him. During those brief interludes, sunglasses and a face mask make it easier to hide a perpetual smile.

It doesn’t take long, though, for a member of the evolving audience to step up and choose the next classic: Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine,” the Rolling Stones’ “Beast of Burden,” or maybe Eddie Vedder’s “Hard Sun” for the occasional alternative clientele. Kardon and Johnson’s repertoire currently sits 30 strong, although they depart from the catalogue periodically.

Taking notes from Spotify’s theorem that people are willing to pay more for on-demand music, the duo may have cracked an important code in the busking arena. And if the general public’s unanimous love of “Hey Joe” by Jimi Hendrix is the project’s biggest risk, the two may need to upgrade the Human Jukebox to something more permanent than cardboard in the near future.

About Kat McReynolds
Kat studied entrepreneurship and music business at the University of Miami and earned her MBA at Appalachian State University. Follow me @katmAVL

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