Bark at the moon

. October 1, 2013.

Music doesn’t just soothe the savage beast. “Playing my violin makes it safer, actually, for me to be around humans.”

The Violin Monster is a tall, gaunt werewolf roaming the corners and shop-fronts of Ann Arbor. His sharp teeth, crude mane and intimidating eyes are softened, and appear more stately by the bow and violin he grasps, ever ready to conjure the melodious works of classical composers and old Irish fiddle tunes.

“I perform for artistic expression,” the Monster said, “and to keep my violent nature at bay.” Don’t howl while he’s playing, though. And, don’t call this musically gifted wolf a busker; “I do this because I love it and it makes me and other people happy.”

The Monster wouldn’t give a name. He says he’s thrilled to continue a tradition “as old as civilization itself—of people sharing their talents in public spaces.” Street performances have helped him attain a special connection to and deep appreciation for the community of Ann Arbor. That hit a snag recently, though, when he was denied performance space by the State Street Association for the Ann Arbor Art Fair, claiming it was not fair for a street performer to compete with those in tents with city vending permits. The police, said the Monster, seemed to side with him, though.

Anyway, you may have already caught this creature out in the daylight or messed with him, maybe, coming out of the bars at night. But likely, his music, his crazy method of delivering his art, wins you over. The whole thing, traditional Irish and fiddle tunes passionately churned out by a beast-headed violinist, certainly has a charm to it. It’s an ideal local quirk to happen-upon for Halloween, so keep your eyes peeled.

The Monster’s been playing since he was seven years old, which, if we believe this bitten maestro, was way back in the 1500’s, having grown up between Ireland and Italy, he claims, mastering the works of Renaissance composers over the centuries. The hardest and most formative decision of the Monster’s musical life was to commit himself, day and night, to Street Performance as a career. “I had no idea what I was doing, but I believed in myself. It was scary at first, but it’s been a wonderful adventure.” But Ann Arbor winters can be brutal. The Monster had to kick into tour-mode, marauding southwards and eventually acclimating to a road routine that took him as far as San Francisco and Los Angeles while hitting Austin, New Orleans, Charlotte, New York and Boston on the way back.

“Most people have never encountered a real werewolf before so I understand their confusion. ‘It’s not a mask, it’s a curse,’ is my usual answer.”
Whoever this monster is, he’s not entirely wild. For instance, he knows how to turn the whimsical charms on so as not to frighten away the kiddies. He recalls once performing a birthday party for a three-year-old at which he encountered a precocious toddler claiming to be “a real-life fairy” and the two shared their respective supernatural perspectives. “She educated me about all sorts of fairy-stuff. Parents tell me their children look for me every time they walk around town.”

If you haven’t encountered him yet, you could soon see the Monster on the label of your next beer bottle. The Monster said ABC Beer unveiled a “Violin Monster Autumn Ale” to replace “Octoberfest” as their featured seasonal brew. He’ll start touring again in November with ambitions aimed toward South America.

Recently, he’s performed local venues with The Paths.
The Violin Monster’s 493rd Birthday Party is October 3rd, -featuring the Paths, Dragon Wagon, fun games and activities, a photobooth and more. Happy Birthday and Happy Halloween. 6pm. Corner Brewery, 720 Norris St., Ypsilanti. (734) 480-2739. violinmonster.com

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