One-man band bops back to town to stay in tune with beginnings as a busker

Nick Moyer, a Seattle genetics testing company employee, returned to Walla Walla on Saturday to play the accordion and a bass drum (posing as a suitcase). He started busking when he was a student at Whitman College.

Nick Moyer, a Seattle genetics testing company employee, returned to Walla Walla on Saturday to play the accordion and a bass drum (posing as a suitcase). He started busking when he was a student at Whitman College. Photo by Alfred Diaz.

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WALLA WALLA — Engineer and busker Nick Moyer had a homecoming of sorts over the weekend, both for his music and alma mater.

The 2011 Whitman College graduate brought his one-man-band show to the corner of First and Main where he played pocket trumpet, accordion, bass (suitcase) drum and foot tambourine all at the same time.

“Actually, that square was the first place I ever started busking,” Moyer said. The Land Title Plaza in the heart of downtown is frequently a site where musicians set up to pick up a little spending money as the play for passing crowds.

But back in 2010 it was accordion only for Moyer, who took up the bellows driven instrument while attending college here.

After graduating, Moyer, 25, went on to study engineering at Columbia University in New York. His personal studies in music also continued. After Columbia, he took off a few months to become a wandering troubadour of sorts. Though Moyer admits he was never homeless and never got much further than the subways of New York. But it was his main source of income.

“I spent about six months in New York after graduating. I played the subways. And it is a lot more stressful when you are dependent on the income,” Moyer said.

While working the subways, Moyer finally found the one item he needed to complete his show. For months he had been looking for a pocket trumpet in the key of C so he wouldn’t have to do transposing between accordion and horn.

“I am not the first person to do it, that is for sure,” Moyer said. “The key was waning a pocket trumpet in C.”

Moyer eventually took a full-time job with a genetics testing company in Seattle. But he still likes to travel to new cities and busk.

His eclectic playlist includes tunes by Paul Desmond, Radiohead, Koji Kondo (composer of numerous Nintendo Legend of Zelda themes) and plenty of other duets for accordion and pocket trumpet in the key of C.

Alfred Diaz can be reached at alfreddiaz@wwub.com or 526-8325.

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