cellojoe: a biography
There aren't very many singing, rapping, beatboxing, cello players in the world. You could probably count them on your fingers, if you knew any of them. But there's a particularly funny and funky curious one you should remember and he goes by the name of cellojoe.
Like most cello players, Joseph Abraham Tal Tien-Ru Chang Jr. Senior III esquire (or just Joey for short) started out as a classical cellist. A mild-mannered suburbanite kid from Los Altos, California, Joey began studying the cello at age ten. His first instrument was actually piano which he started at age nine. For the first eight years, there were weekly private lessons and many music summer camps. There were also weekly youth orchestra rehearsals. And from this fertile classical ground sprang forth a very unusual weed from a crack in the suburbial sidewalk.
Joey discovered playing on the street after eight years of classical training. First, he played his classical repertoire over and over. This practice got old pretty quick. He realized that playing on the street was a great opportunity to begin improvising. After a fair amount of purely instrumental improvisation, he thought that being able to sing and play the cello would be infinitely cool and different and would thus attract more attention and hopefully fill the case with money. Slowly and surely this talent developed. Hip hop had always been part of Joey's listening diet and because of this habit, beatboxing naturally began to work its way into his improvisations on the street.
University Avenue in Palo Alto California is a pretty ritzy strip. It's full of yuppie shopping zombies. There's also a sizeable homeless population. A homeless man named Carl would listen to Joey playing often. It was he who coined the moniker "cellojoe." Joey sang impromptu songs about the glaring disparities right before his eyes in the yuppies and the homeless. Socially conscious and politically active, Joey naturally wove concepts of social and earth justice into his lyrics.
Joey auditioned in Berklee College of Music's World Scholarship Tour in 2000. He was awarded a scholarship and attended Berklee from 2002-2006. He has played with Rushad Eggleston, the cellist in Fiddler's Four and Crooked Still, Edan, an internationally acclaimed MC and producer, Roxanne Young, a member of Cirque du Soleil and Barrage, Greg Liszt , Bruce Springstein's banjo player and member of Crooked Still, as well as many other notable musicians. As cellist with the band Incus, he toured nationally and played at over forty venues and festivals all over the country. He went on tour with the El Camino Youth Symphony in Europe twice: once to Italy and Austria and once to England and Scotland. He has recorded on many artist's CDs including Andi Star, Concept 6, Rebecca Loebe, Pablo Picker and others.
In addition to being a veritable cello monster, Joey is also very interested in organic farming and has traveled to and worked at organic farms in Canada, the west coast of the U.S. and the island of Maui in Hawaii through the organization WWOOF (Willing Workers on Organic Farms or Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms.)
He is currently working on a puppet show and a west coast U.S. tour on a bicycle with a bike trailer for the cello. If you know any great places to play, be sure to contact him! e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Additionally, he is developing percussion classes for kids, and weekend workshops on shamanic journeying, getting silly and embracing creativity.