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Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Larry "Bucket Man" Hunt: San Francisco Street Performer Is Playing Drums in Europe

Posted By on Wed, May 7, 2014 at 4:47 PM

Larry playing his buckets for the HK Plastics crew in Almelo, Netherlands - REMI DE OLDE, HK PLASTICS
  • Remi de Olde, HK Plastics
  • Larry playing his buckets for the HK Plastics crew in Almelo, Netherlands

For the past few months, there have been rumors that Dutch packaging company HK Plastics would be sending San Francisco icon Larry "Bucket Man" Hunt to Europe to drum on buckets at the HK Plastics booth at Interpack 2014, a packaging fair held annually in Dusseldorf, Germany.

Turns out, those aren't just crazy rumors.

Despite his ongoing struggle with San Francisco cops who target him for noise complaints, the 56-year-old street musician is in Europe where he just might have a chance to achieve international fame.

Initially, it didn't look like the trip would pan out since Hunt was running into problems getting his passport in time for the eight-day festival. Thanks to S.F. HOPE (Housing Opportunity, Partnerships and Engagement) and Immigration Casework Specialist Harriet Ishimoto of Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi's office, Hunt was able to get his documents expedited and from what we hear, he's landed safely in Europe.

Larry at HK Plastics factory - REMI DE OLDE, HK PLASTICS
  • Remi de Olde, HK Plastics
  • Larry at HK Plastics factory

For the past year, HOPE has been working with Hunt to help him retain his housing. He currently lives in an SRO in the Tenderloin but has had difficulties paying his rent. Thus, Hunt has turned to the streets -- not to panhandle, but to drum for money. His music-making business hasn't been easy, though, as San Francisco police have consistently cited Hunt for noise and disturbing the peace, often putting Hunt back to square one, financially.

"He works incredibly hard," says HOPE Director Bevan Dufty. "He is so colorful and passionate."

Several weeks before his international departure, Hunt starred in an Intel commercial, elevating his celebrity status on the streets of San Francisco.

"It's been a busy year," Hunt said recently while setting up his new shiny blue drum set, which was a gift from Intel. "I'm getting more attention than I ever got. My phone's been ringing off the hook. People have been coming up to me and telling me they saw me on TV."

As if on cue, a man walking down the street reached out to shake Hunt's hand, saying "I saw you on the commercial, man!"

"See what I mean!" said Hunt with a big smile.

While we were speaking with him recently, six more star-struck people approached him, shaking his hand in admiration. "I make peoples' days," said Hunt. "People like to be entertained. I'm always bringing joyfulness to people."

And he's ready to share that same joy overseas.

"I'm dying to go see another country," he said. "This is a dream come true."

Moments after Hunt finished setting up his drum set, two police officers approached him to tell him they had just received a noise complaint. Hunt had not yet begun playing.

Hunt laughs at the irony of the situation: He gets several noise complaints a week for playing music in public in his hometown of San Francisco, but then is recruited by a visiting Dutch businessman to travel thousands of miles away and play music in public in Europe.

"People will be seeing me all over the world, and they tell me I can't play out here?" Hunt shook his head at the cops standing before him. "I'm glad I'm going."


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Jessica Nemire

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