You can catch Carson Hackbart and Draven Kaylin — previous Mountain View High School jazz band students who graduated in '22 — serenading downtown hotspots quite frequently. Whether you catch one or both of them serenading the lively streets, expect some George Michael "Careless Whisper" energy. These rock speakers made every '90s poolside a glowing smooth jazz dream. If you're into that sort of thing.
Downtown Bend definitely doesn't always have that vibe, but that surely changes when these cool cats are posted up with some serious sax-attacks, sometimes for up to five hours and into the wee hours of the night. They get all the colorful characters of Bend's "nightlife," and they add to it full force. You can catch Hackbart and/or Kaylin on the corner of NW Oregon Avenue and NW Wall Street under that Goody's Chocolates & Ice Cream shade during your afternoon lunch break or maybe even in the "Breezeway" outside of Bellatazza (where much entertainment seems to happen) or where I'm most familiar hearing the saxophone blowing in the wind, the corner of NW Minnesota Avenue and NW Bond Street, across from Hola.
"The local community welcomes us and treats us very positively," Kaylin shared with me when I asked what kind of responses he gets being out on the streets. "They appreciate what we're doing, for what it's worth. A woman told me the other day, 'if we don't have music, then what do we have? Music is our solace.' Kaylin, originally from Aberdeen, South Dakota — with musical influences like Michael Brecker, Richard Elliot and the great Hank Mobley — is 19 years young and likes to play swing jazz, bebop and R&B. Post Mountain View High graduation, he's now teaching guitar, ukulele and various classes of saxophone at the Cascade School of Music. He also plays in a local Funk band called "The Soul Providers," in addition to playing tenor saxophone for the Central Oregon Community College Jazz Big Band.
Kaylin and Hackbart crossed paths in the winter of '21 when Hackbart was already busking and Kaylin had "never thought of it before." The two of them had always desired to create music together after the good ol' high school jazz band days, so busking allowed them to collaborate in more ways than one: in hopes to send a message of welcomeness and positivity for young musicians to have the courage to play music in a public setting.
Another place to catch these cool cats performing: near the river by Drake Park or the Northwest Crossing Farmers Market. Hackbart also plays every third Thursday with a group called "Jazz Cabbage" at Velvet Lounge, in addition to his second and fourth Sunday gig at Rockin' Dave's Bistro & Backstage Lounge, and also playing private parties, restaurant openings, and all that jazz!
Hackbart said, "I love being able to collaborate with different music and styles so I'm constantly looking for someone new to play with." Hackbart has a plethora of musical influences: Victor Wooten, Patrick Bartley, Bill Evans, Outkast and "my family." He continued, "I'll play all genres. I'm never locked into one. I play the music I want to hear at that moment, whether it's sad or happy, I'll go with that feeling."
We hear the term "old soul" used a lot for youngins' — especially when it comes to tastes in music. But why not just let these timeless eras in music — jazz having the most stigma around being considered "old" by the general public — continue unapologetically, without the need to define, no matter what age?
When I asked Kaylin to share advice he'd give to any younger musician to give busking a try, he responded with, "Confidence is key and you got to fake it till you make it. . . Be yourself in every regard. People will really sense that and appreciate what you're doing for yourself and others.
"To anyone who's nervous about doing something like this for the first time, it's best to have a rehearsed set of music that you feel confident in performing. The more often you spend time busking, rather than just practicing at home, it makes live performance a lot more comfortable and you eventually start the crave doing it. In the unlikely event that someone gives you a negative reaction or a negative comment, don't mind them, because no matter who you are or what you're doing, over time and with consistency, many will come to appreciate the fact that you have the guts to do it in the first place and to press on, to keep doing what makes you, you."