Sunday, Sep 23, 2018
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That1Guy builds a long-lasting career

If You Go

What: That1Guy

Where: The Ottawa Tavern, 1817 Adams St., Toledo

When: 8 p.m. Tuesday

Admission: $12-$14

There came a distinct point in Mike Silverman’s life when he decided to ditch his upright double bass because he felt too restricted.

Silverman, also known as That1Guy, had been a freelance jazz musician for 10 years after enrolling at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and knew he needed something more to satisfy that creative gene.

He found it in “The Magic Pipe,” an instrument of his own creation which he’ll wield at 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Ottawa Tavern, 1817 Adams St. in Toledo.

“When I built The Magic Pipe, I wanted to be a one-man band,” said Mike Silverman in a recent phone call with The Blade as he drove through a rain storm to Pennsylvania for that night’s gig. “There’s more sounds, more textures, more control, more variety.”


Mike Silverman, a San Francisco native, built ‘The Magic Pipe,’ an instrument that allows him to be a one-man band. He has written and released five full-length albums during a two-decade career of playing the instrument.


Built from steel and aluminum, “The Magic Pipe” allows the San Franciscan to create string and percussion sounds at the same time. High and low stings are designed to deliver melodies and play bass lines, while trigger sensors cover the instrument giving him percussive options and creating a low frequency rhythm section.

As if that description isn’t enough, imagine seeing a musician sing while he hits, slaps, and slides his fingers along the instrument as if he’s playing an upright double bass.

Having designed and built the instrument in 1999, he continues to upgrade and refine it.

Instead of spending hours crafting it from wood, he found himself spending hours at Home Depot looking at items such as pipes and asking clerks questions like “Hey, do you have a clamp that would hold a pipe to a pickup?”

“I had no idea what I was doing,” Silverman, 46, said. “I had this super loose concept. I thought it was a great idea and if I tried it and it sucked, then I would keep working on it.”

He’s a one-man band, hence his stage name as That1Guy. More than just a hands-on musician, his playing style entails using his teeth and feet, along with a leather boot used to amplify a slapping sound.

“I like that it’s confusing and that it pulls people out of their thought process for how they usually process their live crucial experience,” he said. “It’s not like anything; it’s a mix of a bunch of stuff. It’s all these different things at once. It’s interesting with what I’m doing.”

After more than two decades of slapping “The Magic Pipe” throughout North America, That1Guy has written and released five full-length albums and one EP, and performed at music events from Electric Forest Festival in Michigan to the Summer Meltdown Festival in Washington.

He plays nearly 200 dates each year, and said that when he visits the Ottawa Tavern in Toledo on Tuesday patrons can expect a two-hour improv of That1Guy beating and plucking The Magic Pipe to dust, while incorporating light and visual elements.

“The physical workout feels good for me even though I’m really run down all the time,” he said. “I like to get up and work fast every day. I want to bust my ass when I’m home but I can’t; I have no deadline. I find it mentally stimulating that way, too. It’s problem solving and more challenging [to be on the road].”

Contact Geoff Burns at or 419-724-6054.

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