Elvis Junior, Brighten Up My Day

There’s nothing like a bit of Elvis—Chile’s own Elvis Junior, that isto brighten up a Santiago afternoon. Para español, hacer click aquí

Elvis Junior and his amazing homemade 1-man band

Elvis Junior and his amazing homemade 1-man band

Santiago has its share of characters… those folks on the street that everyone recognizes, people who are an essential part of the cityscape and who add to the human side of making this city unequivocally Santiago.

Living in a big city has its ups and downs, but there are some things that just make my day. One of them is Elvis Junior, a Santiago character who turns up in the most incredible places playing his…hmm… shall we say “artisanal” drum set made of old buckets, pots, pans, cans, and rubber bands… A whole slew of found objects that make their way into his percussive arsenal. It’s a different setup every time I see him… And every time I do, I come away with a big smile on my face.

Elvis Junior on Alameda in front of the Biblioteca Nacional, Santiago

Elvis Junior on Alameda in front of the Biblioteca Nacional, Santiago

Yesterday as I was approaching Alameda, near the National Library, I heard his distinctive sound, a frenetic drumbeat, complete with cymbals blaring and a wheezing kazoo (made from plastic tubing) alternating with his characteristic tell-tale one-line phrases picked up from a long-forgotten radio station.

It made my day. I grabbed my camera and rushed over to the median (he seems to have a thing about playing in the median between the rushing lanes of Santiago’s busiest downtown street). As always, he greeted me with his big gap-toothed grin and I, likewise, beam back with a grin of my own and a nice tip. We both went home happy.

5 responses to “Elvis Junior, Brighten Up My Day

  1. that’s weird, I always thought your “santiago character” was a “valparaiso character” as I see him all the time on Pedro Montt. i have a couple photo/videos of him (i think its neat, but my boyfriend thinks he is hilarrrrious and insists on taking more every time!) and in one of them he’s got a wig with the hair standing on end.

    I wonder if he transports that drumset back and forth!

  2. La Gringa/Margaret

    Good question… I was checking out videos on You Tube and saw him in Viña and what may have been La Serena. And in one of them he was wearing a Viking cap with horns!

  3. Elvis Junior is one of Santiago’s classics, just like “Divino Anticristo” or the homeless guys who talks about Chemistry near Torre Entel (right off the stairs to Estación La Moneda). Elvis Junior appeared on “Santiago Bizarro”.

    Have you seen the video of the “harassing ice cream seller” from Lota? He claims to sell ice cream to cure diabetes, colitis, hiccups, “dolor de callos”, and ice cream with “chicharrones”. Probably one of the best marketing strategies I’ve seen: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1qN6W5eaROU

  4. La Gringa/Margaret

    You’re right! I forgot that he was in “Stgo Bizarro” (page 207). This is definitely one of the best books ever on “our fair city”! Highly recommended!
    Great video on the ice cream vendor too! Thanks!

  5. Pingback: Finding your way into Chile « Cachando Chile: Reflections on Chilean Culture

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