Bucket Boys make regular “play dates” on Chicago’s streets

By Caitlin Botsios

Their thump thumps and freestyle beats can be heard echoing throughout Chicago’s Gold Coast.

Ranging in age from 7  to 18 years old, this group has advanced beyond hanging out in classrooms and movie theaters and has taken the childhood phrase of play date to a new level.

Playing together since 2002, the Chicago Bucket Boys began banging on 10-gallon plastic buckets on the streets.

“We got started when we were young. Together we just started beating on the buckets,” sa id Michael Davis, 18.

“We were all friends, same neighborhood, you know?” said DeShawn Williams.

Turning to the streets wasn’t immediate, though. After years of practice, Williams said, “We felt like we could make a bit of money and buy instruments.”

The boys explained that it only took $100 and a trip to city hall for a permit to get the momentum rolling. The permit investment was well worth it as the group has been approached by producers, made numerous public appearances, and has appeared in commercials.

 Charles Chatman 14, said that the Chicago Bulls halftime performances have been his favorite.

While the group agreed that the large-scale appearances have been fun, Andre Honter 16 said, “On the streets, everyone is excited about it.”

According to the boys, the best places in the city for them are the corners of Michigan Avenue and Chicago, State and Madison, and then outside of Wrigley Field during Cubs season at Addison and Sheffield avenues.

“I don’t like the Sox. We make no money at the Sox,” Chatman said.

While money is not the main objective, it certainly aids in the fun. Another bonus of being a Bucket Boy is the women.

“I’ve gotten a lot of women. We take numbers and Facebooks, ” Davis said.

The boys are constantly meeting new people and will play for hours at a time, but go to different areas during this time. They play in all weather conditions, and Davis said, “Rain and hail is the worst to play in.”

The group has been fluid and new people are learning the beats and techniques regularly. “I got a little niece learning right now,” Davis said.

There is no immediate answer for where these boys will go with their beats.

 “I just got another business card today from a producer,”  Davis said.

 “We always call them back,” Williams added.

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