Fremont Street is full of enterprising folks trying to make a buck. There are beggars, costumed characters, dancers and artists. There are people doing stupid human tricks, con artists and musicians. It’s a bit of a carnival experience. And, most of these people are more of a nuisance than they are entertainment. They clog up the pathways, pester you for change, and generally offer minimal entertainment for your dollar – should you choose to offer them one. So, while I’m a big fan of the official entertainment the Fremont Street Experience offers, most of the unofficial entertainment downtown doesn’t deserve a mention.
Except for one act – Mert and Jerry. These guys are classically trained musicians who used to play in the string section of the Lion King production, and when that gravy train rolled off the tracks they got creative. Very creative. Together they formed the strangest, most fascinating street music duo I have ever seen – Bridge.
They perform tons of great cover tunes with no guitars, no drums and no vocalist. They tear it up, belting out songs like “Sweet Child O’ Mine” by Guns N Roses, “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson and “Communication Breakdown” by Led Zeppelin on, get this, a pair of electric cellos. Their fingers are quick and their bows are accurate. They take turns, one cellist on lead, playing the vocal track the other playing the melody and/or rhythm. They finger, they bow, they even bang on their ridiculous looking instruments… and the crowd loves it. I loved it.
I can’t really explain why. Maybe it’s the energy with which they play, how amazingly recognizable the songs are, or the novelty of hearing Metallica played on dueling cellos – yes, they play Metallica too. It’s different, it’s fun, and it drew me in. For the first time in countless trips to Fremont Street I found myself tossing dollar after dollar into a street performer’s tip jug.
They play late at night (typically from midnight onward) on the Fremont Experience when the official entertainment on the stages ends and the FSE security won’t hassle them about the volume they play at. There is no official schedule, but the best nights to catch them on Fremont are Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
They’ve been playing together like this for about a year – though they sound like they’ve been at if for much longer. They are constantly adding new songs to their repertoire. They will take requests, even playing one song that neither of them knew, using sheet music displayed on their iPad, on the night I was there. And I’ve got to say they did a pretty good job. These guys are very personable, they’re great musicians, and their act is very unique. If you’re out on Fremont after midnight, look for them.
Bridge on Facebook: www.facebook.com/WeAreBridge/
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