Musician's US tour hits snag as Minneapolis becomes first city to pull plug


A touring musician who is performing in every state in the country on the back of his pickup truck had his buzz killed by police as he reached the Minneapolis leg of his journey Sunday.

Boston-based guitarist Pablo Picker was performing at Southeast University Avenue and East Hennepin when he said he was stopped from playing by officers who said they had received a complaint from a member of the public that he was "disturbing the peace."

Minneapolis was the 14th stop on his nationwide street performance "Meter Tour," but it became the first city to stop him from playing.

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The tour involves Picker playing from the back of his pickup after paying for parking, a loophole that means he can avoid paying city street performing permit fees, his website says.

"Honestly I was quite shocked," he told BringMeTheNews of the Minneapolis incident. "I told the police that people seemed to be enjoying it, so I was confused.

"Not to mention the volume on my setup is incredibly low. I had played in 14 states up to that point and not only has everyone been incredibly supportive and responsive, but passing police have smiled and said words of encouragement."

The songwriter, who has released four albums in the last 12 years, intends to perform in all the states in the U.S., including Hawaii and Alaska, as well as a few cities in Canada.

Prior to arriving in Minneapolis, he had made stops in Chicago, Nashville, Detroit, Toronto and Madison.

Minneapolis police told BringMeTheNews they could not comment on the case as no official record was taken. Picker wasn't charged or cited, and his name wasn't taken by the officers who moved him on.

The next day, Picker also ran into trouble in Fargo, where police told him to turn off his amplifiers and remove his tip jar. But they allowed him to continue playing acoustically.

On his Twitter page, he said: "Really striking out in these middle states, cops just said I can't have a tip jar without a permit."

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Picker is the second unusual mobile musician who recently made a stop in Minneapolis, after a Michigan blues pianist visiting the city in September to promote music and athletics.

Minneapolis was an early stop on Mike Braun and his team's 2,000-mile bicycle journey down the length of the Mississippi, pulling a piano behind them, KARE 11 reported.

As for Picker, the involvement of the police was a sour end to what was an otherwise positive visit to the Twin Cities.

He said: "I had only played for about 30 minutes and people were smiling and some stopped to ask me what I was doing and give me words of encouragement.

"A mother and her young daughter were waiting to be seated at the restaurant across the street and they actually crossed over to give me a tip. The response felt welcoming. I made about $5 in 30 minutes of playing," he said.

He also found the area "quite pretty." Adding, "I walked around the river in the morning which was lovely. ... I also walked in the neighborhood where I played and enjoyed the local shops, and it felt like everyone was friendly and pleasant. It felt welcoming until the police showed up. "

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