Chat with Rebel Outdoor Piano Man in St. Thomas, USVI, during Covid-19.

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Freddie Rabuse. www.facebook.com/freddierabuse

I’m sure you’ve seen them on Facebook and Instagram during this worldwide lockdown – almost every musician, famous or not, has taken to posting in-home concerts online. Hence, it’s refreshing to see someone doing live outdoor concerts on the back of a pick-up truck! Freddie Rabuse, the well-known Piano Man from St. Thomas, USVI, is doing just that and making some listeners and his own pocket very happy.

Well, why not be a bit of a rebel and make some sweet noise outside? He’s not breaking any rules. He’s social distancing plus getting some healthy Vitamin D. He is also bringing the power and charm of live music to the people. It’s a win-win situation!

Sure, a Caribbean musician’s life during a pandemic can be challenging. But according to Freddie, who always is full of fun and jokes, the pros outweigh the cons. It’s still a lifestyle like none other.

While living on an island, you must never forget that life’s speed is always measured at the island’s pace. And it’s actually really simple in Caribbean climes: stay indoors when it’s hot and go outside when it’s cool. For an island musician, or any musician anywhere, that translates to practicing during the day and performing at night. With the pandemic in the mix, Freddie the maverick, however, has now taken to playing outdoors during the day and resting at night because most venues are closed, even night curfews are in place.

In times like these, people have to make do, make some dough by drawing on any skill the outside world might deem buyable. Freddie is originally from New York and that is where he learned to play the piano. In fact, he has been making a living like this for a few decades now, having travelled the world for it – from St. Tropez to Norway to New York City to St. Thomas. He also has a strong talent for ball sports – he still plays a mean game of basket ball and tennis. Being multi-talented sure helps to keep the pot cooking in the kitchen, meaning he teaches these sports on the island when the opportunity arises.

I asked Freddie some questions, since he is not so busy at the moment, like everyone else in the world practicing social distancing, really.

What is it like to run a business on a Caribbean island?  I enjoy being self-employed in the Virgin Islands. With my entertainment skills I usually have a good choice of venues to work at. 

How are you coping during the Covid-19 crisis? I’m able to do a few things for money – keyboard rental, piano lessons online and in person, tennis lessons, online mini concerts. This brings in much less than when I’m normally performing, but it’s something. No governmental assistance has come in but that window is still open. Health-wise, I’ve respected the social distancing mandate but I have been out, getting exercise. It’s good for the immune system. 

What is the first thing you will do to spark interest in your business when the crisis is over? When the crisis is over, hopefully I’ll be reinstated at the restaurants I worked at.

Check out Freddie’s special touch on keyboards and his off-the-cuff jokes, here and there, on www.facebook.com/freddierabuse. Also, on YouTube just search: “Freddie Rabuse pickup”. Once one hears his skills, one realizes it takes many years of practice and a special talent to do what he does. This must be celebrated in an age where Guitar Hero and Wii deceive kids into thinking they can play a musical instrument when they actually can’t. You can donate to his virtual tip jar at:

VENMO: Venmo.com/Freddie-Rabuse

PAYPAL: PayPal.me/freddierabuse

Next time you’re in St Thomas, check out Freddie Rabuse and his music by staying up to date on his movements via Facebook. Or you can just embark on a trip to a beautiful Caribbean island right now by following him, as he virtually transports you to a beautiful ocean-side bristling in the background.


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