I’m sure that being BFF’s with Jason Mraz has its benefits. It’s certainly helped Bushwalla. Yet their stories are quite different. Bushwalla started out in theatre with a group called “Kids on Broadway” and then went and studied at the American Music and Dramatic Academy (AMDA) in New York. He consequently moved into music and became a guitar player and rapper and ended up rooming with Mraz. They have collaborated numerous times, on each other’s albums and in surprise appearances at each other’s live shows.
However, they are two vastly different artists. While they use the guitar as their base and instrument of choice, that’s all Mraz tends to use, while Bushwalla uses acoustics, synthesizers, beat boxing and hip-hop elements to complete his musical sound. To complement his show he has featured a plethora of circus-type acts including fire breathing, juggling, hula hooping, balloon art and something called face balancing. Yet he also knows how to pare down.
When I saw him perform the opening set for Selah Sue at Venue last week, he was just him, his mixer and his guitar. At one point he was simultaneously rapping, plucking, beat boxing and mixing it was quite a feat. And yet, at the same time, it felt that something was missing. Something came up short. Not that it was bad show, I recognize his talent… and hey he can got into AMDA and I didn’t so he clearly has some theatre chops as well. After all he is a singer-songwriter, freestyle rapper and DJ all wrapped up in one man. But I also didn’t enjoy his set as much as I thought I would, in spite of all he has going for him. I would be interested to hear what he sounds like with a full band behind him. I hope to come across him again in the near future.