It is Saturday afternoon at Jamaica Pond. Music is pumping, the growing crowd is dancing, and Yoshi Walsh is taking a dive.
Not into the water, but into his audience; a large collection of Bostonians who have ventured to see his band, Streight Angular, play at the fifth annual Jamaica Plain Music Festival.
Walsh, a colorful Pennsylvania native who currently resides in Jamaica Plain, has always been a free spirit, but found a specific love and sense of freedom in making music.
Starting his artistic career during a brief stint in college, Walsh spent most of his free time practicing painting, writing poetry and teaching himself guitar.
“I think my dad was a failed musician,” he said. “He had this chord book that was falling apart, and it had basic guitar chords in it. I just picked it up one day and started teaching myself, putting them along with poems I wrote to make songs.”
'Investing 40 hours a week in myself'
Though he loved his new found musical talent, Walsh did not immediately pursue it as a viable career choice. Before starting Streight Angular ten years ago, he worked as an administrative assistant at a corporate office.
“I eventually decided I couldn’t see myself working 40 hours a week for someone else who didn’t appreciate my ideas or my effort,” Walsh said. “I thought investing 40 hours a week in myself would make life better, and it has.”
After quitting his job, Walsh started to focus more on music. He grew his now infamous curly beard, started wearing colorful unique clothes, and eventually got the idea to form a band after meeting current band mate Theresa at a party.
“She was playing saxophone at the party, so I knew she must have a love for music,” Walsh said.
It was not long before the two discovered a mutual love for creating music and began to write and play together. He taught her how to play drums, she helped him figure out song ideas, and they eventually began to call themselves Streight Angular.
Now, Streight Angular has been Walsh’s focus for about ten years, and it serves as his main career.
“I’m a full time bum,” He joked. “I am a full time musician/comedian/entrepreneur, and a full time dad to a 2-year-old daughter named Lina.”
Cassettes from the leopard print fanny pack
While Walsh is among many other artists in Jamaica Plain who strive to make their living off of music, he always manages to stand out above the crowd due to his love for his community and his unique way of spreading his music.
“As a young kid, my mom’s friends used to make me mix tapes, with stuff like Buddy Holly and Richie Valley,” Walsh stated while handing a passerby a cassette tape, pulled from his leopard print fanny pack. “Since then, I’ve always loved the way tape sounds, so I usually have about four or five cassettes on me to hand out to potential fans.”
In his free time, when he’s not doing interviews, playing shows or taking care of his daughter, Walsh also helps to run locally made clothing line Super Party Fun Time. Currently focused on kids clothing, the line is inspired by Walsh’s love of color and patterns.
He also enjoys watching music documentaries, studying history, blogging and creating new music.
“I’m always writing music,” he said. “It’s my main passion, and I think I’m pretty good at it.”
Fans of Walsh and Streight Angular agree.
“Yoshi does his job well as both a musician and a performer,” said Hallie Fitzgerald, a fan of the band who met Walsh at JP Music Fest. “He intrigues the crowd with his unique clothes and quirky songs and they stuck around because he and the band are really talented at what they do.”
You can see Walsh and his band live at their next Boston-area show, Oct. 8, in Cambridge.