The historic streets of Boston, Massachusetts, may not seem like the ideal performing venue for a man in a bear costume playing the keytar. And yet, this is where visitors and locals will find “Keytar Bear.” A busker who can play anything from Smash Mouth to Prince to Rick James to Metallica, this Boston legend is known for being both entertaining and getting into his fair share of altercations.
The first sightings of Boston’s “Keytar Bear” can be traced back to 2011. Inspired by a real-life bear that used to visit his grandmother’s house in Sutton, Massachusetts, “Keytar Bear” purchased a bear costume and took to the streets. While the keytar may seem gimmicky, he is quite a talented musician.
In addition to playing near subway and train stops, he is also a regular at Faneuil Hall, South Station, near the Boston Common and at local music festivals. The costume is a way for him to protect his identity and, as he hopes, to fight racism.
Over the years, he has attracted a loyal following, which is good since he has needed their support to recover from multiple attacks. As “Keytar Bear” states, “There are two types of people who screw with me: drunks and schoolkids.” Following attacks in 2014 and 2017, his fans came through with donations to help him recover and replace broken equipment.
They pulled together to help him out again when he got into a motorcycle crash in the Spring of 2018 and broke his foot. Notably, local brewer Trillium Brewing Company created a “Keytar Bear” Double IPA – brewed with local wildflower honey, of course – in his honor. After a full summer off, he was able to return to Boston’s streets and resume his role of favorite local entertainer.