One evening a few years ago, Kevin Moyer was leaving a concert in Portland, Ore., when a street musician caught his ear—and struck his conscience. "Here were all these people, presumably fans of music, walking by, not noticing him. And he was terrific," recalls Moyer, Nike media planner at Wieden + Kennedy. Given a few twists of fate, who knew which musician would be basking in the limelight and which would be rifling through garbage pails?
Moyer had the idea of cutting an album with street and professional musicians to benefit Outside In, a local charity for the homeless and street youth. Wieden management gave him a SlimeMold Award —the shop's grant for staffers who have good ideas but little funding. Moyer would eventually use the CFO's office as a makeshift studio.
The CD, Live from Nowhere Near You, features 27 tracks about life on the streets. (Inside art is shown here—Moyer is in the upper right, with the red guitar strap.) Highlights include Gus Van Sant (Good Will Hunting) strumming guitar in his hotel room; the Squirrel Nut Zippers mixed with the saxophone stylings of one Bruce Rohlfs; and a tune recorded midtour by Pearl Jam guitarists Mike McCready and Stone Gossard. The first 2,000 copies are gone (Amazon.com carries it). Volume 2 is in the works.
"Sometimes I'd hear a street musician, rush back to record them and never see them again. So I started taking portable equipment around," says Moyer. "I'd tell them about the project and offer them money. Some of them wouldn't take it. They just wanted to be heard."