Being the coolest guys in their Westside neighborhood comes from a lot of places. And of course, it doesn’t hurt that 26-year-old Joe Buono and 24-year-old Tristan Clarke are accomplished musicians.
They're college buddies who met at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.
Buono has two masters degrees, one in bass trombone performance the other in music education.
Clarke moved on to Juilliard, where he studied trumpet performance. He spent time in the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra and is now in Jacksonville's.
All those facts simply prove that they're good musicians, so their neighbors don’t mind the constant practice.
“No complaints fortunately," Clarke said. "Joe plays the piano attached to a guitar amp so it gets loud.”
But their cool really comes from charisma, commitment and a little luck.
Luck that they say came when their years of preparation met an opportunity hidden in Joe's grandfather's house.
“I was there two years ago and I found this crappy little toy,” Joe said. "It was an old melodica."
It’s a keyboard, harmonica mash up with a tube the player blows in to.
And its sound made Joe laugh.
So he introduced Tristan to it.
They learned a ton of songs and called themselves The Melodica Men.
And now that they were officially a band, it was time to tour. Which actually came in the form of Joe tagging along with Tristan on a trip to Seattle to visit family.
“I was like 'Joe do you want to come? We can play in the street and have fun,” Tristan said.
Their busking adventure began, entertaining folks in the Seattle streets.
“People went crazy,” Joe added.
And that led to cash.
“We made a ton of money, like 2 grand.”
Which funded their Melodica Men European tour.
“Yes, from playing toys in Seattle we made enough money for us to fly to Paris… on a plane,” Tristan said laughing.
But the real fame started rolling in with the YouTube hits.
Their videos have been watched more than a million times.
And while neither say they plan on quitting their day jobs with their actual, orchestral instruments, they do say the toy known as the melodica has already taken them on a ride no symphony ever could.
"Orchestra music is my first love," Tristan said. "But this is a really cool way to make music because it's so accessible. And I've never had an experience like this with orchestra music."
There are several ways to connect with these guys, because you really have to see what they do in their YouTube videos and performances to appreciate their hilarious skillset.