Imagine making $115 for 75 minutes, doing what you love and turning heads. All at just barely 10 years old. Now try adding the fact that you can play a mean guitar, sing and improvise on the mandolin, harmonica, melodica, or cajon.
For Max Beene, street musician and member of the father-son duo Cool Beenes, it is possible.
Max, a fourth grade student at Syrie Elementary School in Shoreline, has found his calling. With the encouragement of his father, Charles Beene, Max is working his way through the songbooks of the Beatles, Prince, Van Halen, Led Zeppelin, Neil Young, Guns and Roses and AC/DC, to name a few.
Charles Beene, who manages his own Americana and old school rock bands, The Slakes and Hobo Bender, discovered his son’s talent for guitar when Max was 7. Charles and his wife, Joi, had been talking in the kitchen one day when they began to hear clear and precise guitar chords wafting into the room.
“We said, ‘Is that Max?!,’’’ Charles said.
To their surprise, it was. The random guitar lesson that Charles had given Max had taken hold.
The six months of classical piano training had not. Max said when interviewed with his father, that classical music had bored him and that he was onto the Beatles by first grade. He also said that the recent death of Prince had created a stronger interest in the star’s work.
As a student of the School of Rock in Greenwood, Max spends three hours a week in rehearsal with other students focusing on cover songs from a variety of rock bands, such as Creedence Clearwater Revival, Pearl Jam and Santana. Many of the students are older, 15 or 16, but it isn’t an issue.
“I am there to play music, not socialize.” He said.
Charles said the band got the name Cool Beenes from the 1960s slang term “cool beans,” used to give a thumbs up to circumstance or events.
At the Ellensburg Busker festival last fall, the pair got a thumbs up from audiences who rated them third place for the street performer contest. Charles said the two played a three-hour set in the afternoon for passers-by and had hoped to get an additional set by winning first place.
At present they have memorized about 60 cover tunes and created their first original work, “Maximum Summertime.”
Charles said that it was too early to think about making a CD, and that their main focus has been to present to live audiences at places like the Shoreline and Ballard farmers’ markets. They have worked together as a duo for one year.
“Music is the path that I want to go,” Max said. “I want to be in a rock and roll grunge band and become big. I am hoping it’s going to happen.”
Cool Beenes will perform 1-2 p.m. Oct. 30 at the University District YMCA for the Community Potluck and Homeless Teen Feed. Admission is a potluck dish or $5. Photo ID required.