KANKAKEE — Joe Raunen will bring his unique set of instrumentation to his music set Saturday morning at the Kankakee Farmers Market.
He considers himself an artist and musician and he makes fully playable instruments out of things like suitcases, canes, hockey sticks, shovels, old toys and household plumbing.
So how many instruments will he bring to the 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. show at the gazebo at the market?
“I don’t have a set plan, but it’s usually about a dozen,” said Raunen when reached by phone at his home in Munster, Ind.
He was born in Galesburg but his family moved shortly afterward. He graduated from the then Lincolnway High before it split into multiple schools, and he’s lived in California and Massachusetts.
“I’ve been performing since I was a teenager, playing in garage bands, and the gigs just got classier from there,” Raunen said.
Raunen played in jazz band and orchestra in high school. Some of the music he plays is the blues, but he doesn’t like to categorize what he plays.
“Doing the hop between genres is what appeals to me,” he said. “… The music that I play depends on my whim. If I get into something, that’s what I do. … Whatever I’m doing at the time, then that’s what it is.”
He expanded a little further in a video posted to YouTube.
“Music for me is just not weird enough,” he says in the video. “There’s so much room in music besides what we see on an everyday basis, and I’m exploring that space and I want others to explore it, too.”
Raunen said he’s interested in art, music and likes making things and taking them apart.
“Personality wise I’ve got a real interest in authenticity originality,” he says on the video. “Pretty much all my life when people are going one way, I’m going the other way. I don’t know if that’s a flaw, it’s just what I’m like.”
He is also inspired by what he sees in potential music instruments.
“I’ll see a bowl or a tennis racket or a cane or a suitcase, and I’ll think what can this be,” Raunen said. “... What can I add to this that will make it interesting and playable?”
He also doesn’t truly consider himself an artist, a musician or instrument builder.
“I consider myself someone who occupies the space where those things intersect,” Raunen said. “That’s what I’m interested in mostly, where art, music, design and performance — what’s at the intersection of those places.
“... You ought to want to see something totally surprising, and that’s what I’m trying to deliver. I want people flabbergasted. I want people to try and figure out what’s going on. That’s the space where I want you. And then if I can, I’ll delight you.”