Exclusive Interview: Deon Forrest (aka: Greektown Hotbox) Detroit’s own world-famous street performer will be live outside Detroit Bookfest
Deon will be located on Russell Street at Alfred Street from 11am-3pm during Bookfest. Please bring money to tip him. Paper money, small bills are appreciated.
Considered a Detroit street legend and one of the top street performers in the Midwest by many, the musically gifted Deon Forrest, has built a reputation for doing his own thing.
Self-taught and ambidextrous, Deon “plays the pots” on the streets of Detroit, most notably drawing massive crowds in the neighborhoods of Eastern Market, Greektown and Downtown.
Videos of Deon have gone viral numerous times. Some of the videos online have over 60 million views. He was featured on the Jimmy Kimmel Show and some fans of his work include Eminem, Janet Jackson, Post Malone, Jermaine Dupri, and many others.
Deon’s sense of rhythm, timing, theatrics, audience engagement and overall musicianship are what sets him apart from the competition.
Let’s hear from Deon directly:
“I love Detroit. Straight up. I grew up on the streets, didn’t have nothing. Then In 2008, I got shipped here and lived in a group home in Southwest Detroit at Fort and Schaefer. I got myself together in Detroit. I found out who I was in Detroit, this city made me who I am.”
“At that time, nobody knew who I was. I didn’t even know who I was. I didn’t know what I wanted to be or what I really wanted to do. But I knew I needed a hustle. Couldn’t let my kids stay on the streets and I didn’t want to beg for money, so one day I’m at my friends and being a percussionist, I’m always tapping on stuff, and I’m getting into the rhythm and right then and there I realized Deon you’re going to be a street performer.”
“I started off as a techno drummer without the speaker. Now I got a TopTech Audio speaker specially rigged on wheels. Built my pots because I wanted to do something unique and different. And now I got a whole mobile orchestra! My kit includes: piano, pots, slider, etc. I use ten pots and one cymbal. The buckets provide the bass. My favorite drumsticks are the plastic-tipped marching band Vix Stix (aka: Vic Firth).”
“My style is like Daft Punk mixed with Stomp (the British percussion group) and I can remix any song.”
“The streets is like a big petri dish for testing your skills. To be a street performer, you have to battle underground to see who’s the best. I earned the title ‘King of Greektown’ because I’m 10-0. You set up near a big crowd and try to take the crowd. Whoever draws and keeps the crowd is the winner and you earn that spot.”
“I beat the five Chicago bucket drummers. We were rivals for a minute but now we’re cool. I outmaneuvered the marching band and they even had big bass drums. Also whooped a few horn players. I’ll go toe to toe with anybody on the streets. You play something? Bring it. Let’s see what you got. I’m in Eastern Market, Greektown, all over Downtown, come find me.”
“I play outside a lot of sports games, especially the Detroit Tigers and Detroit Red Wings, and outside live music venues, especially the Fox Theatre and Masonic Temple. The most money I ever made in a short time was I made $1,200 playing drums for about 1h30min. On a typical night, I average around $500.”
“I did a performance for Post Malone in Greektown. I played Martha Reeves birthday party. I’ve been in an NFL commercial with Barry Sanders. I’ve done all sorts of stuff.”
“One of my main inspirations is Michael Jackson. I also find some parallels between his life and my life. For instance, there was the Jackson Five. I used to perform on the streets with five people, including my man Miles Hubbell, but gradually the group started shortening until it was just me. Plus, how he did the moonwalk, I built a slider on my kit so I can kick the pot out and moonwalk it back.”
“Believe it or not, I only practice in my head. I get the music on my phone and listen to it. I have a special ability to instantly memorize music. I have a song of list of hundreds of songs in my head. I also do requests. My favorite stuff to play is pop, dance, techno, R & B, etc.”
“I love Detroit because there’s all kinds of wonderful and different people here. The best advice I can give y’all is just be who you are. Because whether you like it or not, the Real You’s gonna come out eventually. Just let it shine.”
“I’m a big basketball fan, would love to do something with the Detroit Pistons.”
“Currently, I’m building a special set. It’s a 360-degree chair that spins. I sit in the middle and there’s four different drumming stations where I can spin and play multiple, different songs interchangeably.”
Come check out Deon on the pots!
Contact (hire Deon for gigs)
Deon Forrest playing in Detroit for rapper Post Malone
Deon Forrest is featured in this commercial with Barry Sanders