Myrna Kincaid anxiously shifts her weight from foot to foot, hands clasped under her chin as she monitors Johnny and Billy, her five- and nine-year-old sons, playing together.
These two boys aren't into touch football or in-line skating, but strumming acoustic guitars, playing harmonica, and singing classic country and rock
song in public for donations.
Right now, the tune is Roy Orbison's "Pretty Woman," and the crowd gathered to listen and marvel at the spectacle is three-deep and fully engaged. A guitar case near the boys' feet quickly fills up with one dollar bills.
This is a near-daily activity for the family. Myrna, a trim, four-foot-something Filipino woman, along with her husband, Jay, a Michigan native, have made the boys' young music career a full-time job. They've played at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino, retirement homes, fairgrounds, and churches.The boys are now home-schooled, their parents having found a private instructor for music and academic subjects.
Myrna says a Las Vegas Casino recently invited the boys to come on as regular performers, but that they have to review the contract before deciding whether to go.
"Okay, we're gonna take a 15-minute break," Billy tells the crowd after a set including Elvis' "Blue Suede Shoes" and Gene Vincent's "Be-Bop-A-Lula."
"Fifteen minutes!" cries younger brother Johnny. "That's like an hour, man!"
The boys dive into the guitar case and start gathering up the bills.
When I ask, the parents and children say almost in unison that the donations are put toward the young musicians' college funds.
As the story goes, the brothers got into the music game as a result of a kids' television program that features grown men dancing and singing like children. "When I was two years old, I watched a show called The Wiggles, and there was a guy with a guitar," says Billy. "I asked my dad to buy me one, and he did."
When little Johnny came of age, if you can call two years old "of age," the two started playing together. Their father taught them a few chords, along with their first song, "I Saw the Light," which the boys still enjoy, though they've noticed that the SoBe crowd isn't so enthused by the gospel. "They like Johnny Cash and Hank Williams more," says the five year old, who also plays harmonica using a rack around his neck.
"Sometimes I do fancy stuff," Johnny continues, rocking his tiny body back and forth and moving his little hips. "Elvis Presley does this," he says.
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"I'm so proud of them," she says.
-- Camille Lamb