'I try to do this as much as possible': Street performer provides 'heartbeat' to the city of Milwaukee

NOW: ’I try to do this as much as possible’: Street performer provides ’heartbeat’ to the city of Milwaukee


MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Walking throughout downtown Milwaukee, you're likely to hear a lot of sounds. Perhaps it's the horn of a car honking in traffic, or the squeak of a bus's brakes as it pulls into a stop. You hear sirens and bells, whistles and yells. There's a good chance you've heard the beat of Americus Kates' drum set.

"I never pass up on an opportunity to play anywhere in Milwaukee," Kates said, preparing for a set at Pere Marquette Park. "We can do so much with this city. I just believe this city has so much potential."

Kates has been beating and banging since he was just 18-months old. Now, the wooden spoons his mom used to make spaghetti have turned into drumsticks, accompanying a set that Kates transports in the pack of his small Nissan compact car all across the city of Milwaukee with one goal in mind; provide some good music for anyone who will listen.

"I go everywhere, from Miller Park to Brady Street to 3rd," Kates explained. "You name it, I'm there. I try to do this as much as possible."

His love for music has followed him everywhere he went, even to college where he went to study pharmacy with the hope of one day curing cancer following the loss of his aunt and grandmother.

"I really wanted to cure it," Kates said. "Nobody would have to suffer what we suffered through. It was really hard. It takes a toll on your family. It takes a toll on your life."

While infatuated with numbers, science, and a goal of changing the world, the music continued to creep into Kates' life so much so that he finally made a decision; it was time to pursue it.

"I mulled over it a lot. I prayed on it, let my mom pray on it, let my family pray on it. We all discussed it," said Kates, admitting the uncertainty of a career in music is a lot different compared to that of a pharmacist. "Once music started paying me the way I kind of needed to be paid to just sustain my lifestyle, living arrangements and everything, that was it. That's all I needed."

Don't get it twisted, it's not about the money for Kates. Most of his shows are in public parks and outside arenas hosting major events. It's about a love for his music and his city, and a desire to share it with the world, one pop-up performance at a time.

"Most people, they feel like they have to go to New York, to L.A., to Hollywood," said Kates. "I get to do it inside of my city. I get to show love to the people that show love to me."

Americus Kates performs many of his sets live on Instagram. You can follow him: @americuskates.

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