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Vocal Trash Recycles More Than Songs

  • Susan Logue

The ensemble, Vocal Trash, performs pop tunes spanning the decades, but songs aren't all that the group recycles.

“I’m a percussionist by trade. I got my degree in percussion performance, so here I am singing and playing a trashcan,” says Steve Linder, founder of Vocal Trash, who not only plays the trashcan, but also hubcabs from automobiles, metal buckets, plastic barrels, and plastic water bottles.

Playing instruments fashioned from trash cans, water bottles and other items salvaged from the landfill conveys the group's message of reuse and recycle. The Texas-based band performs at fairs, rodeos, corporate events and, recently, at a conference of solid waste professionals in Washington.

“We started the group about 11 years ago," says lead vocalist Kelsey Rae. "We were singers first, so we put together the name Vocal Trash.”
The six members of Vocal Trash spread their reuse and recycle message with every performance. (VOA/S. Logue)

The six members of Vocal Trash spread their reuse and recycle message with every performance. (VOA/S. Logue)

“What we are doing is taking old classics and giving them a redo, recycling old classics and giving them an urban hip hop feel,” Linder adds.

The show also features breakdancing and music from today.

“When we first started the group, it was just to be an entertainment entity," Linder says. "The awareness grew out of people coming up to us and saying, 'I love the recycled instruments you have.'”

The percussion instruments are not the only ones that have been recycled, Rae says. "We like to say we rescue items from a landfill and make music out of them. We come up with the designs and we have a company make them for us. Everything is a recycled product. ”

The body of an upright bass was once a milk can. And band members play some very interesting-looking guitars.

“We are playing a tool box guitar that would normally end up in a landfill," Linder says, "just a tool box, an old toolbox, that has been refurbished and now sounds great. We also have a gas can guitar. This is a gas can that would normally sit on the back of a jeep. It has been transformed into a really nice blues guitar. You can’t help but see the instruments and get the message out of what we are doing.”

A couple of years ago, Linder and Rae decided to be more explicit with that message by collaborating on a song called, "Think Before You Throw It Away." Vocal Trash has been spreading that message ever since.