He Can Do It All

Marc Dobson, also known as the One Man Band, performs at the Gospel Tent on Tuesday at the Auglaize County Fair.
Staff Writer

For most people, playing one instrument is hard enough but imagine playing eight — all at the same time — while also singing and walking. Welcome to the life of the One Man Band.

Performer Marc Dobson got the itch to start his musical career at an early age. As a 17-year-old in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, Dobson started as a street performer as a “guitar playing wise guy” where he aimed to do more than just hope people like his show enough to toss him a few dollars.

“I created a performance,” he said. “I started to demand money and attention and it took off from there. I didn’t want to be one of those guys who just stood there letting people pass by. My closing line would always be that if people didn’t like the show, they could write their complaints down on a $100 bill.”

Now living in Florida, Dobson still likes to incorporate comedy into his shows but he has branched out from being a regular street musician to a marvel of musical technology. Wearing a backpack made up of a bass drum, snare drum, high-hat cymbals, crash cymbals, splash cymbal and high-hat tambourine, Dobson carries his guitar, wears a microphone and has his harmonica in a holder on his chest. 

“I tried building one of these kits as a teenager and failed,” Dobson said. “When I came around and did it again as an adult, I had a better idea of what I was doing.”

Putting all the aspects together take, understandably, a “bit” of concentration.

“I’m at the point now that it’s kind of like driving a car,” he said. “Yeah, there’s a lot going on but a lot of the movements are in the background for me and I’m only focused on one thing at a time.”

Playing a variety of songs from different genres as he walks around the Auglaize County Fair ensures that the majority of people walking around will hear something they like and recognize, drawing them into the performance. With songs ranging from rock to country to pop, Dobson said choosing which songs he plays is an easy process.

“It’s a popularity contest,” he said. “If people really like a song, I’ll play it. There are some limits though, I can’t play songs that go too fast because I can only do so much.”

The songs Dobson plays have drum beats that are often times no more than 150 to 160 beats per minute so he can focus on more than just the drum beat.

With 20 to 25 fairs a year serving as his main performances, Dobson has made his rounds in the musical circuit, performing as a solo act, as a member of his own band and as a member of other people’s bands. 

Despite the challenges and limitations of being a one man band, Dobson loves what he does and hopes to serve as an inspiration for others.

“I hope people see my show and I hope it inspires them to go out and try to do something that, right now, might seem impossible,” he said. “‘No’ is an evil word — it’s a dream squashing thought. Whatever you set your mind to will take commitment and you should throw yourself into that commitment and not give up.

“You have to be reasonable but don’t take no for an answer.”