Have you seen this talented pianist play downtown? HIs name is Erik Pelligrino and you can find him tickling the ivories near the corner of Main Street. and Jackson Avenue every day of the week.
“I only took lessons for like two weeks and then I decided it just wasn’t for me and that I could teach myself because I play by ear, not by site,” said Pelligrino.
For him, it’s more than just a hobby. After his dad got sick with Alzheimer’s Disease, Pelligrino took up drugs as a way to “numb” himself and got evicted from Northern Illinois University. As he was seeking professional help to get clean, he started playing the piano.
“It dawned on me that I could do this for income. So I’ve been coming out here every day,” said Pelligrino, who’s been sober for three months now. “I’ve essentially come from being a homeless drug addicted to having a roof over my head, having a nice apartment in downtown Naperville, and having a comfortable income playing the piano every day.”
That income comes entirely from tips. As for the piano, Henczel’s Barbershop owns it but is letting him use it while the weather permits it. Once it snows, the Piano will go back inside the barbershop but Pelligrino hopes to find another gig indoors. For now, Pelligrino plays seven days a week from about 10am to at least 7pm, often later on weekends.
“I never thought I’d make a living off my hobby, but that’s what’s going on. So it’s awesome.”
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