As a graduate of the Manhattan School of Music and a member of the illustrious Louisville Orchestra and Buffalo Philharmonic, percussionist & composer, Donald Knaack, is not the sort of man you’d envision wearing a blue denim work shirt, replete with glittering recycling logo, while pounding out hypnotic rhythms on hubcaps, saw blades, and buckets.
Yet, that’s what Donald Knaack, better known as The Junkman™, does every time he takes the stage.
Inspired by the sounds his mechanic father made while working in the garage, The Junkman™ developed his attraction to the sounds of found objects, finding encouragement and direction from his mentor and collaborator, the legendary John Cage. Before long, and long before the green movement even existed, The Junkman™ was playing exclusively on recycled materials.
Junk Music™ had been born.
Just as The Junkman™ teaches us to be kind to Mother Earth, Junk Music™ has been very kind to the Grammy-nominated Junkman™, taking him to schools, colleges, theaters, and festivals around the globe, including Lincoln Center, The Kennedy Center, The United Nations, Sundance Film Festival, The Van’s Warped Tour (where he played with Eminem, Black Eyed Peas, and Blink 182), Seoul Drum Festival, Lemonwheel and The Great Went (where he played with Phish), and Summer Series Dubai.
Junk Music™ has been heard in major television commercials for The NBA, ESPN, and Electronic Arts. The Junkman™ has been featured on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, CBS Sunday Morning, CBS News, National Public Radio, the BBC, Associated Press, and Billboard Magazine.
The Junkman™ has also composed two critically acclaimed compositions for choreographer Twyla Tharp and his work in dance includes the Dance Theatre of Harlem, American Ballet Theatre, American Dance Festival, Murray Louis, Donna Sternberg, and Bella Lewitzky.
At the United Nation’s COP 16 Conference on Climate Change in Cancun, Mexico, The Junkman™ received the “Cantando por el Planeta” Award from the Federal Government of Mexico for his HOP (Help Our Planet) Program, an environmental education action plan for schools. The HOP Program also received the Vermont Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence as well as the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) 25th Anniversary Award.
Looking forward, The Junkman™ recently launched a one-man, multi-media theatrical/musical experience for children and families entitled, “Beat It! with The Junkman™” and is in the process of developing a children’s television show about music and the environment.
The Junkman™ celebrates Earth Day every year with a Global Junkjam™ with students and musicians all over the world through Google Plus Hangouts.