money bush

Joe Bush (organ grinder)

Joe Bush is a well-traveled organ grinder, one of the last in the dying business that reached its height in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Bush, who had played as a bass guitarist in a rock 'n roll band and worked as a stilt walker, began this pursuit in 1975, inspired by people who said his mustache reminded them of an organ grinder. Initially his few competitors told him, "You want to learn how to do this, kid? Good luck." But with his pet capuchin monkey George and later his replacement George II, he has performed at local street fairs, company picnics, advertising promotions, public and private parties, and for TV shows, documentaries, radio shows, magazine advertisements, major movies, plays, and commercials. Once featured on the cover of Philadelphia Magazine, Bush has entertained the White House during the administrations of United States Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. For five years he also regularly performed at The Showboat Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The 1904 organ Bush uses adds to the old-time appeal of his old tunes and acts.

Success with organ grinding has not come without its costs to Bush. For the first few weeks, he locked himself in a room with George and his wife eventually left him. Later, at first his second wife was ashamed to tell others of her husband's profession. For Bush, or Boscio, his stage name, "This is all about making a dollar." Irritated that people think the job is simply a matter of cranking an organ for easy money, Bush nevertheless smiles about who is given that money. "I can't stop them. They're not giving it to me, they're giving it to the monkey." But Bush's act will come to an end soon. Bush, a sufferer of rheumatoid arthritis, and George II, at the age of nineteen on May 26, 2006, will soon retire.


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