Moving music: Art Paul Schlosser

Andrew Killgallon, Arts & Cultures Editor

Andrew Killgallon

Arts & Cultures


For 25 years, Art Paul Schlosser has been a mainstay on State Street. Through his witty songs and one-liners, he’s entertained passer-by of every age. Some may wonder why he is out there playing his acoustic guitar and kazoo. Some may take him for granted, but something he does hold is the key to State Street style.

“What I like best is just playing for people that really like my music,” Schlosser proclaimed as he sat back eating a slice of pizza. “Even if it’s not a million people, If I met one person somewhere and they said ‘hey, you’re that guy Art Paul! I really like your songs’ … that’s worth more than all the money I wish I had.”

Schlosser plays a variety of rock ‘n’ roll, gospel, and country but his specialty is the goofy songs made up on the fly to entertain his audience. Some of his best known songs have titles such has “Pink Pants”, “Purple Bananas on the Moon” as well as “My Cat was Taking a Bath”.

“I write about pizza. I wrote about peanut and butter sandwiches,” Schlosser said. “I write about the common, normal things that people in the Midwest deal with.”

While being a street musician doesn’t quite fall into a normal job category, Schlosser had a normal upbringing here in Madison. Living near Madison East High School, he was able to see the joys of being in the big city at an early age. He’s tried the normal nine to five routine but nothing quite fit as well as his current job: playing music and being a dad. Schlosser’s son, Simon, shares a love of art with his dad. They even enjoys the occasional performance together.

After years of performing on the street, Schlosser has been getting a little national recognition. With appearances on “America’s Got Talent” as well as a salute by Stephen Colbert on “The Colbert Report”, Schlosser has broadened his fan base.

The internet has also brought new possibilities to his music. Instead of traveling with a box of CDs, Schlosser’s music is now available on iTunes. Facebook has also allowed him to keep in touch with his fans and display his virtual art gallery. You can even see an Art Paul Schlosser original music video on YouTube.

Although changes in technology over the years brought him good fortune, the changes to State Street has were less positive and had an affect on his ability to play. With change in rent and local businesses being driven out, the atmosphere of State Street has changed over the years.

“They should freeze rent for small local businesses.” Schlosser offered as a solution.

Schlosser knows that this is just an idea. When approached about the idea of running for a council position, he quickly considered it and resorted to what he knows best. He wrote a song about it and ended up recording the album ‘Vote for Me, It’s a Joke’.

With 32 albums available and over 300 songs on iTunes, Schlosser is a musician with a unique personality and endless writing ability. Despite a catalogue that put most headliners to shame, Schlosser keeps a very simple lifestyle. He makes just enough to get by but what he does, he loves and shares that with as many people who care to take a moment to enjoy his passion.