Hilltown Families Jam with the Junkman

(c) Hilltown Families - JunkjamWe’ve all met them, and, silently, some of us are them … modern day treasure hunters who find all sorts of unique loot at flea markets, transfer stations and curbside on trash day. Donald Knaack, affectionately known as The Junkman, has made an art form out of this pastime, and has been able to contribute amazing music while promoting eco-friendly habits by creating Junk Music.

On Friday night, as part of the free opening events for the Beyond Green: Toward a Sustainable Art exhibit at Smith College Museum of Art in Northampton, MA, one of the goals of this exhibit is to help transform the ways we make use of things in everyday life. The Junkman showed how recycled items can be used to make “music people want to hear performed on objects they don’t want.”

(c) Hilltown Families - The JunkmanKnaack presented both music and an ecological message to his audience. He engaged the crowd in a “Junkjam” with music made exclusively from recycled materials, including saw blades, a xylophone of wine bottles and an old tire as a drum.


Following an energetic performance, Knaack conducted the audience on a musical journey that was both infectious and fun. Metal bowls, ice cube trays, scrap wood and wooden dowels were passed out and music was now performed by the audience participants. But this Grammy nominated musician/activist isn’t only interested in jamming, he’s looking to empower his young audience members.

On his website Knaack explains, The great thing about a Junkjam and children is that I can take any group of kids and in five minutes they can be involved in a three-voice rhythmic groove that immerses them into the power of creating music in a group environment – some call it a groove. It is this raw power that truly ascends the soul, captivates and inspires the individual with the magical powers of music. This is an experience young students studying traditional instruments won’t experience until they have a basic mastery of their instrument -some five years away. Hopefully, once a child has experienced the magic and power of a Junkjam and now knows that power first-hand, he/she will know the power of music first-hand and will want to take up playing an instrument.


Be hip … HOP – This is the slogan on Knaack’s website for HOP, described as a program that seeks to help improve the state of the environment by encouraging individuals and organizations to make pledges to perform small changes in their individual lives and complete group projects. The HOP project is for individuals and groups looking to be more environmentally-friendly and improve their communities and our Earth as a whole.

To sample Knaack’s music and to read more about HOP, check out his website at www.junkmusic.org.

One Comment on “Hilltown Families Jam with the Junkman

  1. Thank you for the wonderful review and your kind words. I must tell you that the audience at Smith was one of the most warm and wonderful I have EVER experienced. You live in a very special community (as Hilltown Families so appropriately represents). I hope to return there many times in the future!!!

    Best regards,
    Don Knaack
    (aka The Junkman)

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