Monday, January 28th, 2013

YouTube Phenom Uses PVC Pipes to Make Music

When your YouTube video goes viral, that means many people have viewed it. When several of your videos go viral, you’re phenomenal, a phenom. Kirk Jenkins of Lake Oswego, Oregon has his own YouTube channel to show the many videos he has produced. Collectively, the videos have been viewed nearly 16 million times, and one of his videos went viral twice. Phenomenal.

Kent Jenkins PVC pipe instrument, the RimbaTubes

The PVC 2.0 produces musical tones as the open ends of tuned PVC pipes are struck with a rubber mallet.

What Jenkins does on those videos, besides look like he’s having a great time, is play music on an instrument made of PVC (polyvinyl chloride) plastic pipes, the same as the pipes under your sink except in livelier colors. His YouTube channel’s headline is “Putting the ‘tube’ back into YouTube.”

By the time he was 17, Jenkins, now a student at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, was playing his instrument well enough to earn an audition with his musical idol, the Blue Man Group. The Group’s unique shows feature a trio of bald men with iridescently blue skin using rubber mallets to play an instrument made of PVC tubes. Jenkins didn’t land a gig but they invited him to come back after he finishes college.

Some of Jenkins’ videos feature him and his clone playing duets using both his first PVC instrument and his more elaborate second PVC pipe instrument, which was called

PVC 2.0 until Jenkins renamed the instruments RimbaTubes.

Musical instruments made of PVC pipe have been around the DIY scene for some years. Besides the Jenkins-Blue Man type of instrument there are xylophones, panpipes and probably more. They are generally home built using instructions that can be found in several places on the Internet. You can also find instructions for building things other than musical instruments from PVC pipes, things from a steadicam for an iPhone to a rapid-fire marshmallow gun. Really.

I suspect that Jenkins, whose performance name is Snubby J, may actually have been cloned. Besides doing multiple projects as a college theater major and building PVC musical instruments, he has created a commercial for Pringles, is selling a line of

his own merchandise on his YouTube channel, has appeared on America’s Got Talent and who knows what else. His high energy is on display in the videos.

The music on Jenkins’ videos is good, from classical to pop classics, all transformed for PVC pipes. And the fun that he’s having is contagious. The one posted below is called Dueling Pipes, with Jenkins and his digital clone playing the dueling banjos theme from the movie Deliverance. Enjoy.

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