By Elizabeth DeCicco, Sacramento State Hornet
On the regularly quiet corner of J and 22nd Streets at hub of Midtown, a vibrant purple-painted and box-like truck stays lit during late night hours on the weekend.
Behind the purple, velvet curtain and inside this tiny pod cluttered with a full array of musical instruments known to man, is the well-known one man band storyteller in his own elaborate “acoustic sanctuary.”
Winko Ljizz, also known as Harrington King, solely runs the show, simultaneously playing five to ten instruments for comedic songs and quality entertainment.
Upon entry into the cozy and intimate musical oasis, the vividly purple walls and ceiling have mirrors. King is seated behind a glass-top baby grand piano, with bar stools and a “one-couple dance floor.”
To name some of the pieces in King’s collection of instruments: A guitar, an upright bass, a banjo, harmonicas, a saxophone, clarinet, slide whistles, a trumpet, trombone, steel drum, xylophone and cow bells.
“(It is a) baby bear of comfort, pleasantly dark and yellow is my favorite color,” King said when asked why he chose purple and yellow as the main colors for his business.
The purple and yellow acoustic sanctuary that resembles an old FedEx delivery truck, evolved and was not planned, King said.
King has been performing in his sanctuary for passersby since after Sept. 11 in 2001. As a native Floridian, King has lived in Sacramento since the late 1980s. He has been playing music for his entire lifetime.
“I started too young to remember starting to play,” King said.
Aside from his weekend, nightly gig on the busiest street in Midtown, King also plays tuba in a community orchestra. He also accepts bookings as the one man band.
“I like being a substitute more than I like being a primary,” he said.
King said he owns about 30-40 instruments and he plays five to six instruments during each song. But there are still several instruments King does not know how to play, such as double-reed instruments, oboe or flute.
“Am I trying to show how many I can play or what’s good for the song and the message? Less becomes more,” King said.
King calls himself Winko Ljizz, after his childhood nickname given when he was born with one eye shut. He combined “legit jazz” to create Ljizz, he said.
Some may have been brave enough to try to walk up the stairs and look behind the curtain, or others may have not had the chance to encounter this uniqueness to downtown happenings.
Before the use of the business review site Yelp, it was more intimidating for customers who were not familiar with the one man band and his small, mysterious venue.
“Some people think it’s the twilight zone. If it’s your first time in here, you’re overwhelmed and there’s too much to take in,” King said. “They needed to be drunk to get the nerve to come up in the first place.”
Sophomore pre-nursing major Carissa Ramirez recently visited the one man band for the first time and her experience was far more than what she anticipated.
“He was very creative and entertaining. I wasn’t expecting it to be so personal. We got to hear his stories (about) when he was a teen and have a mature conversation with him,” Ramirez said.
King charges customers $10 each, $15 for couples or a student rate of $5. He stays open from the evening until 3 a.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
“He gave us a discount and let us pay $10 for the three of us. He told us we could stay as long as we wanted (to),” Ramirez said.
King as a musician has journeyed to other cities, but considers Sacramento his home.
Elizabeth DeCicco can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
First published by the Sacramento State Hornet, May 2014.