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Brushy is famed for playing just one string on an acoustic guitar

Andrew Chin, better known as "Brushy One-String," flaunted a surprisingly diverse mix of musical styles and moods for a small but rapt audience Friday, May 3, at the New Orleans Jazz Fest.

Performing on the Jazz and Heritage Stage, the Jamaican musician demonstrated how one guy with one guitar string can create a multitude of sounds to hold a crowd captive.

Brushy is famed for playing just one string on an acoustic guitar, coupled with rhythmic taps on the guitar body to create the effect of a full band. Plucking his string while wearing an outfit best described as island cowboy chic, Brushy formed an eccentric stage presence.

The innovative performer hails from a musical family -- he's the son of late Jamaican singer Freddie McKay -- and has entertained Jamaicans with his offbeat style for years, He became an international YouTube sensation after appearing in the 2009 documentary "RiseUp."

The award-winning documentary focused on the underground music scene in Jamaica.

Brushy's one-string guitar-playing could make him seem a gimmicky short-term YouTube wonder, but his music proves too creative and interesting, too genuine and soulful for that.

Listeners often describe Brushy's music as bluesy reggae, but his songs encompass a much broader range of influences. This one-man band somehow draws a mix of reggae, blues, rap, traditional African rhythms and even a few minor-key moves reminiscent of '90s alt-rock from one low string and hand-taps on a guitar. His music often features simple, catchy two-note bass lines, creating hypnotic grooves with a power similar to the simple bass line in Grover Washington Jr.'s "Mister Magic."

And when Brushy performs, he means it.

His voice is husky and raw, capable of moving from rhythmic reggae raps to raspy blues howls. He sounded nearly breathless at times, but the slight struggle for air only made him push harder, put even more emotion and force into each note.

Brushy's vocals seemed a little rough at the show's start, with the dark, seductive "Life Is For Every Man." His voice really shone later in the set with the fast-paced "They Are Going Down" and Bob Marley-esque "War and Crime," which drew heavier applause.

John Rawls of New Orleans said Brushy formed one of the main shows on his hit-list on Friday. Rawls said he discovered Brushy on the Internet and became a "pretty big" fan of the artist's minimalist style.

Rawls and other fans trudged through sticky mud for a closer listen, bobbing and swaying to the familiar songs. Other crowd members wandered over to the area with awed looks on their faces, lured in by the rapping, howling cowboy spectacle on stage. The uninitiated were soon grinning and nodding along with the fans in the front row.

"Rastaman is in the house!" Brushy shouted, launching into his take on Marley's "Get Up, Stand Up," which featured a more complex rhythm for the bass line.

Brushy One-String ended with his popular "Chicken in the Corn," a jaunty blues-folk song that had much of the crowd laughing and loudly singing along. Midway through, Brushy showcased his versatility with an impressive rap breakdown of the chicken-in-the-corn situation.

"It's extremely unique," said Sam Staub of New Orleans. "And it works."

Brushy One-String will be interviewed by Grand Morris at 4:15 p.m. on Saturday, May 4, at the Allison Miner Music Heritage Stage.