'Friends and Neighbors': His pet project

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By David Pierini

Staff Photographer

Oak Park is home to many musicians and performers, but none have a stage like Nathaniel Anderson.

Anderson, 60, has performed for thousands, but his audience does not sit still. It zooms by and catches just a glimpse of his act on Harlem Avenue, outside Oak Park Natural Pet & Fish.

His amplifier sits alongside aquariums and a sale sign for duck feet — a chew toy for dogs. There's no light show, only a grudging sun. There are costume changes: Santa suit, gorilla outfit, or a big monster head.

His act is meant to attract attention to a pet store trying to be creative in its marketing. But for Anderson — who once sang and danced in polyester suits and platform shoes for a singing group that covered Temptations and Spinners tunes — it's a second chance at performing.  

"It's a joy just to perform," said Anderson. "People see me and they blow the horn or give me a thumbs up. Making people happy is a beautiful thing."

Anderson can be seen in the afternoons on Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays strumming blues rifts on his guitar and giving motorists pause.

"Strange and weird are probably a little more effective," said shop co-owner Scott Arient regarding his promotional strategy. "I've had a lot of people come in and say, 'I saw that gorilla and I had to stop.'"

Email: david@oakpark.com

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