Nathaniel Anderson happily strums his guitar out front of Oak Park Natural Pet & Fish on Harlem Avenue. The store is trying to drum up business but Anderson sees the job as a chance to perform. (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.'”

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David Pierini

In June of 2014, David was honored with the 1st Place Award for Best Photo Series, as well as the 1st Place Award for Sports Photo, by the Illinois Press Association. Check out his award-winning caliber...