New Jersey native rocks local music scene

Ask Michael Reisman, Bremerton resident, what he lives for, and he may just pick up a guitar and play a lick on the nylon strings, his fingers marching like calloused soldiers, up and down the neck.

Though he considers it a blessing and a curse, Reisman says playing music is the one thing he cannot stop doing.

“There is not a moment in his day that he does not think about

playing,” said his ex-girlfriend, Keylee Marineau.

Added his band mate David Hillman, “It’s everything he does.”

Reisman goes by the nickname Bongo — a moniker that fits his life of creation, laughter and angst.

To feed his hunger, Bongo surrounds himself with musical opportunities. He hosts a Wednesday night open mic at the Manette Saloon and works a day job at a sub shop where he can turn the boom box up loud.

He practices nights with his band Faster Daddy, and spends the end of the week playing gigs all around the Northwest.

Playing and listening to music dominate his life, and even though his parents had different career plans for him, he says it has nearly always been that way.

“I knew music was my life as soon as I knew anything,” Bongo said.

Since childhood he tinkered on his father’s drum set. He took up piano and trombone lessons in the fourth grade. Now he plays guitar and drums for a couple bands and solo acts. He is also a musician for hire.

A New Jersey native, Reisman, 25, moved to Bremerton three years ago and has since produced one solo album and another with his band Faster Daddy. He also recently joined a band called Slow Boys with his friend David Hillman.

He doesn’t have a map for his future, but he does have a general idea.

“I just want to play as much as possible,” he said.

“I would like to be able to quit my job at the deli and be able to support myself with music.”

And if it never works out?

“If I never get my lucky break and I end up playing in small, crappy bars the rest of my life, so be it,” he said.

Bongo shares the fear many artists live with. He fears that he will not challenge himself or promote himself enough to accomplish his musical dreams.

“I’m afraid I’ll end up working in that deli for the rest of my life,” he said.

“That’s why I’m part-time now.”

Bongo’s friend Hillman said if Bongo never becomes a professional musician, he is so attached to music he will always play.

Call it the musician’s curse.

“We don’t have a choice in the matter,” said Hillman. “It’s what we do and what we love doing.”

However, when Bongo is always reaching for a guitar or playing a song or listening to a song, he loses focus in other parts of his life. Hillman acknowledges the same obstacle.

“What defines us can also kill us too,” Hillman said.

Bongo is stubborn about his music, which helps him and hurts him, Hillman said.

“I’m kind of a control freak. One of my fears is about not getting to live a long full life, so I feel everything has to be done today.”

Bongo sometimes alienates people in his life so he can write a song or play a gig. If people can’t stand beside him or follow him, they often walk away from.

Marineu was Bongo’s girlfriend for three years. She says it was hard because she realized his first love will always be music.

“People who enter his life know that. You know you will always be second billing. You are number two whether you are his friend or his girlfriend.”

Bongo agreed long-term relationships with friends and lovers are a stumbling block for him.

He would rather communicate through his music.

The songs Bongo writes are thoughtful, curious and sometimes sad. They remind people to pay attention to their decisions and examine their assumptions. They are also deeply introspective.

“I can express myself to the people I’m closest to through music better than anything else,” he said.

“The worst thing that could ever happen to me is I could go deaf. Honestly, that would be worse for me than losing someone. Don’t let me go deaf.”

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