Steven Shuniak

Busker Idol

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click to enlarge Steven Shuniak - LEILANI POLK
Steven Shuniak

Seen & Heard: In front of Fortunato's, 259 Central Ave., St. Petersburg (on a Saturday afternoon)

"The mandolin in Italian music is a soothing, romantic sound," Shuniak says on his Web page. "The robust passion, grace, and playfulness of Italian music reflects the life-loving nature of the Italian people." The 31-year-old St. Pete resident has played the mandolin for years but only recently started busking, he says, playing two or three days a month outside Fortunato's, typically during weekend days. His mandolin was handmade for him by a man in New York City two years ago. Shuniak grabbed our attention with a gorgeous rendition of the traditional Sicilian song "Amorino." For more information:

Eric: What a nice change from the hoedown shit-kicker music you usually hear on mandolin! You're obviously a technically accomplished player, and the Italian songs certainly make you a novel busker. I guess it's only appropriate that you play outside Fortunato's.

Leilani: Tight, focused playing — your mandolin added a pleasant old-world feel to the afternoon.

Wade: In terms of chops, you outstrip your fellow street performers by a country mile. There's genuine joy in your playing. Still a little low on the charisma meter, but that should improve as you increase your public appearances.

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