The man, later identified as Antonio Nango, 18, pulled his Honda onto the shoulder of the Loop 101 freeway heading north, near the Indian School Road exit. He got out of his car and whipped out his sax to practice for about 30 minutes while waiting for roadside assistance to show up and bring him gasoline.
ADOT assumed he was playing the hit Gerry Rafferty song, "Baker Street," which was a solid guess. That opening sax riff is very recognizable, even for those driving 60-plus miles per hour.
However, he was not and told Phoenix New Times he doesn't know how to play that song, but may learn it since it's so popular.
"I do know how to play 'Careless Whisper,' so maybe I'll play that for people," Nango said.
Nango, who was born and raised in Mesa, now attends Scottsdale Community College as a music major. He said his brief stint with local stardom is surreal. His friends and family have been contacting him online when they found out about his saxophone playing on the freeway.
"I had no clue there were cameras on the 101," Nango said. He just assumed people driving by would take videos of him on Snapchat.
He even did that himself.
Guess I’m famous now? pic.twitter.com/awz8qwNc32— Freeway Sax Guy (@TonoNango) September 13, 2018
Though this mini-gig didn't attract much attention from those who witnessed it in person, Nango does perform every Sunday at Lost Dutchman Coffee Roasters in Mesa 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and you can see him and his entire music class perform at The Nash in downtown Phoenix at 7:30 p.m., October 30.
Here is the tweet seen 'round Arizona from ADOT, reminding everyone to practice safe sax.
"While everyone at ADOT loves an impromptu 'Baker Street' performance," ADOT posted on Twitter, "we remind our fellow art lovers that freeway shoulders are not the safest place to shred on the sax."
So ... this just happened on L-101 Pima and Indian School.— Arizona DOT (@ArizonaDOT) September 12, 2018
While everyone at ADOT loves an impromptu Baker Street performance, we remind our fellow art lovers that freeway shoulders are not the safest place to shred on the sax. pic.twitter.com/NwbHoj7S6v