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Story of George Street saxophonist touches Rutgers bus driver

Photo by Katie Park

About two weeks ago, John Sabin played his saxophone on George Street as usual. Not much had changed — he still sat on a wooden stool between Harvest Moon Brewery and Cafe and Chase Bank for hours on end, and his black instrument case lay open at his feet collecting donations day after day. Though he had attracted a little attention with an article chronicling his life.

The story, titled “George Street saxophonist takes ‘minuet’ to share life story,” passed into the hands of Rutgers bus driver Al “Stevens” Tepperman, who was driven to personally reach out to Sabin after reading about his life.

Sabin, 60, is a homeless saxphone, flute, clarinet and piccolo player and teacher who plays his weathered saxophone outside every day and works to scrape together $50 daily to sleep in a motel for another night with his wife, two children and three dogs, according to the article.

Sabin said he cycled in and out of homelessness for the past 20-some years in the article, although his life descended starting in 1991, when an immediate family member molested one of his children.

“We weren’t quite sure what happened exactly at first, and then we did know, and it basically ruined our lives,” he said in the article.

Tepperman, who is a Rutgers Class of 1989 alumnus and fellow musician, reached to Sabin by phone, and then met him in person about a week ago where he deposited a few dollars into Sabin’s case.

“His eyes showed that he was quite, quite blessed by this little gift,” Tepperman said in an email.

But Tepperman said he and his wife Norma decided to help out Sabin a little more — they spared him more cash, bought him a music stand and some “much-needed shoes,” paid off one or two of Sabin’s debts and arranged to put new tires on his car and get back one of his favorite saxophones.

Tepperman, a musician who said he was blessed to play in more than 30 states and 40 countries for sick children and adults in recovery programs, said in an email that he seeks out opportunities to use his gift of music to help those in need.

“We believe this is the beginning of a new friendship between two musicians and ‘wild and crazy guys!’" he said.