But despite his piano surviving more than 10-years of travel to high-risk areas such as war-torn parts of Afghanistan and Turkey, it was San Francisco's hills that took their toll on Martello's precious instrument.
One piano 🎹. San Francisco’s famous steel hills. THIS unfortunate incident! 😮 I chatted with @Klavierkunst, world famous street pianist & was there for one AMAZING surprise ✨ https://t.co/xnq8Oqqfnk #kindness ♥️ pic.twitter.com/EhvXLSdHRW— Dion Lim (@DionLimTV) March 7, 2019
We met him at his beat-up trailer and white minivan in Richmond where he's staying with friends. Martello shows us what's left of his piano and bench.
"This is the first chair I've ever had. I started piano lessons with this chair," says Martello as he points to a pile of wood that was once his bench.
Since Martello wanted to avoid parking his trailer and van at a meter, which would need to be continuously fed, he parked along Marina Boulevard and decided to transport his piano to a performance in San Francisco-- by bike.
Martello knew the steep streets would be a challenge.
"The first hill was very dangerous but I did it!" The next hill? "I was so in panic, I didn't know what to do."
The brakes on his tiny fold-up electric bike gave way and he lost control. His piano and bench is all Martello's got, rolled down Bay Street and crashed on the side of the street. The bench and his bike were in shambles. His piano lost legs and suffered some big bang-ups.
Determined to play at San Francisco's Pier 35 Thursday night, we followed Martello to DC Pianos in Berkeley to help him find a new bench.
From the moment he stepped inside and explained his situation, employee Dennis Crudo knew Martello was special.
"...his passion, it's a whole part of the music world where someone loves the music and their instrument," smiles Crudo.
Crudo then proceeded to surprise Martello with a used bench and a used piano.
Martello is stunned.
"Seriously? Thank you! Thank you so much! Thank you, oh my God! I just got a bench for free! A free piano to go along with it? A free piano? This can't be!"