The Smell of Winter in NYC
When I got to the Music Under New York spot at the 59th street and Lexington subway station, there were 3 guys singing there, accompanied by a 4th guy on keyboard. They are “N” Tune – an R&B group which sings songs from the 50’s through the 80’s. Really nice, older guys, who sing beautiful harmony. They take turns being the soloist – every song they rotate the soloist, while the others provide back-up voices.
One of them told me he got to the spot at 10AM, after waiting a whole hour at another station they usually sing at… the others were supposed to stick their heads out of the train to let him know where they are playing today, but they didn’t…
Another one of them told me that he is a bit stuffy-nosed today (he was blowing his nose) – he still sounded good when he sang though.
As I was waiting for them to be done performing, Martina Bruno, a.k.a the “subway angel” came to say ‘hi’. She sings opera, dressed as an angel (with wings). She told me that she freelances mostly (though she is a MUNY member) because she likes to perform in the early mornings at 77th street and in the corridor at 42nd street (not MUNy spots). She said the fact that she sings acapella is difficult and she is glad that she now got a sound system.
The 4 singers of “N” Tune went on to perform at 51street. One of them sings with ‘The Persuasions’ (and was a founding member of the group). The Persuasions started as five boys singing a capella on street corners, schoolyards and in subway stations of Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, in 1962. Over the years, The Persuasions have opened for Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention, Ray Charles, Bill Cosby, and Richard Pryor to name but a few. Interestingly, it should be noted that acts such as Roseanne Barr and Bruce Springsteen once opened for The Persuasions. Anyway, he told me that he travels a lot performing with the group, which is why he is twice divorced…
Today was the first cold day of the year – high temp 49 degrees. The smell of baked pretzels filtered in from the street above – that is the smell of winter in New York City.