At the Music Under New York busking spot at the 34th street subway station an Andean flute player was playing. He has been there since 10am. He only plays in the subway on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The rest of the days he sells Ecuadorian stuff, like bracelets, sweaters, etc., at street fairs. He has to pay $150 each day for renting space to sell his merchandise at street fairs, whether the street fair is in Manhattan or in the other boroughs. This is very expensive. Plus he has to pay sales tax. He is worried about the summer months, because in the summer people don’t buy sweaters (his biggest sales).
A tourist asked me how to get to Yankee Stadium.
A guy told me that he plays guitar. He asked if he could play in the subway without a permit. He used to teach guitar at a collage, but then got a stifling job that makes him more money. He played at two gigs last Saturday and he is exhausted from it – it was a street fair during the day and a hotel gig at night. He is 48 years old and has two teenage kids. His wife doesn’t let him play music – she complains when he does, even though he doesn’t do it very often. He feels very bad about not being able to play music full time. He feels his soul is aching. But he doesn’t want to upset his wife. She doesn’t want to come with him to his gigs, and she doesn’t occupy herself when he is away. He has six guitars at home – one is a Les Paul which he had since he was 16 years old. He played it last Saturday and felt in heaven.
Frankie, the guitar player who sings and whistles, came to say ‘hi’. He had a bad time at Times Square, so after half an hour of playing there he left.
My Music Under New York banner was flying off the hooks from bursts of wind. Frankie put tape on the banner to hold it in place. He told me the judge dismissed his summons that he got for playing in the subway.
Remi Francois, the singer from Haiti who sings in French, came to show me his acceptance letter from Music Under New York. He is so happy that he got in, finally, after three auditions.
At 3pm Duane’s hip-hop dance group, the NY Float Committee, came with their permit to the spot. Duane is really into teaching young kids and he is great at it. He’s been traveling with his group to Florida and Boston for performances.