Worst Busking Day

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When I arrived at the Music Under New York busking spot at the Times Square subway station, Agua Clara, the Andean band, were playing at the spot, with Graywolf selling CDs for them.
“I’m inside now”, Graywolf told me. Graywolf has been homeless for some time now. He’s staying at 115th street and soon will get a place on 43rd street, he said. He has a nice cell phone and he is generally doing better.
Angel, the leader of Agua Clara, has to face the immigration after 19 years of residing in the USA. His children were born here and are American citizens. If he doesn’t pass the immigration ordeal he will be deported back to Ecuador! That would make a lot of people very sad. Angel is loved by all.

Agua Clara

There was loud noise coming from the store next to the permitted busking spot – they were blaring out their sound system full force, in order to discourage buskers from setting up at the MTA permitted spot. The store also ran videos on screens in the store window, right by the busking spot, in order to give buskers grief.
Steven Clark, the Michael Jackson impersonator, waved to me on his way to Grand Central Station with some hip-hop dancers.

Michael Jackson

Frank, the guitar player/singer/whistler, was thrown out by a “3 foot tall police lady”, as he worded it. He is now angry and desperate to get hold of a copy of the ‘Busking Rights’ booklet, so hat he could show it to the police lady in retaliation for the injustice she did him. I gave him the info of where to get the booklet.


A couple told me they are from Atlanta, GA. There used to be an older man who played the musical saw in the underground, there, they said. It’s a place where there used to be trains and now there’s entertainment there, for tourists. The man they remembered had different size saws and he was a fixture at that spot. He was mugged a while back and he died.
The couple said I bring them back memories.

Cynthia, one of the violinists who played with me in the orchestra of Monkey – Journey to the West at the Spoleto Festival stopped to say ‘hi’. She said she wondered when she would finally run into me in the subway. She recently played with an orchestra in Mexico for 2 weeks. Now she was on her way to teach a violin lesson.

The guy who always says “Saw Lady, Saw Lady” whenever he sees me asked me how I was doing (after he said “Saw Lady, Saw Lady”, of course). I told him “not so good”, since the store is blasting music. I explained that’s why I don’t come to this spot as often now.
It was very frustrating today – really not fun playing there. Having to play against the obnoxious blaring of sound from the store, with crowds of men facing the video screens in the store window, thus having their backs to me, cheering some sports event on the screens. The situation was so bad it brought tears to my eyes. This was the worst day I’ve had playing at this spot (or any spot).

A toothless lady wearing a long, hooded coat, stood by me for a long time. She had the kindest look in her eyes. I felt like she was an angel, encouraging me during a hard time. Even if she didn’t know it, she was my angel this day. As I was feeling frustrated, she said to me: “You put a smile on people’s faces”.

Yily Nelson, the guitar player, came at 3pm. He gave me a Bulgari refreshing towel “for your hands”, he said. He told me he has to keep working hard because everything is so expensive.

Yily Nelson
Thank you, Steve, for this photo!

As I was packing up a guy from Santo Domingo told me how he took a suitcase full of shoes to his home town. 25 people were fighting over the shoes he brought. Even if it wasn’t their size, they wanted them because they have nothing. Here people throw stuff away and over there people have nothing.
We are blessed and we don’t even realize it.


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5 Responses to Worst Busking Day

  1. mister anchovy on April 3, 2009 at 11:42 am

    Sounds like a frustrating day. It’s too bad the folks at the store couldn’t simply relax and enjoy your music.

  2. Shawn Grimes on April 3, 2009 at 2:42 pm

    I’m so sorry to hear that you had a tough day busking. You bring joy and amusement to countless people throughout the day so stay strong.

  3. Nir on April 3, 2009 at 3:01 pm

    Hey, im a 23 years old musician from israel…

    spending couple of month here in NY.

    i was trying to find a job in waitring when it suddenly hit me. i could play in the subway.

    i love to sing and perform, and doing it not bad at all,
    so i thought about doing a show with my guitar doing some beatles songs, me my guitar and my harmonica.

    i would to see u perform and maybe get some tips from a vetren and talented artist, and a street performer.

    i needthe money and i thought that could be a excellent chance to do that andin the same time make people enjoy there staying in the subway.

    do you think this could be a smart move?

  4. Saw Lady on April 3, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    Thank you, guys, for your kind, encouraging words!
    Much appreciated!

  5. elizasmom on April 3, 2009 at 4:39 pm

    What a bummer of a day. The people at that store sound really petty. I would rather watch a live performer than a TV!

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