Black Friday at the Union Square Subway Station
When I got to the Music Under New York busking spot at the Union Square subway station today I met the duo Mikanic there. They were just packing up their busking gear. Originally from South Africa Mike and Nick were accepted into MUNY three years ago, but have spent the past year in South Africa and are now back in town.
I asked them if there are any musical saw players in South Africa and they said there aren’t, but Mike’s father tried to play one after having seen it in a movie.
Nick plays a gorgeous African guitar – it is made of an oil can and there are bottle caps for buttons! Talk about going green and recycling! It has a good sound and an added bonus of a tinny sound when beating on it. Apparently these guitars are quite common in Africa. I bet if somebody imported them here he would make a fortune.
Anthony, the guitar playing Norteno, came up the stairs from the platform especially just to say ‘hi’ to me.
‘The Fellows’ – Bo, Chill and friend were singing on the trains. I expressed my grief to them about the Chinese erhu player who set up on me and was blasting his amplified erhu so loud that his sound was overpowering mine. I was at the spot first, so he must have heard me playing as he chose his spot. Why didn’t he set up a few feet away from my immediate surrounding area?
To this ‘The Fellows’ replied by telling me of their busking grief: busking ettiquette is that when you work the trains you enter the train from its end. This way buskers don’t step on each other’s territory. ‘The Fellows’ told me that the guitar players who work the trains enter the train in the middle, thus throwing havoc in the order. ‘The Fellows’ were singing, and all of a sudden some guitar players entered the subway car and started to play, even though ‘The Fellows’ were in the car first. ‘The Fellows’, being long time buskers, older and wiser, just left the train, avoiding confrontation.
At this point, I had the erhu player on the platform on my right and a steel drummer somewhere on my left…
Blackwolf, the Central Park Wizard, was on his way to meet a guy who works as a Santa Claus. He stopped to tell me that he will be performing at the Holiday Inn.
At 2pm a police officer very politely asked me to stop playing for 10 minutes or so, because the police has something going on and they need quiet. He was really nice and apologized for the disturbance in my performance. I saw a bunch of cops grouped by the stairs to the downtown trains for a while, then they moved to the token booth.
The nice lady who always says ‘hi’ at this station asked me how my Thanksgiving was. I noticed she has a hoarse throat.
Saw Lady: “Drink lots of either hot water or hot tea, and take vitamin C”.
Lady: “Oh, yea? Someone told me lemon and honey”.
Saw Lady: “Put the lemon and honey in the hot water or tea for best results”.
Subway musicians often act as tourist information centers and as bankers (people asking to change a dollar). Now I can add ‘doctor’ to the list
Shogu, the Japanese guitarist, walked by and the guy who does ‘I Heart’ communal art work on big canvases waved to me.
At 3:30 Marc of ‘Mecca Bodega’ had a permit to play his dulcimer at the spot. Usually he plays with his brother, but Paul went down south for a while. Marc doesn’t play Christmas music during the Christmas season. He said he had too much of it growing up. Me on the other hand – I love Christmas music. It is really easy to play on the musical saw