Largest Gypsy Gathering in the World


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As I was setting my busking gear up at the Music Under New York spot at the Union Square subway station, Jinn, the lady who busks around the world singing and playing a keyboard hooked up to a laptop computer, was looking for a spot to busk. She asked me for recommendations of good busking spots and also of a cheep place to stay in town temporarily. She is staying in NJ now and it’s too far away. She settled on trying to play at the ‘L’ train platform today. She plays six hours a day, but in two hour intervals – to preserve her voice.

Albert, the messenger, came by – he got a temp job messengering something to Brooklyn. He said that he’ll come back this way in thirty minutes. “You owe me two songs” he said.

Another messenger guy told me that he has to make a delivery to Staten Island and then he can go home.

Saw Lady @ Union Square

A guy from Italy told me that he plays saxophone on the Brooklyn Bridge, under the arc. “Good acoustics” he said. In three days he is going to New Orleans.

It’s nice how people with headphones take them out of their ears when they pass by me.

A group of little kids all wearing blue shirts walked by with their teacher. A little girl with a black pony-tail said to me: “I saw you before”.
Saw Lady: “And now we’re seeing each other again!”
The little girl came over to me and gave me a big hug.

Saw Lady by Peter Wang
© Peter Wang

At 2pm Jinn came up from the ‘L’ train platform- a cop told her to move. She needed to take a break anyway, she said, and she’s going to go eat.

A gentleman from Egypt and a lady from Poland stopped to inquire about the musical saw. The gentleman plays guitar and keyboards and he is visually impaired. He gave me a brand new pen, still in cellophane wrapping, of his business of vision aids in Yonkers.

Jack, a traveling accordion and guitar player, told me that his cousin in Arizona plays the musical saw. They used to busk together in CA. Jack wanted to attend the largest gypsy gathering in the world – that was last May in Southern France. He flew to London, planning to continue to France from there. The British wouldn’t let him in, saying that they don’t want traveling musicians in the country. They demanded proof of employment, a bank statement and an address of where he will be staying. They ended up sending him back to the USA. He is from LA, but they shipped him to NYC. So, now he’s here for the first time in his life.

Natalia at Union Square
Photographer: © Aaron Porter

A lady told me that she got a musical saw for a present, but it’s too stiff for her to play.

Leon, the gentleman from the former Yugoslavia whom I used to see often at the Times Square subway station when he was on his way to school, came to tell me that he graduated from college and has a job interview in NJ on Wednesday. “NJ is far, but what can you do”, he said.

Theo Eastwind, the singer/song-writer, walked by. He is busking in the mornings now – 8 to 11am. The rest of the day he works in real-estate.

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5 Responses to Largest Gypsy Gathering in the World

  1. Zina on March 25, 2010 at 11:56 am

    You have a fantastic blog here, Natalia. I love the way you report on the comings and goings of the people around you. What a beautiful lens you provide on the world; it says volumes about the artist behind the music.

  2. Alice in Wonderland on April 22, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    Saw Lady, Thank you so much for your comment on my blog! I find inspiration in all sorts of everyday things, and the thought of “apricot guitars” just kept going through my head all day, so I was trying to think of something to do with buskers playing guitars. The movie “Once” came to mind, and I thought of Glen Hansard playing his old guitar day after day, so I wrote the poem!
    Yes, of course you can use it!
    I may even link it back to you in a poem!
    It must be a tough life, but a very rewarding one, meeting all these different people everyday.
    Wishing you all the luck in the world!
    Big hugs from across the Pond!
    Heather. {Alice in Wonderland.}

  3. Alice in Wonderland on April 22, 2010 at 3:23 pm

    Saw-Lady, I’ve got some ideas floating around in my head for a poem I am working on, and I wondered if I could use some of your photos to illustrate it, if that would be o.k. with you.
    The title I was playing around with is Sing as you saw, Saw-Lady. But, I’m just playing around with some thoughts at the moment.
    I would, of course, dedicate it to you.
    Cheers, sweetie!

  4. Heidi on April 30, 2010 at 2:06 am

    I bet you must hear so many questions and comments. You’re music is amazing.

  5. Tipserve on May 19, 2010 at 2:52 am

    This is Bruce, a busker in Japan. Your blog has improved since we last exchanged comments– very nice.

    I visited there for only one day last year, but sadly missed you. I wandered about while my son tended bar near Central Park. Next time I’ll try to prepare better.

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