Mostly New Yorkers

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February 14, 2010
By Posted in Union Square Subway Station | No Comments »

I was suffering from lower back pain for the first time ever. Somehow a bone moved out of place in my pelvis and I had to skip two busking permits on account of being in too much pain. Normally I drag my busking gear up and down staircases in the subway, but today, due to my back being better but not back to normal, I asked for help for the first time ever. Having guys help me bring my busking gear up the two long staircases in the subway station was a life saver. I think I should ask for help from now on and not rely on sporadic volunteers. After all, I’m not getting any younger…


At the Union Square subway station a lady named Jennifer told me that she remembers a friend of her father’s in Guyana playing the musical saw. Her father died 30 years ago. She was almost the youngest of 10 kids. Both her parents were good singers (her mother is still living in Guyana) and her uncle was a choir director at church.

A guy said to me about the musical saw: “It’s giddy – it looks like so much fun”.
A Lady asked me to give her four quarters for a dollar so that she could use the pay-phone.
A guy who walks with a severe limp offered me his juice drink.

Saw Lady at 14th st
Photographer: © Michael Seto

A guy said: “Where have you been?”
Saw Lady: “I’ve been around”.
Guy: “I missed you”.

A guy asked a police officer if it was OK to bring a large bag onto the train.
A Lady asked me where there is a public restroom.

At 3pm Kossan, the Japanese singer and sanshin player, came for his permitted busking time slot. He has been in Japan for the past three months, but now he is back in NYC, and he has gigs with a theater group.
Kossan stopped using an amplifier when performing in the subway. It’s too heavy to carry, he said, and when it’s noisy people don’t stop to listen even if he’s loud. People only listen when it’s quiet, he said, and then he doesn’t need an amplifier. I advised him to check out the Shuttle and also 51st street & Lexington – two subway stations where it’s very quiet.


As I was packing up a girl carrying a guitar told me she is traveling around the USA. She is from Switzerland and she remembers seeing a musical saw player in Bazel, playing together with an Australian guy.

A bass player named Seth stopped to introduce himself. His friend has been in touch with me over the Internet, asking advice about playing in the subway. They have a unique hip-hop group and I’m sure they’ll do well when they start playing in the subway.

When I changed trains at Times Square the lady who plays guitar and sings on trains said ‘hi’. She told me it has been really bad for her on the ‘R’ train today – people were 80% tourists (and only 20% native New Yorkers), and they were too busy with their souvenirs to even notice that she was there. So, she decided to go back to the ‘7’ train where it’s mostly New Yorkers.


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by Scott R Munson