People Say the Darnedest Things

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October 1, 2007
By Posted in Union Square Subway Station | 1 Comment »

When I arrived at the Music Under New York spot at the Union Square subway station it was 11:45 and there was nobody there. The elevator from the platform wasn’t working, so I had to carry my gear up the stairs. There were two people sleeping on the bench near the MUNY spot.

man sleeping in subway

A group of kids stopped to listen and one of them asked (motioning at the musical saw) “that’s a knife?”

Geovanni Sequillo was looking for a spot. He had been to Times Square but somebody was playing at the spot there. He told me he forgot to call the office of Music Under NY to ask for permits (actually he didn’t forget – he just got the call-in date wrong). I told him to call first thing Monday morning – he won’t be able to get the spots that he might want, but he’ll probably be able to get something, which is better than no permits at all.


A mother said to her little kid “Do you hear the VOICE of the saw?” I thought it was neat she called it a voice, rather than a sound.

Peter, an Irish drummer who is friends with an Irish musical saw player I’m friends with through MySpace came to see me. He is visiting New York for a week. He carries his drum wherever he goes and plays along with people. He told me that he played with a group of musicians in central park. He also told me of a kleizmer concert on the roof of a synagogue in the Village. Peter plays with a kleizmer band in Ireland. He told me that he could hear the sound of my musical saw as soon as he got off the train, so he knew he was in the right place.

I haven’t played in the subway on a Saturday in a long time. It seemed everything was different at the spot than the way it is on weekdays – the people walking by were different – not the usual folks on their way to/from work or school, but rather a lot of families and shoppers. The sanitation workers in the station were different, too – not the ones I know.
I did see one person whom I usually see both at the Times Square and the Union Square spots – an older gentleman who walks all bent over and has a hunchback. He walks with a cane and always looks at the floor. He looks sad.

A bit before 1pm the Scientologists showed up. They set-up two tables covered with red table cloths, toped with their books and stress machines.


Chill and Bow, the two singing brothers who sing on the trains showed up with a singing partner. I haven’t seen them in a while. They said it’s because they are doing the ‘6’ train line these days.

Chill & Bow

A guy told me that he took a photo of me three years ago at Penn Station, with the mosaic behind me. I think 3 years ago was just about the last time that I played at that spot…
He told me that he is trying to sell his camera.

A lady asked if she could hear the musical saw without the back-up music. When I played it for her she said “oh, so you were lip-sinking to the saw?!”… (For those of you who don’t know – the musical saw sounds like a soprano voice – please listen to the sound samples on the downloads page).

On my way home I changed trains at Times Square. Cesar was playing on the platform there – he plays an electric keyboard and sings. He is very talented. It took him a long time to get an amp for his keyboard and now he also has a microphone for his voice. Before that the noise of the trains used to drown him out.

While I was on the ‘R’ train 5 kids were trying to do a break-dance show on the train, but their boom-box was malfunctioning. by the time one of the kids fixed it I had to get off.

Break-dancer on train


One Response to People Say the Darnedest Things

  1. jmb on October 2, 2007 at 6:41 am

    Hi Saw Lady,

    Interacting via the blog, the only way for me I’m afraid, till next year. When I get back there I’ll feel as if I know all the buskers in NYC! I’ll be saying hello as if I’ve actually met them.

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