Santas Everywhere!

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December 10, 2007
By Posted in Union Square Subway Station | 2 Comments »

As I arrived at the Union Square subway station I could hear a jazz guitar. I couldn’t see who it was, but it kind of sounded like Don Witter to me…

Don Witter

As I was setting up at the Music Under New York spot some people asked me how to get to the Plaza Hotel.

Plaza Hotel

I played my first few notes of the first song I played – ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’ and a guy came to me and said “I’m so glad you are back!”
Wow – people noticed that I haven’t played in the subway for a week!

Blackwolf, the Central Park Wizard, paused to listen to my music for a little while.


A trio of Nortenos – two guitars and one small accordion (a bandoleon?) wearing mismatching hats greeted me as they changed from the downtown to the uptown train.


The Scientologists set up their table at their usual spot.


A lady bought my CD and said she is originally from Poland. she said she was very tired, because she worked the whole night, but listening to my playing gave her energy.

The guy who sings on the trains was wearing a ball-cap with ‘I heart Jesus’ on it. He told me that he just finished singing with Bow & Chill (on the #6 line) and now he is going to sing with another group that sings on the trains. He said he is really busy but he feels he ‘has to give his singing to G-D’.

I took a little break to talk with Geovanni Suquillo, the guitar player. He was looking for a spot but all the spots were occupied. He said he has a permit for my spot for tomorrow.
We talked about the hardship of performing during winter. We marveled at how guitarist Jeremiah Lockwood told Geo that he used to play outside, on the street during winters past.

Jeremiah Lockwood

I said that my cut-off temperature these days is 34 degrees, because when it’s that cold the metal of the musical saw doesn’t vibrate sufficiently to play. I have played the musical saw in colder temperatures in the past, but that was when I was young and energetic… :) You have to fight the saw to play in freezing conditions, and it’s not fun… Geo used to play Andean flutes with Sixto in the subway. They used to play for 8 whole hours. I only did that once. Today Geo plays guitar and that is hard on the fingers when it’s cold. It becomes painful after a while. So now he only wants to play 2 to 3 hours a day during winter.
Sixto is not playing in the subway any more. He is happy selling Andean clothing and stuff at a mall where he has a booth. There are other Andean musicians in the subway who also take on other jobs, such as construction jobs. Geo could do other work as well but he is a dedicated musician. He only wants to do music in order to advance his skills and career. He composes his own music in the Flamenco/Experimental/Latin styles. He is very hard working and he teaches guitar, too. He deserves to go far.


Today was the first time this year that I wore my Santa’s Helper Elf hat.
I noticed that there were a lot of Santas passing through the subway today. I caught a glimpse of a sticker that was on one of the girls dressed as Santa – it said – ‘Santa for President 2008’…

Santas in subway

A woman with a South American accent said to me: “I bought your CD two years ago. I communicate with angels and I like to do meditation to the sounds of your CD”.

At 4:30 I packed up to go. The Scientologists seemed to be packing up their gear also.
Down on the platform there was the usual accordion player.
On the train I saw more Santas. It turned out today was the annual Santa convention – lots of people dress up as Santa and go bar hopping. Tis the season!

Santas on train


2 Responses to Santas Everywhere!

  1. Gamma on December 10, 2007 at 10:25 pm

    Great blog, I love hearing about the social ecology of busking underground.

    My video and photos of SantaCon NYC ’07

  2. Daktari on December 13, 2007 at 3:45 pm

    Hi Saw Lady-

    Thanks for your comment on my travel blog. It was my first comment since I started blogging last month! I enjoyed exploring your website. I’ll put Union Station on my list of places to see if I make it to NYC.

    The interesting thing about the subway in Budapest is that the train is free. There are ticket vending machines but no one except tourists ever use them! I think maybe it’s a holdover from communist days when property was theft and subway rides were gratis.

    Maybe that means people have more forints to give to buskers – let’s hope so. Although most of the entertainment on the trains is provided by the public smooching of handsome young couples on platforms and railcars. No charge – just like the trains!


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