Subway Musician at Canne Film Festival

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November 28, 2007
By Posted in Union Square Subway Station | 4 Comments »

I passed the 59th street & Lexington subway station on my way, and I could see Frankie playing his guitar there. This seems to be his favorite spot these days.


As I don’t usually play in the subway on Sundays, I was surprised by the different atmosphere that engulfed me at the Union Square subway station. It was very quiet. The people I usually encounter at this station were not there – they are only there on week days.

Ben, who plays a large keyboard with lots of different sounds waved to me from the elevator. He was going to play on the platform downstairs. Ben says the reason why he started playing in the subway was seeing me perform!

A homeless looking guy carrying a walking cane and big black garbage bags full of stuff paused in front of me. He smiled at me, twirled his cane behind him from his right-hand side, and caught it from his left-hand side. Smiling, he bowed to me and walked away.

Two guys playing accordion and one playing guitar were switching trains. Thanks to Ramon who commented on my previous post, I now know that these musicians are called Norteño musicians. Thank you, Ramon!


A guy gave me a newspaper…

The 4 acapella singers waved hello on their way to the 6th train.

Acapella singers

At 3pm Professor Edwardo Alvares came for his permitted time. Edwardo plays keyboard. He had a great idea – he surrounds himself with dancing dolls that operate on batteries. The result is a wonderful visual which attracts attention. People love it.
Usually Edwardo, who is in his 70’s, gets help from either his son, his daughter and sometimes from his wife when playing in the subway. He told me his son is in Ecuador but he will be back in December. Today Edwardo was all alone, so I helped him set up his equipment.
I haven’t seen Edwardo for a few months. All this time I have been carrying a newspaper article I printed from the Internet in order to give it to Edwardo when I next see him. the article told of how a film maker took a one minute long film to the Canne Film Festival. The film was of Edwardo playing in the subway. The article didn’t mention Edwardo by name, but the description of an elderly man playing keyboard in the NYC subway, surrounded by dancing dolls can only match Edwardo. I have a feeling the film did not give Edwardo credit (it seemed from the article that the film maker didn’t even know Edwardo’s name!). I told Edwardo’s son about this article last time I saw him and he said the film maker never asked permition from his father to film him. I think the least the film maker should do is put Edwardo’s name in the film’s credits. I don’t know if Edwardo will try to contact the film maker or not, but at least now he knows about the existance of this film, which got a lot of attention in the short film category at the Canne Film Festival.


Waiting for the train, I chatted with Ben, who was playing keyboard on the platform. He said he needs to get a lighter cart to carry his keyboard. His cart alone weighs 30 pounds! He also wants to get sheet music in order to learn to play more songs.
“That’s my train” I said to Ben. “See you next week”.

subway train


4 Responses to Subway Musician at Canne Film Festival

  1. Ramon on December 1, 2007 at 2:34 am

    You are very welcome.

  2. Renuka on December 18, 2007 at 2:18 pm

    Hi Natalia,
    I heard you perform this past Friday, the 14th of Dec at the Trinity School in Manhattan. I had never heard of the musical saw before then. It sounds like a beautiful instrument. Also I looked it up on the internet and there were quite a few artists who had posted clips of their recordings. However I find your style of playing the most soothing – it’s simply beautiful. You are truly gifted and you have a way with the instrument. Keep playing, you make people happy. And I loved the brief history you shared about the musical saw at the concert. I will look out for you on the subway stations :)
    Happy Holidays and keep making beautiful music – you bring peace to the soul.

  3. Rachel on February 21, 2010 at 2:01 am

    Do you have a link to that article or the name of the filmmaker?

  4. Saw Lady on February 23, 2010 at 12:24 am

    Hi Rachel,

    You are asking a question about something that happened 3 years ago… I’m sorry but I don’t remember the details now.

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