Monday, October 19, 2009

Found Music Episode 1

One of my hobbies while on the road is discovering street musicians. I love walking down the street and being surprised by a string quartet or a solo trumpet. I adore being on the Subway and a mariachi band appears out of nowhere and begins to play. I am enchanted by the accordions that I have heard played by street musicians in Italy and France and am captivated by the Tango in Argentina. Spontaneous music accompanying our time in the city sets the mood of our visits and gives us the flavor and vibe of wherever we are. New York is saturated with street musicians and I often carry spare change and dollars just for the opportunity to stop a moment and listen and then thank them accordingly. If I am lucky enough to have my camera I even video some of the performance. It is amazing to watch how people respond to these musicians. Some pass without acknowledgment and some, like me, make it a point to stop and gather to listen. A few years ago the famous violinist Joshua Bell did an experiment in Washington, D.C. where he played the violin at the Metro station. The objective was to see how many people would actually be aware that they were hearing one of the world’s finest violinists and also to see just how many people would respond. Mr. Bell played for 45 minutes and collected a total of $32. Only a handful of people stopped to listen and over one thousand simply passed him over unaware they were missing out on one of our greatest artists. Astonishing! Imagine just letting that kind of music just pass you by. (Click here to read that story and see the video of his experiment.)

So, in honor of all the street musicians who have accompanied my travels over the years and who continue to do so, I would like to offer on my blog some excerpts from my private collection that I like to call, Found Music. Once a week or so I will leave a clip of some of the Found Music either from my visit here in New York or from my archives. I’d like to start the series by showing one that I recorded last week at 42nd Street Subway Station. I was on my way downtown and I heard Bluegrass music. When I found the musicians I was astonished that they were African American! They even had a sign behind them letting us all know who they were. So, here, enjoy this clip from the Ebony Hillbillies and remember to always stop and hear the music and be sure to carry some money in your pocket to drop in their instrument cases.

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