musings of a subway performer and lifelong troubadour

A New Direction in 2017

Added on by Cathy Grier.

Greetings from Sturgeon Bay, WI 

I am writing from my new home in Sturgeon Bay, WI. It's north of Green Bay and honestly not even a consideration to visit as I drove around the country this past year. I did meet a wonderful bass player named Tony Menzer in Madison at a blues jam he hosted. Tony expressed with enthusiasm, "you really need to check out what we're doing in Sturgeon Bay. There is a songwriting festival in June that you should apply to." I explained that I was heading west and since it was only October, hard for me to imagine where I would be in June the following year. Well he kept at me and I did find myself as part of the songwriting group this past June. I found a place where music is thriving and as I looked closer a place to call home.

You can follow my world at my Cathy Grier site or on my social media pages using CathyGrierMusic or Cathy Grier as a search. and read more about what I am doing on my "Now" page inspired by Derek Sivers as a way to provide up to date info on my life.

I will also keep my NYCSubwayGirl.com as a resource for buskers in NYC and beyond and hope people will enjoy discovering some of the amazing people and other performers whom I met and filmed as I performed in the Music Under New York Program. I want to thank everyone in the Music Under New York Program especially Tim Higginbotham who has been such an incredible rock for me throughout the years. 

More about the songwriting festival called SteelBridge Fest . It's a place where songwriters meet 3 times a year to write, record and perform the songs written in a cool retro renovated motel called The Holiday Music Motel. And the brainchild of none other than a prolific songwriter named pAt mAcDonald of Timbuk 3 fame. The experience inspired me and I found a new home to live.  After almost 20 years in New York City and most of my life on the east coast (except for the ’90’s when I lived in France), to find myself in the miid-west will bring different and enriching possibilities.

I'd love to hear from you. You can contact me here.

A Summer Above Ground

Added on by Cathy Grier.

I set out on a journey last September to travel around the country. When I arrived on Cape Cod in May, a chance singing with amazing artist Zoe Lewis got the owner's of Tin Pan Alley to invite me to return for a gig that would last me the entire summer. Here I am with my poodles, settled in for a great summer. Certainly it's a far cry from the chaos of the subway, but if you've ever been on Commercial Street in the summer you might think there isn't much difference!

I love that the name of the bar/restaurant is Tin Pan Alley made famous as the place where  an entire generation of music was written right in the heart of Manhattan. 

Hope to see you if you find yourself in Provincetown this summer.

Buskers wrongful arrest settle with NYC

Added on by Cathy Grier.

I am never happy writing about abuses I have seen or heard about authorities wanting to harass or worse, incarcerate artists for performing in the subway. The right to legally be able to perform in public spaces was won 30 years ago. I was part of the wonderful BuskNY celebration of that case last summer. You can read more about it and the law in a previous blog: Busking Legal Right Since 1985
 

There was a case last year that broke my heart, but also showed the strength of human spirit. Andrew Kalleen was performing his acoustic guitar on a Brooklyn platform when he was wrongfully arrested. The video capturing the arrest and entire experience has been seen over 1.5 million times on youtube. I blogged about it at the time Busking Is Not A Crime

Thanks to the exhausting work of Andrew to break through the system and with the support of other artists also wrongfully arrested a case was created and recently settled with the city this past April. You can read more in an article in Gothamist.

I applaud the advocacy group BuskNY which works tirelessly to bring attention, education and support to artists wrongfully arrested or harassed. Here is an excerpt from the Gothamist:
'BuskNY, an advocacy group for underground buskers, announced that the city has strummed up over $100,000 in settlements for the wrongful arrests of performers.
Musicians and activists gathered in the Union Ave. station in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Saturday to celebrate the milestone.
Guitarist James Gallagher, 44, and his rapper partner James Woodard, 25, won a recent suit against the city for $54,500.
“You’re not going to become a millionaire down here,” Gallagher said. “But if you want to practice your art and pay your bills, I recommend it.”
Since 1985, music and art performances have been legal in the New York subway system — with no permits needed."
Congratulations to Jadon, James, and Andrew for their hard work getting this news out there.

Music Under NY audition application deadline March 23rd

Added on by Cathy Grier.

MUNY is accepting applications for the next auditions till the deadline March 23rd. If you know anyone who is interested or a musician you think would be interested, please ask them to call ASAP 212-878-4678

You can find more info on the website  and download an application. All submission should arrive postdated by March 23rd. 

Aurel and Elo tribute, victims of Paris massacre

Added on by Cathy Grier.

Aurelie de Peretti and Elodie Sappy, friends of mine from St. Tropez, France, visited me in NYC in November 2013. I showed them around the city and they especially enjoyed the subway music we found along the way. 

Aurel and Elo were in Paris on November 13, 2015 attending a concert of Eagles Of Death Metal at the Bataclan concert hall. Aurel was killed, and Elo was gravely wounded. As of this post she is in a Parisian hospital.  My heart goes out to the families of these dear women. They loved life and music

May the death of Aurel and the injuries of Elo not be turned into fear. I found this clip in my archives and am so happy to see them once again filled with light, love and wonderment.  As Aurel exclaims after hearing the brass duo perform on the platform at Broadway and Lafayette, C’est magique which needs no translation.

Love and Light to us all.  I was lucky enough to have know Aurel for the short time I did, and I hope one day to visit Elo and give her a huge hug of love and support.

Music heals.

Spontaneous is a Journey

Added on by Cathy Grier.

If you have been following my social media posts, you know I am currently on a road trip (I call the Wander Tour) around the USA. I left NY on September 23rd (my grandmother's birthday and the first day of Autumn). I headed west from Old Chatham, NY to Erie, Pa. and then onward stopping in Detroit, Grosse Pointe where I had the pleasure of performing with my partner in the 80's Lenore Troia.  We hadn't performed together for over 2O years and it was a wonderful reunion. I traveled north in MI to Torch Lake, where I connected with long time musical friend from the days that I lived in Key West, Fl, Leanna Collins.  Leanna is an amazing musician and songwriter, happily still performing. she and her husband have a wonderful cafe, performance space.  

Then I traveled onward to Holland, MI,where a new friend provided the poodles and me with a comfortable home, fresh bread, met a loving neighbor, and a fun visit to a Mom in independent living. Thankful for laundry, we headed off to Sioux Falls, SD, where I found new friends of the the owners of a restaurant Parker's Bistro, who then invited me to perform the next night, which I happily stayed around to do.  I found myself after my performance joining in on a hysterical Karaoke trip with new friends with poodles joining along.. 

karaoke with new friends and poodles in Sioux Falls, SD

karaoke with new friends and poodles in Sioux Falls, SD

me and Leanna Collins at Torch Lake Cafe, MI
 

Gina Higginbotham Mother of Music Under NY

Added on by Cathy Grier.

On September 29th we lost Gina Glaser Higginbotham. She was a champion of the arts, of music in public spaces and certainly of keeping music alive and thriving in the subway stations of NYC.  Gina along with her husband Tim (who still is tirelessly working as the MUNY consultant) started the Music Under New York program. What many people did not know is her own personal background as an incredibly talented folk artist in her own right.  As I post this my heart is heavy for Tim and his family at the loss of their dear Gina.  

Gina in one of her favorite places in the world, Venice.  I was always so excited to she her wearing one of my nycsubwaygirl t-shirts.

Gina in one of her favorite places in the world, Venice.  I was always so excited to she her wearing one of my nycsubwaygirl t-shirts.

Gina will be missed. As a member of MUNY since 1999 I was always in awe of Gina's ear and knowledge of music.  She championed music in public spaces and her tireless support for the program was clear every time we would connect during the annual audition process. Happy journey Gina.

RIP Delta Dave Johnson NYC busker

Added on by Cathy Grier.

I have performed in the NYC subway's since 1999, I have met so many talented musicians.  One of them, and honestly one of my favorites was Delta Dave.  Sadly he died suddenly of a heart attack last week. I am mourning the loss of this incredibly talented artist, who always had a smile and performed some of the best Delta Blues I've heard in a long time. A quiet soul and to make him even grander, was wheelchair bound. I used to love to come across him performing in the W 4th corridor. One day I asked him what the lyric was he was singing, he replied "what can you do without earth and sky." indeed. 

RIP Delta Dave. I had the pleasure of capturing him on my little camera multiple times.  Here is a clip I made of him a few years back.

an obit written by Music Under NY consultant Tim Higginbotham:

With sadness we announce the passing of our Delta Dave last month. Dave’s sound was founded in the Mississippi Delta and Chicago blues style. His vocals, harmonica and guitar playing while harkening to his influences Little Walter, Jimmy Reed, Lightning Hopkins and Howling Wolf… had their own rich authenticity. Dave performed around the world with a number of notable blues musicians - Honey Boy Edwards, John Hammond, Jr., Little Smokey Smothers, Louisiana Red, R L Burnside and more before forming his own band- the Delta Dave Blues Band. They recorded their 1st cd “Pignose Boogie” in Jacksonville, Florida. He later  developed his own “one man band” performing set-up. In 2005 we were pleased to bring Delta Dave onto the Music Under New York roster. Over the years his unique, robust style and good will have been instrumental in the continuing heritage of the blues, as well as the stature of our program.
Delta Dave you are dearly missed but we hear you clearly from the great beyond!
delta dave_by cathygrier


Busking Legal right since 1985

Added on by Cathy Grier.

As part of the New York City busking community, I am keenly aware of the importance of live music and art in public spaces.  Most people seem confused whether it is legal to perform in the subway. There is a conflicting belief that you can only perform if you are in the Music Under NY Program. But actually there is a legal precedent giving the right to perform. In 1985 a court case People v. Manning gave performers the constitutional protection for their artistic performances in New York City.

A Festival produced by Busk NY celebrating the 30 years will be held Saturday August 23rd at Herbert Von King Park in Brooklyn from 3-7pm. 670 Lafayette Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11216

I will be performing with other buskers.  Would love to see you there and get a chance to see buskers having a chance to perform on stage to an audience that isn’t rushing past!! Thanks to Council Member Robert Cornegy, Jr for his support.

BuskNY has a crowdfunding campaign to help fund the Busking at 30 event.  Please consider donating.  The work that BuskNY does, ensures that the rights of buskers are being served 365 days a year. Your support means a lot.

My page For Buskers has detailed information about knowing your rights as a busker in NYC, in the subway's and parks. You can also find lots of good info including MTA’s Rules Of Conduct 1050.6 c where it states the legal right to perform.  Also big kudos to City Lore, Susie Tanenbaum along with The Street Performers Advocacy Project who have created A Guide For Street Performers 

If you want to know more about BuskNY you can contact

Matthew Christian: matthew@buskny.com

BuskNY_Fest_logo.jpg

Mad. Sq. Music: Above Ground series

Added on by Cathy Grier.

I will be performing in Madison Square Park (23rd and 5th ave) on July 1st at 12:30PM for a 45 minute set.  Perfect for your lunch break!! It is part of a summer series. I am excited to be on a real concert stage!!

Mad. Sq. Music: Above Ground is the newly curated, free concert series featuring an array of New York-based musicians from your local subway stop brought to you by Madison Square Park Conservancy. Above Ground introduces a new artist each week at 12:30PM on the Oval Lawn.

here's a photo of the brochure that my friends Phyllis and Len put together for me

here's a photo of the brochure that my friends Phyllis and Len put together for me

I am so excited to be a part of the wonderful programming at Madison Square Park through the Madison Square Park Conservancy which brings Art and Music and Landscape directly into Manhattan.

check out the rest of the summer performer lineup of the best of subway street performers!

June 24 — The Side Project

July 1 — Cathy Grier

July 8 — Mr. Reed

July 15 – Bandits on the Run

July 22 — Mariachi Flor De Toloache

July 29 — Underground Horns

read more about it

U2 busks NYC 4 Jimmy Fallon

Added on by Cathy Grier.

You've most likely heard about U2's surprise busking in Grand Central at the Shuttle location. While it's awesome they did this, let's not forget they are rich rock stars. The performers to celebrate, are the 100's of artists who perform every day never sure how much money they'll make.  Buskers are keeping live music thriving in ways that recordings and record company support isn't doing.  I am always saying it's a rush to busk in NYC and stage performers should try it at least once. Let's keep this in perspective. And I hope Jimmy Fallon starts a segment where he goes around the city showcasing the amazing talent there is. 

A reminder, here's the clip I made celebrating over 100 buskers in NYC whom I filmed throughout last year (including yours truly at the Shuttle).


Live recording Tara Hill Blues night

Added on by Cathy Grier.

I always bring my portable H4N to record my performances. I use mostly for my own archives. Since I'm taking a break I thought you'd enjoy hearing this performance of mine at Tara Hill Tavern. thanks to Sid Moskowitz for putting together these gigs.  

image by Leonard Eisenberg

image by Leonard Eisenberg

Tara Hill Tavern April 28, 2015 Here is the list of songs I performed, including a fun spontaneous jam with accordionist Curtis Becraft, on my song Easy come Easy Go.

Little By Little - Junior Wells

What Fools Do - Cathy Grier

Down On My Knees - Cathy Grier

Raised On Robbery - Joni Mitchell

Easy Come Easy Go - Cathy Grier, (special guest Curtis on accordion)

Good Thing - Cathy Grier

me and Curtis image by Carla Lynne Hall

me and Curtis image by Carla Lynne Hall


Gay Marshall and Cathy Grier perform together April 27th

Added on by Cathy Grier.

UPDATE: Gay Marshall sent me a copy of one of the songs we wrote together called Heartbroken. Here is a link to download it for free as a fun little throwback to the '90's

Thank God It's Monday a cool Monday night series I am producing with Tony Powe, showcasing the best street and subway performers. at Bar Barramundi 67 Clinton St bet Rivington and Stanton St (Manhattan Lower East Side)

Gay Marshall and Cathy Grier at a recent Joe's Pub concert -Justin Sayre's tribute to Indigo Girls 

Gay Marshall and Cathy Grier at a recent Joe's Pub concert -Justin Sayre's tribute to Indigo Girls 

I met Gay in Paris where I was living in the early 1990's. We wrote music together. Gay went on to perform in some amazing one woman show's singing music of Brel and Piaf. She's performed in Cat's and toured with La Cage Aux Folles. I am so excited to be performing a few songs with Gay at the series Thank God It's Monday.  We'll be singing a few Phil Ochs songs (his music important now more than ever), and of course the Indigo Girls song Closer to Fine that we sang together at Joe's Pub recently. Mostly you have to come and hear Gay's amazing voice and stage presence.

Hope to see you there.  It's free!!

City Lore + BuskNY April 2nd 7pm

Added on by Cathy Grier.

I am all about supporting Busking.  NYCSubwayGirl has a For Buskers section where I share useful information about busking in NY.  City Lore and BuskNY have been incredible supporters of the right to Busk. I hope you can make it to this event celebrating 30 years legal precedent for the First Amendment right to Busk. The April 2nd event is the beginning of many celebrations to come throughout the year.

Busking at 30: Sounds and Stories from the Underground
April 2 @ 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM

7pm start time. Doors at 6:30pm.
Suggested donation of $5 at the door.
City Lore citylore@citylore.org
56 E. First Street  New York, NY 10003 212.529.1955

With the recent rise in street performer arrests and harassment, Busking at 30 aims to highlight the importance of this underground culture and what it brings to the diverse and vibrant culture of New York City.

The program will feature a history of busking in New York City through vignettes and songs from historical performers of the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s, as well as a headline performance by one of the subway’s biggest stars, Morgan O’Kane , banjo virtuoso and activist. Other performers include Busker Ball producer Theo Eastwind  ; classical guitarist Lloyd Carew-Reid, whose advocacy group Subway Troubadours Against Repression led the MTA to formally address performers’ rights in its post-1989 rules; and Roger Manning , the guitarist whose historic 1985 legal challenge opened the subway to artistic performance.

30 years after the first case to explicitly recognize New Yorkers’ First Amendment right to artistic expression in the subway, BuskNY  and City Lore are pleased to announce Busking at 30: Sounds and Stories from the Underground, an evening that celebrates and advocates for the enduring art form that has long given voice to the city’s wealth of musical traditions and genres.


Busking at 30 is the first in a series of events leading up to a summer busking festival in celebration of the August anniversary of the People v Manning case, which was the first step in the legalization of subway performance that culminated in 1987.


 

Music Under New York auditions

Added on by Cathy Grier.

The application deadline for the annual MUNY auditions is now closed for 2015. Tuesday, May 19th, 2015 the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s MUSIC UNDER NEW YORK (MTA/MUSIC) program will hold its twenty-eighth annual Auditions in Grand Central Terminal’s Vanderbilt Hall. 

MUSIC UNDER NEW YORK is one of many visual and performing arts programs managed by the MTA’s Arts & Design office. MTA/MUSIC schedules over 7,500 concerts annually in 31 subway and rail stations around New York. MTA/MUSIC performers, selected through the annual Auditions, are among New York’s most talented musicians.

Trash Matters to WastEDNY Dan Barber

Added on by Cathy Grier.

You might wonder why a subway performer is blogging about trash, but trash matters to me.  All kinds of trash like e-waste and packaging come to mind. How we consume and how we discard has always held my attention in ways ranging from being curious to being enraged. I also love food. I am constantly distressed by the amount we trash, especially in an Urban environment. It's unsustainable. Coming up with solutions grabs my attention.

Blue Hill Farm chef Dan Barber has created a pop-up restaurant within Blue Hill Restaurant in the Village for the next 2 weeks.  It is called WastEDNY and they will be creating food from scraps and what would normally be trashed. 

Food critic and author, Ruth Reichl calls WastEDNY "The most exciting culinary event of 2015." I agree because if a major chef like Dan Barber can make the gourmet food world stand up and pay attention to a system change, it would be amazing. 

The hold music at the restaurant in a lovely sense of humor, has the wonderful classic Sesame Street song by Oscar "I Love Trash" 

I had fun creating my own spoof adaptation from the song about WastEDNY. Take a listen:


Oh, we love trash!  Anything moldy or measly or musty

Anything cragged or rotten or crusty yes we love trash

There's carrots and beets and ends from a Kale

bones from a fish and some animal tail, Dan doesn't' care if the color is pale

He loves it because it's trash

Oh, we love trash! Anything moldy or measly or musty

Anything cragged or rotten or crusty yes we love trash

Katie will make us a lemony drink, from something we used to just pour down the sink

nothing will perish or eventually stink, we love it because it's trash 

Oh, we love trash! Anything moldy or measly or musty

Anything cragged or rotten or crusty, Yes we love trash

we'll make dinner from scraps that we usually wasted    

no need to compost it 'cause it's already plated, turn into the best meal that you ever tasted

we love it because it's trash

Cause  we love trash Yes, we love, we love, we love trash