The past week of subway performances went really well. I enjoyed a trip out to Staten Island on the ferry to perform in the St. George terminal. What a life where my commute is actually where I work. The crowds were welcoming and warm. I also played at Grand Central shuttle stop and had a conversation with a Columbia student who is a journalism major doing her thesis on Subway performers. It's always interesting to chat about the experience. There definitely is a curiosity about performing in public spaces and quite a social experiment. We walked through the station and passed Select Blenz a Doo-Wop group I've known for years, who perform on the subway cars. We chatted and for the first time we sang spontaneously together.
I also played at the Bowling Green station for the first time and musician Vo Era walked by and jammed for the crowd. My partner Michele came by and did a clip of us playing. Since it was so close to Zuccotti Park we went above ground and came upon fabulous Eve Ensler in a gathering of people sharing stories of why they were at Occupy Wall Street. I filmed Melanie Butler a young woman who stopped by to check out the tent and donate supplies.
Saturday we went to the Big Apple Film Festival to watch Give and Take, a documentary about street musicians made by Carl Kriss and Chris Viemiester. Funny true story is I got stuck for 40 minutes on a downtown N train on my way. Never having been stuck on a subway car before, I was happy to be chatting with a group of French people in town to run the NY Marathon. After 35 minutes of my rusty french speaking, I interrupted the passengers to tell them about the runners, and to sing La Vie En Rose. No sooner had I begun the song, but the car lept into movement. We all applauded and I was happy I actually sang on a subway car for the first time.
The film Give and Take has a wonderful narrative with a score by Luke Brandfon. Carl and Chris used one musical motif perfectly to bring in each story creating wonderful transitions. Many street performers I know are in the film including Natalia Paruz the Saw Lady. Her story is remarkable. Having been a dancer, one fateful day she was hit by a taxi ending her career. Her parents in wanting to cheer her up took, her on a trip where she was captivated by a Saw player. Her new life began. The film also captures other heartfelt stories, Renard Harris a harmonica playing bluesy storyteller waiting to hear if he was accepted into the Music Under NY program, Douglas a homeless man endlessly acquiring on e-bay replacement guitars from the ones he kept "losing." And of course yours truly. It was fun to not only see me on the big screen, but to hear my song Good Thing over the end credits. check out the trailer and hopefully you'll get a chance to see it one day.