Lately I've been thinking a lot about why I perform in public spaces. As the weather gets better, (at least no longer intensely cold and slippery) performances have less of an outward bound experience and more of a cozy hang. I am reminded why this type of entertaining is so compelling to me. Chat with most street/subway performers and one thing will shortly pop out of their mouths-how much smiles are an integral part of our experience. To make people smile. To be smiled at, could there be nothing more pure and a deeply perfect part of the human experience?
My songs in public spaces aren't rushed like the commuters needing to get to where they're going. Or precisely calibrated for a concert stage. Songs are interrupted, shortened, abruptly stopped or strangely 3x longer than usual. It doesn't matter as the experience for the most part is new every few seconds. It's liquid, elastic and malleable. What I say is, "it's not precious." Meaning I can do what I want when I want. As I sing I can even interrupt myself. I might comment on someone walking by with a huge bouquet of flowers...."are those for me?" Or a Double Bass rolling past like a strange creature....."I could use a Double Bass on this groove right now." To say Hi to a child whose curiosity draws them closer to take a listen. Or cut short my singing and mark time with my guitar while a noisy express train rushes past and pick up with the vocal exactly where I left off in time for people to not miss a beat (now that's a fun exercise). And people love to chat when they can, that's how I began filming my series "What's Your Inspiration?" for this website. People feel at ease to stop and chat and many times while I'm still playing. Hey this is NY folks, and we're comfortable jumping right in whether it's in the middle of a song or not. The gems I hear. The things people have to say. Here's a few comments I've heard:
"What inspires me? Beauty in small things we take for granted." Karim, Manhattan
"Music is in my soul, I get goose-bumps, I feel heightened. Maybe if people had the right music they’d be happier." Ester, Manhattan
"Not have to go to a job I hate every morning, inspires me." Kayra, Queens
What's Omnia, from Staten Island inspiration? "The people that commute, the dedication and obligation to take 2 trains and a boat."
So the next time you're rushing by and can't stop, no worries, I understand. and if you can, stop by and share why you appreciate music in public spaces.
And as John from the fun group Xylopholks says, "someone walking by might be thinking one thing and thought otherwise thanks to the music." That's inspirational.