Friday, July 3, 2009
'We're all a part of the rhythm nation..'
"You wouldn't think I'd only been playing for a few months, would ya?" says Jimmy Holmes to his appreciative audience on the 34th Street platform.
"Yeah, about 650 months," he smiles.
The native New Yorker says his father was a big band drummer, and that he's played with lots of talented people over the years. Now, he plays on the Subway "a couple of days a week".
"I like to come down here and practice; the acoustics are good and there's plenty of people." And he pretty much gets left alone. "The cops move you along when they have to."
One passenger gave him an orange, and another passed him a moist towelette to wipe his face. It's hot anyway down on that platform, let alone the effort he's putting in. "I feel sorry for his drums," one woman said.
34th is just one of Jimmy's haunts.
He listed the other stations he plays at and said: "They all have good acoustics, and a good number of people passing by," he says. When I asked him about the logistics of transporting his kit, he just said: "You'll notice those stations all have elevators too. So does my building."
"All the drums fit inside each other, and then I have this," he says, pointing to a dolly.
Like Mike Alaska, Jimmy's sound follows you along the tunnels and leads you to a pretty cool rhythmic reward. There's not that many platform players who get a round of applause when they finish.
Jimmy and Mike both do.
Since it was the start of the holiday weekend I figured I'd try and play somewhere there might be a few tourists today, so I went to 34th Street. After I listened to Jimmy playing, I moved downstairs to the R/N/Q/W platforms where there's almost as many people waiting, but it's pretty noisy. It was so hot today, too, that I broke a string.
So I ended up playing for about 40 minutes, no money, then headed home as Raices were starting up at the MUNY spot on the Mezzanine upstairs.
Knockin' On Heaven's Door - Bob Dylan
You're The World To Me - David Gray
People Get Ready - Curtis Mayfield
Waiting On The World To Change - John Mayer
I Want You Back - Jackson Five
Refugee - Tom Petty
You're The One That I Want - The Beautiful South version
(there's not that many songs you can start with a broken string, but I found one..)
Get It On - Marc Bolan
I'll try and do something special for Independence Day tomorrow, but so far am not sure what. Have a great weekend in any case.
Ran into some more Mariachis on the train today - didn't get their name, but they were gracious enough to pose for a photo with a kidnapped gnome. One of the guys was playing a beautiful guitarrón or chitarrone - a deep, resonant Mexican six-string bass - which you can hear pretty well on the tape.
So far the score is Mariachis 4, Pan Flutes 3. Let's see how it ends up.