Not so long ago, I thought I likely wouldn't be busking again, since last year's project was very much an enjoyable one-off, and I was thinking that it wouldn't be the same if I went back over old ground.
Then I got an email from Rebecca Huval, a journalism grad student at Columbia, who's doing a radio piece on busking for a class assignment and wanted to talk to me about my experiences.
We met for a chat and despite being a bit reticent initially, I agreed to go out on the subway with her yesterday, with the idea of giving her some ambient sound for her piece and maybe bumping into some of the performers I'd met before.
So I played for a while at the 72nd Street station - since I remembered that the acoustics there were pretty good, there's a decent amount of time between trains, and the crowd is usually good-natured. I played a couple of songs I hadn't for a while (like this one - now I can't get it out of my head..)
Then we headed downtown, first to 42nd, then 34th, and then to 14th Streets. There was no-one playing at the first two, but at the mezzanine at Union Square, we met Victor and David, two young guitar players who told us it was their first time playing underground.
They were warming up for a show Saturday night at the UC Lounge in Ludlow Street, and definitely had a nice, mellow groove going.
As I told Rebecca after we watched them for a while, bumping into guys like this was exactly what I enjoyed the most about busking last year - you meet folks who are into the music and are doing it for the love of playing. It's what makes the city's subway musicians a real treasure.
So who knows, maybe I might end up playing underground again here and there this summer.
(By the way, I made $8 at 72nd Street before Rebecca showed up. I ended up giving most of it away to other buskers and beggars on the train home)
Today is Record Store Day, so if you can, support your local vinyl retailer. I'll be dropping by my local here in Brooklyn, which inside is like a treasure trove of musical history, and remembering the record stores I went to as a kid, including Good Vibrations in Belfast, which did so much to encourage the city's music scene in the late 70s and early 80s.
My favorite record store in New York is Bleecker Street Records in the Village, partly because I can usually combine going there with a visit to Matt Umanov Guitars on the same street.