I Pit subway musicians.

The other morning I was riding the Paris metro and, as usual, I was minding my own business. I am trying to make the most of the commute by reading a report. The train stops and some clown gets on a few feet from where I was sitting. He loudly announces in French that we are in for a concert. He then whips the cover off an accordion and proceeds to go to work on this thing. I’m not sure if it is possible to play an accordion softly, but this guy wasn’t doing it. So, I give him a glare and move to the other end of the car. Unfortunately, I don’t have the powers of concentration to continue my work until the end of the concert a stop or two later. And, the guy sucked. I’m not sure if you can play an accordion and make it not sound like shit, but this guy didn’t. Then, he comes around to collect money from me. I would have thought my look of disgust and my surrender of my front row seat would tip him off that I was less than thrilled with his performance.

One guy is bad enough but I have also recently had THREE dudes get on a crowded train (standing room only) with 2 guitars and some kind of wind instrument. They sucked too. And they expected people to move out of their way (again, this train is fucking crowded) to make room for the “stage”.

This shit happens all the time and I’m sick of it. I fully understand the economic realities of the world, but please just beg for money on the street. It is less hassle for me, and does not undermine the efficiency of the public transit system. Alternatively, they could play in the stations (as many do) which would still annoy me, but only a fraction as much. A public transport system is for public transport, not commercial activities. People are often trying to work, read, sleep, talk, or listen to their OWN music, a they can’t do that with your loud off key singing and the strumming of God knows what around your neck.

I further extend this pitting to passengers that encourage the practice by giving over money, unless that passenger was truly entertained, which I find unlikely, since these guys usually suck my balls. As for me, one will never get a cent by pissing me off.

That is all.

While playing the accordian? And you don’t tip them?

Seems a shame.

Yeah, that shit irritates me too. I say do what London Underground has done: make the buskers audition to ensure a minimal level of talent and then set up assigned pitches for them in the stations, but keep them off the actual trains. A couple of weeks ago I gave £2 to a guy who was doing a rather good job of playing the guitar part from the Ventures’ “Walk, Don’t Run” over a recorded backing track.

Upon first reading the thread title, I was going to counter-Pit you for being a soulless turd. After all, I’ve done plenty of subway busking in my time. It’s a great gig when you’re starving, and if you have some talent, people seem to enjoy it.

But sheesh, I have never whipped it out on a subway car before. That’s over the top. And yes, the general level of talent in subway buskers has gone way down over the years. They generally have less entertainment than crazy babbling bag ladies these days.

Wow. Brilliant!

When i lived in Vancouver, i’m pretty sure the local transit people did that as well. The Seabus and Skytrain stations downtown always had excellent buskers, and friend of mine told me that they had to audition each year and the winners got their own patch of turf.

I guess I should point out that I do give money to people in the stations who actually entertain me with their skills. I’m not really that cold hearted. I gave a few hundred rubles to an orchestra in the Moscow subway once because I thought they were pretty damn good, and 10 skilled musicians playing together in the subway tunnel is pretty darn cool. There is also a guy I like that plays a Chinese contraption in the Paris tunnels I give change to. Whatever the thing is, the music is really peaceful, which is certainly welcome in the Paris subway.

Perhaps the guys who get on the trains know they suck, and a captive audience is their only option. I forgot about the singing guy who had his school age little girl playing the tambourine. This was during the school year, during school hours. Somebody should do something about that shit. If it happened in my own country, I would have called somebody.

I had no idea busker was the word for street musician.

I think it’s British. I never heard the term until long after I was one.

I’d tip you for that. :smiley:

NY subway entertainers have to audition. I don’t know how good you have to be to get a permit (I’m hoping you don’t have to be too good), but you can find decent performers, definitely.

I find that the bad ones have some value, even if it’s just for comic relief.

I was veering that direction, too, since I adore street musicians. I go out of my way to listen to them - nothing makes my day like finding some musician tootling/ pounding/ strumming away! I even love the kids who beat on their buckets on the sidewalks in Chicago; I think the police should let them be!

But NO WAY would I want a musician on a subway, bus, taxi, or airplane. That’s just wrong.

Some of the bad ones are really truly annoying, though. I thinking about the 67 year old hippie that sings original Praise Jesus tunes to a badly tuned and tortured guitar. Or the guy who just blows randomly into a harmonica, regardless of meter or tone center. The instruments are little more than noise-makers in those cases.

There used to be a blind guy here that played a keyboard and sang Stevie Wonder-styled tunes, and he was awesome. I wonder whatever happened to him.




You see, here’s where you lost my sympathy. :slight_smile:

The kids with the buckets used to be a cool, clever, original type of music. Now it seems like they are all just copycats/franchises after the bucket boys played during the Bulls’ half time.

“That’s a hell of an act. What do you call it?”


Now I’m picturing Simon Cowell tapping his chin and saying, “That was abysmal. I mean, you can’t even be a good busker, for heaven’s sake! Off you go!”

I noticed it was a slightly different procedure in Europe. A couple musicians would come on the subway and do a short performance, collect some change, and get off just a stop or two after they had gotten on. (I didn’t watch, but I figured they just moved along to the next car on the same train.) Only happened two or three times, and they were pretty good.

And I have heard some great street musicians (Bach and Vivaldi played on accordians, THe Pink Panther Theme on a bassoon). Not what I’d go searching for, maybe, but such a great surprise when I find it. I’m willing to give the less inspired ones some slack.

The ‘licensed busking’ on the Underground is a joke. They’re an underpaid part of a big advertisment. http://www.carling.com/music/buskers/

Well, it has at least reduced the number of absolutely godawful buskers around. And it’s not like the ones allowed in are any worse off for being part of the advertising campaign. Hell, the project would have my unbending support if they only got rid of the fucking pan pipe merchants. No, I don’t want to hear a “haunting” rendition of “Yesterday”, thanks all the same. It’s only “haunting” in the sense that it consists of dug-over material that was dead 30 years ago, and leaves you feeling faintly slimy. Blech.