13 September 2011

Busker bands

It’s common enough to hear solo performers or duos busking but less common to hear full bands. Especially decent ones that are interesting.

We came across the Ebony Hillbillies playing in the subway one day. I’ve played Cajun and related musics in the past and it has an attraction for me. This was great hoedown music played with energy and groove and entertaining if distant presence. They were performing under a banner which suggests they were authorized and perhaps respected by the city. Whatever, they had a great crowd and were a loud and exuberant change from the stuffy and busy (and effective) subway. The Ebony Hillbillies are henrique prince (violin), Norris Bennett (banjo), David Colding (bass) and I missed the name of the drummer.

Rasheed and the Jazz Collective were playing a lovely evening in Washington Square Park. There were lots of people strolling on a reflective 9/11 Sunday and the squirrels were out busily entertaining themselves in the trees. Rasheed does a great line in double trumpets (we heard trumpet & flugelhorn) which will always go down well when busking, but which was surprisingly effective for the simple but rich harmonies he could produce. Rasheed has toured with the Sun Ra Arekstra and Cecil Taylor (everyone around here has connections). I especially liked Adam Kabak on bass, who was playing fully acoustic and did a very generous, extended solo with nice purpose. Rasheed Richard Howard (trumpet, flugelhorn) led the Jazz Collective with Adam Kabak (bass) and Dan Picton (drums) and I missed the name of the accompanying trumpeter.

Otherwise interesting was a duo of marimba and double bass that busked the subway in brightly-coloured animal costumes. It’s hot down there, so it could not have been comfortable. We were on another platform so no names and I don’t know how well this approach pays.

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