From the tin drum man of 34th street to that classic mariachi band, New York City subways are characterized by their eccentric musicians, also known as “Buskers.” Part of the nature of these acts is their effervescence — there are no selfies with the band in subway stations. Cathy Grier, otherwise known as NYC Subway Girl, seeks to give these talented musicians some more credit as she documents them in video.
From singer-songwriters at 23rd street to a cappella in Columbus Circle, she has captured the moving performances of these artists. Grier posts new “Featured Artists” — here’s the current featured band, “The Chosen Ones.”
Grier also hosts ad-hoc concerts for these musicians, which of course take place in the subway. Through making a “concert” for these artists, Grier gives them the legitimacy they deserve within the casual subway atmosphere which characterizes their music.
Grier is also a musician herself, playing self-termed “folked-up blues.” She started documenting these musicians because she herself is a member of their community. According to Grier, she documents these musicians in order to display her pride in this community to the world.
So you can seek out your favorite subway musicians, Grier has compiled a list of the NYC buskers, including links to their websites. Like the subway itself, subway artists are transient: Subway-riders only hear this music while running to the train. Through documenting their performances and displaying this community, Grier gives permanence to the transient.
For more, check out the busker of Morningside Heights and have given you a rundown of NYC busking laws in our cities 101 (hint: they are able to perform under the first amendment right), but there’s still much to explore with many of these performers.
Get in touch with the author @spencercnyc