As someone who’s many times been walking through a subway station, been briefly inspired to pause at the quality of the busking musician I just walked past, wondering, how the hell could someone this good be playing for change?, this article was a revelatory gem. It’s about the violin virtuoso Joshua Bell. And I don’t only share it because Bell is from Bloomington, Indiana, where I went to college, but because it’s got some juicy food for thought about the nature of musicianship and when and where we choose to celebrate it. But it’s also about beauty and whether we stop to appreciate it when we see it.
I recall a family band in the NY Subway, maybe five years ago. I’m not even kidding, they were as good as the Jackson Five, if the parents had been in the Jackson Five. Dad was on bass. Mom on keys. Sis was banging the tambourine and singing harmony. Older brother was ripping guitar licks on a Gibson semi-hollow. Younger brother was out front singing and dancing, doing knee drops, slamming falsettos, a veritable Michael Jackson, if Michael Jackson had been trying to sound like James Brown. For their efforts, a guitar case was open, CDs were for sale, and they’d made what looked like a good stash for the day, by busking in the subway standards. But, still, it was a whole family.
Appreciate great music, wherever you find it. And for God’s sake, throw a buck in the kitty.