Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Tap Dancing: Taika and Shoko

Taika and Shoko tap dancing

Interview with Taika and Shoko

Artists: Taika and Shoko
Medium: Tap Dance
Location: 42nd Street Station on the downtown Q platform

Taika and Shoko hail from Japan. Here to learn tap dancing at various studios around the area they came to NYC for the “good teacher[s] and good culture.” The pair tap dance in the subway for practice in front of an audience and, Taika remarks, “the studio is, like, boring.” Both started tap dancing for fun and now they are serious about turning their passion into profession.

Like what you see? Check out
Taika and Shoko’s influences – “All tap dancers” but especially Gregory Hines, Savion Glover, Derrick Grant, Jason Samuel Smith, Jimmy Slyde, Bunny Briggs
For your convenience there's a google search bar at the top left of the page.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Percussion (random objects): Ray King

A quick clip of Ray King playing

Ray King playing a longer set

Interview with Ray King

Artist: Ray King
Medium: Percussion (Random Object)
Location: Union Square station on the uptown 6 platform

Ray King recalls “I’ve been drumming my whole life since I was a kid.” This Bronx native started making music in church and, about 10 years ago, began playing in Times Square with some friends. Now he can be seen playing at parties, with bands, opening shows and on the street. Ray enjoys playing in public for the practice and the advertisement.

Like what you see? Check out
Ray’s influences – Buddy Rich, Dave Reku, Max Roach, Jared Crawford, Larry Wright.
For your convenience there's a google search bar at the top left of the page.

Really like what you see? Hire Ray for a gig

Friday, February 23, 2007

Electric Bass Guitar: Larry Wilson

Larry Wilson playing

Larry Wilson playing some more

Interview with Larry Wilson (this, by the way, is one of the correct pronunciations of New York)

Artist: Larry Wilson
Medium: Electric bass guitar
Location: Union Square Station L train platform

Larry Wilson has been playing the electric bass guitar for 30 years. Raised in East New York and South Jamaica (that’s in New York, too) in the 60s this is how it all went down:

“I Played violin from third grade to my first year in college. I picked up the bass in 10th grade. When I was in high school I played violin in the concert orchestra, played French Horn in the concert band. You know, like I said, not the coolest instruments. It really took an artist friend of mine to inform me that any instrument is cool so long as you’re playing it and you know what you’re doing with it.”

After high school, Larry attended college in Indiana. He found he couldn’t really hang with the violinist crowd and, although there was no electric bass major, Larry stuck with the instrument. He’s convinced he must have impressed someone, though, as he brought a whole new sound to campus. “None of the bass players I met out there played anything like me” he recalls, “as far as with, like, the slapping and all a’ that.” Eventually Larry found his niche with jazz musicians. After college, Larry returned to New York and knocked around with some funk, disco and rock bands.

Larry’s mother died in 2001. Having lost a sense of purpose, Larry took to playing his music in the street to relieve his mind. Last June, Larry lost his job and now he devotes his time to brightening the hustle and bustle of pedestrians with his smooth bass lines. If this happens to pay his bills, all the better. “I remember back in the day I would play my violin in the park and what-not, only just for practice and, you know, would be surprised when people would throw money at me.”

Like what you see? Check out
Larry's influences - Stanley Clark, Alfonso Johnson, Jaco Pastorius, Victor Wooten
Don't know these artists? There's a google search bar at the top left of the page.

Really like what you see? Contact Larry and check out his site
718-581-4698 (messages only)

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Clarinet: Kenneth Brown

A subway clarinet cover of "Favorite Things"

Interview with Kenneth Brown

Artist: Kenneth Brown
Medium: Clarinet
Location: 2 train between Park Place and Fulton St. stations

Kenneth Brown is a native New Yorker with a native New York spirit. Originally from the diverse borough of Queens, he’s now a resident of the hard-hitting Bronx. No stranger to hardship Kenneth is ever enduring, just like the music he plays. Originally a trumpeter, he lost his ability to play do to a cut on his lip. Unwilling to let his musical inclinations be squashed, he bought a clarinet and taught himself the clarinet. After being laid off from his job at the World Financial Center, Kenneth decided to go to school and pay his way by playing his clarinet in the subway – and that’s how I met him.

Kenneth is studying to be a substance abuse counselor. Having abused drugs himself, and referring to the experience as “no good,” Kenneth seeks to share his knowledge with others and help them overcome the problems he once faced. Aside from making a living and making his way through school, Kenneth plays to make people “feel comfortable with each other” and to give the people a “nice piece of music when [they] go to work in the morning time.

Like what you see? Hire him for a gig

Really like what you see? Go hear him
The Prince of Peace Baptist Church Inc.: 1250 St. Nicholas Ave. Bet. 172nd &173rd St., New York, NY

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Voice (R&B, Motown): Lenny Forest Jr.

Happy Valentine's Day - here's some advice

Lenny singing

Lenny singing another song

A short interview with Lenny Forest Jr.

Artist: Lenny Forest Jr.
Medium: Voice
Location: 42nd Street Station on the downtown ACE platform

When Lenny Forest Jr. says “it’s in my blood” he means it. He’s a musician who has played with Harold Melving and the Blue Notes and the Intruders and his father was a musician who played Ray Charles, Dee Clark and Jackie Wilson. He also means it when he says “you can’t eat popcorn and sing.”

Originally from Philadelphia, PA Lenny has made his way to New York and brings some R&B/Blues goodness to all the otherwise weary commuters.

Also, heed Lenny's Valentine's Day advice

Like what you hear? Check out
Influences - Harold Melving, the Intruders, Ray Charles, Dee Clark, Jackie Wilson
Don't know these artists? There's a google search bar at the top left of this page.

Percussion (random objects): Reggie Washington

Reggie Washington playing

Interview with Reggie Washington (accent free of charge)

Artist: Reggie Washington
Medium: Random Object Percussion (ROP)
Location: The steps of Union Square

He’s Reggie Washington, from Nort’ New Jersey.

Reggie's distinct accent tells almost as much of a story as he does. Reggie learned percussion from his brother, who taught him to channel his passion for banging on things into a structured system of sound. In 1979 Reggie took his skills to the street and started playing drums outside the Foodtown in the Nort' Jersey ghetto. Hitting on anything he could find, he’d go around asking the people in cars for money. Eventually, his abilities and desire to perform brought him to New York.

Reggie plays on the New York street for two reasons: first, he likes the city; he likes the atmosphere of many different types of people and cultures trying to “come together as one, not trying to be separated.” Second, he loves music. “The music is amazing,” it's “doing something positive instead of something negative…it’s not a crime, a crime is selling drugs so music is different, it’s history.”

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Jazz Harmonica: Sleepy Lester

Sleepy Lester playing

Interview with Sleepy Lester

Artist: Lester "Sleepy" Shulz
Medium: Harmonica
Location: Union Square Subway Station by the entrance to the Q

Lester Shulz doesn't know how or why he picked up the Harmonica, he just did. When he came to New York from Ohio in 1962 it was to teach drawing and paint, not to make music; but that's just not how fate would have it. After a lifetime of enjoying the smooth sounds of the harmonica Sleepy picked it up seriously in '69, now he plays with the MTA's music program. The MTA program is a competitive one which offers the right to perform and sell CD's on MTA property. With his skill Sleepy probably makes bank but I don't know what else he does, he's apparently kept up with his painting, though.

Like what you see? Check out:
Sleepy's inspirations - Chicago Style, Little Walter Jacobs, Sunny Boy Williamson, Big Walter, Toot Steelman, Stevie Wonder, Charlie Leighton (did I mispell a name? Contact me)
Don't know these artists? There's a google search bar at the top left of the page.

Really like what you see? Get in contact with Lester, go see him play or hire him for a gig
Lester's been playing at the Greenwich Village Bistro for 7 years. The Bistro is at 13 Carmine St., right off the corner of 6th Ave, and W. 3rd St. His next gigs are on Friday March 2 and Thursday March 22 from 9pm-11pm.
Sleepy Lester often performs with a guitarist at 34th Street Penn Station outside of the McDonald's in the underground mall on Sundays from either 2-6 or 6-9.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Brass Band: Hypnotic Brass Ensemble

Hypnotic Brass Ensemble: From the new CD

Hypnotic Brass Ensemble: From the old CD

Interview with Hypnotic Brass Ensemble

Artist: Hypnotic Brass Ensemble
Medium: Brass instruments (trumpet, trombone, souxaphone) with drumset
Location: Union Square, NYC outside of the Wholefoods

Hypnotic Brass hails from Chicago, props to the Midwest. The self proclaimed "hardest working band in the world", is composed of 8 brothers, all of whom learned to play instruments starting at the ages of 4 and 5 from their parents. They're father, Kelan Phil Cohran is their inspiration and is a successful muscician in his own right. Hypnotic Brass has played in virtually every major city in the US and has performed internationally.

I managed to snag an introduction to all the members:

Like what you see? Check out
Investigate their primary influence: Kelan Phil Cohran who also worked with Un Ra
Don't know these artists? There's a google search bar at the top left of the this page.
or email them at Hypnoticinfo@hotmail.com

Really like what you see?
They're performing at the Brooklyn Academy of Music February 16 and 17 with Mos Def.

Drums: Shakerleg

Shakerleg drumming it out

An interview with Shakerleg himself

Artist: Shakerleg
Medium: Drum set
Location: Union Square Station Uptown 6 Platform

Shakerleg plays on the street, for the public "because it's pure". Tired of bosses and bands he drums day and night for peace of mind and the enjoyment of his listeners.

Like what you hear? Check out www.Shakerleg.com