Thursday, June 17, 2010

"take a music bath"

Tired of Pandora or your itunes selection?  Searching for a relaxing afternoon of quality musical entertainment to bring a sense of peace and balance?

Then head down to Washington Square Park, where tourists and locals alike have sat back to enjoy the music since the end of World War II.

Musicians and other buskers have long made WSP a primary stage. But this has not always been a peaceful relationship.  In the late 1940's, the government began requiring permits to play in WSP.  Then in 1961, when the park commissioner attempted to close WSP to entertainers, approximately 500 permit-less musicians and supporters filled the park and led a procession around the park.  They were met by the NYPD billy clubs and the event went down in history as the "Beatnik Riot."

Needless to say, those "Beatnik" music-lovers made quite the impression and won their right to stay – musicians of all varieties are still setting up throughout WSP today.  I guarantee this – if you don't like the first musician you hear, you'll be able to find at least four other performers at any given time, all within the same 9.75 acre tract . . . unless it's raining.

Take for instance this guy:

He didn't seem to pause the entire 10 minutes that I watched him.  If he took a breath, he hid it well.

Or there's these two gentlemen:  

No hat set out for money, just enjoying their acoustic duet and sharing it with the world.

Or there's these guys who often draw quite the following under the arch:

 They even have CD's for sale.

If you're in the mood for something more action-packed, these guys can catch your attention (and make you catch your breath) as their acrobatics include literally jumping over their audience:

According to their loud warnings, you better be sure you "DON'T MOVE!!!"

If the musical and variety acts don't appeal to you, there's always the birds:

But be forwarned, they'll probably search you for breadcrumbs rather than singing you a love song.

No matter your musical preference, WSP can offer the perfect accompaniment for your lunch break, your afternoon walk, or that needed "time to think."  As Oliver Wendell Holmes once advised, "Take a music bath once or twice a week for a few seasons.  You will find it is to the soul what a water bath is to the body."  In WSP you always have plenty of bath soaps to choose from.

I'm scoping out the stories behind the amazing musicians of WSP.  And as promised, my first feature will highlight a grand piano, a former ballet music director, and a child prodigy.  Don't worry, I won't make you wait long!  

In the meantime, I felt the need to introduce and make my shameless plug for WSP entertainers.  If you're in the NYC area you should absolutely stop by for a pleasant afternoon or evening by the fountain.  Tell me who your favorite performers are and check back to find out more about the people behind your accompaniment.  If you're not in NYC, check back for a taste of the music as I see it and for insider info on the best performers and times so that you're well prepared when you visit.

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