Homeless Drummers and Street Performers

I recall a late night in New York City, standing in line to get a Gyro when the clanking of buckets and pans caught my ears. Sitting outside on the sidewalk was a man with a similar set up I rigged together before I got my first drum set. I love street performers – Not the annoying ones who can’t hold a tune and more or less just aim to annoy you, but the ones with genuine musical ability will always get some change out of me… I had a brief conversation with the guy about drumming. I told him I played and that my biggest problem is not finding enough time in a day to practice. He responded “When the street is your home you got all the practice time in the world.” That comment really hit me. So I thought we were buds at this point and asked if I could jam with him. He didn’t like that idea. He wanted my money, not my attention. Fine, he got a dollar out of me. I still valued his commitment to street performing.

Would you believe street performing was the most common means of employment for entertainers before recordings existed? There is a violinist who plays at Suburban Station in Philadelphia every morning. I catch him when I take the early train and this guy always manages to start my day on the right note. I talked to him once and was able to determine that he’s not homeless. He actually works with bands around the city. Above and beyond anything, he just loves playing. Why not wake up early and make some tips for doing what you love? During peak hours, he pulls $20+. Thats better than a lot of conventional jobs and he doesn’t have a boss breathing down his back, mandatory hours, or the burden of working a job he hates. Great gig in my opinion, and more power to him and all others who exercise their passions through guerilla means. Try to stop and listen for a minute next time you come across a street performer. Many of them deserve some praise just as you and I feel entitled to it through the things we do in life.

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