Musicians who ply their trade in the subways without the aegis of the MTA’s Music Under New York program tell amNY “police harassment has grown to disturbing levels in recent months.” NYPD denies it, but several buskers allude to a police memo that supposedly puts the screws on them. “I’ve been written up in so many ways” says a 43-year-old guitarist.
The musicians worry that the cops and MTA want them out of the subways. Normally we’d assume that, as with other ticket blitzes, NYPD was looking to generate revenue, but musicians are never a safe bet in financial matters, so if the buskers are getting a clampdown, it’s probably to remove their presence rather than their money. Second Ave Sagas’ Benjamin Kabak is saddened. “The musicians do indeed lend some personality to the drab underground trips that mark our days,” he says. If you don’t like an act, there’s always “the other end of the platform.”
Even Kabak admits there are some god-awful noisemakers down there, but listen to the Music Under New York guy playing “Sweet Child O’ Mine” on an electronically amplified violin. If he’s not a nuisance, why would a kid beating on tofu buckets be one?