To me, the urban street musicians are more than just entertaining… they’re essential. In the past I’ve posted my fare share on the artists because I feel that they bring an element to the city that makes people feel welcome. Take Bill Murphy (photo) for example. Bill is a jazz saxophonist who normally can be found playing late night gigs at the Colored Musicians Club. On nice days however, he can be found setting up in small parks and in front of busy markets. He does it to put a couple of extra bucks in his pocket, though it’s the street action that really gets him going.
When I ran into Bill, he was playing at a small park on Elmwood located in front of M&T bank. It didn’t take long for a few people to stop what they were doing in order to catch the show. Not only were the passersby interested, he also had a healthy audience sitting on nearby restaurant patios. “I can’t play as long as I used to,” Bill began. “So I come out and set up for a bit and hope that people enjoy the music.” I told Bill that I’ve seen more and more street musicians around the city as of late. There is a guitarist who sets up in front of the former Elmwood Village Bagel, and a guy who plays the horn on Grant Street. A trio can be found occasionally playing near Bidwell Parkway… and Allentown always attracts the roaming musicians.
To me, even seeing a musician with a guitar on his or her back is a good sight. Whether it’s a punk rocker on Elmwood or a tuxedoed violinist on the way to a concert at Kleinhans Music Hall, just knowing that there is a lively music scene in Buffalo is warming. Remember that a music scene can take many forms – you can be a fan listening in a club, a music hall or just catching some sweet live tunes as they float down from a window on your street – it’s all good. Oh, and when you see musicians like Bill setting up and playing, be sure to drop a few coins in the open instrument case. Otherwise he or she may not be back next time you might be hoping to enjoy some on-the-spot atmospheric tunes.