Sunday In the Park - Music In the Air

report filed 10/20/00 11:14 am EDT - Haven't gone to a show since the Autumn Equinox Festival. Too much post season baseball on TV. Been so wrapped up in this year's playoffs and impending subway series, that there hasn't been time for nightclub hopping or festival bopping. And that's fine. After all, it's fall in New York and there's music in the air. Literally.

To prove the point, I took my handy dandy digi-cam to Central Park last weekend for a freewheeling image safari. The mission: to search out and capture images of music in the park. Couldn't have picked a better day. Totally sunny and the park was buzzing. Took the 'F' train from the Anytime/Anywhere Studio's new location in the Prospect Park area of Brooklyn, up to 6th Avenue (AKA Avenue of the America's) and 42nd street, which is a few blocks south of Central Park.

Didn't know it ahead of time, but the entire stretch along 6th Avenue from 42nd to the park had been blocked off from traffic for a huge street sale. Navigating my way through countless booths of cut price underwear, bargain basement perfume, greasy foods, quickie chair massages, and colorful South American sweaters, I heard the festive resonance of a steel drum in the distance. Walking closer to the park, the island drum's tinny, tinka-link-plinka-tink-tink got louder. Within moments, the drummer was in sight.

Camera in one hand, a dollar in the other, I made my approach. After listening for a few moments, I dropped the greenback into the tip jar near his feet and then proceeded to snap a few shots. This was a routine I'd repeat several times during the day.

Came across an interesting pair of horn players just a few short minutes after entering the park. Set up across from a large pond used for toy sailboats and wishful penny tossing, these guys were putting on quite a show.

If you look closely at the photo above, you'll notice that the trumpet player has a BOSE 301 speaker strapped across his belly. The little white thing on top of the speaker is a digital music player and the even smaller blue box contains a few mini-floppy discs. One quick slip of a disc and these two well seasoned horn dogs were kickin' some serious brass, soloing over the be-bop and standard rhythms of their choosing. Kinda dorky, but kinda cool. Gotta say that both of these guys had real nice tone and very melodic styles.

My next encounter was a female vocalist accompanied by an acoustic guitar. Both were amplified. Leaning against a tree with her eyes closed most of the time, the singer was in fine form, confidently crooning a Fleetwood Mac tune. Very smooth...

Didn't have to go far for the next photo-op. After walking for no more than two minutes, a soft and silky twang tickled my mind's ear, as it drifted lazily in the warm, autumn air. Another few steps and I was face to face with a very mellow fellow playing an exotic, two stringed instrument. There was a certain sadness about this guy. And it wasn't just his stoic grill. His music wept in lilting, melancholy phrases, and the instrument's thin and delicate voice gave his music a haunting quality. Although too morose for moi, the tragic, two string tone poet had his share of fans...

In complete contrast, the next performer was a bona fide chuckle generator. Bare chested and amplified by a small PA system, the solo singer/guitarist had the biggest crowd of the day. By far. There were easily a couple hundred people checking out his humorous versions of Jim Croce/James Taylor style acoustic rock. And he did a nice job with it. Very entertaining!

The final act of the day was by far the hippest. Lead by a red hot trumpet player in a royal blue suit, this little jazz trio had it goin' on. The rhythm section was great, with sublime dynamics that perfectly complimented the trumpet player's melodic style. It was a pleasure to sit and enjoy these guys for awhile after covering several miles during the course of the afternoon.

Meanwhile back at the word factory - very limited new content to post this time. Actually just one new item, The Beat Goes On - Interviews, Road Trips, and Deadlines, or How I Spent My Summer Vacation, which was last month's column for Speaking of, our current column, Now We're Swingin', might be of interest to anyone into the Subway Series between the Mets and the Yankees.

Thanks a bunch to Una Toibin-Hamilton for allowing us to feature her artwork on our Splash page and to close this update. Una's paintings have been all over the music scene and most recently, she's been making her mark in cyberspace too. The 'Psychedelic Bus of Dead Knowledge,' is an interactive CD-ROM game that features Una's images on the package cover, as well as in the game itself. Her work has also been the cover art for numerous CDs and magazines, as well as limited edition posters and T-shirts. Everyone here thinks she's great, and we're thrilled to have Una's images grace our website!!

So there ya have it. Rest assured that our hardworking crew will continue to scour New York City, from the parks to the theaters, and all the smoky jazz dives in between, to report on the best live music this town has to offer. Check back in the next week or two to see what we come up with, when our adventure in music journalism continues...

In Hiding
- Una Toibin-Hamilton