Posts from June, 2008
I watched some amazing musicians last night.
Two of the four members of Billy’s Band drew a fifty-strong crowd at the northwest end of Union Square.
And even with all the great street [and subway] musicians New Yorkers run into, you don’t see a crowd this big unless six guys in matching jumpsuits are doing back flips set to hip-hop in a prime tourist area.
Nevertheless, we stood captivated by these two amazing performers, sweating out in the street, across from the Blue Water Grill.
The band is apparently huge in St. Petersburg, their home town. And the Russian influences run heavy through their music, along with French and American jazz.
Billy Novik, the band’s lead singer-baritone, and Anton Matezius, the accordionist, are two absolutely unassuming guys, drenched and sticky in the June heat as we all are, except they’re working their asses off on the bass, tambourine, and accordion, creating a sound to rival a six piece band. Billy keeps the beat, hitting his base and kicking his tambourine for percussion, while Antos adds lightning to their songs, howling and keeping rhythm on the accordion.
We all listened, excited to be a part of something that felt so alive. The kind of music that transports you from the muggy street to a French den or a prohibition-era club.
Still, many onlookers are suddenly taken aback, sending whispers through the crowd, when a rogue roach nearly climbs up Antos’ leg, and then flirts with the bass case full of money. Disaster is averted when a bystander steps in and steps on the bug.
And the music plays on.
Convenient tutorial for any of you who may have forgotten the proper baby-hugging protocol.