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A few more thoughts…

One of the surprises of roaming through subway (Metro) corridors is running into street musicians at work. This happened several times during our transit around Paris, and in every case, it was worth it to stop and listen. They were that good, and they certainly were not camera-shy (see below).

I’ve always had a fondness for people who make music in public places and who have empty instrument cases for contributions. Back in New York there’s a guy who plays a pan pipe — actually, a series of them — at the corner of 5th Avenue and W. 44th Street, and if he’s there when I am, I lean against a nearby building and watch him do his thing. There’s also a prominent blues singer who works subway stations in the city who people will go out of their way to see. And one time only, none other than Joshua Bell did an impromptu concert in a Washington, D.C. metro station, just to see if people would stop to watch a world-class violinist play free-of-charge. Some did.

So there is music in the streets, and Paris is no exception, with an emphasis on the transit system below them. In the corridors between stations we saw two of them.

First, there was an honest-to-God beer hall band that had to be an import from Germany: Guys who sang and played instruments that included a violin, an accordion and a trombone, and a woman who handled the basket for contributions (Of course I added a couple of eros!!) And right here I should have a link so you could click and listen, but no such luck. Had I been on my game and used the recording app on my smarter-than-me phone, it would have been a different story. Nevertheless, it was a special experience, with the kind of the songs you sing along with — if you happen to be fluent in German.

In a different style — and a different station — there was woman and her dog who played the violin — the woman played and the dog listened. So did we, to a Vivaldi string quartet in which she handled the 1st violin part in accompaniment to a CD. We stayed until she finished, gushed over her brilliance, and petted the dog.

How do you find these people? Just listen and then bolt through any number of corridors until you find them. I have no idea if there’s any permissions involved. I assume they just set up in the corridor of choice and play, although given that I’ve never heard acid rock or rappers in that kind of venue, there may some semblance of supervision that’s part of the action, perhaps related to those in authority — who have, by the way, managed to completely eliminate any and all graffiti from the system. I haven’t got a clue how they do that!

More musicians: On one train there was a guy who played a tenor sax quite by himself, and on another a girl who sang a passable contralto, a cappella. They made music and the passengers made contributions. As I remarked to Kris, “what an amazing confidence builder to stand in front of moderately interested people and play/sing your heart out! No audience could be too tough after that.”

A little Parisian jazz is on tap for our next visit. But then you gotta pay dearly for that!

[NOTE: Only 30 percent of Americans have passports. Lack of interest or lack of bucks?]

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