Greg Cook spent some time photographing musicians at T stops.
I can't speak about the musicians pictured, but far too many of the "musicians" in T stops aren't musicians at all, but simply panhandlers. They "sing" to pre-recorded tapes, or sing fragments of a capella songs, or have barely functioning instruments like out of tune guitars with one or two strings which they don't know how to play, etc. The T should have some standard to separate the scammers from the legitimate musicians. It would be a favor to those of us who are literally a "captive audience" while waiting for the train.
90% of the time I see a Busker they are playing a real instrument even if it's accompanying a sample. Sometimes they sing, mostly they don't.
I enjoy the music and appreciate having them there. Even if it's not a style of music I normally enjoy, just having an actual performance makes the ride that much better. Most of the time they are reasonably good too.
It sure beats people listening to music (or videos, etc) on their phone's speakers which is obnoxious and way too common.
"Croaky," the maybe-blind guy who taps his cane while singing like an emphysemic Jimmy Durante?
There's a guy who's been "singing" on both the orange and red line platforms at Downtown Crossing recently - he seems to know only one song - "Tennessee Whiskey." Every time I see him there - and we're talking various times of day/night, various days, etc - that's *always* the song he's doing. What up with that? I'm almost ready to give him money if he would just stop singing that one damn song...
Why do they still allow amplifiers?
Without amplification, only people within about 15 feet will be able to hear you.
The MBTA's volume limit is 80 decibels at 25 feet, which is still crazy loud.
For comparison, the recommended limit for kids' headphones is 85 decibels. If a kid is standing 15 feet away from a subway performer, the kid is at risk of hearing damage.
Unless things have changed recently, the MBTA licenses buskers, and buskers are required to have their licenses on display at all times. If someone doesn't have a license and they are being obnoxious you can simply ask the T officers to remove them. If they do have a license and are being obnoxious you can call to the MBTA and complain and ask to have the license revoked. Some amplification is often necessary to counteract the noise of the trains. But in Cambridge the cops use a decibel meter, now available as an app, to ensure that the application isn't too loud. The MBTA should do the same.
When was the last time you rode the T? Was it the T in a parallel universe? I am a daily T rider and have seen hundreds of buskers over the years. At no time have I ever seen one with a license on display. As for asking T officers, they are even more rare than the licenses.
Not true. It's rare - but I have seen T officers on a couple of occasions prohibit a busker from playing after the busker could not produce a license. On both occasions the officer was prompted to ask by a commuter who did not seem to appreciate the busker's talents.
He sure looks like Jimmy Greene.
The MBTA has strict rules and policies concerning the conduct of subway performers. Unfortunately like most rules and regulations on the MBTA like no smoking, no panhandling, no drugs or paying your fare no one cares enough to enforce the rules.
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