The Partners: Subway Musicians and Their Audiences
One of the most salient features of local music making scenes is the integral role of the nodding, clapping, singing, dancing, even instrument-playing audience. Subway music is no exception. It is a participatory phenomenon, an exchange between musicians and riders -- "partners" in subway music scenes.
In this chapter I profile the main participants. I investigate how musicians use and negotiate subway space with one another and with riders, what motivates them to stake out a presence in such a hostile environment, and how they feel about being unconventional community artists. I also examine the varied reactions of riders to the music, focusing on what it means to a number of them to be exposed to and engaged in such an unconventional community art.
"Other than the love of freedom," writes Patricia Campbell,
there are no common characteristics of personality, background, or life-style that describe the average street performer. . . . Some have grown up in the life as waifs surviving by their talents. Others have chosen to drop into it from flourishing careers in law or medicine or teaching. Still others are actors and musicians waiting for the big