1) I haven't done much subway busking the past couple weeks, so I'm running short on funds. Which means, soon as I'm done with this post, I'm OFF TO THE A TRAIN!
2) I have a new album available on noisetrade, my venue for Virtual Busking. The album consists of the soundtrack from the Clown Of God show back in 2010. Download it NOW for FREE
.. or leave a generous tip ;) You can find more info about the show at my personal blog page.
3) A friend of mine recently did a piece on "odd ways to earn money during college." (Many of which I tried both in college and after, haha) He asked me some questions about busking and quoted me in the article. Check it out!
I began playing Hey Jude immediately after switching cars on the uptown A train. I leaned back, slightly, against one of the hand poles and faced the long subway car before me, quickly surveying my audience.
I was annoyed and disappointed to see two police officers standing at the other end of the car. I knew full well that I wasn't allowed to play on the subway trains and that I could get a ticket - or worse - if I didn't play my cards right. But this was a long ride, from 59th street to 125th, and it would have been absurd for me not to try and make the best of the scenario.
Especially since, by this point, I was already halfway through the song.
I avoided looking toward them, hoping that they were doing the same for me. At the harmonica solo I began walking in their direction, still averting my eyes.
Nobody gave anything. Not even a look or a word. It's not uncommon for train conductors to announce that giving to solicitors is illegal. Compassion and generosity are criminalized in NYC for some reason? I have yet to confirm the claim, but in any case it gives charitable riders pause when police are on board.
By the time I finished Hey Jude I was even closer to the police, shocked they hadn't stopped me yet. I didn't allow the final chord to fade out. Doing so might present one of them with a golden opportunity to approach me. Instead I hastily began picking the intro to Awake My Soul by Mumford And Sons. When I was nearly done with the song, bellowing the final chorus ("awaaaaaaake my soul!"), I saw one of the officers approaching. He made a short slashing motion with his hand across his neck, indicating for me to stop.
"You can't play on here. It's considered disorderly conduct."
I raised my eyebrows, "oh," and nodded. I already knew this.
"You could also get a ticket for panhandling."
We both knew that I wouldn't stop.
Finally he got to the point: "I don't really care what you do on your own time, but you can't do this when we're on the train with you."
I hadn't shrunk away in fear and intimidation. Maybe it hurt their pride. But I also knew that he could get in trouble if he didn't at least give some kind of warning. Thankfully that's all it was. He walked away, leaving me standing on the still-moving train with the neck of my guitar gripped in both hands and lips sealed. The train was sickeningly silent. There was a void, perceivable by the other riders as well, as only the hum of the train and the faint tinny sound of bachata guitar filled the sound spectrum.
One woman stood up and approached, pausing just a few feet away.
"He said you can't play in here? It sounded great."
"Thank you! Yea, It sounds so empty now, doesn't it?"
"It does! Well.. Thank you."
And with a sweeping, defiant gesture she stretched a dollar out, dropping it in my tip jar. The train slowed to a halt. As I moved to step off the train - toward the next car, of course - four or five other people surrounded me with money in hand. They were all so.. generous, compassionate!
What disorder I had caused!
I rushed to the next car, hoping the police wouldn't follow. They didn't. Now who's to protect New York City from mayhem like me?
I played on the NYC subways for two hours today. During that time I probably played about 25 songs and earned just under $13. Basically, I made one dollar for every two songs.
My performance consists of guitar, vocals and/or harmonica, all while walking up and down moving train cars. No, I'm not breakdancing.. but this is still pretty badass stuff if I do say so myself. And I'm often told that I do it all quite well.
I mostly play popular songs that I know people like and recognize - Beatles, Dylan, Mrs Robinson, Piano Man
, etc. And I play the ever-loving crap out of every song I play.
It feels terribly dehumanizing and humiliating to bare one's heart and soul for others' peace, joy, pleasure.. only to be so often ignored, ridiculed, insulted, heckled, or (audibly) laughed at.
I still struggle to make ends meet and I hope to move to a Washington Heights apartment in December, to join with my church community in serving that neighborhood, to which I've been magnetically drawn for about two years now. In the mean time I refuse to accept that we live in a society so cold-hearted and self-whatever that a hard-working, resourceful, innovative, and FREEGAN artist/entertainer can't earn enough to support his or her minimal expenses, even in an expensive city like NYC.
I know that God has led me down a very different path than most. I know that S/he will ultimately provide my every need but it's *still* very hard to trust as I scrape by day-to-day. I'll continue to meet God half-way, come what may; but I've also come to find that God often works through the lives, words, and softened hearts of other people (hundreds by now, no doubt). So if there's a compassionate soul reading this who has the margin in their heart to morally support the work and life that I lead, I invite you to join me for the Protest Songs (Are Dead) Virtual Listening Party
and live broadcast tonight on WHFR, starting at 7:30p EST - I'm sharing my new album with the world via online radio.
You can also support my virtual busking efforts at noisetrade
- download the album for free or leave a tip according to your ability.
I hope to see you tonight and thank you for reading and/or caring.. I also wish you utmost peace.
I awoke this morning to the "Busking and Street Performing" CouchSurfing group's weekly digest e-mail. Folks were discussing the way that buskers ought to present themselves to society... I just had to weigh in myself... the whole discussion struck to the core of what busking is all about:The expression of it (music, art, juggling, what-have-you) is really just the medium. The message is, "I'm going to interrupt your oh-so-busy life and make you smile, sing, dance, laugh; I'm going to bless you right now!
To read the rest at gandollo.weebly.com, click here.
To support my own busking efforts, please download my newest song on noisetrade
and feel free to leave a tip! Thanks =)
"Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?"
Yeshua (Matt 6:26)
I'm still learning what it means to live in radical abandon for the Kingdom of God, to live out my calling, and to fully trust in God's provision. A large part of that has meant committing my time, energy, and thought to the office of songwriting; busking on the subway trains; becoming freegan.
Just found this note on paypal w a $20 donation attached:
Gio, thank you for your beautiful and inspiring music. The ride in the subway yesterday was lit up by your talent and unassuming stance.
Let's just say this brought me to tears. I still struggle to trust God as I live hand-to-mouth; it often doesn't seem like it, but he always meets me halfway. The simple fact is that I love what I do, my calling, and God is good. I can rest in this.
Anyone can send me a donation or personal gift on paypal
! If you appreciate what I do and how I do it, then I would really appreciate any donations in kind! They can be sent, via paypal, to firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also now get a FREE download of my debut album, Life Is A Bike Wreck (Better Wear Your Helmet), for a limited time on Noisetrade
. You will also have the option there of leaving me a tip.
If you DO decide to contribute in either of these ways, please know that 1) it will probably make me cry, 2) I'll send you free downloads and cool stuff, 3) I'll be so very very thankful!
So I was busking on the subway today and someone gave me a flower (fake but awesome nonetheless). The tiny paper leaf has text that reads:
El amor se filtra como el agua dejando humedad para siempre.
Transliterally it doesn't make sense in English, the poetic meaning is lost. But it basically means that once you have loved, a part of that love will remain forever.
I don't even care. It's beautiful. Best. Barter. Ever.
This post is originally from gandollo.weebly.com:
Grab a guitar, tie a tip jar to it;
ride around New York City, singing songs by the Beatles, Dylan, Bright Eyes, Billy Joel, Simon & Garfunkel, Flaming Lips, Gin Blossoms, and of course GioSafari;
repeat for three to five hours.
Then you'll get an idea of what my life has been like for the past month or so.
The idea was largely conceived one night in mid-January as I was talking with my roommate, lamenting my lack of funds to pay rent, to buy [anything], to survive in a city as expensive as this. I crunched some numbers and determined that I'd make enough money to get by if I earned as little as $25 per day! I guessed that I could make that much within about three hours. I resolved to try it out for one week and see whether it could be sustained - whether I could actually make ends meet by busking at train stations three hours a day, six days a week.
The first four days were fairly successful. Sometimes it took more than three hours to earn the $25; I stayed until I reached my goal and it was always within a reasonable time frame. I often made more than 25. I started to get pretty excited about the prospect of paying rent and beginning to scale back my debts.
Then I became very ill for an entire week
My hopes were somewhat dashed during that week until my tip jar finally arrived in the mail (I’d left it in Florida after the Eagles & Snowbirds Tour). With my trusty tip jar, I was now equipped to busk on the moving trains – an endeavor that had whet my whistle when I played on the trains for the No Pants Subway Ride 2010 (pantsless, of course) on January 9.
With my tip jar fastened to one of my tuning pegs, I rode around NYC for close to four hours, earning over one hundred smackaroos. On my first day!
Over the next four or five days I earned anywhere between $50-100 per day and knew immediately that playing the trains would be far more lucrative than busking in the stations. Within a week I had two “centuries” (days that I earned at least $100) and earned about $450. Things were looking up! I could pay off my debts much quicker than anticipated and I’ve felt on top of the world!
It’s now been about a month since I began busking on the trains as my primary source of income. And boy, do I have stories to tell!This post was also in three parts. To read the rest, click here.
-Yesterday I scored a ton of food while taking a trash tour with the NYC freegan crew. The list includes raspberries, bananas, nectarine, more fruit, cookies, bread, bagels, hummus, and 11 eggs! I can't wait to eat it all!
-Today I busked at the Delancey/Essex subway station in downtown Manhattan.
I made approximately $25; sold one CD package (incl sticker and buttons) and two other buttons; was complimented on my harmonica playing.
I was also filmed by some students from St Michael's College (Burlington, VT) who are shooting a documentary on freeganism. After interviewing me at my apartment, they wanted to get some footage of me performing in the subway. So all in all, it was a very good day in the subway!
-Then tonight was the monthly freegan feast! There was a ton of great rescued food and of course wonderful people to share it with. I could definitely get used to this freegan business!