We live next to a park. A really nice park. Because it’s such a nice park – lots of benches, lots of trees, a nice playground, plenty of long sidewalks – it is quite the magnet. So we’re pretty used to hearing all of the sounds that come with the park, from kids laughing and playing to local candidates holding rallies before an election, and all of the nice events in between. Last weekend, there was a group playing some folk music and the small crowd gathered around them were dancing in a circle.
Most of the warm months of the year we open our windows as our air conditioning, so we hear pretty much all of it. And most of the time, it doesn’t necessarily draw our attention. When the kiddie train and amusements were set up there for a while, we were ready to go down and disable the choo-choo horn on that train, that’s for sure. And we’re not sure how to go about putting a nighttime lock on the piano that was put out there sometime last year.
It was inspired by a piano that was downtown during the early months of the protests, so for the most part, it’s seen as a fun thing, and a reminder of the hopefulness in the air. But unlike in most places we’ve lived in the U.S., people do frequent our park pretty much 24-7, including that piano. If it were melodies that were more, well, melodic, it would be pleasant… Let’s just say that we are pretty familiar with the fiercely pounded I-IV-V-I chord progression, even as the young drunk belts out his accompanying tune at 3 am.
The other night, though, we had a nice treat. At first, we thought it was some sort of concert, then we wondered if someone was having a party or something – not unheard of. But the guitar was really good. Really, really good. As were the drums and the bass guitar. So we went out for a look.
I should interrupt here to say that another pretty common thing in our park is for various musically oriented folks to station themselves on one end of the park at the opening to a passageway that leads to and from the subway station. When our parents visited once they were looking out the windows and marveling at the sheer numbers of people who pass by on the way to and from that subway station. Most often, the musician is a lone man, sometimes playing a saxophone, often an accordion.
That night, it was a group of four guys playing some pretty sophisticated guitar. We enjoyed it from inside, wondering, and then went out and heard them up close. They were playing everything from ‘Hotel California’ to ‘Pretty Woman’ to ‘Rock Around the Clock’. It was kind of hard to not start dancing right there on the spot! At one point, they broke out in a very upbeat version of the Ukrainian national anthem, usually a pretty somber sounding piece. The video is dark and from one side (otherwise the volume would have been way too loud!) so you can’t see the hilarious star-shaped kiddie sunglasses on the one guitarist, but here’s a little taste for your listening pleasure: park musicians