Friday, October 19, 2007

T-Radio Notes from the Field #2

12PM South Station

There's still a huge fan in the designated performance spot, but no worries; musicians play around the corner from it. However, the fan and the escalator noise drown out the talk on T-Radio; the music is audible, but the lyrics are not. I'm OK with this.

12:25PM Radio seems a little louder now, still can't understand speech.
Man comes up, says I'm "the best thing he's ever heard in the subway."

12:30PM Man comes up, says, "You sound awesome. Great acoustics heah."

1:00PM Woman drops change in my case, says, "That's all I have, I'm sorry, you sound lovely."

1:10PM Woman signs petition, says, "I'm just so angry about this." She's written to the T; I suggest she write to Metro. (That suggestion holds for anyone who's reading this; the T can fudge their feedback, if they choose to. The more letters that appear in Metro, the stronger the case against T-Radio.)

2:00PM Man stops, tells me how his mother used to play violin and piano and made all five of her kids choose one or the other. All his sisters played violin; his daughter and granddaughter play violin. He chose piano. "I'm no Elton John."

Immediately following, another man stops to tell me he plays banjo. This man is a little difficult to understand , and as he talked, he got louder and his body language got emphatic. He wasn't threatening me at all, but one of the guys who cleans the station hovered nearby to make sure I was OK.

2:15PM Finished playing, got on train for Alewife to retrieve car. (No, I don't usually drive to the T, but yesterday, some schedules needed coordinating.)

Summary: It's possible to play in South Station with T-Radio at its current decibel level, but it's much like having someone muttering unintelligibly in your ear while you're trying to give a speech: it can be done, but it's annoying. This does not, of course, speak to the possible annoyance level of people waiting for the train who can hear both the busker and the radio.

I can usually hear the T announcements over my playing, which is good, since if anything's different, I can hear it and stop playing, in case of emergency. Yesterday started out that way, but by half-an-hour in, I couldn't hear the announcements anymore, and my volume didn't change. This could present a safety issue, not to mention a problem for folks who depend on those announcements to hear when the train they need is arriving.

After I'd finished, when I was waiting for the train myself, I still couldn't understand the radio, which begs the question: Why bother having radio at all? I assume this means they'll be turning it up in the future, which would definitely interfere with my busking: remember, I don't use an amp like some musicians need to.

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